Would you go canvassing in a blizzard?
That was the dilemma facing Martin Luther College. Praise and Proclaim was invited to come to New Ulm on April 10th in conjunction with E-Day Action Day to provide evangelism training for students. The invitation to participate was also given to members from the two local WELS congregations — St. Paul and St. John’s Lutheran Church. A major component of the training included going out door-to-door to proclaim the message of salvation throughout New Ulm.
The challenge was a major winter storm expecting to arrive at the same time. We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when and how fierce it would be.
We asked the Lord to provide a window of opportunity to go out and put our training into action, but this was going to be his call.When I arrived in Minneapolis on Tuesday morning, April 9th, the storm was well on its way. The projections were that New Ulm and the Twin Cities were going to be largely spared from the blizzard conditions. When the storm arrived, it would more than likely happen after we went canvassing on Wednesday afternoon. Could this be an answer to our prayer?
Driving into New Ulm on Wednesday morning from Minneapolis, ominous clouds were already emerging from the southwest. Upon turning north on Highway 14 from Nicollet, the flurries turned into a heavy, blowing snow. The blizzard-like conditions had unexpectedly arrived early in the Minnesota Valley.
The decision was made at Martin Luther College that canvassing was going to be cancelled for the afternoon.
I shared this video message with my family:
I felt bad.
Professor David Scharf had worked hard to set up the first annual E-Day Evangelism Day at MLC. This was something new being offered for the students in association with Evangelism Day held in January. Professor Scharf wanted to provide students with an opportunity to exercise their learning and go out and do it. Michelle Gartner, Event Coordinator at MLC, served a valuable role in handling logistics. What made this venture unique is the partnership with St. Paul Lutheran Church (Rev. Nathan Scharf) and St. John’s Lutheran Church (Rev. Rob Guenther) in New Ulm. Working together, I was confident that we could help provide an impactful evangelism event.
Praise and Proclaim teaches a simplified approach to witnessing that includes utilizing tools to help engage people at the door. This included a half-page invite for families to send their children to Easter for Kids on Saturday morning at St. Paul Lutheran School. The students would learn how to comfortably transition to sharing a short gospel message.
Even though the canvassing component of the training had been cancelled, we were blessed that over sixty students and church members still gathered at the MLC auditorium for two hours of evangelism training.
With the snow flying and the wind howling outside, the training began as scheduled. Five minutes into the training, the fire alarm went off and the entire building had to be evacuated. With students standing outside in the snow and wind, one person said to me, “I get the feeling that somebody doesn’t want you to be here.”
It wasn’t long before the fire alarm stopped, and we headed back into the auditorium.
Before training included, Pastor John Boeder – the campus pastor along with Angie Scharf, who helps direct the DayLight program, had already coordinated another opportunity for students to exercise their training and go out canvassing at the end of April.
We pray that this training can assist students who are part of the MLC DayLight program as they go out to work with congregations throughout the U.S. It is also our prayer that the personal evangelism training can serve to enhance the education the students are receiving at Martin Luther College. When they receive a call to serve as a pastor, teacher, or staff minister, they could utilize this experience to enhance their gospel ministry.
The snow stopped falling about the same time the training ended. The roads were good enough to travel safely back to Minneapolis and catch a Thursday morning flight to Chattanooga, TN and launch an outreach initiative with Living Hope Lutheran Church.
I came away from the New Ulm adventure with a renewed appreciation for the outstanding men and women who are serving at Martin Luther College. They love their Savior and are passionate about providing meaningful training and instruction for the next generation of called servants who will be serving the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod.
I also came away impressed with the quality of young men and women who are students at Martin Lutheran College. They love their Savior and have a strong desire to serve him as a called servant.
It was a privilege and a joy to receive an adventure in New Ulm. May the Lord bless the plans to continue providing opportunities for the students to put evangelism training into action.