New Richmond High School 2017 graduate Isaac Karpenske's path to the ministry could not be clearer than it is right now. God has been with him since he was little, through the good times and the bad, so it just makes sense that he would end up going into the ministry and want to be there for others as God has been there for him.
But it was not until the last year or so that Karpenske realized that becoming a pastor was what he was meant to do.
"I guess I just felt this weight in my heart during my junior year and I didn't know what it was. I tried to lift it off by singing it off in choir and just trying to ignore it, but it was still there," Karpenske said. "One night I asked God what I should do. The next morning I was talking with my mom and asked her what she thought about my going into psychology, but she said that didn't quite seem right for me. Then she suggested becoming a pastor and that is when the light came on."
When he was younger, Karpenske said he was bullied for being a little chubby, struggled with his social and motor skills and was also diagnosed with a learning disability. However, his life started to turn around in third grade when his teacher stepped in and told his parents that he needed to develop more.
"I'd like to say that I'm very thankful for my parents and how they raised me, as well as for my sister. I hope they continue to raise my sister the way they raised me," Karpenske said. "I'm very thankful that they enriched my faith the way they did and that they were involved in my life."
Karpenske, who is a Baptist, will attend the University of Northwestern - St. Paul for ministry. He will pursue a dual degree, which will earn him a bachelor's of arts degree after four years and then a masters degree in divinity after the fifth year.
"Faith is a very important part of my life. I can honestly say that God has been with me ever since I came out of the womb," Karpenske said. "I definitely prayed about it when I started to think that becoming a pastor was what I wanted to do. I talked with a couple pastors at my church to clarify and make sure it was the right way to go. Right now, there aren't as many pastors going in as there are going out. There is a shortage."
Although he had not thought about becoming a pastor until his mother suggested it to him, the idea of being there for others is important to Karpenske, and is one of the main reasons why the more he thought about going into the ministry the more he liked the idea.
"Because it is not focused on myself and is instead focused on serving something greater than I am. Serving what I believe is my savior, Jesus Christ. Doing his will than doing it for me," Karpenske said. "Obviously, if you are going for an engineering degree, you can do it for Jesus or somebody else, but if you are going to be a pastor your life is dedicated to God."
Throughout his high school career, Karpenske has been a member of several New Richmond High School athletics teams, including football, which he will continue to play at Northwestern, as well as powerlifting and track. Of his favorite memories from his time as a member of those teams, his favorite was the powerlifting team's success at the state tournament this year.
"This year was the climax of my three years on the team," Karpenske said. "I never would have thought I would have finished where I did, in first place. How the whole thing played out, in my opinion, had to have been created by God. The guy who was ahead of my bombed out on all three of his squats and as soon as that happened, I knew something was up since that doesn't usually happen in that situation. I didn't know how to handle that situation, but I used my adrenaline and enthusiasm to motivate me. It was unfortunate for the first place guy to be disqualified, but I was ready to go at that point and ready to finish."
Although sports have been a big part of his life in high school, Karpenske has also developed a love for singing, be it as part of the high school choir or at solo and ensemble. He will continue to sing as part of the choral department at Northwestern.
"My love for singing got started when I invited my mom and dad to my district solo and ensemble thing in seventh-grade and my mom said 'Who's kid is that?' because my mom can sing all right, but my dad can't sing at all. So they didn't know where I got that talent from," Karpenske said. "Ever since then, it has kind of developed and grown."
Along with sports and singing, Karpenske also loves to be outside, whether it is hunting, fishing or just being active. He also loves to read the Bible and continue to learn from its passages.
"God has revealed himself to me in many ways, such as being in nature, or dreams, or even in moments where I experience success or humility. I guess the main thing is he has been there for me since the beginning," Karpenske said. "And he has used me to glorify Him with things like football, powerlifting, track and field, choir and with my grades."