DIXIE JACKSON: A new identity in Christ

We often don’t realize how far a single act of obedience can reach until we hear stories like Waylon Tay’s. 

Waylon grew up in Malaysia where Buddhism isnot only an integral part of his culture and tradition, it was the core of his identity. When he was presented with the opportunity to travel to a place called Conway, Arkansas, to study as an international student, he had no idea this experience would result in a completely new identity.

Before Waylon ever arrived in Conway, God was already using Arkansas Baptists to pave the way for Waylon to be introduced to Jesus Christ. Because Arkansas Baptists support Baptist Collegiate Ministries through the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering, people like Ryan Scantling have been able to establish thriving ministries on campuses throughout Arkansas. At the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ryan met a student named Caleb Wunstel and invited him to attend a BCM worship gathering. Although Caleb had grown up attending church, he was not in a good place spiritually at the time, and he strongly resisted the invitation. But at the urging of his mother, Caleb gave in, accepted Ryan’s invitation, and immediately fell in love with the worship and community the BCM had to offer. 

Caleb met Waylon while playing volleyball with a group of friends, and the two quickly became very close. But the differences in their religion didn’t occur much to either of them until Caleb heard a fellow BCM student witness to another international student. Suddenly, it hit Caleb that his best friend was lost. 

Caleb began to talk to Waylon about Jesus and introduced him to some BCM friends. As Waylon got to know more students from the BCM, he even attended a few worship gatherings. But, something inside of him was confused and disturbed. The more his friends talked to him about Jesus, the more he realized Christianity went against the core of his identity as a Buddhist. He found himself in a dark place, struggling with depression as his uncertainty grew. 

In the middle of this utter confusion, Waylon was certain of one thing. “I know Caleb is my best friend,” Waylon told himself, “and I don’t think he’s going to harm me in any way.” 

He talked to Caleb and another close friend about his uncertainty. “Pray to God,” they encouraged him, “See if He’s actually real. If He’s real, He will answer you.” So, Waylon prayed. And God answered! For the first time in his life, Waylon felt the presence of God and believed. 

Waylon exchanged his depression and confusion for a new identity and a new joy. But this new identity was accompanied by the realization that his family was still lost. He wanted to share the love of Jesus with them, and he knew he needed help. So he, Caleb, and another friend began making plans for a mission trip to Malaysia so they could work together to share the gospel with Waylon’s family and others in his hometown.  

Through the obedience of Arkansas Baptists, God is accomplishing immeasurably more than anyone could ever have imagined, using the ministry of the BCM to bring Caleb back to a restored relationship with Christ, introduce Waylon to Jesus for the first time, and ultimately carry the gospel all the way to Malaysia.

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