I just returned recently from Grace College, Warsaw, Indiana…just 1 ½ hours from home (Valparaiso, Indiana) with 1,300 students. Before Grace College I was in Santa Barbara, CA, at Westmont College, with 800 students (you can hear my talk online). Two colleges in a row and two totally different cultures, but it is so rich to be around these very dedicated students who want to serve the Lord and make a difference and a positive impact on people’s lives. I love being on the college campuses around all that energy and passion.

All of these students want to serve the Lord in some capacity, whether it is in teaching, engineering, medicine, or whatever. My job is to uplift them, encourage them, and make them feel special, because they are. We are ALL special to God, and the mission field is wherever God puts you. People need the Lord. 

There are often students who attend these Christian Colleges and Universities that are not Christians, but because these schools have such high standards, morals, and integrity, and cost less money than most universities, they are compelled to go there. I can tell you, their lives become more meaningful, self-assured, and purposeful as they are impacted by the staff and students whose focus is God.

Look at the Hollywood gang – all these people getting involved in the African tragedies, and Katrina, and other disasters, etc. They are looking for some purpose and meaning in life beyond playing the part in a movie of someone who they are not.

My time on these college campuses is so encouraging so see that we have students who will be a part of our future in this country striving for excellence. The media does not focus enough on these students who are making our country look good…if they did it would challenge others to be the same. The media is very powerful but unfortunately it is mostly negative news. We do not have to be like that. Being positive is not only encouraging and uplifting, but it is also healing.

However, I have a story that goes back 42 years. I lived 24 years in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea. It is not hard to get the attention of students when you talk about cannibals and headhunters (something that hardly exists anymore…there are still a few, however, back in those jungles). In the first two minutes they were on the edge of their seats and fully engaged. I had connected. This is not always easy when they hear that an old lady missionary is going to speak in chapel. Oh, please! Unfortunately, chapel is mandatory, so I did have a captivate audience.

I make it a point to let them know that I would be accessible for the two days that I was there. I hung out in the coffee shop where there is a steady line of students coming in and out all day long between classes. I had more chocolate Mochas with whipped cream than I would normally consume in a whole year. But, what a privilege to spend time with these students as they asked questions and shared their passions and worries. It usually starts with a hug, and we go from there.

I was engaged in a conversation for two hours with two young men who wrote poetry. They have a group of students that have formed a club for the poets. Anyway, I do not like poetry. I mean, I really do not like poetry. I know the Bible has a lot of poetry in the Psalms and Proverbs, but it seems to me that this is somewhat different. I’m not sure if anyone could out-write God. The Bible is the most incredible literary book ever written. I could be wrong on that point. It doesn’t matter, I do not like reading poetry or listening to poetry. But, hey, these are young students, and I do need to engage and encourage them with whatever passion they have. God can use it.

These two guys read me some of their poetry. John asked me if I would like to hear a poem about pidgins or possums. “You have to be kidding” I said, “Pidgins.” Well, it was hilarious and well done, I have to say, but nothing really rhymed. I guess it doesn’t have to rhyme.

Well, I was invited to the poetry forum that night in the “Little Theater.” It holds about 80 people – it was full to capacity…everyone walking in with their poems waiting for their turn to read them. Their poems were about campus life, their girlfriends, boyfriends, making fun of people, etc. Some were fairly deep and spiritual.

I was asked to participate. “What?” As I listened for over an hour to these poems, I was asked to read something from the Bible I had translated for the Sepik Iwam Tribe in Papua New Guinea. However, as I was sitting there listening to these student’s poems, I decided that I could give this poetry stuff a try. Not knowing what I was going to do, I got up on the platform, the last to speak, and I started winging it all the way. Here is a sample of what I think I said. I did polish it up a bit. I was amazed that I did make some of it rhyme.

“The Jungle boys from PNG coming to the USA.”

They were amazed by all they saw
These funny people running to and fro
Not knowing for sure where to go,
It’s just the way of the USA

There were things those jungle men did not like
For one example those horrible stop lights
They are very controlling as we drove around
And they did not make a single sound

Those lights up there had three different colors
Red, yellow, and green that’s all
Controlling every car in sight
Making sure you did what was right

Red meant that you had to stop
Green meant that you could go
Yellow, well, nobody rally knew just what to do
The yellow is the worst of all the lights
Either you go or either you stop.
The yellow is bad no matter what
Are you going to go slow or slam on the brakes?
Speed it up and just go through

The yellow is dangerous as you all know
So just take it out and let them go.
So we need not worry about this yellow light
Just sip on through, it will be alright

For as you all know
It’s just the way of the USA

Well, I got a rousing applause and a lot of hand shakes. Well, that too, is the way of the USA .
Thank you!
Marilyn Laszlo

P.S. As far as I can remember, that was my very first poem I had ever told. Have you written any poems about missions or God’s work that you’d like to share in the comments?