Kevin Wendt, pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, began his ministry 25 years ago at Trinity Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minnesota, "a difficult state for a Packer fan to live in," he said.
Although Wendt grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he was never a big fan of cold weather.
"The Minnesota winters made me pray for the Lord to move us south," Wendt told The Log. "So when I accepted a call to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Macomb, Michigan, which technically is south of Rochester, I lamented I should have been more specific in my prayers."
Wendt continued his ministry at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and then Concordia Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but was still in the cold weather. His prayer for a warmer climate was finally answered in 2012 when the Lord called him to be pastor of Destin's Grace Lutheran Church.
Wendt said he didn't want to be a pastor and many times during the 25 years he has been reluctant to continue. He identifies with Moses in Exodus when he was reluctant to do God's work delivering his people from bondage.
"It was only the enduring grace of God that kept Moses in place as the human voice through which God spoke to his people," Wendt said. "Moses was a sinner among sinners used by God to point his helpless people to his means of saving them."
Serving in a Gospel ministry is, according to Wendt, not a human achievement.
"Marking 25 years in the office of the public ministry is the opposite of being my accomplishment," he said. "It is all and only a work of God to use me in his care of souls, for reasons known only to him. I am a sinner among sinners, unworthy to be a pastor. Nevertheless, God has called me through his church to preach his gospel, which is his power to save people."
During the 25 year-ministry, covering five states and five congregations, Wendt has found that basically the congregations are the same.
"Sure, each has had its own culture unique to its time and place," he said. "Each has had its own set of strengths and weaknesses and distinctive personality traits. But underneath it all, each church is people, marvelous mixes of sinners/saints drawn by the Holy Spirit to the word and sacraments of God for the forgiveness of their sins."
As for the next five, 10 or 25 years, Wendt is content to serve Jesus wherever, whenever and however he is called.
"When I first considered going to seminary, I asked my pastor how he knew he was to be a pastor," Wendt said. "Rather than telling me a lightning bolt from heaven story he told me God opens doors. While his advice disappointed me in the moment, it has proven precisely and profoundly true. So on the selfish side, and I believe I can speak for my wife, we see ourselves remaining at Grace Lutheran Church for the rest of our lives. But the truth is, we’ll be wherever God opens doors."