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Water the seed: Ministry in the public school

“Does he know your weaknesses? Does he see your hidden fears? Does he know who he is sending? Yes, he does. And he says to you as he said to Moses, ‘Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’ (Exodus 4:12).”

These words were spoken in the sermon as part of my graduation from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. As I reflect on these words and the different schools in which I’ve served, they still bring me so much comfort today.

I spent five years serving in the public ministry before marriage led me to relocate to a rural area that does not have a nearby WELS school. I now teach at a charter school in town.

As someone who has attended WELS schools my whole life, I had no idea what to expect. I felt uncertain, nervous, and unprepared, but also excited and curious. One of my biggest adjustments was rethinking my classroom management to be less law-and-gospel focused. In my previous classrooms, we talked about three things to do in response to what Jesus has done for us: show love to our Savior, show love to our teachers, and show love to our classmates. How awesome it was that showing love to teachers and classmates also demonstrates love for our Savior! If a student ever made a not so great choice, some of my first questions would be, “Did that choice show love to your classmate? What would be a better choice that also shows love to our Savior?” It felt strange at the charter school to leave off the most important guideline—love for our Savior!

I frequently prayed on my car rides to school that the Lord would help me let my light shine: for the student whose mother was in jail for drugs, for the girl whose divorced parents fought so much she questioned if they loved her at all, for the coworker who reached out to me after suddenly losing his father shortly after I had lost my own. I frequently prayed that God would help me speak and teach me what to say just as he promised Moses in the sermon text.

My time at the charter school is full of ups and downs, but I am certain God placed me there for a reason.

Sure enough, the Lord kept his promise and provided many opportunities for me to share my faith at the charter school. I recall one student drawing a picture of three crosses. When I asked him to tell me about it, he said, “I’m not really sure. I know one is Jesus, but that’s it. I’ve just seen it at my grandmother’s house when I’m there on the weekends.” What a teachable moment to share what Jesus did on Good Friday for all people. One morning, my class was reminding one another about not using the Lord’s name in vain. After some discussion, a student stated, “God only loves you if you believe in him.” Again, what an opportunity to share that God loves all people and sacrificed his Son for all people—not just believers.

My time at the charter school is full of ups and downs, but I am certain God placed me there for a reason—to strengthen my faith in him and to understand better the bigger picture of ministry outside of WELS churches and schools. I cannot see into my students’ hearts to know what they truly believe, but I pray that the Holy Spirit is at work within them. I pray that he blesses the planting of seeds of faith and continues to give me and others the opportunities to water the seeds.

Author: Megan Spaude
Volume 110, Number 05
Issue: May 2023

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This entry is part 7 of 36 in the series editorial-comment

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