By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Each morning in Annapolis, come rain or shine, hundreds of plebes, brand-spanking new freshmen are rising bright and early throughout the summer to go through their strenuous workouts and training in an effort to become the best possible United States Navy and Marine Corps officers they could be. Just a stone’s throw out of the USNA’s gate there is an unassuming classic historic house, headquarters for the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) at the Naval Academy where Midshipmen come for relaxation, to get spiritual questions answered, to be ministered to, to do ministry and to strive to be the best Christian soldiers they can possibly be. And God is moving at the Academy.
“The BSM is doing really well. We grew this year by about 10 to 15 percent more students. It’s a pretty big group and there’s a Godly atmosphere,” Associate campus minister, Rob Curto, said. Up to 80 students come to the Mitscher Auditorium on Tuesdays for worship, fellowship and Bible lessons. In addition, 16 small group Bible studies are ongoing and over 100 Midshipmen are in discipleship training. Approximately six Midshipmen involved with the BSM accept Christ each semester.
“My relationship with the Midshipmen starts before they get here,” Curto said. He identifies plebes coming from Baptist churches and sends them welcome packs with an assortment of sweets and crunchy snacks along with useful information about the Academy, the local area and the BSM. They also receive hand-written notes from Curto.
At the end of June, freshmen are invited to an open house and cookout at the BSM house. It’s a chance for freshmen to come and check out the house, meet Christian students and see what the BSM is all about. They’re also invited to a Summer Sunday School class. Fifty-five plebes attended that class last summer.
The BSM offers many activities throughout the year to promote fellowship, spiritual growth and ministry opportunities including a fall and winter retreat, hosting dinners for Army/Navy football games, a Christmas party, spring fellowship dinner and movie, mission trips and an assortment of other events.
Midshipmen are attracted to the BSM house itself, too. It’s a place to relax and unwind, play pool, watch movies and talk. There’s a full kitchen and bathroom. It’s a little home away from home.
But the biggest component of the BSM that draws the young men and women close to Jesus and close to each other is discipleship. Curto is passionate about discipleship and doing it one-on-one. He works alongside other BSM leaders to tailor discipleship training to meet each person’s individual needs.
Zach Lamb, a Midshipmen who graduated in 2008, wrote in a compiled book of testimonies, “Rob has helped me understand just how simple God’s love story is and how it can be manifested in discipleship and servanthood. In discipleship, we express our love to God by obeying His call to train and mentor others and by investing in the lives of others we are “giving back” the amazing and remarkable love that God poured out upon us. I am so thankful that God led me to become involved in the Baptist Student Union here at the Academy and I know that He is preparing me for the fleet and life in general through the awesome people at BSM.”