TPOG Students

Wednesday
May282014

The Remodeling of a Christian Student

To summarize the impact of campus ministry in my life on one page is a huge challenge. In the fourteen years since high‐school graduation, the remodeling that the Lord has undertaken in me is remarkable.

Before the remodel

The religious education I received at my area Lutheran high school made me familiar with a God of love who sent his son Jesus because, well, I didn’t really know. I guess he filled in the gaps when I couldn’t quite get it right, but he couldn’t have had that much work to do, right? I was a good student and high achiever. My bible was a textbook that had an index, so I could look stuff up if I needed to. Sunday mornings had church penciled in, and I often went because that was part of being the “successful person” that I had painted for myself. School had taught me that Religion was a subject to get an “A” in. No one on the outside would have considered me an “at‐risk” Christian.

During the remodel

I had chosen to go to a selective college on the east coast, and knowing full‐well that my faith would be challenged. I had prepared for all sorts of situations in which I imagined I’d find myself: sex, drugs, evolution. The challenge indeed arrived, but instead of the attacks I had expected from the outside, I fell apart from the inside out. The truth was that I was built on a foundation of sand: I had placed my self‐worth in my achievements. That gap between me and perfection was so much larger than I had naively assessed. The next five years were filled with a dark depression where, instead of excelling at school, I struggled to eat and shower regularly. I limped along in school for a couple of those years before finally dropping out to work a series of jobs to keep myself alive. But during those years on campus, a friend invited me to a campus ministry event where, for the first time, I met people who did the strangest things: devoured the Bible like a good book, talked to the Lord as they walked across campus from class to class, voluntarily spent Friday nights singing worship songs with friends. Jesus filled more than just “gaps” for them – He was everything to them!

After the remodel

Well, it’s not over yet. . . I have had the privilege of returning to school but I still struggle with my mood and with anxiety. But the Lord has made clear to me through those Christian friends at campus ministry as his did to the apostle Paul: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take [the “thorn in my flesh”] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8). He had never expected me to carry my own weight! He already knew I wasn’t perfect! And he is not simply sighing and accepting that fact – he uses my weaknesses for good!

Now back on campus, I have a unique role at The Point of Grace as both a graduate student and a “grownup.” I have taken classes and taught classes here at UWM; I have the viewpoint of a student but also as a member of the Ministry Team. And now to you as a reader and possibly a parent, I validate this plea being both a daughter and a mother myself: campus ministry needs your attention. Your children will be remodeled between the ages of 18 – 25 by someone or something. The Lord used campus ministry to keep Jesus in charge of my own painful remodeling project.

Thank you for your prayers & financial support for The Point of Grace.

With gratitude,
Hannah Wagie

Hannah is finishing her Ph. D. in physical chemistry at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She lives in Port Washington, WI with her husband Adam and their one year‐old daughter Estelle.

Friday
Mar072014

The Roller Coaster of Christian College Life

As an average 22 year old, running between classes, meetings, extracurricular activities, and work, I often become overwhelmed with the burden of feeling incapable of being able to manage this crazy thing we call the college years. Some days nothing seems to go my way, and before I know it, my whole world has turned upside down. I have discovered in more recent years that there seems to be a direct correlation between the level of happiness and contentment in life and the level of commitment to my faith.

My life feels like a roller coaster ride, the kind where one minute I am at the top of a huge hill and feel ready to conquer anything, and the next minute my heart drops to my stomach and I feel sick. Likewise, I have found that there are times when one week I will feel like I’m on top of the world and can see every opportunity laid out in front of me, and the next week, I have somehow fallen into the depths of despair and don’t even know which way is up anymore. My faith life has the up and down feelings of a roller coaster as well. Some weeks I am better at remembering my daily devotions, prayers, and conversations with God, and other weeks, I am rather forgetful. Typically, the weeks I find myself calling on God more are the weeks when I’m feeling exceptionally overwhelmed. These weeks are blessings in that they pull me back to what I need to be focused on, and while I am grateful that they serve as a reminder in this way, I also during these times feel great disappointment in myself. I feel disappointed that in trying times, I come crawling to God with a heavy heart and a broken spirit, asking for his guidance and love, only to push him to the back corner of my mind as soon as things turn right side up again. During these times I plead to God for not only his support, but also for the willpower to keep him a priority at all times in my life, and not only when I feel like I need some serious intervention from the Big Guy upstairs. As determined as I always am to stay on the right track, making God the focal point of my life, time and time again, I fall off the tracks, and time and time again, I lose myself, because time and time again, I take my focus off of God.

But, time and time again, God always welcomes me back into his gracious arms as his child. Even though I often become frustrated with myself for not being able to handle my hectic life and for continuously forgetting to put God first, when I am gently reminded by worldly disappointments, God comforts me by directing me to his encouraging Word: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

As an average 22 year old, I often become overwhelmed. As an average 22 year old with faith in the Lord’s unrelenting love, I can be at ease knowing that no matter how many times I ask for his help, God will always pick me up when I’m down. I can constantly be comforted in the knowledge that God will never turn his face from me, even though I may turn my face away from him while I’m too busy focusing on the things of this world. I can find relief and consolation that in this roller coaster of life, God will never neglect me, and will always offer me his reassurance and love

Mandy Zachow

Marquette University Student

Saturday
Mar012014

Who Am I?

Who am I?

I am Kristin Martin, a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, employee, teammate, and recent graduate from Wisconsin Lutheran College(WLC) in December 2013. Throughout my three and a half years there, i lost myself, found myself, and changed myself more than I can count on my fingers. I know that I am not alone. College is more than just preparing yourself for a future career - it's about self-discovery. It's about tearing apart who you are, rebuilding yourself, and becoming the person you want to be and are most content being. I redefined myself countless times because I was never truly content. I've always had incredibly supportive family and friends, good grades, participated in sports, and held a steady job, but the feeling of being content I yearned to feel was not there.

At the end of my third year at WLC, my friend invited me to my first Gathering at Marquette. It was then I realized what I had been doing wrong - I had been defining myself with earthly characteristics and forgetting the most important piece of the puzzle, the heavenly characteristic - that I am a child of God.

I decided to join the Collegiate Council because I wanted to help other students on campuses throughout the Milwaukee area realize this, too. That even through the busyness of college, focusing on God and keeping him at the center of everything will help you through. This is why what The Point of Grace (TPOG) is doing with campus ministry is so important. It reminds students with hectic lives of the thing in their life that will always remain the same - God and His Word. It's impossible to be happy all the time, but with God by your side, being content with both the good and the bad is an attainable goal. TPOG is a "family" of encouraging individuals who continually remind me of the love God has for me. They are incredibly welcoming and continually remind me that I am a Child of God.

So, who are you?

Kristin Martin

Wisconsin Lutheran College
Business Finance and Mathematics

Friday
Apr192013

Milwaukee Area Campus Ministry - An Exciting New Direction

My name is Stephen Avery and I am a student at MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering). This year, I started to get involved with The Point of Grace ministries of the Milwaukee area this fall. I had the privilege of playing guitar in the praise band for a few services at the building on the UW-Milwaukee campus. The service was great, the message was right, and the congregation was very warm and welcoming. However, there was something lacking from the building that surprised me: college students. Very few students outside the praise band attended the services that I went to. It sort of perplexed me; I was happy that such a welcoming group was so willing to minister to college students and really wanted to be part of this family, yet I seemed to be one of the few students to think so. Students today must be looking for something different that TPOG’s services were not bringing to the table. As you may know, The Point of Grace recently sold its building and moved to a smaller facility a couple doors down the street. At first, one may think that this is a bad sign and that TPOG’s ministry might be falling behind with today’s students. However, that is just the opposite. I strongly believe that this is a step in the right direction and that The Point of Grace can now help Milwaukee’s college students spiritually better than ever.

We all know that our faiths in Christ are not bound to a building but are a relationship that follows us in all parts of our lives. Likewise, campus ministry is not bound to a building and can be more effective if one thinks outside the box and reaches out to students. That is what The Point of Grace is now focusing on, and from what I’ve seen in the last few months, it is definitely working. TPOG is still going from campus to campus, hosting weekly Bible studies with each school, but what it is doing that pushes its ministry to the next level is a new monthly event called The Gathering.

The Gathering is not your typical bible study, nor is it merely a social event. It moves from campus to campus, unifying Christian students from the various schools into a community, rather than creating separate groups at each school. Each month, a theme for the Gathering is selected. For example, in March, the event at MSOE was titled, “My Life in Crime.” Luke Thompson gave a very engaging presentation to about fifty students that created very good discussions and also made us think about topics and in ways that we never had before. In fact, the majority of the material that he presented was actually secular works. He showed clips from Breaking Bad and Dexter and asked us to find common themes and archetypes of the “crime genre” of the TV shows. After about an hour of that, he then pulled up a couple Bible passages that supported what we discovered from discussing these TV shows. It had the usual law and gospel, but it was presented in such a new and refreshing way.

The message was not watered down, but it was not given in such a pushy way that anyone who was not a Christian would not feel uncomfortable as they would during a typical Bible study or worship service. It is the perfect event to bring your college friends to. There’s free food to entice your friends with and the presentation and warm hospitality then engages their attention and makes them see how and why Christians think like we do. To me, this is what campus ministry is about. It brings Christians together in a safe environment and creates an atmosphere that makes those who are new or returning to Christianity feel comfortable and informs them in a very engaging manner.

Yes, the building is gone, but that does not mean that The Point of Grace Campus Ministry is dead or dying. As mentioned above, we are just getting started and are very excited for the future. That is why I am asking you to please consider giving a donation to the Point of Grace. The ministry is growing in a new and exciting way and we are reaching new college students with every event that we hold.

Stephen Avery

MSOE Student

Saturday
Apr132013

Good Changes for Milwaukee Area Campus Ministry

Having been a part of WELS Campus Ministry for 3 years now, and serving as President of Marquette’s WELS Campus Ministry for 2 of those years, I have seen The Point of Grace change throughout the years. 2013 brought the biggest change to TPoG, as the church, what had become the main focal point of the ministry, had to be sold. Although initially unsure of what would happen to TPoG and WELS Campus Ministry in the Milwaukee area with this huge change, after seeing the changes that have taken place thus far, I know TPoG has a great future ahead of it. Members of TPoG, students in Milwaukee area colleges like Marquette, MSOE, and UWMilwaukee, and WELS believes citywide are eager to start a new chapter for TPoG, and I could not be more excited to be a part of the process!

The Gathering is the new focal point of WELS Campus Ministry, and last night I was able to experience it for the first time. The Gathering works to really connect with college aged kids – it takes pop culture to a whole new level; intertwining themes of faith along with popular television shows is something I had never considered before! The theme last night for The Gathering was “My Paranormal Life”. Following a short introduction of Luke Thompson, the speaker for the night, the lights were dimmed, and clips of “American Horror Story” began to play. Luke Thompson did an amazing job connecting the horror of the unknown that so many people seek in television shows and movies to the hope that we as Christians have in knowing we do not have to be afraid of the unknown; as believers, we can instead have comfort in the knowledge that God is in complete control of everything, even the farthest parts of the universe that we cannot begin to fathom. Who would have thought that a movie like “Paranormal Activity” could reaffirm the solace that I can find in my Lord’s everlasting love and omnipotent power? We can know with full confidence that God will protect us from even those things that are far beyond our grasp and comprehension, the unknown: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor an powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Thank you, so very much, for allowing WELS Campus Ministry to continue to thrive and grow, despite drastic changes. Without sponsors and donations, TPoG would not be able to reach out to individual campuses to hold weekly Bible studies or bring the campuses together at The Gathering to continually be amazed at God’s greatness. I am so appreciative that I am a part of WELS Campus Ministry at Marquette, and I would like to personally thank you for this opportunity.

In Christ,
Mandy Zachow

Marquette University Student