Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) One of the less-well-known roles on the Immanuel campus is that of Resident Assistant (RA). They are typically college students who live in the dormitories and help the dorm parents and the dean of students care for the resident high school students.
This year, the four RAs are Greta Albrecht, Mark Brown-Kempenaar, Dannie Gamble, and Ben Hansen. Mark is in the pre-theology program, while the others are in the education program.
There aren’t any specific qualifications that make for a good RA other than an enthusiasm for helping young men and women develop as God’s children, a willingness to enforce and support the school’s rules, and—most importantly—a humble and child-like faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Beyond that, the RAs all bring their own unique skills and abilities to the dorm.
The RAs are responsible for routine tasks such as making sure the dormitory is well-stocked with cleaning supplies and—when the dormitory supervisor is absent—taking care of any sick residents and checking to make sure the residents have done their jobs, cleaned their rooms, and returned to the dorm on time. As anyone who has been around teenagers for any period of time knows, caring for their physical needs is relatively easy. After all, teenagers are becoming more independent by this age and can do an adequate job of taking care of themselves when given a little guidance. The more difficult, but perhaps more rewarding, aspect of being involved in the lives of teenagers is helping them grow emotionally and spiritually during these difficult years.
That is where a good RA can really shine. The most important way that an RA can influence the life of one of Immanuel’s students is just by being a Christian presence in that student’s life each day. Because the RAs themselves are just a few years removed from high school, many students find it easy to talk with them casually and comfortably. This comfortable relationship, and the trust that follows, can allow the RAs to reach students who wouldn’t feel as comfortable talking with older adults. This can also be a large burden for the RAs, who are still growing emotionally and spiritually themselves, so please include our young resident assistants in your regular prayers. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) They play an important role at Immanuel.
Being an RA is not all about helping the high school students though. The experience they gain working day after day with teenagers will help them in their own lives, with their own families, and through their own careers—whether in the public ministry or not. I myself have learned a great deal about humility and the power of Christian prayer in the short time I’ve been a dorm parent and Dean of Students. I have no doubt that the RAs are learning their own valuable lessons too.
As Paul said, we all have been given a variety of talents to use for the profit of all. May the Lord continue to bless Immanuel with dedicated staff and volunteers who are helping raise another generation of Christians dedicated to a life of service and love in the name of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Gus Falkenberg is Dean of Students and North Hall Supervisor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.