If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever do public campus ministry work, I would have likely laughed and said absolutely not. It was not something that I ever wanted to do nor that I ever felt called to do. The closest I was comfortable with getting to ministry was Camp Wakonda. My whole family has worked there as staff, and I loved the youth aspect, but a college student is very different from your 9 year old cub camper that won’t stop singing the Burger King song. I never really thought about it and just sort of dismissed the idea anytime it was mentioned. God clearly had different plans.
Towards the end of last year, I hit a particularly rough patch in life. I was feeling quite alone and lost. I felt I was falling into a pit and I couldn’t pull myself out. I remember sitting on my floor, going through some old clothes, thinking to myself “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? Like is this it?” My work felt empty and pointless, and I didn’t feel any purpose or fulfillment in my current role. I said “God, please just help me figure this out, cause this can’t be it.” While going through those old clothes, I came across an old Camp Wakonda shirt. In 2021 and 2022, I had tried to work at Wakonda as a staff, but things hadn’t worked out. I thought about it for a while and then prayed: “God, I would love to be at Wakonda this summer. I’ve tried to make it work on my own for the last 2 years, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. I’m going to give it one more shot, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll move on, but if you want me there, please open the doors”
I prayed about it a lot over the next few weeks and really felt that God wanted me to be at Wakonda. I talked to my current supervisors and was told I would be able to get 5 weeks off. Towards the end of November, I reached out to Pastor Zack and explained what had been going through my head and what the rough plan was looking like. We talked back and forth over the next few months, and during this whole time, I kept praying for God to open the right doors, and close the wrong ones. Long story short, God kept opening doors. All of my requested time off was approved, Pastor Zack was willing to let me come work on a shorter timeframe, and I was able to work as staff at Wakonda this last summer. It was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. I made some amazing friends, and had some amazing experiences, but most importantly, I saw that we were leading people to Jesus. After the summer, I went back home to Colorado, and that was the end of the story. Or so I thought.
Before I left Colorado, I had told my supervisors that this was going to be a one time thing and that I would not be trying to go back the following summer. While I was at Wakonda though, God kept opening more doors. I had the chance to meet up and chat with Josh Guerrero, a lifelong family friend, and the Public Campus Ministry Coordinator for Wisconsin. He mentioned the idea of campus ministry to me, and I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first. I can work with the kids here at camp but doing that with college students? I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. He prayed with me and I remember thinking back to my thoughts in November: “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?” During the last few weeks of summer camp, I really started giving it some serious thought and prayer. I returned to my job in Colorado and kept praying for God to open and close the right doors. After a couple weeks of thought and prayer, I decided to move forward with the public campus ministry opportunity, and the team was comfortable moving forward with me.
At the time of writing I haven’t officially started yet. I have a few more weeks in Colorado, but I was able to fly out at the beginning of September for a week to help out and get a taste of what’s to come. It was an amazing week with some awesome moments. Pastor Zack got way too much smoke in his eyes during our pancake cookout, one dorm student got very confused when they thought 80 students all came out of a single small bush by one of the dorms during our campus-wide hide and seek. We told them there was a secret tunnel. One of our student leaders did some amazing karaoke during our large group meeting, and I had another student yell at me for my stance on pistachio ice cream. There were a lot of fun moments, but there were also a lot of cool spiritual moments. We had a lot of good conversations with students that had never really heard much about God and were genuinely curious to learn, and we also had multiple people express interest in learning how to have a personal relationship with Him. It really reaffirmed for me that this is what God wants me to be doing and that this is where He wants me to be.
We need Jesus on these public campuses now more than ever. Please pray for our team! That we will be able to reach the people we need to reach, and say what needs to be said. Pray that we will all be able to learn and grow in our faith together. Pray that God will open the right doors. I don’t know exactly where this is going to lead or what’s going to happen, but I can tell you that I am excited! Excited to be able to help other people, excited to share the gospel with others, and most of all, excited to see what doors He opens. If you are struggling yourself, or feeling lost, pray for God to open and close doors in your life. Let Him show you His plan. You never know where He may lead you.