A Whole New World

A Whole New World

Professor Ingo Sorke takes pride in the successes of his students.

Ingo Sorke told himself he would never become a Seventh-day Adventist.  Now, he’s not only a Seventh-day Adventist ordained minister, but also a professor and chair of the religion department at Southwestern Adventist University.

When Sorke was 17 years old, he lived in Germany, had never heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and today confesses he “ate nearly anything that had a mother and a father.”  Towards the end of his sophomore year in high school, Sorke became completely sick of school.  Rather than drop out, Sorke’s parents encouraged him to become a foreign exchange student.

It was August 1985, and Sorke was in for a complete lifestyle and cultural change.  Sorke had not been raised a Christian, yet earlier that year he had felt compelled to pray.  He asked that God send him to a Christian household in America.  Sorke was not only sent to a Christian household, but an entire Christian community: Keene, Texas.

When Sorke reached his new home in America, he found a list of chores along with a dinner of liver and onions awaiting him.  The chores list not only explained how to work the washing machine, but also that the family would go to church on Saturday.  To top it off, the liver and onions wasn’t liver and onions at all, it was tofu.  Sorke became a vegetarian overnight.

At first Sorke thought the family was Jewish, until he heard them talking about Jesus.  He not only discovered the Seventh-day Adventist Church that day, but also became completely immersed into its culture.

“The house I stayed at belonged to Ken and Joyce Williams,” says Sorke.  “I had nothing against the family, but swore that I would never become a Seventh-day Adventist.“

Dale Heinrich was one of Sorke’s closest friends in the United States.  Heinrich played organ at a Methodist church.  The two went on a camping trip together and Heinrich said something that really resounded with Sorke.   He said, “If you don’t make up your mind about God, you’ll never make it.”

Not too long after that, Sorke decided to take a jog around Keene.  Heinrich drove past on his motorcycle, and the two exchanged a friendly wave.  Later on that day, Sorke found out that Heinrich had died in a motorcycle accident.

“I didn’t really understand what was going on,” says Sorke.  “It was a total shock. Then at the hospital, I noticed that the grieving was far different than grieving I had experienced in Germany.  In Germany, people fall apart.  Here they were sad and crying, but there was a sense of peace.”

Sorke played the piano at Heinrich’s funeral.  Over and over again, people told Sorke, “Dale would have enjoyed that.”  Up to that point, Sorke had always had a different theology about death.  He figured that his friend was either in heaven or hell, but either way, had heard the piano piece.  In a moment of frustration, Sorke snapped and responded, “Well, he did enjoy it.”

The man Sorke snapped at picked up a Bible without saying a word.  Turning to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which talks about the state of the dead, he handed Sorke the Bible.  The implications of the verses didn’t click with Sorke right away, but they led him to begin following the Amazing Facts Bible Study.

Over time, Sorke grew closer to God. He still was not interested in becoming a Seventh-day Adventist, but wanted to be a Christian.  No one ever pressured him to be baptized. About two weeks before it was time for him to go back to Germany, Sorke decided on his own that it needed to be done.  He got on his bike and rode to the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Sorke knocked on the door and said, “I’m here to get baptized.”

The pastor there wanted to have six months of Bible study, but Sorke was going home in two weeks.  The two sat down and talked for several hours. Sorke learned all about the plan of salvation, and about what Seventh-day Adventists believe.  Before Sorke left for home, he was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In Germany, Sorke graduated as a biology major.  He was going to apply for medical school, but somehow found himself applying for the seminary instead.  He also knew he needed to attend an Adventist university.

When Sorke returned to Germany, he wrote letters to a classmate of his named Nancy, who would later become his wife.  Five years later, Sorke came to the United States to visit Nancy and to decide on a school to attend.  Southwestern was at the very back of his mind when it came time to decide where he wanted to go.  He was only in Keene to visit Nancy. A conversation with Religion Professor Bill Kilgore completely turned his mind around, and before long Sorke had his schedule planned for the upcoming semester.

Sorke became a pastor and later a professor of theology at Southwestern Adventist University.  He has been the pastor for churches in Houston, Galveston, and San Antonio.  He has also attended several seminaries, including one in Jerusalem.

“My motto is from Ellen White’s book education: ‘to educate is to redeem,’” he says. “People often ask me if I prefer being a teacher or being a pastor.  My answer is yes. They both go together.

“I have had many experiences throughout my life have taught me about God, my hope is that I can help others to also learn about God.”

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1 Comment

  1. Henrique Gomes
    April 26, 15:42 Reply
    Pr. Sorke is a man of God. His classes impacted me deeply, so deep that I frequently quote him to friends and family. One of my favourite quotes from him I heard when he was teaching me Greek. It was a lot to take in, so he said, "Do you know how to eat an elephant? If it was a clean animal, you would eat it, one bite at a time." I'm glad to find out that Pr. Sorke is the chair of Religion, I know that God will inspire him to inspire many others like he did to me.

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