September 23, 2021
A long time ago, Caleb and I assisted with Vacation Bible School at Stavanger Lutheran Church. The experience was not new to us, but it’s always been a different experience every time.
You see, Stavanger Church is a seminary student training ground. Students from the Lutheran Brethren Seminary work and serve in our church while attending classes. Some students are with us for three years until they graduate. A few are only with us for two, as more and more students are opting to transition into congregations much earlier.
Regardless of how long we have these men with us, it’s for a very SMALL, precious amount of time in comparison to the rest of our lives. Each is valued and all of these purposeful men and their families are deeply loved.
My earliest memory of Troy (and his “acting” career) took place during one of these Vacation Bible School sessions. He and Pastor Mike were dressed in the age-old Sunday School adult Bible costumes and passionately reenacting an Old Testament story. The kids LOVED these two. They were so full of energy and so funny! Something happened and the two of them started giggling so much that they had difficulty going on. It wasn’t a big mishap, but it was enough for those kids to grin and laugh and giggle with them.
I don’t know if they realized it at the time, but Troy and Mike were teaching them an invaluable lesson: to learn to laugh with Jesus. The God of the heavens LOVES US, and I know He wants us to enjoy His home, His Word, each other and our comedic selves.
We really don’t need to take ourselves SO seriously. He calls us to do and be many things, and JOYFUL is a huge part of God’s nature.
It’s easy to walk away from something like a failed VBS skit believing that not everything went right. Everybody in ministry understands what this feels like and the weight we carry can be burdensome.
But, to me and in that moment, everything was as it should be.
Years later, I managed to snag Troy when I was in desperate need of a cast member. Redeemer’s Song Ministries was producing a six man show in only a few short weeks. One of my actors had to drop out only days before the show. We were sitting around the table flabbergasted. WHO would ever jump into a show this fast, learn SO many lines (this is a full length show), and be willing to memorize in just a few days?
We didn’t give ourselves time to second-guess and we didn’t give him time to say no. And surprisingly, he came right over to rehearsal THAT DAY. We did a read-through/walk-through right there on the spot, and we knew that it was no mistake that his name was the name we considered. He was PERFECT for the role. Not only was Troy HILARIOUS, but he brought with him a whole new audience.
It is my deep desire for pastors to know how important it is to be involved in storytelling. Not just from the pulpit, as they are trained to do. Sunday school classrooms are very important too, yes. BUT, when an individual sets aside that good ‘ol “comfort zone” and throws himself into another character, not only does he have the opportunity to reach different people in a different way, but he develops a greater empathy towards people who daily live the lives he’s trying to portray.
Empathy and perspective are so vital in ministry.
Not long ago, Troy (also editor of the Faith & Fellowship Magazine and Blog) gave me an opportunity to write about this very topic when I wrote an article about pastors in conjuction with the filming of He Leadeth Me. What I love most about this is not that he gave me the chance to write about it, but that he lives it. What’s even better is that Troy also played a role in He Leadeth Me and was so willing to jump on set for even just a day.
Not surprisingly, it was one of the funniest day of shooting just because Troy was there.
Troy’s willingness always reminds me of the role he played in the Vacation Bible School skit. From small things to the screen to the desk behind the editor’s desk, his involvement in important things matters to me.
Spending an evening on the prairie with Troy and Katie and their BEAUTIFUL boys was such a treat. Troy hasn’t changed. Katie is AMAZING. And the boys might have (maybe a little) some of Troy’s sense of humor. I know Katie understands what a gift Troy is, but I was SO blessed to shower her with attention in her own series of portraits, too. This woman is STUNNING, and I can’t wait to get to know her even more!
And these boys. It is such a rare and unique blessing to have boys that love each other as much as these two do.
Troy, thank you for all of your work on the magazine and the work you’ve done for me. Katie, you are so beautiful and we WILL take that creative vacation to Duluth!!
Boys, enjoy every minute of one another. You come from good people.
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