There is a new face at Northwestern on the Christian Ministries team. Dr. Bill Ronzheimer taught Foundations of Pastoral Ministry during the spring semester of 2018. He admits that as a pastor for many years in Wisconsin, he always felt called to mentor young students.
“God had blessed my ministry. I wanted to impart my skills and character on others. I taught a course that was in my sweet spot. What it is to be a pastor in ministry and what it is like, that really drew me to Northwestern,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
Both of his daughters attended UNW in the past, so he was already acquainted with Northwestern as a parent.
“I felt the mission of the school was in line with my own views,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
While teaching at the school, Dr. Ronzheimer hoped the students would keep him fresh so he could continue to adapt to new challenges in modern ministry.
“I love interacting with university students and I love relationships. I taught a class where I could open up to them and they could learn through my struggles and failure,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
He hopes to challenge his current students on issues of character and skill in ministry. He believes that many failures in ministry come down to issues with character rather than problems in the form of skills.
Along with his teaching abilities, Dr. Ronzheimer and his wife run a ministry for couples who have a history of sexual abuse as a child. His ministry is called Marriage Reconstruction Ministries.
He said that his wife was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but he didn’t know about the abuse until 10 years into their marriage. Eventually she disclosed her past to him because she was struggling.
As a couple, they both went through long term counseling together and experienced healing.
“God was going to pull us through this thing. God was going to use us as stewards,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
This experience motivated him to go back to school to get his doctorate and research the impact of child sexual abuse in marriages.
“There was a lot of material available for the wives who were the victims, but not for the husbands. God brought along opportunities where we spoke in churches and met other survivors. The church where I was a pastor was very supportive. So, we started this ministry and it became evident that it was time to conclude my pastoral ministry in the church and expand our ministry,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
He was expected to be the church pastor for another five years, but in Jan 2015, he realized God had opened a different door for him.
Dr. Ronzheimer said he really enjoys one on one interaction with the husbands because he knows how hard it is for them.
“Husbands of survivors are in a very lonely spot. Survivors face so much shame and it is hard to let others know. Husbands are in that same spot and wishing to talk to someone. Their wives don’t want anyone to know. So when I can link up with other guys they feel that they have someone to navigate through the issues. That brings a lot of satisfaction,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
He is passionate about his ministry because he knows that he is serving others.
“I don’t view the ministry as a full time job. We feel this is a call of God on our lives. This was as strong as my call into ministry. This is what God has called us to do,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
Since the ministry can stir up strong emotional feelings, Dr. Ronzheimer ensures that he doesn’t sink into a state of depression.
“I make sure that my own life is being replenished emotionally and spiritually because we are dealing with dark and messy stuff. My wife Pamela and I speak at a lot of conferences and they are both exhilarating and exhausting when we speak. We need to ensure we maintain some boundaries,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
His ministry has also strengthened his passion for writing. Along with writing sermons and blogs, he has recently written a book called “Roller-coaster Marriage: Staying on track when you wife is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.” The book is currently being reviewed by two different publishers.
“The book comes out of doctoral research but it written in a practical and conversational style,” said Dr. Ronzheimer.
Since he and his wife have been married for over 45 years and have two daughters Heather and Rhonda, he had good advice for new couples who were getting ready to tie the knot.
“Two words for a happy marriage. Honesty—Pamela was always honest and I wasn’t always the most honest, and it led to all sorts of problems. Many young couples are scared to rock the relationship, but you really do need to be honest in a marriage. Honoring—most people say husbands should love their wives. Instead I want to honor my wife,” said. Dr. Ronzheimer.