Students involved in campus ministry are eager to serve. Give them an opportunity!
Glenn L. Schwanke
“Viele Hände macht bald am Ende!” The words come gushing out from the bottom of my heart. Well, it might be more precise to say they flow from my lower back, which is even more excited that this job is finished. And what job would that be? Mid-winter roof snow-shoveling in the Copper Country.
Roof snow-shoveling? Yes, we live in an area where 200 to 250 inches of snow per winter are the norm. Though that snow comes down all white and fluffy, it piles up. On roofs too. And the weight of three to four feet of compacted snow on a roof can rival parking a pick-up truck up there. (I don’t advise it.) If the snow isn’t removed, roofs collapse. That’s why Yoopers shovel off their roofs every winter—maybe more than once.
I remember absolutely no mention of roof snow-shoveling in the call documentation I received when I moved here from Indiana. However, I vividly remember my state of shock when that first roof shoveling work day was scheduled. The volunteers were to start at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday. I walked over to the chapel before 8:30. I didn’t want anyone to see my first timid steps up onto the corner of our chapel’s roof—covered in three feet of snow. Below the snow there was ice. Somewhere lost under that were the shingles. I slipped and shuffled until I collapsed into the snow, looked up to heaven, and said, “This I can’t do, Lord!” But with a little practice, by the end of that work day, I started to get my “snow-roof” legs. It wasn’t so bad after all.
Since then, however, the project has been getting far, far easier! Why? Our campus ministry group is growing. Ten to 15 eager college students, combined with members from our congregation, make short work of shoveling off our chapel’s roof. When the chapel’s finished, they head over to the parsonage. In less than an hour, that’s done too. All the while the pastor remains on terra firma, snowblowing a path to the doors so we can still get inside the buildings. As the workers finish and climb back down the ladder, then comes the victory shout, “Viele Hände macht bald am Ende!” It’s time for chili and hot chocolate.
Why share the story? To make a very simple point. Students involved in campus ministry are eager to serve. Give them an opportunity! The inspired writer observed, “Two are better than one. . . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 HCSB).
Maybe you don’t need a roof shoveled, but are there older folks in the congregation who could use some help with painting, cleaning, splitting wood, or raking leaves? Are there shut-ins whose day would be brightened by students who drop by with some fresh-baked cookies? Could students help with babysitting or tutoring grade school children or mentoring high school youth? What about ushering or playing organ or piano for worship? Singing a solo or in the choir? Teaching in Sunday school, helping with vacation Bible school, or coordinating a soccer camp for community outreach?
I suspect most of our churches have a “round-to-it” list that could use some volunteers. You’ll find campus ministry students are eager to help. They take our Lord’s Word seriously. “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 HCSB).
Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.
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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 103, Number 1
Issue: January 2016
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