Solid Grounds Christian Mentoring3 min read

Making a Difference TODAY in the Life of a Child

During the 2012 fall semester, Solid Grounds Student Ministries at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. began a mentoring outreach program to children in Kalamazoo.

The outreach program partners with Tree of Life (TOL) School, a new PreK-Grade 5 Christian school in the Edison neighborhood where over half of the families live at or below the poverty line. TOL opened in 2010 with Principal Adam Sterenberg and his wife, Amy’s, vision of offering quality Christian education at an affordable cost. Tuition rates were set at 5 percent of a family’s annual income. For some, that means paying $25/month to send their children to TOL.

Adam Sterenberg reports, “This year God laid it on our hearts that every student at TOL should build a relationship with a Christian mentor and friend. Praise God as He sent Rev. Mark Couch to us! I mentioned the direction we felt God was leading, and he was lit on fire! He continues to hook up so many WMU campus ministry students with TOL kids. All the glory is God’s!”  

I shared the vision with our students … and they loved the idea! Today, 30 campus ministry students serve 19 TOL students on an individual basis.

The mentoring program has been a tremendous outreach opportunity as God has opened the door for campus ministry students to serve the needs of many low-income students in the Kalamazoo area. When asked to share what she likes best about her mentor, TOL student Diamond shares, “My mentor is sweet and loving.”

Along with individual mentoring, a group event is held each month. These afternoons have included pumpkin carving, attending a WMU women’s basketball game and pizza party, Christmas ornament and cookie decorating, bowling, and ice skating.

“I like it that I get to spend time with them, go places and make things that are beautiful. I like it that we got to carve pumpkins,” JaNyah exclaims.

During the 12 years that I have served as a campus pastor at Solid Grounds, one of the things that resonate with students on campus is the importance of serving. They want to feel like they are making a difference in the world. Serving as mentors has already made an impact in the lives of both the campus ministry students and the students at Tree of Life.

Funding for this ministry is made possible through the Michigan District Peer Ministry Funds for Campus Ministry. Rev. Roosevelt Gray, Jr., who serves the Michigan District as assistant to the president – missions/evangelism, states, “May God be praised for the powerful work of sharing the love and gospel of Christ to the WMU and Kalamazoo community. What a blessing campus ministry, Zion Lutheran Church, and Rev. Mark Couch have been to the students.”

Caring for the most vulnerable in our midst is God’s call for all of us as followers of Jesus. Solid Grounds is grateful to the Lord for this opportunity to serve and share the faith.

Active campus ministry through the Michigan District serves seven university locations. Though not all Michigan colleges or universities have an active campus ministry, local contacts are available to help you find a “church home away from home.”

For listings regarding active ministry and local contacts, visit

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