Joel and Pam Rohde have never lived outside of Iowa. They met at Central College in Pella where they studied ministry, music, and art. When Joel became a pastor and Pam became a mom, she held many quirky side jobs. Everything from Airport baggage handling to Greek tutor to shave ice franchise management, all while Joel served as Director of Worship and Discipleship at North Ridge Community Church in Eldridge, where he still ministers. When their oldest was about to start Kindergarten, they found Morning Star Academy and were thrilled not only to find a unique Christian education for their son, but also a chance for Pam to use her art education and theological training in a scholarly setting.
For seven years Pam Rohde has taught at Morning Star Academy. For the first three years, she taught art part-time. Four years ago, she went full-time, adding Bible coursework to her workload, and really sweetening the deal.
After fourteen years in Eastern Iowa and seven at Morning Star, the Rohdes have been obedient to see what God might do next with their family. In Pam’s prayer journal she sensed that something big might be coming. She even wondered if it involved moving overseas, but this seemed to come out of nowhere. Until, that is, she found out about the M.Litt. program at St. Andrews University in partnership with the Logos Institute. This would be an opportunity for Pam to further her biblical studies and add depth to her already robust scholarship in this field. The family considered it prayerfully, applied, and figured if God willed it, they’d walk through the next door as it opened. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” was one of the scriptures Pam had written in her journal. “And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Paths continue to open for the Rohdes, and with the blessing of both their workplaces to take a time of “sabbatical,” they will live in St. Andrews, Scotland for the next academic year. For Pam this means two full semesters of coursework and a summer of dissertation writing. For Joel, he will be their four children’s primary educator for the next year and hopes they don’t end up tripping over each other in whatever housing situation they’ll be in – likely much smaller than their Eldridge, IA home! “It feels like a bit of a reset button,” Joel said. “I’m looking forward to more intentional time together and investigating what God is doing in this part of the world.” They say they are also looking forward to sitting together in worship for the first time in many years. Since Joel is a worship pastor, and often Pam has opportunities to serve in other churches, they don’t always get to just sit in the pews and worship together as a family.
From talking to the Rohdes, I’d say confidence is a word that marks their decision to go. The choice to move temporarily across the globe is one they sought together in prayer and discernment. Pam mentioned a little book she read with her eleventh graders at Morning Star. Paul Little’s Affirming the Will of God. While she meant for it to be instructive for her upperclassmen, it ended up being a tool of discernment in her own life. Through this little book, she asked herself: Am I being obedient to God’s will? Am I sharing this opportunity with people I trust? Am I seeking the Holy Spirit in prayer? Interestingly enough, when she described the program at St. Andrews to her eleventh graders, one of them said: “Wow, Mrs. Rohde. Sounds like a Biblical Worldview Degree!” And that is just what it is, and what she teaches. What a gift to be able to gain that insight and bring it back to the Quad Cities and Morning Star Academy. The Rohdes plan to return in 2022 to share what wisdom they’ve gained from their time in such a radically different setting than what they are used to.
They say their kids are at once excited to go and also eager to stay in touch with friends back home – primarily through letter-writing, but a family blog might possibly be in the works, too. For Eva, their youngest, she’s looking forward to the travel itself as she has never been on a plane or a train.
The Rohde family leaves for Scotland at the end of summer. If you know them, reach out to shower them with congratulations and prayer. If you don’t know them yet, I highly recommend meeting them. And, if you would like to receive prayer updates and/or follow their family blog, contact Pam or Joel at: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.