Salt Co. launched in Ankeny

Salt Company, a college ministry, that started in 1994 in Ames and has spread across the Midwest, launched in Ankeny on Aug. 31 at Keystone Church.

The name comes from the book in the Bible, Matthew 5.

“Back in Jesus’ time, salt was used to preserve things and as fertilizer. Fertilizer makes things grow…gives things life. Someone can be physically alive but spiritually dead, and the way we become spiritually alive is through faith in Jesus Christ, so Christians are the fertilizer of the Earth. We take the Gospel, spread it around and as people hear it, it brings life,” Salt Company Director and Keystone Teaching Pastor Austin Wadlow said.

“Company comes from we want to spread the salt. We want to help people not just come to know Christ and come to life in Christ but to actually be followers of Jesus and become the salt that’s spreading the Gospel and being that fertilizer.”

Salt originated at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames. Troy Nesbitt decided in 1994 to plant, or start, a new church called Cornerstone Church of Ames after getting over 200 students. Cornerstone planted their first church in Iowa City in 2010, and since then, churches have been planted in UNI, Cedar Rapids, Columbia, Mo., University of Minnesota, Drake University, Boone and many other colleges in the Midwest.

This past year Salt formed the Salt Network where all the churches involved want to aggressively plant churches on all the major college campuses in the Midwest.

Wadlow is a pastor from a small town near Dallas, Texas. He’s been doing ministry since after he graduated college in May 2006. He went to a Christian college in Arkansas to play basketball. Wadlow is now almost finished with a seminary and theological degree after 11 years.

“I never wanted to be a pastor. I can see God used basketball to get me to that school. He put three dudes in my life that helped me see that I embraced a very watered down, censored version of Jesus and the Bible, which began a three-year process of totally changing my world view. By my senior year, I realized God needed me to do ministry. That was my passion and what I was created for,” he said.

Wadlow married Lesley in April of 2016.

“Leading into marriage, I felt like the Lord was putting it on my heart the desire to step out and do something different,” he said.

Wadlow was exploring church planting opportunities when a friend from Ohio mentioned Ames. He came to Iowa in October 2016 to check out Salt in Ames.

Wadlow said, “Troy pulled me to the side and said, ‘Hey we want you to move up here.’”

In November, Wadlow and his wife visited again, but made a side trip to Ankeny, which they later couldn’t stop thinking about. Keystone was about to become its own church in July.

“My wife and I had some time to hang in our room and debrief with each other, and we both thought, ‘I can’t stop th

inking about Ankeny,’ so we told Troy and his wife Pam that night at dinner,” he said.

After the first night of Salt Wadlow led, he said, “I think it’s showing that we’re scratching an itch on campus. One, I do think people are interested to talk about Jesus and spiritual things and two, people want friends and relationships.”

On the first night after Wadlow’s message, there was an opportunity for students to sign up for connection groups. Connection groups meet at various times with various leaders. There are multiple men and women’s groups.

Sierra Tonemah, freshman, is an intern assisting Wadlow with administrative duties, but she’s also a connectio

n group leader for about 20 girls meeting every Wednesday night.

“There’s a need [for Salt] here because there’s not a whole lot happening on campus, so just hanging out and creating that student life. I feel like God has a plan here with all the students that are just welcoming and want to be here,” she said.

Salt had about 150 students on the first night.

“For me personally, it’s just growing closer to God and learning more about him. The Salt Company in Des Moines was averaging 60-80 the first couple weeks and to see over 100 the first week [in Ankeny] was just super exciting,” student Daniel Hellstern, sophomore, said.

Any student in the DMACC and Ankeny area is welcome to Salt. It is every Thursday night at Keystone Church on S. Ankeny Blvd. at 8 p.m. It’s also not too late to sign up for a connection group which you can do on and clicking on “Register for an Event.”

“We’re going to take Jesus serious, but we’re going to have a lot of fun. This is a place to be real. It’s not a place to act like you got it all together. I think there’s this stereotype that to go be involved in the church you got to have the right clothes and everything in your life has to be all perf

ect and put together; that’s completely opposite of the way it really is. We want to be real here, and we want students to feel safe here,” Wadlow said.

“My hope is that what we’ve seen is just the beginning.”


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