by Rev. Scott Snow
Every year, millions of unchurched and uncommitted American students, in addition to nearly 750,000 international students, study at college and university campuses across the United States.
God is providing compassionate fellow students, offcampus individuals and families “who have a heart for students,” and nearby Lutheran congregations with the resources to engage these young adults.
These university students need the comfort, peace, and joy that can only come through the Gospel—especially if they are struggling with loneliness, homesickness, or concerns about grades, finances, and relationships. Down the hall, over coffee, sharing a pizza, or during study breaks, “on campus” Christians can look for and pray about witnessing opportunities with fellow students, faculty, and staff.
In Texas, Nathan shared his faith: “My friend attended college at a state university and told me that he considered himself an agnostic. Over a period of time, God used me and the church I attend to help ‘crumble down his walls of unbelief.’ Now my friend holds onto saving faith in Jesus and believes God works in very real and powerful ways.”
God is also using “off campus” individuals and families “who have a heart for students” to reach out to those who need to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, such as the Oregon family who contacted a nearby university with an invitation for an international student to join them for a Thanksgiving meal in an American home. This simple invitation, and the relationship that developed, resulted several years later in the Baptism of a Japanese student and continues even now in her ongoing life in Christ.
Congregations can also pray and search for partnership possibilities with nearby colleges and universities. Some congregations are surveying neighboring institutions to determine unmet needs; offering monthly events at local restaurants; providing fellowship events such as Super Bowl, flag football, paintball, or go-cart-racing parties; and hosting other events geared toward college students and other “twenty-somethings.”
In Illinois, Greg says that a kind-hearted neighbor befriended a college student and brought her to church. “What began with an ordinary ‘Hi, how are you?’ and an evolving friendship continued with an extraordinary call out of the darkness—through Baptism—into God’s marvelous light!
“I look forward to how God will work in her life through her newfound Christian family, the church,” Greg said.
At LCMS universities, campus chaplains and directors of spiritual life are eager to partner with you by providing avenues for you to share your faith on our campuses.
For support, encouragement, and many great ideas as you explore sharing Christ’s love on a campus near you, contact the following:
- Lutheran Campus Mission Association, http://www.lcma.info, or Rev. Greg Fairow, LCMS campus mission catalyst (Greg.Fairow@lcms.org); (319) 351-5262.
- International Student Ministry (ISM), P.O. Box 22, Stevens Point, WI 54481; www.isminc.org; phone/fax: (715) 677-4877.
- Lutheran Student Fellowship, www.lutheranstudentfellowship.org.