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All by the Grace of God

“I’m not good enough to be a pastor or teacher. I’m way too sinful.” Perhaps this thought has crossed your mind. But in his great grace, God uses sinful people like you and me to preach and teach his Word so others may hear that Jesus is their Savior. Russell Scoggins (Anderson HS, TX) has seen that grace of God firsthand.

Russell was Christian, but his family didn’t find the WELS until he was in 6th grade. Shortly after, his dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was a hard five years for the family, and his father passed away his junior year of high school. But as Russell looks back, he can see God’s grace in it all. For five years, his dad heard God’s Word taught faithfully and became confident of the eternal life he now has in Jesus.

Unfortunately, at the time, Russell didn’t turn to Jesus for help. He didn’t feel like he could relate with the people at church and was just trying to escape. “Freshman and sophomore year I got mixed up in the party and drinking scene,” he says. “Junior and senior year things became worse as drugs became a part of the equation. I was hurting and self-medicating. I wanted to live fast and die young.”

His senior year, a concerned friend told Russell’s pastor what Russ had become involved in. Russell still vividly remembers the day his mother, his godparents, and Pastor Don Patterson sat him down in the living room. “They told me they wanted me back. Pastor Patterson told me the things I was doing were leading me nowhere—I was on a path to eternal death. The message it conveyed to me was very clear: Pastor Patterson wanted to do all he could to win my heart back to God—and he did. Through him and a number of other people who refused to stop loving me, I was won back to Christ. By God's grace I began to come around.”

Less than a year later, Russell decided he wanted to become a pastor. He wanted to help people like Pastor Patterson had helped him and to give them the same love, concern, and comfort from God’s Word. Russell has grown in his faith at MLC, and he has become a leader and role model for me and many more. While here, he met his fiancée Amber Flunker (FVL), has served faithfully as student body president, and has been involved in outreach in Ecuador, Argentina, and New York City. “I’m still a sinner, but the difference is that I have learned to turn to God—to let his law convict me, to revel in God’s grace, and to live my life out of love for him.”