By Augusta R. Mennell
Campus ministry touches the lives of students, whether they attend college locally or thousands of miles from home. Through meals, a listening ear, socializing and Bible study, bonds are created. Often the ministry plants seeds of faith. Sometimes the seeds bloom, and other times they need a little extra care to take root. Here’s a story about a student – years after graduation – and how Campus Ministry continues its mission.
This summer Chulsoon, a Korean alumnus of Slippery Rock University, PA, brought his wife, daughter, and son to see where he had gone to college and to see the Lutheran Student Center he had often visited. He thought it was going to be a trip down memory lane, but I believe that God intended it to be an opportunity for him to once again hear the Gospel that he had heard for several years during our many discussions.
Soon after coming into the All Saints building, Chulsoon and his wife asked if I would like to hear their children sing a song in Korean that they had memorized in church. The children sang beautifully and were very proud of their music, which sounded like a Psalm. It was very evident that Chulsoon’s wife and his children are Christians.
Chulsoon described his life. He owns a successful school that teaches English to Korean children. It even prepares college-age students to come to study in America. Chulsoon said he works at the school seven days a week. He is pleased to be so successful, but he intimated that he is tired of doing the same old work day-in and day-out. He claimed that he did not have time for church.
Out of the blue, Chulsoon’s wife stated, as a matter-of-fact, that “he is not a Christian.” I saw tears come into her eyes as she said this. Her words shook me and shocked me. I thought Chulsoon would be angry with her for being so outspoken. Her statement was very blunt. Amazingly, he admitted that he was not a Christian. He said that he does not believe because there are “too many hypocrites in the church.” He added that too many people in his wife’s church try too much to pressure him into coming to worship.
So here we were, right back where we began when Chulsoon was a student, eight to ten years ago. Once more we talked about faith. This visit for Chulsoon was turning out to be more than a trip down memory lane. For us, it was another opportunity to share God’s love with Chulsoon, who did listen willingly. We suggested to him that Christians realize that we all are hypocrites, all of us, and that is why we go to church: to receive God’s gift of forgiveness. We again talked about mistakes we Christians make when we try to evangelize our friends and neighbors. We suggested that we need to invite others to church in a loving way, not with a hectoring manner. Attempting to strong-arm a person into belief in Jesus never works. Perhaps Chulsoon could tell his wife’s fellow believers that.
The visit with Chulsoon and his family ended on a good note. They left feeling cared about, no matter what happens next. All Saints will pray that the Holy Spirit will help Chulsoon to open his heart to God. We said goodbye with tears on our faces, not knowing when we will ever meet again, but believing that seeds of friendship and faith have been planted. It was more than a walk down memory lane, it was a gift from the Lord to Chulsoon and his family.
Our goal for the coming school year remains the same as ever. We will open our hearts and church to all the Chulsoons who come to the Lutheran Student Center. We feel it is a privilege to share the Gospel with students. Please pray for our work here.
Augusta R. Mennell is the Campus Ministry Director at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock, PA. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org.