“Freshmen: What’s a wristwatch?”

“Freshmen: What’s a wristwatch?” That headline to a report about Beloit College’s annual “mindset list” caught my eye this week. For thirteen years now two officials at this small private school of 1400 students in Wisconsin have compiled a list of reminders for teachers that the incoming freshmen class is from another time and space than its elders. For example, few of the Class of 2014 have ever worn a wristwatch (can you believe that?). And most of them don’t know how to write in cursive (some of us fall miserably short, as well). For them email is too slow (try texting instead), the only phones they’ve known have no cords, and the computers they played on as kids are now museum pieces! Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle, Rodney King—who are they? Russian missile strikes in the U.S.? All this class knows is that Russia and the U.S. are partners today in outer space.

This last week Andrews University welcomed the largest freshmen class in its fifty year history to this campus and this congregation. And while they’re all away today on their freshmen retreat, I wanted to take a moment and remind us all what they’ve left behind.

For worship Monday morning our church was filled with these freshmen and their parents. As I mingled with them after the dedication service (in which our university president addressed the young worshipers in a poignant and personal appeal to them), I couldn’t help but notice the teary eyes of mothers and fathers who were preparing to leave their “babies” behind. It’s never an easy step for parents or child. (It certainly wasn’t for me when I left home for boarding school at the age of 14—never really returning again except for vacations along the academic highway to young adulthood.)

But the closure to that warm, living-at-home chapter doesn’t have to mean an end to a warm home-like family environment for our university students—because today we’re launching a new caring initiative in the Pioneer Family, focused on the young adults God has sent to us at Andrews. We’re inviting you to join us in signing up as adoptive home-away-from-home families. If you’d be willing to throw open the doors to your heart and your home two to three times a semester to provide a home-cooked meal and some warm fellowship to two or three or four Andrews students, I hope you’ll join Karen and me in signing up as a host family. For more details listen to “Entertaining Angels: More Water in the Soup, an Extra Plate at the Table” here at our website. And don’t worry about the language this new generation speaks—with Jesus you already know the language of the heart. And you don’t even need a wrist watch to speak it.