Wendell Amstutz, MA
Founder /CEO | Author / Speaker
Three Score and Ten
Moses, in Psalm 90 tells us that man’s normal lifespan is three score and 10 (70 years) and if he should have extra strength he could add ten years (up to 80 years, maybe more). Today the average lifespan is 75.8 years. To describe my life journey I will use Moses’ score principle of twenty year segments.
Score One…Years One to Twenty
I had the special gift of being born into a Pastor’s home. My Christian parents Tillman and Geraldine loved and served Christ their whole life. The heritage given me was Dad loved God and loved Mom.
As a preacher’s kid, we lived in multiple states including Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Illinois. “HOME” was primarily the Fort Wayne Indiana area until becoming a Minnesotan (Rochester) for my adult life.
Growing up included a spiritually rich family life and prized heritage of following in the steps of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. A small northeast Indiana community was named after my great grandfather, Joseph Grabill.
My family siblings include a bunch of achievers and special people who I love dearly. I have an older sister (Sonja) and two younger siblings Jerry and Gwendolyn. I later married Gwendolyn M. Madsen. So there are two Gwen Amstutz’ in my life. No, I did NOT marry my sister.
Gwendolyn J Amstutz and I both live in Rochester MN. She is a well-known, prominent Mayo Clinic Administrator.
Years 1 through 20 were filled with animals (raising sheep, dogs, Shetland ponies) sports (playing basketball and baseball, being avid fan of the Milwaukee Braves and Baltimore Colts) and participating in the church community. At the age of five I invited Christ into my life. At no point did I have serious questions about my faith, nor walk sizablely away from my faith.
The highlight was getting involved with Youth For Christ while in high school. As a student leader, God revealed to me life direction that would impact the next fifty years of my life. I was mentored by a number of exceptional youth leaders who were recognized nationally for their work with youth.
Score Two…Years 20 to 40
Education wise, I attended Fort Wayne Bible College which would become part of Taylor University. The college majors were in Bible and Christian Education. My Master’s Degree is in Counseling from St Francis (Fort Wayne) University. My earned Doctorate is from the School of Hard Knocks which has been a life-long learning experience in seeking wisdom, godliness and significance.
Score Two was the beginning of the “second love of my life.” The first love is Jesus. The second love is my beloved bride of forty four years-Gwen (Madsen) Amstutz. We are blessed to have three daughters: Karen (now Kari), Jolyn (died at birth) and Kalli.
Gwen has been my ministry partner and number one human ally. She was a master school teacher of 40 plus years. Gwen made art come alive to thousands of students in the Albert Lea and (primarily) Rochester MN Public Schools. Today she specializes in teaching two dearly loved grand daughters (Eliza and Annabelle). Retirement has also included elder care for her parents and my 99 year old mom.
I spent 23 years on staff with Youth for Christ, loving kids and doing youth work. The locations included Ft. Wayne and three Minnesota communities (Minneapolis, Albert Lea-Austin and Rochester). Sixteen of the years were as Executive Director of two programs that were blessed to pass the test of time.
Albert Lea which would become So. Central MN YFC is 50 plus years old with a RICH heritage of producing exceptional young Christian leaders. Our nine years were followed by the long term leadership of one of our volunteer staff (Greg Gudal) who has been greatly used of God, ministering to young people.
We moved to Rochester in 1983 to start Rochester Youth For Christ. The primary blessing included hiring Gary Kadansky who has been the Director for 30 plus years. Three components of the ministry started in the eighties (Bible Quizzing, Super Night and the radio show “Straight from the Heart” lasted thirty years thanks to God’s blessing and Gary’s leadership. (Rochester YFC is now Teen Hope.)
Score Three plus Ten…Years 40 to 70
The last thirty years of our ministry have been spent in the work of the National Community Resource Center (NCRC), a small non-profit organization with world-wide influence.
God’s blessing has been quite remarkable. Very few para-church ministries last for five to ten years, let alone thirty years (1990-2020). The ongoing work of NCRC is described in the NCRC history and organization sections of the web-site.
The School of Hard Knocks took a decidedly different turn in the summer of 2008. I was diagnosed with Melanoma Cancer and given 18 months to three years to live. From never having been a patient in a hospital (other than birth) to staring at Heaven was and is a journey that transcends words.
I have had thirteen separate bouts of cancer, a life threatening bleeding ulcer and a near fatal car accident since 2008. “Painfully Rich” are the words that best describe the cancer journey. I first learned these words following the death of our second daughter, Jolyn. The times have been equally painful and rich.
Cancer is NOT fun. I would not recommend cancer’s physical pain and treatment for recreational purposes. The bleeding ulcer experience fits in the same category.
Yet there has been a richness of blessing from God that is truly amazing. Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20 talk of God using difficult experiences for His Glory and our good. Those verses are MOST TRUE. Being part of God’s master plan is an incredible gift.
I have been blessed with exceptional medical care (Mayo IS the best in the world), with wonderful support from my family and friends galore who pray for me, love me and encourage me. Due to years of friendships personally and organizationally around the country, literally thousands of people have diligently prayed for me. I am humbled to tears (often) when thinking of the love shown me and prayers sent to heaven on my behalf. I have never felt so loved and so encouraged as I have the past twelve years.
The primary lesson that God continues to teach me is that of gratitude. The Apostle Paul says to give thanks at all times, in all things and for all things. I would love to tell you that I have mastered this life changing lesson. In a major way, God’s grace through the lesson of gratitude has brought me thus far. Then again, the gratitude lesson is one I need every day…so I am very much experiencing the learning curve daily.
A second key lesson is allowing the cancer to open doors of ministry. Oncologist appointments, blood draws, pet scans and breathing tests have become my personal “mission trips.” Some people go to Haiti, Mexico and urban US cities to do mission work. My mission field is Mayo Clinic and Methodist and St.Marys hospitals. At the hospitals my second name is Pocahontas due to all of my blood draws.
Certainly there has been a new ministry title…Apostle of Suffering…which has opened many doors to love people in physical pain and those close to them.
Paul summed it up best in describing the WIN-WIN situation God has placed me in. I want to go to Heaven TODAY and I want to live another 20 years doing significant ministry, enjoying family and God’s dear people.
Lou Gehrig, the Hall of Fame baseball player aptly said at his retirement, “I of all people, am MOST BLESSED.” (He died shortly afterwards of what has become known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.)
Three Score and Ten…and if by some reason of strength they are eighty years…
So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom Psalm 90:10,12