Monthly Archives: March 2014

Jennifer Frim

God’s call comes in many different ways and sometimes (or often?) it comes when you least expect it. It has a way of sneaking up on you. At least, that’s how I see it working in my life. I grew up in the church, but our family wasn’t terribly active, especially prior to my confirmation years. Nevertheless, I always found the church a welcoming and safe place to be in the midst of a somewhat tumultuous life. As I got involved in things in my own right as a tween and teen, I began not only to learn more about my own faith, but also the Holy Spirit began working in me, preparing me for life as a full-time deacon.

The first time I heard about the Director of Parish Services program, it was from a Concordia University College student ambassador who was speaking at a youth retreat that I was attending. She told us about Concordia and how she wanted to serve God full-time as a DPS. I distinctly remember thinking that was a totally dumb idea! I didn’t know any churches that had such workers and my perception at the wise age of 13 was that there would be no job for her. I did like the t-shirt I won from her, though!

Over the next several years as I taught Sunday school, got more involved in our youth group and grew in faith, a few other nudges from the Holy Spirit brought me closer to where I am today. I heard more about Concordia. The Concert Choir visited our church and we took a couple of girls home as billets. A Concordia recruitment rep travelled through our area and contacted me to see if I’d like to meet with her. Someone in my church submitted my name to the “potential church work candidates” program, called “RSVP” which ran in the church for a few years in the 1990s. My pastor talked to me about the options. All this time, I wanted to be a teacher and so I was very interested in the Lutheran Teacher program. God, on the other hand, had very different plans!

In grade 12 math class (of all places!) we were assigned a career exploration project. Some people had mentioned DPS work to me along the way and I decided that I should look into it a little more. That is the career I explored for my project. At this point I had already decided that I would start off attending one of the local universities in Winnipeg and maybe transfer to Concordia for teaching later on. I wasn’t terribly interested in DPS work, but thought I should learn about it anyway. I was able to talk to a local woman who essentially volunteered full-time in one of our local churches and through my conversation with her, and a lot of Holy Spirit work, I decided that I actually really liked the DPS idea. I wanted to teach…but what I wanted to teach was the Bible and the faith. No wonder I could never decide what subject area I wanted to specialize in as a school teacher!

That winter, I happened to be offered a free trip to Concordia to check out its campus the one and only year they paid for students to come in. It was the clincher! I loved the campus, the people and the program. This all happened in March…rather late in the year for deciding about inter-provincial moves and university applications, but God wanted me there. I am convinced of it. He provided the money. He provided the support of my parents. He provided the peace of mind that I needed to make that move and I never have regretted it.

Through my courses, I discovered things about God and the Bible that I had never known before. I grew in faith and in my love of learning and teaching. I was placed on internship in Fisherville, Ontario in 2003 and served there until 2009 when God called me again. This time, He called me back to school, to learn more and to prepare to do more teaching. The love for teaching and congregational work that God instilled in me led me to earn a Master of Arts in Biblical and Christian Studies in 2011. This would allow me to be a better teacher of the faith. It also led me to serve at Riverbend Lutheran in Edmonton part-time while in school. It led me to a part-time teaching position at Concordia University College in 2011. It led me to follow God’s call back to Ontario to begin PhD studies which I am now nearly half complete. It led me to Prince of Peace Lutheran in Burlington and St. Peter’s Lutheran in Simcoe where I have served part-time and as a volunteer in various ways. It led me to be appointed as Coordinator of Applied Religion at Concordia in the summer of 2013 where I now administer and teach part-time in the church work programs and religious studies program part time while still doing PhD studies.

Looking back, this has been a crazy journey. If you would have asked me at the age of 18, when I began to follow God’s call down this path, “What do you think you’ll be doing in 14 years?” I would never have guessed the half of it. But I know that God has called me to where I am and will continue to lead me. The unprecedented opportunities, financial and prayer support and adopted “family” I’ve found all across this country could not have been by accident. Only God’s call through the power of His Holy Spirit could have brought me here and I see His provision for me and His church within it every day. I know God was calling me and is still calling me. I’m so glad I followed.

Where might God be calling you? Even if it seems crazy, know that He will provide exactly what you need if that is where He wants you to go.

Rev. Harry Ruf

From A Saskatchewan Farm Boy to the
Office of The Holy Ministry

(H. E. Ruf, Emeritus)

How did I come to the decision to enter the Holy Ministry?  My family was always deeply involved in the activities of our little village church at Stornoway, SK.  The church was the centre of the community around which people gathered for worship and social activities.  The pastor was the only person in the community whose education had gone beyond High School.  He was respected and looked up to, not only as one who led us in worship and instruction in the Word, but his advice was also sought out in many other areas of life.

I was second youngest in a family of five children.  In preschool days, my younger sister and I would often play church, where I pretended to be the pastor and she was the congregation.  This eventually led my parents to tell me:  “When you grow up, you’re going to be a pastor!”  It was with this in mind that they enrolled me, together with my younger sister, in the High School of Concordia College, Edmonton, AB.

While at Concordia High School, my plans wavered between becoming a pastor and a parochial school teacher.  Dr. Albert Schwerman, our college president, got wind of this, and so he decided to have a little “fatherly” talk with me.  I was called into his office and, before I could sit down, he said, “Ruf, I understand you are going to become a pastor!”  After speaking to me for half an hour, without letting me get in a word, I left his office saying to myself:  “Well, it looks like I’m going to become a pastor!”  Dr. Schwerman just had to set my thinking straight!

My years at Concordia College were the most enjoyable years of my schooling.  Not only did I meet my future wife, Ruth, there, but the influence of Concordia’s professors and the family relationship in our small student body really led me to want to serve in that kind of atmosphere, and the logical way to do this, as far as I was concerned, was to serve in the Church as a pastor.

Four of us young men graduated from Concordia College in 1955 as prospective pastors.  All of us enrolled at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.  What a life-changing experience that was!  In high school and college, we thought we knew what studying was all about, but at Seminary we really learned the meaning of studying!   However, God gave us the ability to meet the challenges, and,  before we knew it, graduation arrived and we received our calls.

Besides the many hours of studying, often into the wee hours of the night, there was one other huge challenge, and that was to meet the costs of seminary training.  It was necessary for me to hold down a half-time job at nights to be able to meet expenses.  It was not at all uncommon to come home at 2:00 AM and then spend another couple of hours preparing assignments.  In retrospect, I’m sure God let things happen in that way in order to prepare me for long hours of hard work in the ministry.

My vicarage was under the supervision of the Rev. Lester Gierach in the Cloverdale/Aldergrove Parish in British Columbia.  I received excellent training under him for the parish ministry.  He taught me work habits which I kept throughout my ministry.  I served in four parishes where I received a wide variety of experiences from which I have many, many fond memories, the greatest of which were seeing how powerfully the Spirit works through the means of grace.   The places I served were at:       (1) A new mission parish at Williams Lake, Quesnel and One Hundred Mile House, BC;  (2) A small town farming community at Moosomin/Broadview, SK;  (3) A large city congregation at Grace, Regina, SK;  (4) A growing congregation at Port Coquitlam, BC.  My last years before retirement were spent as the Mission Exec of the ABC District (2 years) and as ABC District President (12 years).