By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Baptist Student Ministries (BSM) across the two-state convention are vibrant. In some cases, students are packing out facilities.
“I’d say, overall, the numbers are significantly higher than they have been in years across the state,” Blake Hardcastle, Baptist Collegiate Minister, University of Delaware, said.
BSM ministers are all thrilled about the increase in numbers, but they’re even more thankful with the spiritual development.
United States Naval Academy
Justin Woods, U.S. Naval AcademyDirector, Annapolis BCM
201 Hanover Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Justin Woods, Baptist Student Minister, United States Naval Academy, reports almost tripling participation in six months, but Woods agrees that it’s not numbers, but spiritual growth that is important in collegiate ministry. “It’s a non-empirical thing. It’s people moving towards seeing Christ as their desire. God has been very gracious to us,” he said.
Woods explained that towards the end of the semester students were taking ownership of the ministry and it was becoming their home, their community. Their relationships are more God-centered, he said. “They’re discussing religion instead of talking about the weather. I see them excited to grow through leadership and taking the Gospel to the lost…being ministers in their world. A year ago, they were not thinking about that.”
University of Delaware
Rev. Blake Hardcastle University of Delaware Collegiate Minister
Baptist Student Ministries, 116 Amstel AvenueNewark, DE 19711
In Delaware, student ministries are experiencing similar growth. At the University of Delaware this year, eleven students served as leaders discipling over a dozen new believers.
“We’re looking to develop ‘deep roots,’ and that’s happening,” Blake Hardcastle said.
Twenty freshmen became involved with BSM last fall, raising the number of participating students each week to about 70. The BSM house was packed to capacity and Hardcastle feared growth being stymied, but God opened a door and is giving the ministry a brand new building. A developer is going to split the half-acre parcel they’re on now. The developer will receive the other half in exchange for building a 5,000 square foot two-story Baptist Student Center.
“We’ll be able to almost triple our capacity,” Hardcastle said excitedly. The best part of it all is that the ministry will not have to pay anything for the building—only for the land.
Frostburg State University
Ron Yost Frostburg State University
Baptist Student Ministries 120 S. Broadway, Frostburg, MD, 21532
(301) 689-2588 Ccc2@atlanticbb.net
Ron Yost, Baptist Student Minister, Frostburg State University, is also experiencing “growing pains” as their BSM house is over capacity. Last year he had close to 100 students a week cramming in, sitting on each others’ laps.
The ministry is named “Generation Investigating God (GIG).” Students meet on Wednesdays for a meal together, then a time of worship and Bible study. On Fridays, Yost has a men’s Bible study then the students “hang out,” playing games and watching movies. They also have student-led Bible studies and prayer meetings through the week. The students now have two worship teams.
Twenty-seven students made decisions to be baptized in the past four semesters and thirteen of those 27 were from this past semester.
Yost works hard to develop deep relationships and mentor students by developing genuine, authentic friendships.
“I just take care of them like they’re my kids and they really respond. I’m a counselor, proofreader, daddy…it’s an awesome thing,” Yost says, He talks to his young friends and brothers and sisters in Christ every day in person, on the phone and through email and Facebook. “We talk about everything, things they can’t talk to anyone else about. They want someone to be real with them, to tell them when they’re wrong, listen when they’re upset and someone to have fun with.”
University of Maryland, College Park
Jessica Senasack University of Maryland, College Park Collegiate Minister
Baptist Collegiate Ministries, 2120 Memorial Chapel, College Park, Md. 20742
Jessica Lynn Senasack, Baptist Collegiate Minister, University of Maryland, College Park, is excited to share examples of the change and growth she has seen in her students.
One example of this change arrived on Senasack’s phone recently by way of a text message. It read, “‘Jess! Just wanted to tell you that yesterday I had this huge, amazing connection with God, and totally felt His presence in my life in a way I haven’t before. It was awesome! Thanks for helping to make that happen!’” “She was invited by a roommate and asked if we could start meeting on a weekly basis,” Senasack said. “She said she wanted to start walking with God. I gave her a workbook that Blake [Hardcastle] gave me and she was really good about answering questions. One question was, ‘Are you sure you have a relationship with God?’ She said, ‘I’m not really sure.’ I said, ‘Do you want to be sure?’” The student said yes and Senasack praised God for the student’s decision and for the opportunity to serve in this fertile field.
Growth has come slow, but that is a normal part of collegiate ministry, Senasack explained. Now she has been serving at the college for four years, enough time to go through the college life cycle, reaching a level where she can minister to students from freshmen to senior years and build the deep relationships that eventually result in altered lives.
Senasack said the Baptist Student Ministry at UMCP turned a corner over the last school year, primarily because of leadership development.
“Leadership jelled,” she said. Senasack led the leadership team in an overnight retreat in August 2010. “I told them, ‘I think it might happen this year. I think we might double and that’s kind of what happened,” she said cheerfully.
Morgan State University
Vickie Stewart Morgan State University Collegiate Minister
1201 East 36th Street Baltimore, Md. 21218
(443) 690-3022 Vstewart542@hotmail.com
Vickie Stewart, Baptist Collegiate Minister, Morgan State University, said she doesn’t have high numbers, but students are beginning to share their faith boldly as a result of Stewart’s emphasis of apologetics.
“They’re growing deeper, especially my babies in Christ,” Stewart said. They are standing up and they want to go out and do more witnessing.”
One student reports a teacher telling the class it was okay to commit suicide. The student adamantly opposed the teacher and said that suicide was wrong, that people were created in God’s image. The other students laughed at her and she cried and walked out.
She went to Stewart and said, “I just have to tell the truth!” The woman went on to write a paper expressing her reasons for believing suicide was morally wrong and sinful in the eyes of God.
Stewart said students also appreciate being accepted where they are and the avoidance of judgmental attitudes. She has been counseling a young Christian who was drawn into a homosexual lifestyle. The woman’s lesbian girlfriend broke up with her and the woman was contemplating suicide.
Rather than condemn the woman, Stewart gently led her back to the Bible and the student acknowledged her sin and recommitted her life to Christ.
Stewart has Bible studies with young women. She saw at least 15 students make professions of faith in the three years she has been ministering at the university. Four students were baptized in March. Ryan Palmer, pastor of Seventh Metro Church, works with Stewart on Tuesday evenings, teaching leadership training to young men.
Bowie State University
NaKhia Hopkins Grays Bowie State University Collegiate Minister
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship 8811 Hawthorne Ct. Laurel, Md. 20708
(301) 957-5654 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nakhia Hopkins Grays, Baptist Collegiate Minister, Bowie State University, sees slow but steady “trickle” growth in numbers, but she too sees more spiritual maturity in her students.
Last year the ministry drew about 25 students.
“I see it in quality more than quantity,” Grays said. “We’re seeing them grow and have a heart to reach their campus. They’re becoming more stable,” she said.
“This is the first year students are assuming leadership positions. Seven students are leading small groups. They’re becoming missional on campus in their dorms. That’s really an exciting thing.”
Grays has ministered on the campus for three years and, like Jessica Senasack, she said it has been slow trying to build the ministry and she believes next year will be an important year because she will have also gone through the four-year school cycle.
This fall, Grays said she is focusing on freshmen, hoping to give them the vision of the ministry, helping them to get plugged in to minister and be ministered to.
Note: Both of the Campus Minister positions on the Salisbury University and Anne Arundel Community College campuses are vacant at this time.
AMPLIFY YOUR IMPACT
BCM/D campus ministers request prayer that their students will stay strong through the summer months. They request prayer for themselves and their student leaders to stay strong in the faith. They seek partnerships with churches, small groups and they need more volunteers.
Churches can covenant to pray for collegiate ministry, to provide financial assistance, space and/or vehicles. In addition, many collegiate ministers would like baked goods and candies to give away at BSM tables on campus in an effort to find opportunities to speak to students.
For more information on how you or your church can partner with a collegiate ministry, contact one of the BSM collegiate ministers above.