ST. LOUIS – MBCollegiate Campus Missionaries aren’t just passionate about reaching college students with the gospel of Jesus Christ. From insurance salesmen to neighbors and everyone in between, they are living as gospel witnesses in all their spheres of influence – and teaching their students to do the same.
Kale Uzzle, Campus Missionary in St. Louis, and his wife have been faithfully and intentionally reaching out to their neighbors for months. While COVID has provided challenges, they have still built relationships with a number of neighbors, relationships that have led to spiritual conversations. They got to taste the fruit of that investment when they had their third baby in January as neighbors rallied around them with support.
“It’s been fun to watch our neighbors care so well for us and see some of the fruit of our investment in them,” says Uzzle. “It also has given us the chance to have more personal conversations with a few of them which I’m excited to continue.” Now that the weather is warming up again, Uzzle and his wife are inviting neighbors over to their backyard to hang out, where they hope to continue deepening those relationships and talking about spiritual things.
Several other Campus Missionaries are intentionally building relationships with their neighbors as well. “We finally began growing our relationships with our new neighbors who don’t know Jesus,” says Reese Hammond from Southeast Missouri State University. Doug Logsdon from Ozarks Technical has been loving on his neighbors and inviting his students to pray for them with him. Kyle and Kristin Rapinchuck from College of the Ozarks baked cookies and treats for their neighbors. “We went around our new neighborhood deliver them with a note and introduction of our family.” They hope to continue to relationships with their neighbors for sake of a gospel witness.
When it snowed in February, Campus Missionary Levi Springfield at Missouri State University shoveled his neighbor’s driveway. The neighbor came out to thank him. They struck up a conversation, and before he knew it, they were talking about church. Springfield invited the man and his new wife to attend his church.
Later, while seeking a car insurance quote, Springfield and the insurance agent began talking about the struggles of attending church during COVID. The agent admitted he hadn’t attended church since coronavirus began, but he wanted his daughter to live a good life. “I explained the importance of church and how a connection with God is vital,” Springfield says. “His daughter had even gone to my church for VBS a few years back, so it really seemed God was opening a window to get him and his family connected back to a group of believers.”
Springfield was able to involve his students in another intentional relationship he has been cultivating. Springfield has been sharing the gospel with a young man for years, but the man and his fiancée are staunchly opposed to Christianity. In March, the man attempted suicide. He called Springfield from the hospital. Springfield spent the evening with him and his fiancée, bought them dinner, and talked for a couple hours about faith. When he was released from the hospital, Springfield went with the man’s fiancée to pick him up.
“I felt there was more our BSU needed to do than just be there and pray for him,” Springfield said. He preached a message on the Good Samaritan passage to his students one Monday night. “I talked about how it is easy to fall into our routines and let opportunities pass by that are leaving those beaten and stripped naked by the world in the dirt. I told my BSU I want to give a check and show this couple what the Church is capable of.”
The BSU, filled with broke college students, raised $2900 for the man and his fiancée. Springfield attached a letter to the check in which he shared the gospel and explained why they raised the money. “It’s crazy because before giving it, and while we were fundraising, he mentioned that he wished he could take time off work to figure out who he is, but financially would be unable to,” Springfield says. Since giving him the check, Springfield has been texting him weekly and inviting him to church. That kind of faithful and consistent care is a powerful source of encouragement for someone who is or has been suicidal.
Aaron Werner at Crowder College challenged his students to come up with their own idea of a way to live missionally and see it through to the end. They decided to write Valentine’s cards to residents at a local nursing home. During their BSU Super Bowl party, the students wrote cards.
Two freshmen girls from the Northwest Missouri State Lighthouse BSU had a profound experience with a girl at Walmart one day. “We saw a girl crying at Walmart and asked if we could hug her. She told us that we just saved her life, because she was about to buy pills to OD on. We were able to hug her, listen to her story, pray over her, and invite her to the Lighthouse,” the girls told Campus Missionary Jason Yarnell.
Greg Xander from Truman State is proactively befriending his coworkers at Menards where he works part time. “I’ve had a few ask what I do as my other job. I’m hoping to work and be faithful in a way that would draw them to want to know more,” he says.
Campus Missionaries are modeling for their students what it looks like to live with gospel intentionality in all spheres of life – and their students are catching on. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, they are meeting people where they are at, building relationships, and taking any opportunity they can to proclaim hope to a lost and weary world.