By Sharon Mager
COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Savannah Williams, a junior journalism/government major, experienced a bit of culture shock when she arrived at University of Maryland College Park (UMCP). Most of the people she knew growing up were Christians—not so at UMCP. There were few. The only students on campus who took their faith seriously, she said, were Muslims and Jews.
“I sank into the dangerous mentality that if people were going to be a bad influence on me, I wasn’t going to spend time with them, so I ‘hermited’ myself away in my dorm room,” she said.
Williams remembers the first time she realized there was a Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the college. She saw a sign on a rolling display. She immediately looked up their Bible study times and discovered one was going on right then. It was God’s timing, she said.
“They were so welcoming, funny, passionate and knowledgeable about the Word of God that I was hooked.”
Connecting with UMCP’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry changed Williams’ perspective, as did attending Aletheia Church in College Park with a group of BCM students. “I was greeted by a cheerful girl named Megan who took me by the arm and said, ‘(C)ome with me; we’re ‘gonna’ be friends.’ She was right.”
Megan, along with Baptist Student Minister Jessica Senesack and part-time staff member Becca Cade, encouraged and challenged Williams and helped draw her out of her self-imposed “hermitage.”
Williams joined the leadership team during her sophomore year, handing out Bibles and taking prayer requests. “Jessica somehow convinced me that I could teach Bible study, and worked me into a rotational schedule with two other leaders. She also had me take my experience from Megan’s discipleship and start one-on-one relationships with two wonderful young ladies in our ministry,” Williams said.
“One of my favorite experiences was going with Becca to ‘Internationals Coffee Hour’ each week to make friends with foreign students and share my faith with them,” she said.