Pastor Paul Schroeder was a living object lesson demonstrating that an individual or a small group of individuals can make a big difference in the world.
For decades, Schroeder led a modest-sized church, Our Shepherd Lutheran in Greendale, Wisconsin, as together they created and sponsored the radio program The Word Today, which debuted on one U.S. station in 1978. When Schroeder passed away in Florida on Wednesday, Sept. 9, TWR was broadcasting and streaming its 40-year-plus media partner’s program around the world in 70 languages.
“There was a day eight to 10 years ago when I picked up the phone, and at the other end was a very distraught Pastor Paul,” recalled TWR Director of Global Media Services Ralf Stores. “I said, ‘Pastor Paul, what’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘The time is urgent. We don’t know when the Lord is coming back, and people are dying and will spend eternity in hell. We need to expand the ministry, and I need you to give me a plan for doubling our impact in languages.’”
Within less than a year, The Word Today was communicating the gospel in twice as many languages, 46, and the total kept climbing. But posting impressive numbers wasn’t what motivated Pastor Paul.
“He was doing it from a missiological standpoint,” Stores said. “He was always looking for new, unreached people groups to reach out to. What he asked about was not so much, ‘What languages do you have a bunch of content in?’ He was always asking, ‘Which language do you have very little content in?’ He was very much the pioneer.”
Clearly, missions was the driving passion in the life of both Schroeder and the church he led, and it wasn’t something that happened only at a distance. He liked to visit the mission fields to witness how the program was reaching listeners, and he often took note of other needs the ministry could help with, Stores said.
“I’ve never seen anyone teach and model generosity and stewardship like him,” Stores said, adding that the ministry donated thousands of radios for distribution to listeners in Asia, Africa and other regions. “Pastor Paul was not interested in hoarding or anything like that. If it came into his hands, he was ready to give it. I’ve never seen anyone teach it and model it as well as he did.”
Along with the sad news of Schroeder’s passing comes the great news that The Word Today will remain one of TWR’s most active broadcast partners, the 15-minute weekly programs continuing to be produced for its large and loyal listener base. With foresight, Schroeder in recent years turned over his pastoral and broadcast roles to his son, Douglas, who today writes and records the English version of the Scripture studies on featured words such as “discipline,” “choice,” “believe” and “freedom.”
TWR President Lauren Libby said, “A 40-plus year legacy and Paul’s commitment to spreading the gospel around the world have been profound. Clearly the mission of TWR and the mission of Good Shepherd Church and The Word Today are a perfect match. Even though Pastor Paul is with the Lord, his legacy continues not only through his teaching but through his son, who continues the day-to-day operations of the ministry.”
Listen on TWR360
The Word Today is available on TWR360 in 21 languages, including English. We invite you to try out one or more of the episodes about “stewardship,” “quiet,” “rest” and many other subjects.
Banner Image: [left] Paul Schroeder, [right] Douglas Schroeder (Pastor Schroeder's son and successor as the host of The Word Today), TWR's Andy Napier, and Paul Schroeder at TWR Footsteps Conference