By Sue Sprenkle

COLBY, Kan. – He couldn’t shake the thought from his head. He even tried pushing it to the back and busied himself with other ministries. But no matter what Kellan Ziegelmeier did, he kept coming back to the “what ifs.”

“What if there had been a Christian Challenge for students when I was at Colby Community College?” he thought. “What if my time and other people’s time at that junior college could be redeemed?”

The small two-year college in Northwest Kansas did not have a ministry reaching out to students. From Kellan’s experience working in collegiate ministry at Fort Hays State University, he knew these college years were a time when students searched and questioned their value, worth and purpose. It’s a period of life when students are open to God.

Kellan and his wife, Taylor, made the decision to move back to Kellan’s hometown and start a Christian Challenge at Colby Community College. While both were experienced collegiate ministers with FHSU Christian Challenge, this was a whole new ball game starting something from scratch. They found jobs and volunteer their time in the ministry — Taylor works at the county extension office and Kellan farms with his father.

“We have no idea what we are doing,” Taylor admitted with a laugh. “It’s very different from a four-year collegiate ministry. There you have students for years and even have graduate students.

“At a community college you often only get students for one year — maybe two — before they move on,” she said. This means every school year is practically like starting over.

“We also ran into the fact that the college only has classes four days a week. That really just gives us three days for ministry because everyone goes home Thursday to help on the farm or travels for athletic events during their three-day weekend.”

Despite the differences, the 20-something couple has found fertile soil in this farming community. Kellan said they learned during their first year to keep things simple. On a small campus, everyone is busy. The couple decided to just be available and authentic and show students that they were “about Jesus.”

They ate lunch with students, helped them move and find jobs, mentored them and had small group Bible studies. They tried to be on campus from Sunday evening when students returned from their weekends through Wednesday after working all day.

Eventually these small inroads led to a core group of 12 students at the end of the 2019 spring semester. Three returned for the 2019 fall semester and the second year of the ministry. This allows the Ziegelmeiers to “build on seeds planted that first year in fertile ground.”

They’ve already seen prayers answered in just three semesters. They asked God to give their students a thirst for His Word. Both have received texts from students requesting to meet up and go through the Bible. “Believe me when I say you never get those kind of texts,” Taylor said excitedly. “We never got a text like that at FHSU. But in just one year, we’ve both gotten texts like that here.”

The second year of Colby Community College’s Christian Challenge is underway. You can be a part of it, no matter where you live in Kansas-Nebraska. Your contributions to the KNCSB Associational and State Missions Offering help new ministries like this one to get training and support.

You can also be a part of their prayer network. The Ziegelmeiers ask that you pray for:

  1. Co-laborers. “We need help,” Taylor said. “We need people who have a passion for college students to come volunteer alongside us.”
  2. Grit. The second year of a ministry is often the hardest as the newness has worn off and reality sets in. Kellan asked that you pray for “grit to grow the ministry and take it to the next step.”
  3. Students. Kellan asked that you pray for students to be drawn to God through Christian Challenge. “Pray for open hearts and minds to the gospel,” Kellan said. “Pray for these students to be teachable and available.”