Serving the Lord while parallel parking

Parallel parking

What does parallel parking have to do with campus ministry? Today’s guest blogger shares a story about teaching and sharing life skills – as well as the Gospel. 

By Augusta R. Mennell

We must have looked crazy as we tried over and over again to parallel park our car. We did this many times on many afternoons. Isuri from Sri Lanka was practicing her parking so that she could pass her driver’s test.

Campus Ministry at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center wants to be available to help international and American college students who attend Slippery Rock University. We’re here to take students to the Giant Eagle for groceries. We are here to listen to their problems. Some face the clash of two cultures; so they want to know how to convince their parents to let them marry the person they love, rather than going along with tradition and allowing their parents to make the choice of a mate. Others want help dealing with a boyfriend or girlfriend who has been unfaithful. And some, like Isuri, ask for help learning how to drive a car.

Isuri has been part of All Saints for some time. She has helped with the student meals, and she has kept us in touch with the international students (she has been the president of the international students group). She went from being an occasional visitor at our congregation to attending rather regularly. We have often taken her to lunch after church at the Red Rock Restaurant at the edge of Slippery Rock.

Those lunches turned into a friendship outreach event when she met Donna Jean Heintz (Bethel Evangelical-Glenshaw). We had all gone out to lunch after church when Isuri mentioned that she was looking for an internship this summer or in the fall semester. Donna was able to tell her about Concordia Lutheran Ministries in Cabot as a possible internship location. She urged Isuri to apply, which she did. She was accepted by Concordia and will be an intern there in the fall. She cannot wait to begin.

When Isuri asked us to help her learn to prepare for the driving test, it was a great opportunity for us. It gave us extra time to talk as we practiced driving. Isuri described her warm, loving, flexible and supportive family at home. She shared that the reason she is familiar with and comfortable with our liturgy is because she attended a Christian church occasionally at home in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I asked her what she thought of the teachings at the church there, as well as Buddhist teachings at the temple she also attended. She replied that she did not, and does not, see any difference.

Isuri took the driver’s test but failed the first time. Even though she had sailed through parallel parking and driving on the road in Mercer, she let the car’s tires touch the curb at the end of the test and that meant she had failed! We were crushed. However, we returned a week later and she passed, with a great deal of relief and joy.

Two Sundays later she came to All Saints’ worship late. This was unusual for her, and it happened because Pittsburgh friends – who were helping her find a car to buy – shocked her by bringing the car to her apartment. She beamed as she showed her new car keys to everyone at All Saints. The congregation broke into applause for her.

Immediately after worship she approached Rev. Larry K. Loree, Jr., and asked if he would give her car a blessing. He was thrilled to do so. He gave the blessing in Jesus’ name, asking God to keep Isuri safe and happy in her car.

Helping Isuri learn to drive was a great opportunity to grow a friendship and to talk about God. Campus ministry will continue to teach driving skills as a way to connect with college students. We’re already doing this with another student who is from Iran. Such help does not obligate the students to become Christians. It does not mean that they will come to Bible class, worship, or student meals. But it is a great opportunity anyway!

I recently read something that applies to campus ministry. An article by Chad Fox in the July-August 2017 issue of the Lutheran Layman titled ,“Increasing Persecution of Christians Opens Doors for Gospel Proclamation,” says, “While you would think that persecution would have a negative effect on Christianity, we see quite the opposite,” says Rev. Peter Kirby, LCMS regional director for Europe. “It actually opens doors for the Gospel.”

The very same phenomenon can be said to work concerning campus ministry outreach at our nation’s universities. Although Christianity is often treated with hostility and the secular view that “Putting me first” is treated as profound truth, nevertheless, campus ministry grows anyway. Therefore, it is a blessing to have had this crucial opportunity to influence students for the past 40 years at All Saints. It is a blessing to help a student learn to parallel park. Who knows where parallel parking will lead? Please pray that we will have 40 more years of parallel parking instruction for students.

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 lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

 

Meet our Missions – Holy Cross Lutheran

Learn about the ministry and mission of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Student Ministry, Toledo, OH.

Helping hands
The crew from University Lutheran Chapel in Ann Arbor, MI, came to lend a helping hand.

This month, our “Meet our Missions” introduces the missions and ministries of Holy Cross Lutheran, Toledo, OH.

By Rev. Peter M. Burfeind

Originally we were simply a campus ministry, but through our group “Engineers in Christ” – a “high-tech” service group – we’ve done service work not only in the Appalachia but also in Toledo’s inner city, less than two miles from the college campus. We’ve built handicap ramps, renovated rooms, and constructed playground equipment, to just name a few things. Through this service work, we’ve made connections in the inner city community and we are currently working on renovating a dilapidated house to become a “mission house” for various ministries, including Word and Sacrament ministry.

We also have a connection to a jobs retraining program for robotics maintenance and programming.  We’ve touched quite a few lives through this ministry.  As we help people connect to the hope of a good, secure job, we are able to reach out to them and their children with the Gospel. Currently, we need help getting this mission house complete. We have a tight budget, but also need professional and trades help.  This mission can be a wonderful blessing – I’ve seen the fruits already at this early stage – but we risk getting bogged down in just getting it up and running.

Meanwhile, the students in our campus ministry are blessed by such work as well. Students are at a transitional period in their lives, and many are falling away from the faith in these critical years.  Our weekly services, Bible Studies, and Engineers in Christ group provides an opportunity to address many of the challenges of today’s world.  This year, we’re beginning to see the first of our students  – those who were with us when we began – graduate. These are young men and women who have matured in Christian faith and leadership, and they will be a blessing to their future congregations.

Learn more about Holy Cross Lutheran’s ministry by visiting their website.

Follow their mission on their Facebook page.

Do you have a mission or ministry experience you would like to share? If so, you, too, could be a guest blogger for the English District. For consideration, please send an email to Lynne Cobb, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District LCMS.

BBQ and jobs fair
Members of the community join us for a BBQ and jobs fair.

What do you and Jesus have planned for the summer?

Jesus and Summer

What do you and Jesus have planned this summer?

This week’s blog has been reprinted, with permission. This article was the Pastor’s Letter in the July issue of the congregation’s newsletter.

By Rev. Paul Schmidlin, Pastor, King of Glory Lutheran Church, Sylvania, OH

Ah, summer! I want to ask you, what do you and Jesus have planned for this summer? I hope the question doesn’t surprise you – after all, Christians regard Jesus as the Lord and Master of all things.

Please do not keep your faith as a special event to be celebrated only on Sunday.

I was recently reading thru the gospels and was struck by the many ways people responded to Jesus.

Most were observing and marveling at what He could do – like when we attend sporting events and watch. We enjoy the action and hope to witness something special. In this way, Jesus was spectacular. He healed people before their very eyes! I am sure there were a lot of dinner conversations expressing amazement; lots of speculation and tons of questions! Because of the things He was saying, some thought of Him as a threat and wanted to challenge Him; and later, eliminate Him. Still others began to look at Him as a resource to gain things – advice, healing, food… .  There was another group – they chose to always be with Him. These He invited to follow Him. To some of these, He gave special tasks (Judas got to be treasurer). To all, He coached them, taught and equipped them.

Jesus is still with us today. Which group would you consider yourself a part of? Of course, we all know the Sunday School answer: the last group. But there are times in life when we need to allow the Holy Spirit to check us and help us do an analysis of ourselves. Today is as good as any other day to do that, so let me put you on the spot. Honestly, where do you fit? Is that position and attitude where you really want to be?

A word of encouragement: Jesus picked you. He picked you to live with Him forever. Until he calls you through death’s gate, He will walk with you each day through every activity; He will “never leave you, nor forsake you.” So, what do you and Jesus have planned for this summer? The answer is important!

Do you have a mission or ministry experience you would like to share? If so, you, too, could be a guest blogger for the English District. For consideration, please send an email to Lynne Cobb, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

What do you and Jesus have planned for the summer? Share in the comment section.

 

Meet our Missions – Martin Luther Chapel

MLC WOF April 2016

Campus Ministry and Mission at Michigan State University – and beyond

By Rev. Curt Dwyer, Pastor, Martin Luther Chapel

Martin Luther Chapel is in mission to the students, faculty and staff at Michigan State University and to the surrounding communities in the East Lansing area. Martin Luther Chapel serves people at all ages and stages of life, with a special focus on providing college students a place to become part of a worshiping community and serve in meaningful ways during their time on Campus.

As we gather for worship and go out to serve our neighbors, we want to help students (and all people) grow in faith and develop their leadership potential so that they can be a blessing to the church, wherever God takes them in life. In addition, through the ministry of the Friendship House (International Student Ministry – Lansing Area), we are actively involved in outreach to the large population of international students and visiting scholars that come to MSU.

Here’s what one student had to say about the Campus Ministry program:

       “Last year I decided to apply for the Wednesday ON FIRE leadership position. Little did I know that this decision would be a pivotal moment in my life. I cannot see myself becoming who I am today, gaining the friendships I have, and having the experiences I’ve had, if not for being on the Wednesday ON FIRE leadership team. To say that I have been outside my comfort zone as a leader is an understatement. In addition to playing bass at Wednesday ON FIRE, I have planned a fall retreat, been on the Bible Study planning team, and led the spring break servant event trip to El Paso/Juarez, Mexico. I did not feel qualified to do any of those things. I’m reminded of something Alexa, a fellow Wednesday ON FIRE leader, said to me, “God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.”

        That’s been my life as a leader. Through these experiences I’ve grown spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. God has made me qualified. Over the past two years, Martin Luther has become a home. In addition to Wednesday ON FIRE I’ve become involved in the greater community, which is this ministry’s greatest outreach tool. It is a definite time and place to go and worship. It is the gateway to all that Martin Luther Chapel has to offer for the student body of MSU and the surrounding community.” – Matt C., MSU student

MLC 2017 Servant event team

The support of the English District is instrumental in helping us extend our reach far beyond what would otherwise be possible. We have a worldwide mission field in the blocks surrounding our church building; with the help of the people and congregations of the English District, we will continue to actively share the love of Christ with everyone we meet, and equip them to carry the Good News with them wherever they go!

Do you have a mission or ministry experience you would like to share? If so, you, too, could be a guest blogger for the English District. For consideration, please send an email to Lynne Cobb, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

CLICK HERE to give to missions supported by the English District.

Meet Our Missions – LERT – Lutheran Emergency Response Team

Learn about LERT, one of the missions the English District supports.

LERT photo

By Rev. Ted Laesch, Chapel of the Cross – Lutheran, St Louis, MO

 Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33)

You don’t have to look far to see it, feel it, experience it: tribulation. Broken relationships, sicknesses, tragedy, financial difficulties, disease, death — there is no shortage of tribulation in this world. And it comes to all of us. Jesus did not say that you might have tribulation. He didn’t say that you will probably have tribulation. He said, you will have tribulation.

But lest we run and hide, cry and complain, lose hope and give in to despair from the impending tribulation that we will undoubtedly undergo, hear what else Jesus has to say:

“…But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

No matter the trouble, no matter the hurt, no matter the pain, no matter the tribulation, we have the blessed assurance that Jesus has won the victory — He has overcome the devil. He has overcome sin. He has overcome death. He has overcome the world. And in those times of tribulation — as we go through crises and disasters and tragedies — He gives comfort and peace.  And often, He gives that comfort and peace through brothers and sisters in Christ. He gives that comfort and peace through you. Take heart! He says. I have overcome the world.

Last fall, Chapel of the Cross, through a generous grant from the English District and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, received a disaster trailer outfitted with tools and equipment necessary to help those in our community who are going through tribulation brought on by a natural disaster. A Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) was also trained and continues to train to be ready to share that comfort and peace of Christ with their ministry of presence and cleaning and clearing and fixing and caring and loving. The LERT team is one way God says to His people: Take heart! I love you. I care for you. You are my special children. And remember, I have overcome the world.”

If you would like to know more about Chapel’s LERT group and serving God and His people in this way, please contact Chapel’s LERT Team Captain: Ken Kreitner (314-741-3559).

Do you have a mission or ministry experience you would like to share? If so, you, too, could be a guest blogger for the English District. For consideration, please send an email to Lynne Cobb, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

CLICK HERE to give to missions supported by the English District.