Nov 11, 2008

Advancing from Success to Significance

"I am requesting for your prayer,” he began as we sat down over a meal at the Forepaugh restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota four years ago. “I am currently designing a heart device that has capacity to stop itself should it sense that a heart patient is beyond recovery. My biggest concern is to know what our boundaries as human beings are and when we are crossing those boundaries in regards to medical innovation and treatment,” he continued as he sought God’s wisdom in the matter. Meet Robert Stadler as he lives out his faith in the market place of scientific ideas and technological cutting edge. He is the Senior Principal Scientist for Medtronic, the world’s largest medical technology company whose head-quarters is here in Minneapolis. A graduate of both Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University from where he holds a Master of Science in electrical engineering and PhD in Medical Engineering respectively, Rob advanced from searching for success in life to finding significance through his relationship with Jesus Christ. Rob and I met seven years ago when I was invited to speak at a youth service at their church, Messiah Lutheran Church, in Moundsview, a Northeast suburb of the Twin Cities. Moved by what God was doing, he, along with his wife Bethanie, a professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, and their two children, Noelle and Andrew, felt led to get involved with SWIM. I later invited Rob to join our Board of Directors which he has joyfully and diligently served as chairman for the last three years. One of Rob’s amazing qualities is his self-effacement. He is a humble, down to earth servant of God, keen to serve and obey Christ with trembling and fear. As we have worked together, his biggest concern has always been making sure that we are not getting in the way of God and hindering His work through mediocre faith, over-emphasis on availability or lack thereof of finances, or any other thing. He is deeply compassionate, a trait that led him to be involved with a young Rwandan refugee family following the 1994 genocide in the country of Rwanda. Recently, God stretched Rob’s faith when He laid it on his heart to travel with the SWIM team in 2007 to conduct the Africa Great Lakes Region Conference for Leadership and Governance in Kigali Rwanda and the Festival of Hope in Bukavu, DR Congo. Having never travelled into a war-battered zone before, Rob’s faith was stretched each day as we drove on raggedy roads and met extremely needy people and situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As our team’s logistics manager, he successfully navigated otherwise daunting logistical situations in a foreign environment, allowing the rest of our team to minister effectively to over 400 pastors, government leaders, and to nearly 20,000 residents of the city of Bukavu through the Festival of Hope. During the pastor’s conference, he equipped the church leaders with great insights on effective time and resource management as the expression of our faith. On How He Came to Faith "I grew up as a Christian, but only in the latter half of my years have I really felt the urge to put my faith into practice. I have since felt a calling to advance from striving for “success” to striving for “significance.” God makes it clear that his kingdom and his purposes are the only things that carry true significance. Striving for success according to human wisdom is like chasing after the wind - it is meaningless!" On the Relationship between Faith and Science "A great deal of good comes both from science and from faith. Unfortunately, some scientists choose to discredit themselves by attempting to use the scientific method to answer the question: “How did life begin?” This question cannot be answered by the scientific method, and attempting to do so requires one to assert their own bias to fill the gaps. Bias always leads to bad science. As a result of this ongoing debate, science is discredited and the foundation of the church has been shaken. This question can only be answered by faith. I put my faith in the word of God rather than the biased ideas and interpretations of man." My Tribute As a co-laborer in the Kingdom of God with Rob, I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ who connected us seven years ago. It is true that God calls individuals just like he called me from the boondocks of Kenya to preach His gospel around the world. However, he never calls those individuals alone. He calls them along with and to serve among the community of other believers. Through Kingdom partnerships, we confront powers and principalities that stand in opposition to the truth of God. Rob has been and continues to be that faithful partner. Now that He is transitioning from our Board of Directors to spend sometime doing research in Europe, I pray that God’s hand of favor will continue to follow him and his family in unprecedented fashion. Thank you brother for your humble service. Keep the flame burning! Robert Stadler, PhD, is the out-going chairman of the Leadership Board for Shine in the World Int'l Ministries (SWIM) of which I am Founder and President -- this is in honor of his example of faith and service to the Kingdom. God does not require extra-ordinary people. He uses ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. In Rob and his lovely wife Bethanie, PhD, along with their children Noel and Andrew, I see an ordinary couple who are available to Jesus Christ.