Steph Peterson Leads XA at WSU

Steph Peterson

In 2007 Mike Amiot, the Minnesota District XA Director approached me about re-starting XA at Winona State University (WSU). At the same time, Roger Stacy, of the Minnesota AG Church Planting Network, was recruiting my husband Chuck to be a church planter. We went to visit Winona just to “get them off our backs” but were surprised when we felt a strong pull to the area—myself to the college and Chuck to the community. We left a very established position at a larger church a few months later so I could start XA and Chuck could plant a church. Because I did not know one student at the college and Chuck did not know one person in town this made starting two ministries a huge challenge—not to mention our kids were young. Reid was 13, Ellie was 6 and Calvin was 4. However, we felt God calling us to go even though each of us starting separate ministries was quite unprecedented.

Both the XA ministry and the Church began meeting in the former church building XA owns right across from the WSU campus. This is the same building in the early 1970s that Jim Bradford (former undergraduate student at WSU) with his mentor picked the lock to access the old empty church building to pray for revival to hit the campus. They met in the empty building numerous times to pray. Those prayers, and the hard work of the founding WSU XA pastor Dave Babler and then intern Mike Amiot, built a strong foundation so the group would thrive today.

I saw hundreds of students come to Christ at XA services. Fourteen years later God has brought over 2000 to saving faith in Him. XA has trained nearly 500 students to lead small groups. These are disciples that make disciples!  Many students have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and in water.

It may look like a church but it is the Chi Alpha Student Center serving Winona State University students.

Although many have heard the Winona miracles and success stories, there have been many challenges. In the 2017-2018 we had a major exodus of leaders; my knee fell apart and put me on crutches and in a wheelchair and ultimately had to be replaced. The XA house had a fire that caused it to close for months. In 2019 the college newspaper published a very biased destructive article attacking the ministry. In 2020, the challenges to the campus ministry due to the pandemic faded in comparison to the attack my family had launched against us which is still ongoing to this day. A news station from Minneapolis was outside the building this fall as our students walked into service. They were trying to cause more chaos and division, but even fellow campus ministries in Winona were praying that the “enemy’s camp would be confused.” God did exactly that! They ended up leaving empty-handed and nothing has hit the news. We continue to pray it will stay that way.

But even in the midst of those things, we soldier on! I know I have been called to not just lead students to Christ that are disciples that make disciples but to raise front-line warriors on the most intense battlefields. One way we are doing that is by becoming a Campus Missionary-in-Training location in 2020 (yes- during a pandemic). We are entering into some of the most challenging yet rewarding days of campus ministry and I am confident God is walking us through these many struggles as a way to educate me and my staff on how to train strong resilient warriors for Christ. We look forward to what’s ahead!

Check out Winona State U XA story when they first started in 2008.

When Steph Peterson held her first XA planning meeting at Winona State University (WSU) a decade ago, the group numbered 10 students —barely enough to qualify as a campus club. Her daunting task focused on restarting the WSU XA chapter, one that had included as many as 200 students on the Minnesota campus of 9,000 in the 1990s and early 2000s. But after the departure of previous leadership, membership had dwindled to a solitary student. Steph began her time on campus by connecting with one football player, and day by day she introduced herself to more students. The small group began meeting in October 2008 with 18 students and grew to over 50 by the end of the first year. check out: 

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