Equipped for Hawaiian Ministry

by Sandy Wood

Becoming a pastor of a church in Hawaii was not what Rev. Joshua Schneider had in mind when he decided to pursue a degree in biology and chemistry in college.

But God had a plan.

“By the last half of my senior year in college, through a variety of influences including my professors, mission trips, and Christian friends, I was on my way to the seminary,” Schneider says.

In February, he was installed as pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Kahului, on Maui, where about 130 people worship each Sunday. He joined the Emmanuel staff after graduating from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 2006, serving as a part-time associate with full-time responsibilities at the school, teaching science and religion.

(God had a plan for that science degree also.)

“All my cross-cultural experiences prepared me well to be in a context like Hawaii,” Schneider says. Those experiences, part of his seminary education, took him to Madagascar, inner-city Chicago, Mexico, a Native American reservation, Baltimore, and Oklahoma.

“In my seminary education, the variety of mission courses I had, and exposure to the basics of other religions came in handy, especially Buddhism, as that is prevalent in Hawaii, as well as Mormonism,” he says.

“But overall,” Schneider says, “I think my experience with cross-culture has taught me to see not so much what makes us different, but what makes us the same and what we have in common.

“Many people think of Hawaii as paradise and assume that life is carefree here,” he says. “But the same sinful nature persists and causes all the problems seen elsewhere.”

Where he believes the seminary excelled was in preparing him for “the most important task of preaching the Law and the Gospel and understanding the power of God’s Word to convict of sin and bring forgiveness through the cross of Jesus.”

About the Author: An award-winning reporter and editor, Sandy Wood is a member of Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo.

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