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Connecting college students to Christ: Keeping Christian students steadfast

KEEPING CHRISTIAN STUDENTS STEADFAST

Amanda M. Klemp

Adele Kapellusch learned about the campus ministry program at the University of Arizona in Tucson her senior year of high school. An Arizona Lutheran Academy choir stop at Grace, Tucson, cemented her decision to attend that college. She graduated from the university in December 2015 with degrees in neuroscience and physiology and credits the campus ministry program with helping her stay connected to Christ.

“U of A has a great science program, but it was really important to me that I had a church. Grace was across the street from the university, so I had a church that was really close to my dorm, and I knew I would have the opportunity to go to Bible studies and church,” Kapellusch says.

While it was a great way to hang out with like-minded friends, she says that being connected to a Christian community also kept her strong as she faced nonbiblical ideas in her science classes. “Being in science and going to a public university, I was surrounded by people always telling me that because I was a Christian I was ignorant or I would eventually find out that I was wrong and God doesn’t exist,” she says. “But being able to talk with everyone at campus ministry, they all had those experiences, the same persecutions and struggles. It was good to be able to talk to them about it.”

Nathan Kassulke, pastor at Grace and leader of the campus ministry in Tucson for the past 11 years, says, “There are so many temptations, opportunities, and options competing for students’ time and attention. And statistically speaking, that’s an opportunity for students to drift away and not stay connected to God’s Word.”

He says that what they hear about evolution, morality, and even religion itself can be a danger to their faith. “To have somebody to talk to and to ask questions, to be built up in faith and maintain that connection to God’s Word and sacraments will help students grow in faith as they face those things.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Bringing light to the gospel

BRINGING LIGHT TO THE GOSPEL

Amanda M. Klemp

The campus ministry in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, calls itself “Illumine.” The name, which has served them to “bring light from the Scriptures,” reflects how the group studies the Bible.

“When I met with a few university students after I first got here and asked them what they wanted out of campus ministry, they said, ‘If you’re going to do a fluffy Bible study, we’re not particularly interested,’ ” says Luke Thompson, campus pastor. That ambitious attitude from the students set the tone for the growing, three-year-old campus ministry.

Thompson focuses on two aspects to the ministry. The first is weekly socials, where the students get “the best meal they’ve had that week” followed by an in-depth Bible study.

“We go all out on the dinners and have things like ribs, Mexican, or Indian food,” says Thompson.

St. Paul congregation sets aside part of its budget for the meals, which are held in Thompson’s home. Thompson says a key component to building a relationship with the students is letting them know they have a “home,” a go-to where they can be comfortable.

The socials usually draw about 20 people. About one-third to one-half of the participants come from a Lutheran background. The others either have no background with Christianity or come from nominally Catholic homes. They are hungry to dive into Scripture.

“We basically have two types of students who show up. One is your WELS member looking for a community to find like-minded people and other conservative Christians. But the other half, the friends they invite, have no Christian background or very little Christian background, and they’ve never been exposed to apologetics, deep doctrine, or treating the Bible historically,” explains Thompson.

He continues, “Our Bible studies are very rigorous. We spend a lot of time on the historicity of the New Testament—looking at things like the transmission of the New Testament documents and texts, the reliability of them, the formation of the canon, the historical backgrounds of the gospels, and the historicity of the resurrection. This is the first time many of the students are exposed to this, and they get kind of addicted to it.” Several of the Bible study participants continue studying at the church’s Bible information class not necessarily to become a member but to get a strong, formal introduction to Christianity.

Many of the weekly Bible study attendees started by attending an Illumine Talk, the second main aspect of the campus ministry. These presentations look at elements of pop culture with a view toward literary criticism and Christian apologetics. Once each semester, Thompson will take a topic—ranging from zombies and contemporary fantasy to the modern anti-hero—and use it to examine human nature and how it reflects truths from Scripture. Then he shares the gospel. About 50 students attend, most of whom are not involved in campus ministry or a church at all. Thompson’s goal is to offer the most non-confrontational way possible for students to invite friends to an event that shares God’s Word.

In a multicultural college community that is overwhelmingly non-Christian, one of Thompson’s big goals is to equip the students to talk about the Bible like a New Testament apostle. He wants to remove the commonly defensive statement, “I believe,” from their faith vocabulary, particularly relative to opposing beliefs. He explains, “When you read the New Testament, they talk in a very different way. It’s not about ‘what I believe’ or something abstract, but they’re talking about real, historical, concrete events that took place.” He wants his students to share the gospel in the same way—sharing that it’s real and why it’s real.

Learn more about WELS Campus Ministry


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

SIGN UP WITH CAMPUS MINISTRIES

Need some spiritual support and encouragement while you’re at school? As a college student you can get both Forward in Christ magazine and Meditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you for free.

 

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Finding a new church home

FINDING A NEW CHURCH HOME

Amanda M. Klemp

“Legitimately, I stumbled in, and they were really warm and welcoming.”

It was Alexis M.’s second day in Ottawa as she began school at Carleton University, and she wanted to worship that Sunday morning. This biomedical and electrical engineering student saw St. Paul was open and holding services, so she went in and sat down. That is how she came to learn about Lutheran doctrine and to start the next chapter in her faith life.

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Luke Thompson holds weekly dinners and Bible studies in his home for the campus ministry in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

After her first chance visit there, Alexis continued to attend every Sunday and joined Illumine, the church’s campus ministry group.

“One thing I really like is, when talk-ing to Pastor Thompson, everything is referenced to the Bible,” she says.

Alexis grew up in a Catholic home and attended Catholic schools. Getting into the Bible has opened her eyes to the message of salvation through Christ alone. “For me, someone who is trying to grow in their faith and spend more time with God and spend time trying to understand the Bible, being able to see where the verses correlate with each other, where things come into place in the Bible, is so very important,” she says.

Her parents, active Catholics, are supportive of her scriptural and faith pursuits through Illumine. While she hasn’t been confirmed yet, she has taken classes and considers St. Paul her church home.

The Illumine group, she explains, is supportive and encouraging. “I highly recommend that any Lutheran church that can have this program should have it, because it gives students a place to go and feel welcome and know that just because they’re Christian does not mean they can’t have fun or can’t interact with others. They can spend time learning about the Word of God,” says Alexis.

She continues, “It gave me a break from school. It gave me time in my week, no matter what, to go and get to spend time with God.”


STUDENT EXPERIENCE: UW-MADISON

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Eric Liu, 2012 and 2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate

Meet Eric Liu, a 2012 and 2014 University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate currently pursuing his PhD in Southeast Asia. “My journey to Jesus started by reading on the Internet Bible verses in my language. I kept thinking about these verses. One night, there was a voice saying, ‘You should take a look at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel where you had Triple Dollar Dinner three years ago.’ The next day, I went to Chapel and nervously asked the girl at the front desk how I could know more about Jesus and Christianity. I was introduced to Pastor Bill and began studying the Bible with him. I was so blessed to be baptized at Chapel in August of 2014. Without my Savior, I would still be in darkness.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

SIGN UP WITH CAMPUS MINISTRIES

Need some spiritual support and encouragement while you’re at school? As a college student you can get both Forward in Christ magazine and Meditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you for free.

 

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Budding outreach efforts

BUDDING OUTREACH EFFORTS

Amanda M. Klemp

Brian Wrobel started a campus ministry at Zion, Gainesville, Fla., during the 2014–15 school year after being assigned as Zion’s pastor in summer 2014. Between the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, there are enough students to populate a small city. The outreach opportunities are huge, and the church is located between the two campuses.

In the last two years, Wrobel has assembled a small, ded-icated core group of campus ministry members who are working to grow the program and extend outreach efforts on campus. Wrobel says, “The last few meetings this year have been to intentionalize and plan ahead for outreach and sustainability moving forward.”

The first step will be to become a recognized student organization, enabling the group to get in front of students easier. After that, the group is planning activities like a cookout and ultimate Frisbee to garner interest and participation.

“We are a young, cultural, progressive city,” says Wrobel, and the group seeks to reach out to this large multicultural population as well as to the unchurched on the campuses and in the community.

“These are such formative years for these students, where there’s so much getting thrown at them and challenges to their faith that they maybe have never heard or seen before,” says Wrobel. He prays his students will “never stop growing in the knowledge of Jesus.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

HELP WELS REACH THE WORLD

Your offering to WELS Missions will help more missionaries go to more places and share the gospel with more people.

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email