Keeping the faith

Story and photos by Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Sometimes faith is all you’ve got.

The loss of a sibling, ill parents, tough financial times − it’s a lot for a boy.
Back then, with only food from the backyard garden, Scott Jensen grew up fast, a little more mature, a little wiser than his peers. It may be why in the fifth-grade he could say to his mom, “One day I’m going to be a pastor.”

“I never forgot that,” said Jane Jensen, sitting at the front of the small South Chapel on Ramstein.

On June 1, Capt. Scott Jensen, 38th Combat Support Wing executive officer, was ordained a Lutheran pastor.

It may well have been the first time an active-duty Air Force troop was ordained on an Air Force Base. Pastor Gary Berstch, 38th Combat Support Wing chaplain, told the congregation they were witness to a rare event.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Col. Jack Briggs, 38th CSW commander. “He’s going to do good things for the Air Force and for people.”

Relying on faith

It was 1 a.m. and someone was knocking on Staff Sgt. Scott Jensen’s door at Shepherd Air Force Base, where he was TDY. “Your wife lost the baby and you might lose your wife too,” were the words delivered in what felt like a cold blow.

“That changed things,” Scott Jensen said. It’s not that he found faith. He had that. It’s that he found that it was OK to need help. And, when the time came, it was OK to give it.

“There are people out there that need help,” Scott Jensen said. “And, I was one of those people.”

***image3***His very small congregation, maybe 50 including the children, raised money, set up a counseling group and helped the Jensen’s heal.

It was then that Scott Jensen started to explore that idea he had since he was a boy; Could he give? Could he be a pastor?

In 1999, he began a seven-year Master of Divinity degree through the Faith Evangelical Seminary, an accredited institution. It was the same time his wife Lina found out she was pregnant.

Faith in his path

On Sunday, in front of his wife Lina and his mom Jane, Scott Jensen kneeled at the alter. Pastor Jim Elmore, the president of the Conservative Lutheran Association, flew in from California to preside over the ordination, which is to confer holy orders. Pastor Elmore invited three other pastors to “lay their hands on Scott” as they said prayers for his ordination. Pastor Elmore laid the vestment, or yolk, which was made in Belgium, around Scott Jensen’s shoulders. On the inside of his red vestment is embroidered in gold thread, “In memory of my father Cliff Jensen,” who passed away in October. He also wore his father’s wedding band on his right hand, “to honor me,” said Jane Jensen.

Standing at Scott Jensen’s side was his seven-year-old daughter
Tiffany, the child he prayed for everyday for seven years and the one he calls, “our miracle.” She presented her father with his Bible.

“You can’t do this without your family’s support,” Scott Jensen said.

Pastor is forever

Scott Jensen entered the Air Force in 1986 − went in as an enlisted troop, earned an associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s degree. He learned how to fly and scuba dive. He got married, got commissioned and has deployed three times.

“The Air Force has been good to me,” he said.

The thing about being an officer in the Air Force is that when you retire, you retire your rank, Captain Jensen said.

“Being ordained is different,” he said. “Pastor is forever.”

But, it’s not time to leave the Air Force, he said.

Scott Jensen is waiting for news on his application to become an Air Force Chaplain. He believes his experience as an enlisted troop, an officer, his deployments and his work as a pastor are experiences he can share.

 “There are people hurting and they need help,” he said. “If you’ve been there and done that, there is a common bond, a common understanding,” he said.
For now, he will be a Pastor at large, preaching when he is needed, performing baptisms and marriages and administering communion.

“It’s not a new beginning,” Scott Jensen said. “It’s a continuation of a task. This is another tool to go out there and get what needs to be done, done.”

On June 18, Father’s Day, Jane Jensen will hear her oldest son preach as an ordained Lutheran pastor for the first time, just like he said he would.