NEXUS: One Theology Institute, Two Mentors’ Perspectives, and a Triune God

by Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke

Executive Director’s Note: Many thanks to Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke for telling us about their experiences at NEXUS this past summer.  Ethan and Luke are both NALC college students and are planning on attending the NALC seminary after graduation.  They have also made a video about NEXUS, which is posted on our website.  A link to that video can be found here.


NEXUS is a vocational discernment institute rooted in Lutheran theology hosted by Grandview University in Des Moines, Iowa, and it is a week full of blessings! High school students who are contemplating their vocation, what God’s call for their life is, come to NEXUS and experience fellowship with other young Christians who are going through similar journeys. Morning and evening worship, classes on the Old and New Testament taught by solid Lutheran professors, small group discussions led by college-age mentors, and lots of prayer are all part and parcel of what NEXUS is, learning where God’s call meets your life!

Hi, my name is Luke and here are some of my thoughts on NEXUS: NEXUS is a great organization, because God makes it one! I loved being able to be a college-age mentor and a leader for the high school participants at NEXUS. Furthermore, I also liked being able to learn about God at NEXUS with and through the high school students.

My favorite thing about NEXUS this year was getting to meet and talk to Christians I had never met before or only briefly. I was able to talk to pastors, professors, and other Christians about Christianity. For myself, who someday wants to do full-time ministry as my career, working at NEXUS let me have conversations with other college-age students and high school students who think their vocation is full-time ministry. I also was able to practice and learn skills that will someday help me when I am doing full time ministry because I was a college-age mentor at NEXUS. Such skills were helping lead a small group, writing/giving a devotion, talking about the Bible with other people, etc.

Hello all, my name is Ethan Zimmerman, and this is my perspective on NEXUS!

NEXUS is something truly special, something that I don’t think happens anywhere else. NEXUS is not just another church or bible camp; discipleship and vocational discernment happen, and bonds of Christian fellowship that will stand the test of time are forged. My time as a NEXUS mentor was truly a blessing, and as my fellow mentor Chris put it, good for my soul!


The topic of discipleship is something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I have wondered how I can disciple the people around me while I am at college, and being at NEXUS showed me how! Even though we were only with the participants for a week, we lived life with each other, we worshiped together, learned together, ate, laughed, and cried with each other. God showed me that this was how discipleship happened, in the nitty gritty little things of life, right in the trenches with people as they go through things and think about what God has in store for their life. Are they to be pastors? Missionaries? Youth leaders? Being there with these young participants while they pondered these questions and sought to answer what the Lord has called them to was truly a blessing and an eye opener as to what discipleship could look like.

I left NEXUS feeling encouraged, not just because I saw what discipleship and vocational discernment looked like in the lives of young folk, high school students, but because of the friendships that I left with. From the late nights discussing theology with the other mentors, to the goofy laughs shared with the participants, I left encouraged that there are other young Christians out there yearning to pursue God and answer the call He has given them in their lives, and that not every young person is all about decadent hedonism, but faith is still alive amongst my generation. I praise God for NEXUS, for the lives changed by it, for the doors opened because of it, and for the continued ministry it will have in the future!

We both think that every high school student that is a strong Christian should pray and think about coming to NEXUS next summer. Every high school student should think about going to NEXUS, not just high school students who think or know their vocation is full time ministry. We want to thank Lutheran CORE for financially helping The NEXUS Institute. And last but greatest of all, we want to thank God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for NEXUS!