Perseverance

Elena (not her real name) is an international student who graduated from Slippery Rock University. During her college years, she came often to All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center for friendship and encouragement. When she came back to Slippery Rock to visit recently it was obvious that she was filled with so much fatigue, anger, and bitterness that she hardly looked like the same student.

Some parents who send their children to college insist on telling them which courses they must study whether their children like the field of study or not. In Elena’s case, her parents left the decision to her. As a result, she chose a major that did not lead to a good job. Instead, it led her to a grueling door-to-door sales job. She worked all day, every day. She gave it her best. Nevertheless, her employer was unwilling to help her to obtain a green card so that she could remain in this country. Elena had reached a dead end. Her choice of studies had not led to a job permitting her to keep working here. What could she do? She did not want to go home yet, and she did not have money to enroll in more college classes.

Elena came to All Saints Campus Ministry to inform us of her situation. She had done this many times as an undergraduate student. She explained that her only recourse was to get a loan in order to return to college to take job-related classes. Hopefully, this will lead to a job allowing her to work here. All of this experience has caused her great distress and bitterness. Her family does not have the money to help her and friends had not always been compassionate. She could not understand why some college students seem to have life so easy, while she, an especially hard-working student, had it so difficult.

Campus ministry sympathized with Elena. We hurt with her knowing how hard it is to start over. Most of all, we did what we had done many times throughout the years. We reminded her that Jesus is God’s Son who not only died for us but hurts with us. He wants to be her source of comfort when life seems to be so unfair, as it does to her.

Actually, Elena has had many opportunities to hear the Gospel and to let the Holy Spirit work faith in her. Her family has Buddhist and Christian connections, and she had an internship with a wonderful Christian organization in the area. She brought students to All Saints' student meals. She attended some worship services. She had numerous conversations with campus ministry about what Christians believe. Still, she has resisted faith in Jesus. She has resisted studying God’s Word and still does, in spite of the fact that she deeply enjoyed All Saints’ friendship. By choice, she prefers to remain a lost sheep. She prefers to depend on her own strength and leans on a close friend who believes that “too much is made of Jesus.”

You may wonder what use there is an continuing to share the Gospel with Elena or any student who is so resistant. All Saints campus ministry believes it is because God never gives up on us. It is not a campus ministry that can make a student believe; it is only God in His time. All we can do is pray, share, and give unconditional friendship.

Resistance will not stop All Saints. This semester we have gone ahead with the privilege of working with and for students. We attended the January SRU orientation for new students where we handed out printed schedules for our monthly student meals to every activity director there. Each was glad to get an invitation to join us. Each posted the schedule for others to see.

In addition, we are improving our building so that it is more comfortable for students. Our biggest improvement has been building a brand-new roof; putting in a glass door (to be finished in February) so that students can see into our undercroft. We are also deciding which type of fresh new flooring to install in the undercroft. Bright orange chairs given to All Saints free of charge are warm and inviting.

Not only are we making the undercroft cosier, but All Saints Fellowship’s president, Akelah Hughes from the British Virgin Islands, has a talent for decorating. She is making every student meal much more festive with her balloons, colorful tablecloths, and smiling welcome to everyone.

Classes for learning the basic Bible stories are scheduled and students are coming in. We are also inviting individual students to a free, fun lunch in a local restaurant so that we can get to know them. Reverend Larry Loree, Jr. enjoys the company of students so much that he attends as many sports events as he can. Students from Grove City College and SRU enjoy his company. Our plan for the February student meal is to have a talk by Grove City College senior Moses Greenspan, who will show photos of his summer in Ethiopia, his birthplace.

No matter how resistant college students like Elena may be, All Saints loves them. Lost or found, we are committed to sharing our lives and faith with them. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to the love of the Lord. Visit All Saints anytime. We’d be happy to introduce you to our students and to show off our brand-new roof.

Augusta R. Mennell, Campus Ministry Director

All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center, Slippery Rock PA