Missouri BSU’s reaching out to students
JEFFERSON CITY – Classes have started at college campuses around Missouri and the various Baptist Student Unions (BSU) across the state are ministering and attempting to attract new and returning students. In addition to the weekly Bible studies and meals the BSUs around the state provide, leaders say these first few weeks are crucial to reaching students on campus.
At Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, BSU Director Bob Houchins said the students are starting off the semester on the right foot.
“Students are really becoming active,” he said. “Nearly everyday I am learning of conversations and experiences where students are sharing their faith. One of our freshmen told me he shared his testimony through an English paper he had to write this week.”
Across the state in Springfield at Missouri State, BSU Director Dean Finley, said they are focusing on building relationships between upperclassmen and freshman with a “First Night Out” where older students treat new students to dinner. Through moving students into dorms and other events during the first weeks of classes, the BSU is following up on nearly 400 new student contacts.
In Columbia, the University of Missouri-Columbia’s BSU is also focusing on freshman, urging as many as possible to join a weekly “Freshman Family Group.” The BSU has joined with the International Mission Board and several other ministries and will host a concert featuring band Sonicflood Sept. 25 on campus.
Truman State’s BSU is having a particular impact on international students in Kirksville. Of the nearly 300 students they’ve made contact with in these first few weeks, 65 have been international students. The new BSU facility at Truman is under construction and director Gene Austin said he hopes to reach even more students after its completion in October.
“We’ve been meeting in several different places and it’s been a real hassle,” Austin said. “It will make a difference when we can be consistent and just meet in one place.”
Jason Allen, director of the BSU at Central Missouri State University said there is a positive feeling as students return to Warrensburg.
“There is this air of expectancy,” Allen said. “The students we’re connecting with, especially the freshmen, are just really open about spiritual things. The climate on campus has been very unique this semester.”
Allen said that for the last couple of years, not many freshmen have connected to the small group Bible studies. This year, more than 500 students attended the BSU’s “Burger Bash” during the first week of classes and 200 of them signed up for small group Bible studies.
“Many of the students signing up aren’t even Christians and that’s really unique. Sometimes you think about worship being the ‘front door’ into a ministry but for us it’s been our small groups. We’re excited about this year and what’s going to happen.”