The deep affirmation of God

John Stoltzfus, Campus Youth Minister, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School

John M StoltzfusMy call to ministry did not happen in one place or time but pursued me from my childhood in Morgantown to the far reaches of the globe. I grew up in a home where the life of the church and a strong commitment to faith were woven into the fabric of family life. In my parents’ lives, I witnessed a love for God and all of God’s people.

I recall numerous people in my home congregation tapping me on the shoulder with the encouragement to consider pastoral ministry. Despite this outer call, the inner call was yet to be confirmed for some time. I told a friend before I entered Eastern Mennonite College that while I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I did know that I didn’t want to be a pastor!

Following college, my interest in service and experiencing other cultures spurred me to teach in China. During those two years, God’s grace and prompting continued to shape and lead me in the direction of pastoral ministry. Upon returning, I entered Eastern Mennonite Seminary. These years marked a key turning point as I received the deep affirmation of God for who I was and was becoming.

The call to my first pastorate at Lombard Mennonite came in the midst of a coast-to-coast bike ride in the summer of 2001 while I was entertaining serious doubts about my decision to pursue church ministry. That journey taught me a greater trust in the provision of God. I am deeply grateful to the Lombard congregation for the ways in which they nurtured and encouraged me to grow as a ministering person.

In my ministry with youth, I hope to pass on this gift, helping our youth listen for the often still and small voice of God in their lives, calling us all to be ministers of God’s reconciling love in our world.