MARSHALL – The students starting classes this week at Missouri Valley College aren’t just starting a new semester with new classes. They also have a chance to be a part of the newest Missouri Baptist collegiate ministry.
A long-time student pastor, Scott Westfall has been on the campus for a few weeks now and said he is ready to build relationships and point Missouri Valley’s 1,500 students to Jesus.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve met with people all day long,” he said. “I’m trying to understand the the pulse of the town and the campus.”
Just like for a new freshman, the possibilities for ministry on campus are endless. Westfall is seeking ways to partner with local churches to make sure students get plugged into a local congregation. One church, Bethany Baptist, is located just off the football field on the east side of campus and is on the students’ path as they walk from the dorms to class, and he hopes they can begin a partnership to serve the students and provide a meeting site. Early next month, Reese Hammond, the campus missionary at Southeast Missouri State, and local pastors are joining together to help Westfall survey the campus and “get the spiritual pulse” of students.
“I want to make some connections and let students know we’re here and ask how we can serve and minister to them,” he said. “I want this to be an onramp to get these students into churches. I want to help disciple them and discover their gifts for serving and they can serve in our ministry, but really God has called them to serve and use their gifts in the church. Our ministry philosophy really isn’t a complicated: It’s evangelize the lost, disciple the saved.”
Missouri Valley has a surprising number of student athletes on campus; eight out of every 10 are on an athletic scholarship. Westfall, who played defensive tackle for Southwest Baptist University’s football team in the early 2000s, hopes that will give him an ‘in’ with the sports-focused student body.
“One of the things that drew me here was the sports,” he said. “I’ve coached everywhere I’ve gone, working with their high school football team and their strength and conditioning team. That has already been an in for me; I’ve been able to go to practices on campus and do that.”
Westfall said he is excited about the possibilities on Missouri Valley’s campus.
“As I’ve been meeting with pastors and community leaders and other ministry leaders, I’ve had person after person0 tell me this is something they’ve been praying about for 20 years,” he said. “It’s nice to know that this is where God’s moving us into and giving us this opportunity to be a part of something that’s been prayed about for years. And so, um, we’re really, really excited to get our hands dirty and start loving on students and working with churches to get this stuff done.”