WELS Connection Close-up

It was nearly a decade ago that the Jenswold family loaded up the car with suitcases, bedding, and a few other essentials to take their oldest son Jacob from their home in Ohio to his first year at Luther Preparatory School (LPS) in Watertown, Wis. This fall, the youngest of the four Jenswold children, daughter Rachel, is embarking on her four years at LPS.

Rev. Joel and Sue Jenswold always knew where they would send their children for a secondary education. Joel says, “It was never even a question of if we would send [our children] to LPS. It was very important to us that they would have a Christian education.”

Both Joel and Sue are LPS alumni, although when they attended, beginning in 1981, it was called Northwestern Preparatory School and shared a campus with Northwestern College.

Joel’s and Sue’s roots run deep in Watertown, where they met in first grade. Both had parents serving in different roles at the campus, so sending their children across two states for high school was really like sending them home.

In 1993, Joel was assigned to his first congregation, Shepherd of Peace in Powell, Ohio. Not many members knew what LPS was, much less why you’d send a young teenager away for high school. Joel says, “When the time came for us to send our kids away, [some people at our church] honestly looked at us like we had three heads!” But he says it was an opportunity to model the importance of a Christian education. “We never want to sugarcoat this when we talk to other parents—it’s hard, but it also fills you with joy to do it,” he says. “You think you are losing some¬thing when you send a child away, but the Lord adds new blessings in the process.”

Since their first son started at LPS, Joel has accepted a call in Hortonville, Wis., where he continues to offer encouragement to parents considering the school. “They will be in a Christ-centered environment for four of the most important formative years of their lives,” he says. “Even if they’re not going to be a pastor or teacher, the Holy Spirit is going to be working on those kids for those four years.”

Sue added, “We always thought that Jesus didn’t give us our kids to keep. They belong to him, and we, in turn, said, ‘Okay, can you use them for your kingdom?’ So we sent them to LPS.”