On fire for ministry

While encouraging young people to consider the full-time ministry is part of any Christian’s job, four people from Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., make it their full-time call.  

For seven months of the year, MLC’s admissions counselors are on the road, traveling around the country to meet with high school students. “I’m home just enough to unpack, reload, and then go again,” says Lori Unke, one of the four counselors. 

These counselors have an important job to do. They talk to students about the privilege of serving as a called worker. “I get to share my passion for ministry with them,” says Unke, a 1984 MLC graduate. “A teacher has such a huge influence on growing bodies and growing hearts—spiritually, academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Teaching and role modeling God’s love for [your students]—what could be better than that?” 

Whether it’s presenting to a group of freshmen and sophomores, meeting one-on-one with juniors or seniors, or mingling with teens during events like the WELS International Youth Rally, Unke says it’s an honor to build personal relationships with these young adults. “I get to know them and their activities, their hobbies, what’s important in their lives,” she says. “Then we can discuss their talents and their God-given time of grace and how they might work to use those talents to serve God in his kingdom.” 

Unke says that she meets with hundreds of young adults every year. “A lot of conversations inspire me; it’s sometimes quite emotional to see these high school students already so on fire for ministry,” she says. 

She recalls one example of a young man, Michael. “His parents are Buddhist, and they had great plans for their son that didn’t involve WELS ministry,” she says.  

Michael’s parents were looking for a good private grade school, so they sent him to a WELS elementary school. Michael was baptized and became a member of the church. He also was encouraged to attend the nearby area Lutheran high school. “His teachers were very influential on him, and he wanted to help young people like his teachers helped him,” says Unke.  

Michael ended up attending MLC and is now a sophomore. “God continues to amaze me with young people like this one,” says Unke. “His mom allows him to follow his dream, even though she still is Buddhist. That’s just God’s amazing grace that gets people [to MLC] regardless of skin color or culture or background.” 

Like Michael, many young people are inspired to go into the ministry by their teachers. “Teachers and pastors are our best recruiters,” says Unke. Unke says even her own children, all of whom grew up on MLC’s campus and attended college there, were encouraged by the college students and the professors. “There were so many good role models for them,” she says. 

That’s part of what Unke loves about serving as an admissions counselor: seeing the young adults whom she has recruited grow and blossom as MLC students and then as called workers themselves. “To see them get their diploma and go out into their first call is extremely rewarding,” she says. “That puts it all together for me.” 

The need for teachers is great. Watch the March WELS Connection to learn more about increasing opportunities at WELS schools. Learn more about Martin Luther College and how you can support its students at mlc-wels.edu.


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Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2018

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