Vermont Church Exemplifies How to Help a Student
by: Stafford North | November 16, 2010
Sterling Beard, from Abilene, Texas, came to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, a long way from home. When his mother brought him to start attending college, the two of them attended Upper Valley Church of Christ at Quechee, Vermont, about twenty miles from the campus. The preacher, Randy Gardner, was in his first Sunday at the fifty-member church, but as Beard was leaving, Gardner handed him a church directory and said, “Sterling, this is your home now. We’re your family while you are at Dartmouth. Here is a list of every member of this congregation with their telephone number and email address. If you every need anything, for any reason, any time of the day or night, just pick a name and call. We’ll be there for you.”
As Beard began classes, he had no car and hesitated to call on anyone at the church to make the thirty-minute trip to pick him up. So, he took the bus to a denominational church. One day, however, Colleen Andrasko, one of the members of the church at Quechee, called and said that she and her husband, Russ, would like to pick up Sterling and take him to services. And they have been taking him each Sunday ever since that day. The weather has not deterred them and sometimes they even prepare meals for Sterling. When he leaves campus for a period and must leave belongings somewhere, the Andrasko’s provide space at their home.
Other members of the congregation have been helpful too. They are sure to invite Beard to their pot-luck dinners and invite him to their fellowship events, such as sledding parties. Some of the members of the church even attended his performance in an opera, The Pirates of Penzance. They also have made him feel a part of the congregation by asking him to help serve the communion.
What a good example for all churches in how to treat those who show up with needs! The attention the Upper Valley congregation has given this college student has made a great impression on him and has encouraged him to be strong in the Lord in an environment that might have drawn him away. For more information about this story or the congregation, contact Sterling.C.Beard@Dartmouth.edu.
Congregations near colleges and universities should make serving the students at that institution a strong part of their mission. They should seek those who are members of the church and serve them in all the ways they can to help them remain faithful. Many of our youth are lost during college years. They also should see the nearby campus as a place for evangelism and find ways both to serve and to teach the students there. If your congregation is near a campus, examine your program to see what can be done to make it more effective. Our March issue for 2010 has an article about an effective college ministry in Arizona. Go to our back issues at www.oc.edu/goodnews to see that article.