JEFFERSON CITY – Conferences, concerts, and seminars: are they worth what it takes to put them on or attend them? Some might question if that time, energy, and money can be put to better use.
This semester, Missouri college students have participated in a variety of local and national events. The fruit has been undeniably worthwhile. Students have come to Christ and recommitted their lives to Christ, felt called into ministry and taken new steps of faith, and been challenged to share their faith and equipped to do so.
Campus Missionary Paul Damery believes that attending conferences together has inherent value. “Anytime students travel for a conference, it’s always so worth the time,” he says. “Friendships are strengthened during the trip as students have deeper conversations about what they’re hearing and also as they just get the opportunity to do life together for a few days.”
One of his students, Kaitlynn Krembeer, agrees. “There’s really nothing like it [traveling together]. The longer the trip the better honestly.”
Damery helped arrange for nine of his Missouri Western students, including Krembeer, and one of his staff members to travel to Louisville, KY in January for the CROSS Conference, a 3-day event centered around challenging students, young adults, and their leaders to faithfully follow Jesus and make Him known. “This was a particularly interesting win for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever helped with the logistics for a trip like this and not been able to attend myself,” Damery says.
The conference challenged Krembeer to better understand how the Great Commission applies to all believers by being senders, goers, or both. “I’ve always heard that terminology before but had never been given the tools to be a sender, only a goer. I don’t feel sent in that way,” she says, referring to being sent to go on the overseas mission field. She’s now embarking upon a one year internship with MBCollegiate, through which she’ll have the opportunity to pour into college women and equip them to go wherever God is leading them.
Missouri Southern Campus Missionary Jon Smith took a group of students to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Defend Conference in January. “During our debrief, one student confessed his excitement because he felt like he finally knew what to say to share Christ with some of his non-Christian family members,” Smith says.
For another student, Noah Deyo, attending Defend served to solidify his calling to ministry. “Defend impacted me spiritually and academically,” he says. “For the last few years, I’ve been thinking off and on about getting a ministry degree. The conference made me realize that it’s now or never. I got to get a feel for what it would be like to be in Bible classes.” He has since started interning at his church, and he was accepted at Spurgeon College to pursue a Student Ministry degree. He hopes to later obtain a Master’s in Biblical Counseling.
MBCollegiate’s Relevant Conference in February, featuring well-known college ministry guru Paul Worcester, also catalyzed growth for Missouri college students. “Our core team felt motivated by Paul Worcester, and we’re going through The Fuel and the Flame book together this summer,” Smith says.
Izzy Pearson, a student at Missouri Valley College, gave her life to Christ at the MBCollegiate conference. She wrote on Instagram, “I always went to church as a kid, but I lacked fully understanding what Jesus did for us and why. On Friday everything clicked for me. I was scared and lacked courage, but the Holy Spirit gave me the strength and confidence I needed.” Worcester’s talks challenged her to share the gospel with others. She concluded her post by urging, “Don’t be afraid to be bold in your faith; it’s one of the best decisions you can make.”
Pearson’s Campus Missionary, Scott Westfall, says “The conference really challenged my students to live boldly for their faith and with the Gospel. We had one student come to Christ, and two students recommitted to their relationship with Christ.”
Students with Campus Missionary Christina Boatright from North Central Missouri College experienced life change at the conference as well, expressing newfound callings to live on mission, go on the mission field, and pursue vocational ministry. “I had a student over the MBCollegiate weekend commit to be ready to go out on mission,” she shares. “She is a non-traditional student that has experienced a lot of trauma in her life, and for her to have the boldness to step out is huge.”
Earlier in February, Boatright took a group of students to Winter Jam, a music tour featuring Christian musicians, speakers, and comedians. Two of the basketball players with her group invited a friend they have been praying for to come with them. He gave his life to Christ at the concert and is being discipled by one of the basketball players.
Sometimes simply being removed from everyday life and hearing truth expressed in a different context, by a different person, or in a different way is all it takes for God to transform a life. Through the various conferences and events MBCollegiate students have attended this semester, God has been doing just that.