2019 Streufert Award Essay
Service as always been an integral part of Campus Ministry at Concordia University Wisconsin. This year, my first year on Campus Ministry Leadership Team (CMLT), we began by serving together at Feeding America before our school responsibilities even began. Throughout the year, service is an important part of many CMLT groups. The group I lead, Beautiful Feet, always does a service project in conjunction with the conference. As we plan for next year’s conference at CUW, we are looking for ways we can serve Milwaukee. Volunteering is a major part of Students for Life. This group invests significant time in serving Blessed Again, a resale shop which supports A Place of Refuge, a home for expectant/new mothers. Volunteering to pray outside abortion clinics is particularly moving, and a great privilege. It has influenced me to find other groups to pray with in my local community when I am home for the summer.
Service has always been one way I lived out my faith. My mother raised me to be a kind-hearted, service-minded person and encouraged ways I could serve my church and community. I would join my sports teams in a day of service to the neighborhood around my school or serve with my church youth group at a soup kitchen or resale shop. My favorite part about serving is that I quickly learned the experience is not about the time or effort we put in, but rather about the people we meet along the way and how we can be the light of Christ in their life.
I also often joined my mom in volunteering at camp. My experience as a volunteer camp counselor was actually what made me consider a church-work vocation. A young girl in my cabin became very homesick the beginning of the week. At first, I thought it was because she was away from home for the first time. I soon figured out that wasn’t the problem, but rather she felt left out during Bible study because she didn’t know the characters we were talking about. I began to sit by her so I could help explain, but in those conversations I discovered she didn’t even know who Jesus was. That moment was one of shock for me. Being raised in the church myself, I had known Jesus my whole life. From then, I was able to continue to have conversations with my camper, slowly introducing her to Jesus and his promises for her. While it was a new and scary experience to share my faith in that way, it was also one of joy and
As a church worker in training, I understand I am not in it for the money, but that the position often comes with sacrificing luxuries so that we are able to share the “one thing needful;” that is the Gospel of Christ (Lk 10:24). This is an important point to keep in mind whenever serving, but this will particularly apply to my vocation after college, as I serve the LCMS as a missionary. With this mindset, I have grown to learn to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel, even if they seem difficult or force me out of my comfort zone. Without sharing the Word of God, service is just fulfilling a momentary need rather than giving an eternal hope. Luther calls vocations “masks of God” in which God comes to others through us. As Luther also points out, our acts of service benefit not us, nor are needed by God, but are for our neighbor.
One of the ways I have been able to grow in leadership and serve my neighbor at college is as a Faith Associate this year. Faith Associates are a new leadership position on campus, serving in a role similar to RA’s to promote Christian community and care in our residence halls. The position has also helped me grow in my faith personally, learning to trust in God and turn to him when my work seems too overwhelming for me to do on my own. That is how it should be anyway–our strength is God’s and the work is the Holy Spirit’s, not our own. We are simply the instruments God has chosen. Our motivation for service comes from knowing God first showed us the ultimate sacrificial love by giving his Son to die on the cross for all the sins of humankind. In turn, we can do our best to serve others, showing Christ’s love. I have always loved John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Service to Christ by serving our community is one of the best ways we can show our love for our neighbors and in doing so, also give witness to Christ.