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Why I Give

By Janet Ragland

JerryFritsch.jpg“I work hard every day. My kids and wife need money. Why would I ever give my money away to someone else?”

These kinds of thoughts are common for people who don’t truly understand giving, said LeTourneau University alumnus Jerry Fritsch (’74 ME).  Fritsch said giving, in itself, is a discipline that needs to be established early in obedience to Christ.

“It’s not something you’re born with,” he said. “Our carnal nature we got from Adam is quite the opposite.  Why wouldn’t I take it for myself? Why would I give to someone else?”  The answer comes from a maturity gleaned from time spent in God’s Word, he said.

Fritsch remembers learning early the importance of giving, even as a child in Sunday School when his parents would send him with an offering envelope.

“It became a discipline at a very early age,” he said.  “The first time I got a paying job, I was 13.  My dad sat me down and told me about this thing called a tithe. He then added that the real blessings happen when you give more than tithe.” Giving became second nature.

Fritsch remembers first giving to LeTourneau University when he was still single, working for Conoco in Anchorage, Alaska, on the North Slope.  He said one day he looked at his bank account and saw he had saved quite a bit of money.

“I sat back and thought about why that money was there,” he said. “It’s there because I have a good job. And I have a good job because I got a good education.  I really ought to be putting back into what I got out. That started it.”  Since then, Fritsch has faithfully supported a host of capital projects and initiatives, like the Fritsch Endowed Scholarship.

Fritsch graduated from LeTourneau University in 1974 with a degree in mechanical engineering and went to work for Conoco, where he retired after 30 years.    

He first learned of LeTourneau University from his parents who took a tour of the Holy Land, led by Dr. Raymond Gingrich, a LeTourneau professor of Bible, and Dr. Paul Bauman, vice president of Special Ministries.  The next year, when his family went to drop off Jerry’s older siblings at Oral Roberts University, they brought Jerry to tour the LeTourneau campus, since he was interested in engineering.  It was all barracks. He loved it.  And it was the only school he applied to attend. 

In the fall of 1970, Tyler East residence hall had just been built, and Fritsch stayed there his freshman year.  His second year, however, he moved into his own room in Dorm 4, a barracks where he stayed for the next three years and got involved in automotive society.   

Sitting in his living room in Houston, Texas, with his coffee cup and Bible close at hand, Fritsch tells about his endowed scholarship that provides “Bridge the Gap” funding to enable students who couldn’t attend LETU without some extra scholarship help, after all other funding options are exhausted.

“I want to help kids,” he said. “The Lord has never left me short. He is faithful to provide not all of your wants, but your needs.  And we need to be faithful in return. And consider the student who isn’t going to get through college without this help.  We need good Christian young people in the world. The Lord looked after me so much going through, I was so grateful, and I know they will be too.”

Fritsch is right.  Keni Legesse of Ethiopia, East Africa, was one of the recipients.

“I am very grateful for ‘Bridge the Gap’ scholarship. It has helped me pursue my dream of being an engineer,” Legesse said. “I chose LETU for my engineering study because, not only it cherished me with quality engineering studies, but also transformed me to be acquainted with Christian values.” 

Legesse said he seeks to get a world class engineering education to meet high level engineering needs in his home country.

Another beneficiary was financial mathematics major Fabrice Kanimba Hirwa of Kigali, Rwanda. 

 “Without the Fritsch Endowed Scholarship known as Bridge the Gap, I wouldn’t be a senior at this moment—a semester shy from graduation,” Hirwa said. “The scholarship has not only helped me financially, but allowed me the opportunity to pursue a major which will open a dream job in the financial global market as a financial engineer also known as quantitative analyst. I am forever thankful for the Fritsch Endowed Scholarship.”