By Todd Outcalt
I have now officially become "old." Or, at least I feel old. This summer my wife and I began escorting our daughter to various college campuses, as she is now deciding which university to attend. We keep asking ourselves - how did we get here? When did our little girl grow up? Where did the time go?
One of the campuses we visited was Indiana State University, my alma mater. I couldn't believe how much the campus has changed for the better since I was there during the famed Larry Bird basketball years. New buildings, including a fine arts center, and a lot more green space than when I knew it as a concrete campus. We also visited the United Ministries Center, where our own Jack Diel ministers to students and affects the lives of many.
We also visited some of our United Methodist campuses, including the University of Evansville and DePauw University at Greencastle. Each of these schools - along with the University of Indianapolis - also has dedicated chaplains who are there to serve your students and mine while they receive an education. It's a daunting and challenging task.
As we Imagine Indiana, I hope we will continue to keep our campus ministries on the radar of our prayers, our service and our giving - whether United Methodist-related or otherwise - as there are many chaplains and churches who are striving to make a difference to students during this critical time.
We can never take for granted the work of extension ministries serving us all. As we continue to pray for those families devastated by the violence at Virginia Tech, we know that there is much loneliness, pain and stress on our college and university campuses. Because most of us are not "in school" we don't see it. But it's there.
No doubt, college and university campuses are still mission fields, where hearts and minds can be swayed in any of a variety of ways, for good or evil. But our faculties and chaplains are there, too. They have a greater influence than we may realize.
I invite you to pray for our universities and their students. Pray for our chaplains and professors. Pray for the administration. Pick a ministry and give as you can. You'll make a difference, too.
Todd Outcalt serves as senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Ind.