It’s been a while since I’ve tapped the keys for Steadfast on Campus and I don’t even have a good excuse (like building a shed or something). But here’s the low down: Students and their families were EVERYWHERE just a week and half ago. It was crazy, yet normal, for this time of year. Students were moving into the dorms and off-campus rentals. The campus and entire city looked like a giant beehive with activity. We delivered nearly 80 little welcome baskets to the LCMS students whose names we had. The Catholics were outside their nice building handing out food to passersby. In similar fashion, the atheists and agnostics were handing out water bottles with a little message that read “No God? No problem.” I wasn’t surprised by the phrase itself—heard it before—but I was surprised that they were starting so early while the parents were still around!
Here are a few other surprises so far this year:
- Nice Surprise– At summer orientation, a student approached our little display table with his parents. They were from California. What!? Yes, you heard correctly—California. That’s not the surprise though. He said that one of the three reasons for coming to UNI was, well, us. And get this, according to my booth people, he called us “confessional Lutheran campus ministry.” I remember thinking, “Now that’s a rare one… choosing a college for the campus ministry… I like this guy!” Way to go Lutherans in California! Thanks to the parents of this fine young man as well as Rev. Froh. Keep up the good work!
- Strange Surprise– One of our students had 6 mattresses strapped to the top of his car with a bed frame sticking out of the trunk (‘nough said).
- Bad Surprise– Our local newspaper included ads from several churches near the University for campus ministry. An ELCA church had this in their ad: “The Lutheran Church that is not homophobic—All welcome.” Up until now I didn’t know that we were the Lutheran Church that is homophobic. Actually, I didn’t take it that way, but some of my fellow LCMS pastors here informed me that it was implied. We decided to clarify our position with them.
- Great surprise #1– I asked one of our senior students to write a little article introducing himself for our September newsletter. At the end of it, I asked him what his plans were for the future. He wrote—“the seminary.”
- Great surprise #2– On Friday of the first week, I had another student who requested to speak with me in my study privately about something “important.” “Oh great!… What now,” I thought. He comes waltzing into my study and says, “Well, I’m going to go to the seminary—Fort Wayne.” What!? Is everybody going to the seminary? Apparently…
- Great surprise #3– Yesterday, one of our female students met with me to tell me that she planned to go the seminary too!!! No, not to be a pastor, silly. She wants to be a deaconess. This, too, was a great surprise. Although, she did indicate this as a possibility last year.
- “Good for the Future” Surprise– We have a lot of male students. This didn’t occur to me until another pastor was dropping off his daughter and he said, “You have a lot of male students.” This was surprising because UNI has a higher percentage of females. Even if that were not the case, the percentage of females attending our church has always been higher than the males. I’d say this is a good surprise for the future of Lutheranism.
- No Surprise– The students here have been learning Lutheran doctrine and loving it. They also read steadfastlutherans.org, listen to Issues Etc., watch Worldview Everlasting, along with other solid Lutheran stuff. Most of all, they know where to find God’s gifts UNWRAPPED (plug) every Sunday in Word and Sacrament.
Rev. John H. Wegener
College Hill Lutheran Church and Brammer Student Center
Cedar Falls, Iowa
(near University of Northern Iowa)