A Critical Time To Be a Christian6 min read

Do you ever get tired of watching the news? I know I do. The world seems to grow darker and more perverse each day.

Sometimes middle-aged pastors (perhaps a bit jokingly) say they are glad to be nearing retirement, and that they take comfort in the fact that they will be dead and gone before things really get difficult for the church in our country. They say my generation will face all manner of challenges previously unknown to American Christians. They are probably right. But that is no reason for self-pity, despair, anger. No matter what—it is never a bad time to be a Christian. I think it is an interesting, challenging, and important time to be a Christian. I also think it is a critical time to be involved in campus ministry.

Jesus is Good News for a world of bad news

Jesus promised that suffering will find us no matter what—that’s what it means to follow Him. Jesus also promised to be with us always. He has been to Hell and back. On the cross He experienced the most profound, unimaginable suffering: utter separation from God the Father on account of the sins of the whole world. Jesus has seen it all before. Nothing can surprise Him. By His birth and Baptism He declared war on everything wrong with our world. Your Baptism enlists you in Jesus’ army. He redeemed you from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. He redeemed you for a purpose too: to live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. With Jesus as your Lord, it is never a bad time to be a Christian.

I am a brand-new pastor at one of several campus ministries in the Michigan District—and one of hundreds of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod campus ministries. Our ministry is located directly on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Even though I get very little good news about what is happening out in the world, LCMS campus ministries around the country give me tremendous hope.

A campus ministry is an outpost right in the heart of the action

We may worry over decreasing moral standards in our country, the crude behavior of many young people, Islamic extremism, or learned people who dismiss, undermine, and mock the gospel. All of these worries incarnate themselves in very real ways on our university campuses. But the Gospel of Christ has the power to save and the power to transform lives. I am thankful that the Lord has placed me in a ministry where so many challenges and opportunities intersect.

At Lutheran campus ministries we preach the Gospel and show the love of Christ to students from around the world. Jesus’ kingdom comes to students from a variety of backgrounds. Many Lutheran students from Michigan and beyond attend CMU—but so do international students from countries around the world. It’s the same story with many other college campuses. This means that university campuses are mission fields ripe for the harvest. Campus ministries equip students who are already Lutheran to live out their faith in a challenging environment. It is my prayer that LCMS campus ministries will prepare these Lutheran students to be salt and light in an increasingly perverse and dark world. Yet we also have the joy of exposing non-Christian students to the saving story of Jesus— many of them from countries violently hostile to the church. It is my prayer that the Gospel would continue to spread throughout the world—even to troubled countries— because of the work done at our Michigan campus ministries.

That’s why I am hopeful despite all the bad news out there. God’s kingdom comes when His Word is preached in its truth and purity, and we live holy lives according to it. The only weapon we have in the fight against evil is God’s Word. Your leader in the fight is Jesus Christ, your victorious and risen Lord. You can play a part in the coming of God’s kingdom. In fact, there is really no choice or option in the matter. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. We are also to confess His saving Gospel. We are blessed to have neighbors from around the country and around the world spending time here in Michigan. You can actually do something in your own backyard about all the bad news you hear by supporting Michigan campus ministries.

What you can do

Here are some practical ways to live out the love of Christ to your university neighbors:

  1. Students face some of the most challenging years of their lives while in college. Yet they also have the opportunity for profound growth. Pray that God would guide them, support them, and that they would avail themselves of the opportunities for spiritual growth and guidance that we offer. Pray for pastors, church workers, and lay people involved in campus ministry—pray that the Lord would grant us boldness, wisdom, and strength. Pray that many unbelievers would come to faith, and pray that many Christians would grow in the faith.
  1. Prep your kids. Whether you are a parent, pastor, Sunday school teacher, or friend please prepare your young people for leaving home. It is never too early or too late to start. Their faith will be tested like never before at college. They will face fleshly temptations as well as intellectual assaults. Prepare them through conversation, prayer, and Bible study. Teach them the importance of church attendance by example. Make church a priority in your family. Warn them of the dangers of the world–but most importantly, remind them of the beautiful, powerful, saving message of Jesus.
  1. Join us. Find out if you have a campus ministry nearby. Consider attending church there from time to time. Get to know campus church workers as well as students. Age and other demographic factors do not matter. We are all part of the body of Christ. Many retirees actively serve our campus ministry at CMU. Our college students often enjoy babies and young children worshiping with them. Your college-aged brothers and sisters need you! Prayerfully consider offering your time, skills, or money in support of Kingdom work on college campuses.
  1. Talk to us and talk about us! Do you know a college student? Encourage him or her to get plugged in with a local church or campus ministry. And please share your students’ info with us—universities do not provide us with student contact information. The Michigan District has just rolled out a special online form so that you can connect your college students with us. We would love to invite them to worship, meals, fellowship activities, and other special events—but we need your help! Please help connect campus ministries with your young people.

Your support of campus ministries can touch the lives of individual students in tangible and profound ways. You can do your part— however small or large— to make the world a better place. By helping pass the Gospel onto another generation of Christians and converts, not only is there hope for eternal life, but there is also the hope that the church can positively impact our world even as the days seem to grow darker.

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About the Author

Rev. Benjamin Ulledalen is the associate pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. and Christ The King Lutheran Chapel on the campus of Central Michigan University.

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