Three years ago, David Melms couldn’t get the idea of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) house near Macalester College in St. Paul out of his head.
Melms, who graduated from Macalester College in 2013, would take prayer walks around his neighborhood and see houses for sale. Melms had been one of the students to start the FCA ministry on campus in spring 2010.
“I would walk by this one house time and time again and it would be for sale and it just sparked something in my mind about, ‘well, how cool would that be if there was a house for the FCA ministry that had somewhat of a legacy to it where I knew that Christians were there year after year and it was a place where people could go chill and have fun too,” Melms said.
The FCA ministry is on college campuses across the country, led by student athletes and coaches working to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And so the idea for a campus ministry for Macalester College stayed in Melms’ mind. During his college years, Melms had formed a friendship with Paul Olson, who is a member of the Macalester College Board of Trustees.
Olson had also recognized a need for a Christian ministry on Macalester College.
“They don't formally recognize campus ministries at Macalester, even FCA, though we love and want the best for the campus — so, our good relationships and trust as alumni leads to being welcomed into the athletics department,” Melms said.
Olson approached Melms about two years ago and proposed buying a house to create an intentional student ministry near most of the college campuses in St. Paul.
“(Olson) wanted to take those steps and buy a property near Macalester, but his wife was only wanting it if it would be something intentional like a student ministry, and that’s what they proposed,” Melms said. “I’ve always wanted something like that and I’d been praying for something like that, so it ended up being a yearlong journey to search for the right house.”
The group eventually found a house about a block from Macalester College, with an unfinished basement. Olson made an offer, which was accepted and the first people moved in 2017.
In the spring, renovations began on the basement to create a common space for those living in the house. The renovations included a prayer room, a kitchenette, tables for studying, a laundry room and an entertainment area.
The leadership spent six months working on the basement.
“This is all new to us, too, so it’s not that it’s not a good time for a story but the story is just starting to unfold,” Melms said.
The benefits of the house for Christian students are twofold — on one hand, students get face-to-face interaction with other students of faith living in the house, including Melms and his wife, who live upstairs. The other part is that the students have been gifted with a house and so should become disciples on their campus.
“They have this incredible home, because it’s not a college home — it’s a half-million dollar property that has been gifted to them, so it’s not your typical college apartment unit,” Melms said. “So the expectations for living in the house are that you’re excited about growing your faith and you’re excited about growing in a Christian community and you’re wanting to bless your campus with the house that you’ve been given.”
Everything about the house was made possible through the grace of God, Melms said.
“It isn’t really a story about an FCA staff guy or an FCA ministry, but there is just a ton of people that have been really generous in the process and God has just given us a great deal of confidence,” Melms said. “We had a confidence through it all that God is going to do something with this and he’s shown us he’s going to do this.”
This post written by Maggie Stanwood. Stanwood is a multimedia reporter at the Prior Lake American. She also freelances for the White Bear Press Pub and the Elk River Star News. Read more of her writing at this website.