A Note from our Missionary

From our missionary…

Rev. Gary Schulte, entered this world on an army base in Lawton, Oklahoma, the last of 5 children born to Raymond and Sharon Schulte.  His dad spent a 30 year career in the Air Force. So the family traveled around a lot.  When Gary was 13, his dad retired from the military and the family settled in Florissant, MO, a suburb of St. Louis.  He attended McCluer North High School and Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in Business Administration.  He and his wife Stephanie met as students at Wash. U. while both working a work-study job in the Office of Financial Aids processing student loans.  Gary was also brought to faith in Jesus during these years by the witness of some friends and was eventually baptized by immersion at a Southern Baptist Church.

After graduation from college, Gary worked as a market analyst for Rawlings Sporting Goods corporation in Fenton, Missouri.  During these months, Steph finally talked him into taking a Pastor’s instruction class and all the pieces fell together for him.  In the spring of 1987, Gary was confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood, MO.

About a year later, in March of 1988. the newlyweds were off to the mission field in Africa.  Over 12 years in Togo, Gary served as business manager, church planter, theological educator, TEE Coordinator, and head missionary.  The family also grew by the blessing of God over these years as four children – Tim, Tom, Jeff, and Ariana – were born.  In 2000, they all moved to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where Gary took on the role of Regional Business Manager until the outbreak of civil war forced them to evacuate in 2003.

Upon their return to the US,  Gary completed his studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, was ordained as a pastor and served for ten years as the sole pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, Missouri.

In the summer of 2015, the Lord called Gary and Steph back to service in Africa.  He serves now as the Area Director for West and Central Africa, which makes him the Synod’s chief ambassador to partner and mission churches in 13 countries.

Stephanie Schulte entered this world in Cheverly, Maryland, the oldest of three children born to Rev. Denver Schrader, an LCMS pastor, and Hilde Schrader, an LCMS school teacher.  As a pk (pastor’s kid), she and her family moved around quite a bit, mostly in Missouri and Illinois.

Upon her dad’s retirment from the ministry, the family settled in Kirkwood, MO, a suburb of St. Louis, and joined Concordia Lutheran Church.  During the family’s Kirkwood years, Steph graduated from Lutheran South High School and Washington University in St. Louis, where she majored in Psychology.  She met her husband Gary while the two worked side-by-side in the Financial Aids Office processing student loan applications.

After graduation in 1986, Steph worked for a little over a year Life Skills Foundation of St. Louis, where she helped the developmentally handicapped enter the freemarket workforce. But, soon the Lord would call the young couple to missionary service in Africa.

In March of 1988, Steph and Gary left for Togo in West Africa.  During that time, they were blessed with four children – Tim, Tom, Jeff and Ariana.  In all, the couple would serve in Togo for more than twelve years and in Côte D’Ivoire for another 3 before being forced to return to the United States due to the outbreak of Civil War.

Soon after the family settled in St. Louis, Steph began nursing school to acquire the skills she wished she would have had the whole time they were in Africa.  She graduated from Jefferson County College in 2011 as an RN and began working on the trauma floor of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Over time, she would also earn her BSN from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.  All of this she did with a view toward eventually returning to her beloved Africa to put these skills to good use.

In August of 1988, Steph and Gary finally made it back as they moved to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Stephanie now serves as West and Central Africa Area Coordinator of Mercy Medical Work.  Gary and Steph will be with us on December 5th at the 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. Advent service.