Back on Campus

Yesterday I met Larry, a kind gentleman who donated the use of his large parcel of land in town for an afternoon airsoft battle/birthday party that my sons attended.  We chatted as we stood around both dropping off the kids and picking them up, and he mentioned that he goes out to UCSB every week.  He has built a little booth modeled after this one, and various people come up to talk with him.  His sign just says “Got Questions?”.

I stopped by this morning to watch him in action.  I did campus ministry at a major university for many years, and I wanted to see how things may or may not have changed.  In the span of an hour or so, I watched him chat with at least four different people including a very scruffy man on a bike, a police officer on a bike, and at least two students.  For one of the students, I was there to contribute to the conversation.

I’m debating doing something similar on another campus here in town.  What struck me was that the smaller size of the university population made it less of a crush of people between classes.  When I was doing my undergrad work and part-time campus ministry there were 40,000+ students on campus.  At a school less than half that size there is a decidedly different feel, and that may enable ministries like Larry’s to be more impactful.

It was great to be back on a college campus again, though strange to be an outsider both in terms of age and enrollment status.  As I walked down one of the main malls, none of the various tables and booths set up to advertise for various things tried to hand me pamphlets or invite me to their functions.  I don’t fit their target demographic, which is something I worry about in trying to start campus ministry.  Then again, perhaps because I don’t fit their demographic (though I’m closer to it than Larry!), I’ll have the opportunity to talk to people who wouldn’t otherwise talk with me.

I’m glad Larry is doing what he’s doing, and glad that people respond to him.  I pray that I’ll have similar opportunities.  It was refreshing to see a young person asking questions, sharing about themselves freely, seeking to learn more even as they made it clear where they themselves stood.  It makes me even more intent to get onto campus regularly.  Now it’s just a matter of finding time….

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