Originally from Germany, they immigrated to the U.S. in 1999, were ordained in 2001 and became naturalized citizens in 2006.
...After completing seminary, the two started considering options for ministry outside Germany because there aren't many openings for pastors there.
...they saw a small notice the local newspaper about a green card lottery. Those who applied for a green card within a certain period of time would be entered into a drawing. Both entered among 14 million other people. Dirk Hagmaier's name was selected among 90,000. They were both able to apply because they were married. After providing background information, the two made it past the first screening which narrowed the list to 40,000 people [Elisa Sand, "New Trinity Pastors Come from Germany," Madison Daily Leader, 2009.06.08, print edition, p. 1].
From that point, they still had to pass, as Sand puts it, an "intense interview," but the immigration clerk saw they were headed to South Dakota to preach and rubber stamped them. But to get to that point, assuming no divine intervention, the Reverend Hagmaiers had only one chance in 175, or 0.29%. And they were able to double their odds over single people with their dual apps.
I'm pleased the new pastors have been so fortunate—we can use some rigorous intellectual Lutheran theology straight from the old country.
But consider that if Pastor Dirk had stuck with being a stockbroker and had $500,000 to blow on risky American business ventures, they could have skipped the lottery and bought their way into America through South Dakota's EB-5 visa program, as several foreigners have done by pumping money into Rick Millner's stinky cattle concentration camps up by Veblen.