Confessions of faith: Kolterjahn

God used a woman’s “mistake” to not only give her a husband but also to give her an active faith life.

Linda R. Buxa

“If you ask my husband, he will tell you that we met at an international teachers’ conference,” says Sophie Kolterjahn, laughing, because that’s not what actually happened. “Although meeting online can be an embarrassing piece to share, it clearly shows the Lord’s intervention in our lives and is genuine evidence of the Holy Spirit guiding me to WELS.”

AN HONEST MISTAKE

By all accounts, Sophie is a successful woman. Because her father was a chuckwagon racer in his spare time, she grew up around horses—and began competitive barrel racing at age 4. Eventually, she represented her Canadian province—and placed first—in the Alberta Winter Games. She also played on the U-21 Canadian National Rugby team for two years. She was also named as an All-Canadian two of her four years at the University of Alberta, where she earned a

degree in French immersion education. Later, she received her master of arts in leadership and administration through Gonzaga University. Today she is the culture and engagement advisor at Cenovus Energy in Calgary.

Still, something was missing from her busy life. That’s when a friend suggested Sophie try online dating. “After a bit of pushback, I decided one day to give it a go. I took a deep breath, set up my profile, and hit submit,” she says. “The next day I had an inbox full of messages from men in the United States!”

It took her friend three days to discover the problem. “Rather than having my parameters set to 10 miles from my current location, they were set to 10,000 miles!” Sophie explains.

God used that mistake to match Sophie with Nathan Kolterjahn, a medical student in Tennessee. “His profile was amazing. It was hard to believe that someone with a strong faith, who valued family and was as ambitious as he, truly existed!” said Sophie. She took a chance and sent him a message.

PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL CHANGES

Not only was her personal life about to change, so was her faith life.

Though Sophie’s father was an atheist, he supported his wife’s desire to raise Sophie Catholic. Without a church in their hometown, they drove to the neighboring community every Sunday and made attending Mass an integral part of her life.

On a visit to Wisconsin to get to know Nate’s family, “I shared with Nate’s dad, Pastor Darrick Kolterjahn, my love for his son and my desire to learn more about the WELS faith and Nathan’s beliefs,” she says. With her blessing, he connected Sophie with the pastor at Mountain View, Calgary.

When she returned home to Calgary, she attended worship and started taking a Bible information class. “I wanted to understand the true basis of the Lutheran faith so that I could make an informed decision as to whether I would leave the Catholic Church,” she says. “After ten months of studies, I was confirmed at Mountain View on Feb. 2, 2014.”

“Although I had been an active member in the Catholic Church my entire life, I had never dived into the Bible and felt the teachings to be so true to the gospel,” she says. “Certainly the Catholic Church provided me with the foundation for my beliefs; however, having the Bible at your fingertips and truly understanding the Word of God and how he intended us to apply it to our lives have been an incredible blessing.”

In the early months of their relationship, Nate shared his favorite passage with Sophie. She remembers thinking that she didn’t even know a Bible passage by heart. How would she even have a favorite? So she picked up his Bible, determined to find out which passage was her favorite.

“I read for hours that day . . . starting at the very beginning in Genesis, but I did not find my favorite passage that day,” she says. “However, it was the beginning of my journey to get more familiar with my Bible. The day I did find my favorite Bible passage, it brought me to tears, for it hit home exactly how I have felt in the past and many times even today.”

She picked 1 Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

“This passage spoke to me then and speaks to me now, for I am a sinner,” she says. “There are many sins I have committed in the past, and, despite my best efforts, there will be many more in the future. Understanding that Jesus died on the cross for us all, even for me a sinner, is the most amazing feeling of all.”

FAITH AND A CHALLENGE

This newly active faith gives her the strength for what has been a change-filled and challenge-filled year. Nate and Sophie were married on April 26, 2014. Because Nate is still in his final year of medical school, the entire relationship has been long distance, “but he is worth every flight and every lonely day,” she shares.

Then shortly after their April wedding, they found out Sophie is pregnant. “Nate and I were over-the-moon excited to discover we were expecting our first child, as we have both wanted to have children our entire lives,” she explains.

However, an early ultrasound discovered that the baby was at high risk for chromosomal and developmental abnormalities. “We were heartbroken,” she shares. “They arranged for us to do further testing to gain a better understanding of what we were dealing with. Two doctors suggested that we may want to consider ‘all of our options.’ In other words, consider aborting our beautiful baby. Nate and I held firm that we would not be considering any other ‘option’ other than carrying our baby to full term and allowing God to take care of our little baby.”

The tests, and subsequent wait for the results, took over a month. “Our entire family fell back on our foundation of prayer. I read my Bible to the baby every night, with one hand on my belly, and asked the Lord to take care of our precious gift,” she says.

The tests finally came back—and they were negative. A completely healthy baby girl will be joining the family in February.

“It’s a funny thing to try and describe what it feels like to have active faith in your life,” says Sophie. “My faith now leads me; it surrounds me and is my security blanket no matter what life throws at me.”

Sophie knows that life has a few more changes to throw their way. “With Nate and I currently living in different countries, there are sure to be many changes over the coming years, involving moving and, God willing, we will see our family continue to grow,” she says. Many people might wonder how they get through the hard times. “Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy,” she admits. “But we have such deep faith in the Lord’s plan for us that we can’t help but smile and say, ‘We know it will all turn out in the end.’ ”

Linda Buxa is a member at St. Matthew, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

 

 

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Author: Linda R. Buxa
Volume 101, Number 12
Issue: December 2014

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