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  • Writer's pictureSarah Craven

Living a Legacy

Former Summer Ministry Team member, Jeremy Fuerst had a great love for Nebraska

Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (NLOM) and a desire to do something big and impactful for the ministry. But fresh out of college he had very little to give. Jeremy decided that taking out a life insurance policy and naming NLOM as beneficiary was his best option. Paying less than $50 per month for his policy, Jeremy initiated what would become his desired gift to NLOM.

During the early years of their marriage, Jeremy and Shannyn would regularly review their finances and Shannyn remembers Jeremy always looking at the life insurance policy and saying, “I don’t want to give this up.” Later in their marriage, they became Fire Starters, adding a monthly gift as well. “To us, it was a few coffees or eating out each month, but it was significant to the camp,” she said.

On September 9, 2021, Jeremy tragically lost his life in a mountain climbing accident in Colorado, and since that day, Shannyn has been learning to look at life in brand new ways. She’ll tell you that she loves the words of Mother Teresa, “Do small things with great love.” She thinks of that phrase and Jeremy quite often, especially when it comes to their gifts to NLOM. “It’s so amazing to know his legacy is really happening, that kids will hear his story and his dream for so many years. Scott Johnson will tell his kids about Jeremy; Jason Gerdes will tell campers and summer staff for years who Jeremy was and what his dream was for them.”

The gift that Jeremy left for NLOM established a Summer Ministry Team recruitment fund that exemplifies the passion that Jeremy had for recruiting others to join him on the summer staff in the late 90’s and 2000.

Shannyn will readily tell you that this last year she has realized she is not unique in her position as a young widow. She is thankful that Jeremy had the desire and foresight to plan for the future because as she quotes John 10, “I came to give you life and give it abundantly”, and notes that the day that we plan for is not always down the road as far as we hope.

Jeremy was a member of Club 10:14 since 2001, and when he passed at age 43, the gift that was left as a legacy for NLOM had been planned with great passion and a desire for big things. Shannyn says, “He lived life in big ways, did amazing things, and I’m grateful there is something good that could come out of this.”

Club 10:14 is the Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Planned Giving Club that currently includes 220 generous families who will one day provide more than $28 million in gifts. These gifts will allow NLOM to continue to offer significant experiences that provide a safe, welcoming introduction to the Christian faith, increase the relevance of faith in daily life, and bring faith alive for all who come here.

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