ROLLA – When Bruce Wade stepped onto the campus of Missouri S&T here five years ago, the number of students worshiping at the campus Baptist Student Union had dwindled to seven. But since that time, they’ve seen tremendous growth, more-than-tripling the size of the group as of last year. And during the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters, an average of 40 students were involved with the BSU.
“We’ve seen some remarkable growth this year,” said Wade, who serves as the Missouri Baptist campus missionary at Missouri S&T.
“It’s really nothing we’ve done,” he added, “except for prayer. We’ve done a lot of prayer-walking on campus. … And I have very good student leaders.”
In fact, students have shown their devotion to ministry not only by sharing their faith on campus, but also by serving others around the nation. Last fall, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas gulf coast, nearly 20 students gave up their Thanksgiving break to contribute to Disaster Relief efforts. Then they returned again immediately before the spring 2018 semester began.
Although Wade has served in ministry since 1980, the ministry post at Missouri S&T is his first experience with collegiate ministry. Previously, he worked primarily in youth ministry.
“I thought I loved youth ministry, but this is so much better,” Wade said. “These students are here because they want to be, they are motivated – and they all have transportation.”
Wade sees collegiate ministry as an invaluable “contribution to kingdom work.”
“We’ve seen over the years way too many kids who grew up in Christian homes go away to school and lose track of their relationships with Christ,” he told The Pathway.
Indeed, among the more than 350,000 college students attending schools throughout Missouri, the need for gospel outreach is glaring. According to the Missouri Baptist collegiate ministry webpage, www.mbcollegiate.org,
- more than one-third of Millennials, the generation in college now, say that they are unattached to any faith;
- one out of every six Missouri college students have contemplated suicide during the past year, and one out of every 50 students have actually committed suicide;
- in 2014, 14.6 percent of Missouri college students claimed to have been sexually assaulted during the previous year;
- and more than half of college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably.
For this reason, Missouri Baptists have sent campus missionaries to 23 of Missouri’s colleges and universities. But, still, this leaves 34 campuses and roughly 128,000 college students without a gospel witness from an MBC collegiate ministry.
Nevertheless, as seen on the campus of Missouri S&T, God is at work on college campuses throughout the state. And, for Wade, there’s nothing like seeing the gospel transform a student’s life.
“This is a time when young people really own their faith in Christ,” Wade said. “It is an exciting thing to see a student really start to get it. That’s what really makes this ministry worthwhile – that and seeing our students share their faith with their friends. This is a time in a young person’s life when they make lifelong decisions. And one of those decisions is that they need to be living for Christ.”
Missouri Baptist campus missionaries and their ministries are supported by the Cooperative Program (CP). The CP is the funding process Southern Baptists have used since 1925 to support missions and evangelism at the state, national, and international levels. Through CP, the mission of one church is extended to ministries that reach the hungry, hurting and lost.