JEFFERSON CITY – With the fall semester underway, many MBCollegiate campus missionaries are seeing a positive trend in the midst of the upheaval of coronavirus: their students are stepping up to lead – in expected and unexpected ways, and often without being asked. With most institutions placing limitations on events and seriously restricting nonstudent access to the campus, it’s more vital than ever that students take the lead in bringing the gospel to their peers.
Reese Hammond, Campus Missionary at Southeast Missouri State, spent ten days in the NICU with his twin boys, who were born on July 29th, leaving the execution of Welcome Week plans in the hands of his student leaders. “We had a general plan, and they took care of the plan,” he says. “I didn’t ask – they just said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this.’” Hammond attended every event, but only briefly in a limited capacity. “They all just understood that,” he says. “They stepped up and took care of business.” The experience reminded him that “the more responsibility I learn to give over, the more they run with that.”
For Christina Boatright at North Central Missouri College, a two-year school, developing a core group of student leaders is always a challenge, since the student population is highly transient. After spending last year mentoring two students to prepare them to lead this year, “they have really stepped up,” she says.
These two students, along with volunteers from associational churches, helped make the BSU’s Welcome Week events a reality. Since that first week, “they have been inviting new students to come over,” Boatright says. “They’re holding each other accountable to be present and are being intentional about building relationships with students to share the gospel – they are a real blessing!”
Jon Nelson’s student leaders at Lincoln University returned to campus early to help students move in. “Our upperclassmen have been instrumental in getting our ministry off the ground this year,” he says. “They have been immediately engaging in reaching out to students as freshmen come to campus.”
A Truman State student who gave his life to Christ at the end of the BSU’s spring break trip has been meeting weekly with Campus Missionary Greg Xander. Xander is seeing him lead more and have spiritual conversations with other students. “I really love how he is volunteering and helping and sharing Jesus without being asked,” Xander says.
While Xander decided not to have a formal leadership team this year due to the uncertainty of ministry during the pandemic, he’s been pleasantly surprised to see students taking it upon themselves to lead and serve. Even without the student leader title, “we actually have more ‘leaders’ who are leading in reality and are healthier about their leadership than when we had them in certain positions,” he says. “They are serving joyfully and just doing more.”
At Crowder College, two BSU girls have taken over the women’s Bible study. They designed the fliers, picked out the materials, and contacted potential students. “They are continuing to surprise me,” says Campus Missionary Aaron Werner. “On their own, they are planning a mission event involving care packages for area kids in need.” Their initiative is sparking motivation in other students. “Now more students are beginning to step up and take charge of different events,” he says.
The reports of students taking initiative to serve and lead come from all corners of the state. Chris Wilson at Missouri State says that a student he’s been discipling “just stepped up and started to talk to students and lead.” When he took a two-week sabbatical in September, “my D-group guys continued to meet without me, on their own volition.”
Joseph Ransom at Ozarks Technical has several graduates who want to start a ministry on the campus they are transferring to. Bruce Wade’s Student Leadership Team “took charge” for the Opening Week events, which included serving over 300 students at their liquid nitrogen ice cream event. “Students are enlisting other students to disciple,” he says.
Scott Westfall reports several students ministering in their spheres of influence. “Cedric Davis, a football player, is excited and actively working to engage his team with the gospel. Clayton and Dayton helped students move into their dorms and are looking for ways to encourage fellow students by serving them. Fafetai is working on art pieces for our new room to make people feel welcome in our ministry.”
Having students who take initiative to serve, lead, minister to others, and share the gospel without being asked is every campus minister’s dream. The realization of that dream in MBCollegiate ministries is evidence of the faithful work Campus Missionaries are doing to raise up the next generation of church leaders and disciple-making followers of Christ.