As many ministers can attest, it’s not easy balancing ministry with family time. So after recently volunteering to work with the campus ministries, I immediately thought of ways I could do my job and still make time for my husband and kids. Out of this, the “Great Campus Ministry Road Challenge” was born. In the next year, my family and I have set a goal to visit each Indiana United Methodist-related campus ministries. From Fort Wayne, to Vincennes, we will be taking to the road.
Since my husband, Shawn, and I met through campus ministries, he thought it was a great idea. Sullivan, 7, and Theo, 4, had mixed reactions. While it does mean time in the “boring” car, inevitably it also means meeting fun people and sometimes staying in hotels with pools. Those are big selling points for little boys. Evangeline, 6 months, is along for the ride.
We started with Purdue’s Wesley Foundation in West Lafayette. A two hour drive from our home in New Castle, we booked a hotel room and arrived in the late evening on Friday. No surprise, the boys were tired and cranky. This quickly turned around when the Wesley Foundation co-directors invited us over to their home.
Joint ministry at Purdue
Glen and Lana Robyne are the two United Methodist pastors who head up the Wesley Foundation. They minister jointly, and they not only serve as parents to Ella and Isaiah, but they have created a home at Wesley Foundation for students at Purdue. We got to know Lana and the Wesley Foundation as our kids ran around and played together.
Meanwhile, Glen was at the Friday Fellowship with the Foundation students. That night’s activity was ice skating and then hanging out at a local diner. In between activities, Glen stopped by his house with two students who were preparing to camp out for good seats at Purdue’s game against Michigan. We watched as he loaded them up with camping gear so they wouldn’t freeze in the 30-degree weather. I could imagine their own parents doing the same thing, and realized that part of Glen and Lana’s ministry at the Foundation was providing students a home away from home.
I stopped by the diner on our way back to the hotel that night, and was surprised to see Glen reading a book out loud. The large group of students, crammed into the small diner, were happily listening and responding. I wondered if it was a Bible study, but soon found out they were learning the language “Shona” for their upcoming mission to Zimbabwe.
Ten Purdue students are currently signed up to go this summer. This is in addition to the group of students who are planning to raise money for missions by biking the new Indiana Conference from top to bottom. At the diner, I was introduced to a large number of college students, many in leadership positions at the Foundation. Glen later told us that besides going into lay or ordained ministry, some students return after graduation to be interns at the Foundation. One of their recent graduates was even serving as a missionary in Africa.
The next day, we were given a grand tour of the Foundation building. Situated in the center of Purdue’s campus, it is a great location for students to gather and just hang out. They have a ministry going on each day of the week, and average 70 students at their weekly worship service.
Of the many things we were impressed with from their facility, the thing Glen seemed most proud of was the “Question Wall.” On one of the walls, students did a mural where they painted theological questions. Glen said this wall was one of the reasons he and Lana decided to start ministering at the Foundation. When he saw that wall, he realized that the Foundation was a place where it was okay for students to ask questions.
If you are visiting West Lafayette, include the Wesley Foundation in your tour. You can rest assured your child will not be just another face on a sprawling campus. At the Foundation, each student can feel at home. Check out the foundation’s Web site at www.wesleyfoundation.org to see all the great ministries they have underway, or to set up your own visit.
Adriane Curtis serves as co-chair of the Indiana Conference Campus Ministry Affinity Group and pastor at Trinity/Salem UMCs in New Castle, Ind.