Michael Wurtz is a student at the Master’s Seminary. As a former Hutterite, he has a unique story. He has kindly provided his testimony to be posted here. I encourage you to read and be edified by it. W.G.
My name is Michael Wurtz and hail from South Dakota. My story is one of the most unlikely stories, but I am most thankful for it.
How I came to Christ
I grew up in an environment that prized performance with no consideration for inner transformation. To say it another way, the gospel played no part in my life nor in the people around me. We were people who believed in God, said His Word was true, understood the importance of abstaining from the world, but there was no life, no spiritual life, in much of what we did and said, at least as far as I could tell. It was not until when I was seventeen years old, when I came face to face with my complete inability to do anything that was worth something in the sight of God. for that was when I realized that I had been living my life trying to please God with all the external things of pleasing God. But it was as if those things I did were as filth to him.
This was the state of my life as a good Hutterite. That is where I grew up, modeled after the Acts 2 sort of living, living communally and having everything in common. They had Anabaptistic/Mennonite roots.
It was through a series of unlikely events that this came about. I had been assigned the duty to work in the field with a tractor, so I drove a John Deere tractor. That tractor was later upgraded. As was customary because of the prohibition of any sort of media, the radio that comes customary was taken out. I, convincing others that I was covering up the hole, actually placed door with hinge on it to cover up a radio that I had secretly installed. Through this connection with the outside world, I heard the gospel being preached, showing me as a covenant breaker before God.
Thus, in spite of my own self-righteousness, God opened my eyes to how my own sin separated me from him. It was only through faith in Christ that my deeds could ever please God. He saved me by his grace alone so that I could truly be his workmanship by actually doing what he wanted from a changed heart.
Growing to Image God in Christ
I left this commune about a year after God saved me, when I moved to live with my sister and her husband. There, I worked on a farm where my boss lived out his Christian faith every day of the week. God used him much in my life, for here was someone who truly lived out his salvation with every decision he made. After working for him for two years, I decided to go to college. This environment kindled my desire to be in full-time ministry.
God put people in my life who influenced me. When it came to choosing where to go, I visited TMS. Seeing how the seminary functioned underneath the leadership of the local church drew me to come here. It was in an environment where academia and local church ministry flourished side by side.
When I came my immaturity became evident. I knew hardly anything of correct hermeneutics, of theology, the list of my lack of understanding and experience goes on. All of a sudden, I was standing in front the mirror with 1 Tim. 3 in my mind, and the person looking back at me did not measure up.
What was I doing here? Why in the world would God allow me to come here? Obviously it was not for who I thought I was, and that was hard to take. Slowly through painful realization, I recognized that I was a self-glory seeker; I still wanted to please the people around me. An unlikely event proved this. I was involved in the college ministry here at Grace. The shepherd of the mid-week study I was involved in gave me the opportunity to preach. I was thrilled at the opportunity, but incredibly nervous, since it was basically my first time. At one point in the sermon I got completely lost, and could not find where my cross reference was. I was looking for verse 25 of a certain chapter and book, but could only see v 24, v26. I literally died up there. It was so bad. One kind sister came up to me and said, “you said some good things.” But I wanted to run and hide. Why, because I was more concerned about my self than about people’s understanding of God.
With that event and its lessons etched in my mind, God allowed me to have more opportunities to serve, pursue growth in preaching and teaching, in counseling, in ministry, and most of all has continued to give me a desire to what he wants with my life.
He did this by placing people in my life who model this so well, and for whom is I am most thankful, whether it be roommates, co-laborers in ministry, and men that I currently work with.
As I think about my life, I want to serve the church and grow in my devotion to Him. God reveals himself in the person of Jesus Christ so that you and I can know Him deeper and more intimately for who he is and with that knowledge transform us so that we desire to do what he wants. This is the work, the work of the gospel, that I want to be a part of.