This summer my husband and I traveled to California to see our oldest grandchild graduate from high school. Like all grandparents, we beamed with pride as her name was called out at the graduation ceremony.
We spent time visiting our granddaughter, Karly, before returning home to Pennsylvania. One of the highlights was driving to see the college she will attend in the fall. We were impressed by the attractive campus, by the size of the art department (her major), and by the kindness of the professor, who was still on campus even though students had already left for the summer break.
He asked Karly if she planned to attend the school. When she said yes, he volunteered to give her a personal tour of the art department. He gave her tips on which classes to take, how to get internships, and where to locate the buildings where her classes would be. He made her feel very welcome.
As we left, the professor added that he comes to Pittsburgh once a year because it is his wife’s home town. He has all sorts of Steeler paraphernalia in his home, including a collar for his dog with the Steelers logo on it. When we invited him to stop in at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center when he comes to Pittsburgh, he exclaimed that he had attended a Lutheran camp in Erie when he was a kid. What a small world.
After meeting the professor, we slowly drove around the campus just to see what it looked like. We searched to see if we could find any sign of a Christian campus ministry center, where students like Karly could go for friendship and to get the chance to know more about the Christian faith. All Saints knows from experience that campus ministry is a difference maker. Campus ministry is crucial for students who come to college with faith as well as it is for those who come with no belief in any god, let alone in the Triune God. It would be a blessing to have a Christian campus ministry on every campus for all the nation’s grandchildren to experience.
All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock believes that campus ministry is so important that we joyfully attend every Slippery Rock University orientation for incoming students. We do this so that we get to invite them to All Saints. You should see the anticipation, hope, and outright fear on the students’ faces as they file by the orientation tables. What an opportunity All Saints Fellowship has to introduce our campus ministry to students.
We introduced ourselves to Spencer, who told us he is a Lutheran, that he did lots of volunteer work in his church, and would like to do volunteer work with us when he arrives in the fall. What a privilege to invite him to help us with his ideas for reaching out to college students. We will certainly show him that All Saints is here for him.
Spencer is not the only Lutheran we met at orientation. We welcomed Brandon and Emma, too. They accepted our invitation to come to our Korean student meals. We even got to invite Robert, who still suffers jet lag because he had just arrived from San Diego, California. It is really a treat to let students know that our church and campus ministry is here for them.
Orientation is a great opportunity to share words of welcome and to give away good books like Lee Strobel’s useful book, The Case for a Creator. This is a book my husband wishes had been available when he was an undergrad. It is a book he believes will help the students who struggle with the relationship between science and Christianity. Too often students have lost their faith because they believe the lie that God couldn’t have created the universe.
Campus ministry cannot do it alone. Grandparents and parents are needed to pray with us for college students. Their prayers do matter. Prayers and more prayers will help our students, including grandchildren because God could love them no more than He does.
Augusta R. Mennell
Campus Ministry Director