by Augusta R. Mennell, Campus Ministry Director
What is it like for an international student to be confirmed in the United States? This is what happened to David Owusu from Ghana in Africa on April 29, 2012 at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center. He and Bryan Gilson, an eighth-grade member of All Saints, were confirmed by Rev. Michael D. Scheer.
David’s story began about four years ago when he came to Slippery Rock University. When he first came to the university he attended a different church, but came to All Saints for students’ movie-meal nights and later he would come in just to say hello and to talk. In the meantime he attended his other church for Sunday worship.
Everything changed when David decided to make All Saints his church home and family. He had been baptized as an infant, but had not been confirmed in Ghana because he had felt he was not ready. When he came to worship here, he knew he wanted to take communion. He also knew he had not been confirmed. That’s when he asked to take catechism classes twice a week so he could be confirmed.
David committed himself to regular study of the catechism using a combination of My First Catechism and Luther’s Small Catechism, annotated by Edward W.A. Koehler. As he studied, he asked questions. He really wanted to know how to apply what he was learning to his daily life: he wondered if it was okay to worship on Sunday and not Saturday; he asked how to know how much to give as an offering; and he asked what he could or should do if he moved to an area where there were not any other Christians.
David’s verse for his confirmation was Psalm 23:1. Bryan’s was Romans 8:28. David and Bryan listened as Pastor Scheer asked them to confess their faith aloud. They clearly stated their faith in Christ as their Savior. They were not hesitant. They were confident.
Pastor Scheer gave each confirmand a framed confirmation certificate to keep as a lifelong reminder of his special day. It is a reproduction of a confirmation certificate which had originally been used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pastor Scheer always makes each confirmand this beautifully framed certificate.
As David left the confirmation service, he spoke of his deep appreciation for all the love shown to him at All Saints. He acknowledged that he really knew we care about him. He will never forget his confirmation day or the sincere love given to him. He is family; he knows it.
Bryan’s proud family were with him, but David’s mother and family could not be here, so All Saints acted as his family by giving him love, a silver cross, a Bible, our congratulations, and we took his first communion with him side-by-side. As soon as the service and meal were over, he hurried back to his apartment to tell his mother all about the day by telephone. She was eagerly awaiting his call.
David graduates this month. He will find a job and move away. No matter where he lives he will find a Lutheran Church and be able to receive the Lord’s Supper. He has become a Lutheran. David is an international student who feels blessed not only by being able to graduate, but most especially by being able to be confirmed. All Saints will miss him, but will always be glad to have been a part of his and Bryan’s confirmation day. What a blessing to be family to this international student on his confirmation day!