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Loving God, sharing compassion: Rev. Randy Spahr's journey

By: Hannah Bowes, Elisha intern and DWU senior

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Rev. Randy Spahr. Dakotas Conference file photo.

Rev. Randy Spahr has been in ordained ministry for 40 years. He attended Asbury Seminary. After that, he has served in Geddes, Parker, and Hurley, and at Evergreen in Wahpeton. Currently, Spahr is starting his fifteenth year as a chaplain at Hospice of the Red River Valley in Fargo. His journey towards ministry began after reading Colossians 2: 28-29, "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end, I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Throughout the years, Spahr has come across many wonderful people that touched his life.

"I have a lot of special memories and friendships from each ministry, and I always felt that God led me to each place for a purpose," says Spahr. "It always felt like our three daughters had a lot of adopted grandparents, aunts and uncles, in every church we served, and that was a great blessing for any pastor when you don't have a family real close by."

From a young age, Spahr has been led to missions. He has been on countless mission trips, both local and out of the country, and has been a part of many service projects. He has a passion for working with students and helping them grow.

"When I was at Evergreen, we studied the Purpose Driven Church and talked a lot about reaching out to our community. God gave two ladies a vision of doing a community Bible Study, so we started working on that. The first year we had a couple of other churches that worked with us, and it went well," says Rev. Spahr. "By the third year, we had several churches working together, and we filled up our sanctuary the last night for the final program. I will never forget standing up in our balcony, listening to all those children singing to the Lord. I don't think I have ever felt the presence of God more in my life. After a few years, we outgrew our church building and eventually started having it at the North Dakota State College of Sciences' activities center. I think we had around 600 kids. It is amazing how God can work if we follow the dream that God gives us and depend on God's power."

Spahr Grandkids

Randy Spahr, center back, poses for a goofy photo with family members during a recent vacation. Facebook photo.

When Spahr is not serving in ministry, you can find him spending time with his family. He enjoys going to sporting events, dance recitals, and music concerts of his seven grandchildren. Also, every year, he tries to take a family vacation with all 15 members. When Spahr wants to unwind and talk to God, you can catch him riding his 150cc scooter around town or playing the guitar.

"Music can bring a lot of comfort and hope to people, and I have found in the last few years that music is a great bridge to get people talking about their memories, feelings, and faith," Spahr says.

The best advice Spahr has to offer anyone is to love one another. He reminds himself each day that with God's love, any individual can conquer anything. Spahr received some words of wisdom from Eldon Reich at Annual Conference when he was a young pastor. Words that resonate with him today.

"'The greatest thing that you can do for your congregation is to love them.' I have never forgotten that statement and have tried, with God's help and love, to do that as well," says Spahr. "There are challenges and bumps in any relationship or any congregation, but God's love can overcome anything. I have a clipping in my bible from a devotion that talks about a farmer who had a weathervane on his barn, and on it was written 'God is love.' When asked why, the farmer said, 'This is to remind me that no matter which way the wind blows, God is love.' I have it tucked in by I John:4, and it is a good reminder for me every day."

Spahr is now retired from the Dakotas Conference but intends to keep working at Hospice of the Red River Valley in Fargo as a chaplain.

"I eventually look forward to having more time to spend with family, and I love to travel," says Spahr. "I would also love to spend time volunteering at different mission sites in our country and worldwide."

Read a devotional by Rev. Randy Spahr, When bad things happen

UMC

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