What Does God Want from Us?

What Does God Want us to Do

It's back-to-school time! With many students heading back to campus, we are focusing on how Campus Ministry reaches out to students and changes lives!

Campus ministry encounters cynics, skeptics, and unbelievers who say that God does not matter. Campus ministry at All Saints Lutheran Church (ASLC) and Student Center is in Slippery Rock because we believe that God does matter. We want international and American students at Slippery Rock University (SRU) to have the opportunity to know this.

The following is a story of two SRU students who found that God matters to them. They came to ASLC to study the Bible and to share their hopes and frustrations. Mara (not her real name) often spoke of her family. She was struggling to know herself. She was trying to deal with the fact that she had been adopted. It helped her to read about Joseph’s life in Egypt because it showed her that no matter what his family did or didn’t do, he trusted God and God never failed him.

When Jerry (not his real name), also an SRU student, came into her life, he helped her through her hurts and frustrations with her failures. He believed in her. They grew as friends. Both came at times to study the Bible. They were delighted that All Saints gave them each a brand-new copy of the Concordia Self-Study Bible (NIV), which they wanted to read.

Even though we had read the Bible and had talked about marriage, they decided to begin living together instead. They did not make a commitment to marry, although they were aware that Christian marriage is God’s plan for couples. When she became pregnant, Mara said that she definitely would keep her child. She added that she would not pressure Jerry into marriage. She intended to go it alone. In the meantime, Jerry struggled with his new reality: that he was now a father, even though he was not deeply involved until a time closer to his child’s birth.

Shortly after their son was born, they brought him to All Saints to introduce him to us. They still were not set on getting married or having their son baptized. Instead they decided to visit Jerry’s family in North Carolina to sort matters out with the help of his supportive family. While there, they made a wonderful decision.

Mara, Jerry and their son came back to Slippery Rock to pick up their belongings, intending to settle in North Carolina. They called, asking if we could have one more visit before they left. The only time available was after an evening church council meeting. It didn’t matter that it was late. It was important to them to be with us to tell us where they would begin their life together, and their tentative plans for continuing their education. They really wanted to talk about their future.

When they came, they rather casually said, “Oh, did we tell you that we got married in a civil ceremony in North Carolina?”

The news of their marriage was wonderful because it is what God wants. They realize God matters. Skeptics believe marriage is only a man-made institution, which few bother to honor in this modern age. Fortunately, this couple realized that Christian marriage is God’s plan.

After such good news I was hesitant to ask if and when they would have their baby baptized. To my astonishment they asked if Pastor could do it that very night, because they were leaving the next evening. Who could believe such a wonderful answer!

The baptism ceremony was not held that night. Rev. Larry K. Loree arranged to meet with them the next day before they left. Before the baptism ceremony began, he sat the couple down on the front pew. Then he lovingly explained what baptism means. They listened with complete attention. Their precious son was splashed with lots of water and God’s Word. The baby smiled all the while. This child now belongs to God.

After the baptism, Rev. Loree had a surprise for Mara and Jerry. Pastor had become aware that Jerry was concerned about their secular wedding. He was not sure how God felt about that. He felt uncomfortable. He and Mara really wanted to make Christian wedding vows. So, after baptizing their son, he called them to the altar. He told him he would give them the chance to make their vows in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Mara wanted to concentrate on what Pastor would say, so she gave their son to me to hold so that she could concentrate. She held the yellow flowers Pastor had picked for her from a garden. They listen to Pastor’s message on forgiveness being central to marriage. They then spoke their vows in the name of the Triune God. Peace and joy radiated from their faces.

Campus ministry wants all college students to know the joy this couple has because they know God does matter. They are so glad they were married in church and that their child is baptized. No matter what problems they may face, they are certain that they matter to God and he matters to them.

Augusta R. Mennell is the Campus Ministry Director at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock, PA. If you would like to highlight your work in the ministry, send a submission for consideration to Lynne, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS, lcobb@englishdistrict.org