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Moments with missionaries: Nate Walther

Plans A, B, C, D

We were ready to take Minot by storm with a new, innovative approach. It was 2014. Childcare was a big need in a still booming North Dakota, so we were going to begin an early childhood ministry through which we would start a thriving, young mission church. What could go wrong?

A failed land deal, a collapsed oil economy, and one year later we were onto Plan B. It was the start of a trend. The past seven years have been filled with plan after plan to reach out to our community. During much of that time, we were on the lookout for a more functional location for our ministry than a hotel conference room. However, whether it was an appealing land purchase, a building that would lend itself well to a renovation, or just leased space where we could get our footing, every plan seemed to fall through and result in a change of plans. We met at that hotel far longer than we ever envisioned.

Until one day, one of our members was speaking with a friend from another church. They were looking to sell their building, and we were looking to buy. Finally that meant we had a plan that would work. We moved into the building right before Christmas, took a couple months to get settled, and started a Mornings with Mommy program shortly into the new year. For the first time, it felt as if our ministry had reached fifth gear. At last we were able to engage in ministry programs that the limitations of a hotel conference room had not allowed.

VBS
In July, Grace, Minot, N.D., held its first vacation Bible school program.

That was a month before COVID. You can guess what happened next. Fast-forward to 2021, and I can’t tell you what plan we’re on. (By now, we probably have run out of letters!) But all the while, God accomplishes his plan. It has taken me a while to see because it has never matched my plans, but then I remember what God once told his people through the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (29:11). These plans would somehow endure even when Israel was later deported to a foreign land and the temple destroyed. If God could turn that plan into a Savior and life and salvation, he can do the same for us.

This is what I have seen in seven years in Minot—the message of a Savior bringing life and salvation to souls who crave it, even when my own plans have fallen apart. Christian baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals that stopped for no one. Grace from God that did not care what “plan” we were on.

I never saw myself as a home missionary, but when I arrived in Minot I set my mind to working hard and took comfort in the fact that the church would either take off in a couple years or it wouldn’t. It has been seven years now, and I have no idea how long it will take to reach that first couple years when the church will take off, but I do know that God’s plans will endure. As long as we continue to preach Jesus, nothing can stop it.

This is mission work. It is infuriating, and it is beautiful.

Watch a video that featured Grace, Minot’s, ministry from November 2020. Read more stories from WELS mission fields at wels.net/missionsblogs.

Author: Nate Walther
Volume 108, Number 10
Issue: October 2021

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