Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.

Concordia University Wisconsin alumni Micah Rabe, James Saleska, and Gabe Kasper may be hard to spot this summer among the 25,000 youth who will flood the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the 2019 LCMS National Youth Gathering, but the impact of their work will be impossible to miss.

The three have lead roles in the planning and implementation of key elements of the Gathering, from helping to create and deliver the morning Bible study messages to leading the video team and creating the designs that participants will see throughout the city.

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Rabe, Saleska, and Kasper—all graduates from the class of 2008—were friends throughout college but didn’t become roommates until their senior year.

“We wanted to live together so that we could get one of those sweet rooms at the end of Regents Hall, you know, the five-person suites,” said Rabe. “I guess in college I didn’t realize I was meeting people that I would later be working with on a professional level, or for an event as awesome and uplifting as the Gathering.”

The trio describes its college-old comradery as eclectic and joyful, with dozens of stories to share about their time together at CUW.

Since graduation, the three friends split off toward various pursuits as they launched their careers, moved around, and started families. They dwell many miles away from each other instead of just a few steps, but the trio doesn’t miss a beat when their paths do cross.

Now, a little more frequently—thanks to the Gathering. “I feel like true friends can reconnect like nothing ever changed,” said Saleska. “It’s pretty awesome to work on such a meaningful event together, and it’s a little surreal. I don’t think any of us would have predicted it.”

Rabe currently lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and is a media producer for Inspirmedia Productions. He studied multimedia and mass communications with a minor in marketing and has worked with the Gathering since 2007. His first gig in a leadership role, though, didn’t come until 2016 when he took charge of the video team.

Saleska, a graphic design major and marketing minor, launched his own design company in 2013. In 2016, Saleska’s design bid for the 2019 Gathering was selected by the LCMS Youth Ministry Office, which allowed him the opportunity to take the lead for all of the visual elements, including the identity mark “Real. Present. God.” that has been widely spread in anticipation of this summer’s event.

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Kasper serves as a pastor at University Lutheran Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will be taking the stage each morning as a session leader. Kasper has had a hand in the creation and direction of this year’s Bible studies that will reach tens of thousands of students and their youth leaders at the Gathering.

“It’s really cool to see God use the diff erent ways he’s gifted each one of us to serve him and advance his Word in the world,” said Kasper. “Plus working with these guys just makes the work so much more fun.”

Will we see you in Minneapolis this summer? Be sure to swing by the Concordia University booth on the interactive floor to say hello or register for our alumni event on July 14 at cuaa.edu/events.

The spring 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the beginning of May. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333. 

— Rachel (Ferry) Thoms is a member of the strategic communications department at Concordia University. She may be reached at rachel.thoms@cuaa.edu or 734-476-7736.

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