HLCM: Message of grace at Rice, UH

By Pastor Janelle Rozek Hooper

Most of us hadn’t painted with our fingers in years. We are college students and adult board members who were asked to draw, mold clay and—yes—paint with our fingers and brushes as we prayerfully discerned our future as Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry. We have been in interim status for a year and half, which made it the right time to figure out who we wanted to be moving forward.  

On retreat, artist Lisle Gwynn Garrity from A Sanctified Art led us in mission discernment. Some students had done mission discernment before and some had never thought through a visioning process; none of us had done it with blue and green paint on our hands!

That’s campus ministry, especially the kind of ministry expressive of the diverse communities we serve at Rice University and the University of Houston—two schools that differ in size, philosophies and student backgrounds. 

Yet students are students, figuring out how to be whole people, balancing a future career and life goals.  

A student early in the year read the text from Matthew 15:21-28 where a woman challenged Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. 

The student expressed frustration around the possibility that Jesus changed his mind to heal the daughter after first ignoring the request.

An engineering major, the student felt pressure never to make mistakes and could not conceive of Jesus changing positions. We’ve come back to this text over and over again. At our retreat, it formed the basis of our new mission statement, “An open community welcoming faith exploration.” 

Just a year after wrestling with this text, the student was encouraging other students to consider the nature of God in ways they had not before and to consider the impact of grace in their lives.

I’m amazed by the profound differences we can make in the open minds of students when we are present, listening and caring. Live On’s generosity allows us to be present to these young people who need someone to listen to their struggles and care for their spiritual and emotional wellbeing in addition to academics. 

Thank you for providing for Jesus’s message of grace to live on in these academic settings through Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry.