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.
Our heavenly Father did not create us to live in isolation—He designed us to interact with one another. From the very beginning He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) His will is for us to support each other for our mental and spiritual health. As Paul says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
For many years, the faculty and staff at Immanuel have fulfilled this directive at our school by providing counsel to students from the Word of God. Many former students have fond memories of sitting down with one or another of the adults on campus, getting advice for their life, scriptural encouragement, or just some time to chat. This is one of the many benefits that comes as a result of Immanuel’s small size and its focus on teaching the Word of God.
While giving thanks for this blessing and the work of the faculty and staff and encouraging them to continue their personal contact with the students, the Regents have recognized that there is a growing need for more counseling help for the students at Immanuel. Many students develop a good connection with a particular staff member, but there are always students who could use additional help or may not have anyone they feel comfortable opening up to. A particular concern has been to provide more counselling help for the female students.
With this in mind, the Regents have added the positions of part-time counselor and mentor to the staff. Their intention is for the counselor to be a seminary trained individual, while the mentor would be a female, and they would work together to address the needs of the students.
The Lord saw fit to fill one counseling position during the last school year (2020-2021), when I accepted this call. As an Immanuel Seminary graduate and former pastor, I met their qualifications. And as a current part-time teacher and coach at Immanuel, I am already on campus several times a week and able to fit counseling hours into my schedule. The faculty and staff have supported this new counseling program and have helped identify students that may be struggling, or ones that are just falling through the cracks and may need someone to talk to.
Several individuals have expressed their thanks to the Lord for filling this position during a time of additional stress due to COVID restrictions, quarantines, missed school, and disrupted routines. I have appreciated the opportunities to meet with students one-on-one, getting to know them and being involved in their lives here at Immanuel. The Lord has truly blessed us with many gifted and conscientious young Christians!
With the start of the current school year, the Lord also provided a female to serve as the “mentor” counterpart when April Sydow accepted that call. April is an ILHS graduate and active member at Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire. She has a degree in Rehab Psychology from the UW-Madison, along with experience raising four boys. She currently works as a realtor and is also pursuing her master’s degree in social work.
This year April has been focusing on the female students, while I’ve been spending the majority of my time with the males. We’re sharing an office in the library, holding regular office hours on opposite days, and meeting with students at other times as we able. April has also started “girl talk” sessions in the dorm to help them open up about issues they’re facing.
Thank you for your continued prayers for our students at Immanuel, and for all of the faculty and staff as we care for the children entrusted to us.
Stephen Sydow is a part-time instructor and counsellor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.