Career, Faith, World Changers

Scholarship Essay by Caleb Alles

May 19, 2016 | Posted by LCEF

Many opportunities have been presented to me lately (not of my own pursuits but from God) to spread His gospel message and reach out in unity to my brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Caleb Alles, and I am a senior at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.

I believe that “being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see” has to be lived out every day. In James we read, “As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Of course, we know that good works are prepared in advance for us to do, as we are told in Ephesians 2. So it is God who has given me the work to reach out to others – whether it be in mentoring, leading younger classmates in bible study, or giving chapel at my high school – and I have acted on those opportunities.

What people have to know about the mission field in which I live is that Milwaukee is undeniably one of the most segregated cities and communities in America. I, a white, male, Protestant, am labeled as “what’s wrong with the world,” according to the secular idea of the dialectic in Marxism. However, God is immovable in his steadfast love for all people, wanting all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and He wants for us, the Church, to be united as one body. This is the community where I live and where my faith is screaming to be let out, pursuing the goal where Sunday is no longer the most segregated week of the day. I am so grateful to God for placing me in a Christian family and a uniquely diverse school that is Milwaukee Lutheran; we are majority black, roughly a third white (usually coming from a Lutheran grade school), a tenth Asian, but one in Christ.

In my junior year, my good friend and brother Jaylen Kroupa invited me to run with him as the heads of the Spiritual Life Committee on our Student Council. Jaylen is a 215-pound football player and wrestler. He is African-American and that “Jesus freak” who everyone knows wants to become a pastor. I shrugged him off initially, not letting the Holy Spirit inspire me to join His mission. But I eventually ran with Jaylen; we won and God ignited a small spark, a realization that beautiful changes could be made.

While many were pushing against the changes in Milwaukee Lutheran, a school that used to be comprised mainly of white, full-tuition paying students numbering near one thousand, the vision of a diverse Church revealed in Revelation is now being lived out at my school: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” That spark is continuing to grow even more as I am brought to tears at the realization of God’s magnificence if only we would offer Him the mustard seed that is our faith.

The path that God has chosen for me is one of leadership and undying loyalty in faith (perhaps that is why my name is Caleb, meaning “faithful.”) Living in the footsteps of my teacher Jesus Christ has meant walking in faith and being a leader of this small committee of a dozen people. He has moved me to organize chapel services, giving sermons in front of the 650 students at Milwaukee Lutheran (something I have now become quite comfortable doing). He has made me pursue testimonies of faith from those connected with Milwaukee Lutheran as I share a weekly devotion on Tuesdays over the school intercom. He has allowed me to lead a Bible study every other Wednesday for a group of freshmen so I can lead by example and show that it’s “cool” to share your faith. And He has showed me creative ways to share His gospel. Recently, Jaylen and I made a rap music video about God’s love which we showed in a chapel service this winter. Finally, the latest mission that God has given us is visiting area Lutheran grade schools and leading chapel services for the kids.

God put JC and I together for his glory to be shown (Jaylen is also called “JC” because he was mocked in grade school for being too much like Jesus Christ). True, JC and I differ in skin color and where we were raised, yet we are more similar in Christ than different. We both enjoy the same music artists like Lecrae, we both love weight lifting, and we played football together for four years at Milwaukee Lutheran. I call him my brother in Christ.

Milwaukee may reject unity. Racial tensions may be escalating higher than they have been since the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, but God has had one vision and purpose for all of eternity: unity.

There is a Jewish saying, “Follow the rabbi, drink in his words, and be covered with the dust of his feet.” By God’s grace, living out my faith means I should be covered in the dust of the sandals of Jesus. When JC and I can share the gospel of Christ with both black and white audiences, when I am able to witness in front of all of my peers (a crowd larger than many pastors speak to every Sunday), and when God puts fellow students in my path who are hurting or who have different beliefs than mine, then Christ’s mercy is shown – and He uses something as small as the mustard seed of my faith to work out His will.

Caleb’s essay above earned him a $3,000 Take Heart Scholarship from Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). The staff wishes him God’s many blessings!