25 years ago this year, C was called to be the Minister to College Students at FBC Woodway in Waco, Texas. At the time, we were first year seminary students and newlyweds living in Ft. Worth where C worked at an art gallery and I worked at a vet clinic. (I'll pause here for you to regain your composure.) I was 21 when we went to Waco, the age of the seniors in the group, and C was 22. We were so excited about the opportunity to go back to our alma mater and serve students during our seminary years. The position paid $500 per month and I made about $400 working as a housekeeper for a Baylor professor so the grand total was $900, which was what we were making in Ft. Worth. C's parents gave us a gas card to help us with the commute and for the next 30 months, we drove to Ft. Worth and back four days a week for school. C eventually got a pay raise to $900 but I had to stop working in order to do my counseling practicum, so it turned out that we had a $900 income for the rest of our seminary years.
(That's me, on the bottom row on the left.)
We threw ourselves into college ministry with passion. C continued the annual ski trip but added at least one mission trip, taking students to Egypt and Korea and Tennessee and McAllen. He added an immensely effective discipleship and spiritual formation process for students and made the Sunday School hour into a weekly highlight for many students. He placed students into key leadership positions, mentored them as he gave them responsibility and created a community of leaders that was able to create an innovative and effective ministry with few resources. One of the crown jewels of the ministry was the annual College Camp, which brought roughly 100 students together for fun, spiritual formation and community. This is true: he started the job in 1986 standing on a chair talking to 40 students with a Mr. Microphone and ended in 1994 with a ministry to hundreds and a real sound system.
We went back to Waco last weekend for a reunion of that last group of kids in the early nineties. As we sat around talking about their college years, they began to reminisce about their church experience, saying things like, "We had community before anyone even called it that," and "We learned to serve others," and "We always felt accepted and loved, like a home away from home," and "It was a place of grace." Those were some of the best years of our lives. Both our kids were born during that time. We learned that a baby shower given by college students was a lot of fun but that you mostly got stuffed animals. We always had babysitters, especially if we would let them do their laundry at our house. We loved every minute of it.
The best part of the reunion was watching our "kids" with each other, reliving their memories and their renewing their friendships. We watched grainy old videos filmed with gigantic video cameras and edited before digital editing equipment even existed for ordinary people. The next best part of the reunion was hearing about their lives today--meeting their spouses (although several of them married each other) and their kids and hearing about their jobs and their churches and their families.