Rolf Leaves Legacy of Love for Students and Ministry

Pastor Joel RolfPASTOR JOEL ROLF ANNOUNCED his resignation as dean of the Association Free Lutheran Bible School earlier this year, to be effective at the end of June.

Rolf has been a constant through many years of change at the Bible school, and students and staff will miss his consistent encouragement and infectious love for students. The Board of Trustees accepted Rolf’s resignation during their meeting on Feb. 26, “With thanks to God and to Joel for his faithful service to the AFLC Schools for the past twelve years.”

“His love for the Bible school and care for the students carried us through sometimes difficult seasons, most notably the intense process of accreditation,” said Pastor Wade Mobley, president of the AFLC Schools. During his tenure as dean, Rolf helped walk the Bible school through the process of academic accreditation, saw the mortgage on Heritage Hall paid in full, and witnessed God at work in countless other ways.

From times of teaching and training to choir tours and concerts, to ministry teams and mission trips, the Word of God has been the focus of the Bible school’s ministry since the beginning.

“As God’s Word is taught and shared in a variety of settings on campus, faith in Christ grows and is strengthened,” Rolf said. “All that we do has the focus on establishing students in God’s Word and providing training for faithful service. It is exciting to see the work of God in students’ hearts and lives through the Word to desire to serve Him in whatever vocation God calls them.”

Rolf has seen many things change and many things stay the same during his tenure, but he is always aware of God’s provision through everything.

“It has been humbling though the years to see how God has been providing for the ministry needs and personnel in the various times of changes,” Rolf said. “God has also been faithfully providing through His people for the financial needs of the ministry, scholarships, buildings, vans, ovens, continuing education, and a host of other ways.”

One of Rolf’s fondest memories of his time at the Bible school are his interactions with students. In particular, Rolf appreciated the chance to work with young men who desired to speak in weekly chapel services.

“In 2008, we began giving the second-year men the opportunity to prepare and proclaim a message from the Word for the AFLBS chapel each week,” Rolf said. “I have really enjoyed working with these men who have volunteered to speak and giving them some training in how to prepare a message and provide support through the process. For many of these men, it is their first opportunity to preach.”

Another highlight for Rolf is seeing the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the world through Bible school alumni. “Ministry and involvement in congregations continue with many alumni,” Rolf said. “It is exciting to see the impact of the Bible school ministry to second- and third-generation students, as well as the impact of the ministry of alumni around the world. We have a lot for which to praise God for what He has done and continues to do by His grace!”

Through his years of ministry, Rolf’s clear love for students will be remembered best. “I have really enjoyed working with the students, staff, and faculty through the years,” Rolf said. “I love getting to know the students each year and investing in their lives.”

Rolf accepted the position of Bible school dean in 2006 following his election at the Annual Conference. Prior to that, he served as pastor of congregations in Devil’s Lake, N.D., Radcliffe and Garden City, Iowa, as well as more than eleven years at Grace and Zion Free Lutheran in Valley City, N.D.

Rolf will begin a time of sabbatical following the completion of his ministry at the Bible school. “I am praying with an open mind and heart to God’s leading for the future,” Rolf said. “I love the various aspects of pastoral ministry in the congregation. That may be what God has in mind, or it could be something else. I have full confidence that God will make it clear and show me His plan in His time.”

This article first appeared in Kinship Magazine, Spring 2018 Edition.

Kinship is a magazine of the Free Lutheran Schools. Stay up to date on latest news, student stories, classroom highlights, and fun tidbits about life on the AFLBS and AFLTS campus.

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