In his letter to the early church in Rome, Paul tells us that all things work together for good. While followers of Christ understand these words to be true, they also understand there is no guarantee the road to good will be easy. In fact, the journey often involves pain and sacrifice.
Noah Schumacher, a 2014 M.Div graduate from Ashland Theological Seminary, has lived Paul’s exhortation to the extreme. It all started when his mother made a routine visit to the doctor’s office to check on a cough. Her diagnosis turned out to be serious liver disease, and without a transplant, she would lose her life.
Noah and his wife, Michelle, immediately underwent an extensive screening process to find out if they would be viable candidates for a living liver transplant, in which a portion of a live person’s liver is transplanted into a recipient and regenerates into a new, functional organ. Noah appeared to be a good match, until imaging tests revealed his liver was not the right shape or size for him to make a donation without putting himself in grave danger.
This heart-wrenching news quickly led to a new development: Noah could donate a portion of his liver to a child whose life was on the line.
Noah and Michelle had no problem reaching an agreement to go forward with the surgery. “For us it was a no-brainer,” Noah says, citing Jesus’s own sacrificial love. “Our commitment to follow Jesus made this one of the easiest decisions we could ever make.”
The seminary graduate, church pastor, and father of three puts his theology in no uncertain terms: “Love big or go home.”
Most people would say that saving a child’s life would count as “all things working together for good,” and indeed, they would be right. But God delivered on his promise even further, providing a donor whose liver would save his mother’s life. He would also use the story to strengthen and inspire Noah’s congregation at HighMill Church of the Resurrection in Canton. Losing a pastor to three months of recovery can be challenging, but the church grew in their sense of commitment, coming closer to Noah’s goal of shepherding a church “that Jesus would attend.”
Ashland Theological Seminary helped Noah understand “there is no divide between good works and faith. If we follow Christ, we live Christ.” Seminary, he explains, “is not about the letters after your name but the person you become.”
Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world. The seminary offers certificate, master’s and doctoral level programs in Ashland, Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit. Learn more at seminary.ashland.edu.