This time last year, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) around the state had canceled scheduled spring break mission trips. But this year, campus ministers made the most of the opportunity to adapt so ministry wouldn’t be paused during a crucial time in college students’ lives. While some schools didn’t take a traditional spring break week and others did, each BCM had a unique way of reaching others and sharing the Gospel. We reached out to the BCM campus ministers to see how they ministered during spring break. Following are reports from some who responded to our question.
Jeremy Woodall at the University of Arkansas at Monticello: We did not have a typical spring break this year. We actually did not get off of school for the week. Our group did not want that to take away from opportunities for us to minister over the week so we did something we called “Reach UAM,” where we would do evangelism and outreach in the mornings, as well as service projects on campus in the afternoons. We had some encouraging interactions with students on campus and set up some Gospel appointments for further discussion.
We had a three-day weekend at the end of the week, so we left after classes on Thursday to go to New Orleans, Louisiana to work with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) SEND New Orleans and Lakeshore NOLA. We arrived in New Orleans late Thursday evening to stay at Gentilly Baptist Church. On Friday morning we went to the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where we helped set up the newly opened NAMB Church Planting Center located within their student center. We also went on a campus tour on Friday.
On Saturday we served with Lakeshore NOLA. We cleaned Lake Vista United Methodist Church, where Lakeshore currently meets, and set up their meeting space to relaunch their children’s ministry as well as set up for Easter services. Lots of cleaning and outdoor work were done at Lake Vista.
We then transitioned to Lakeshore NOLA’s building where their Hispanic church, Lakeshore Espanol, meets. We helped clean and organize their building after a food service event that they had hosted to serve thousands of underserved people in the Lakeshore and Bucktown areas. We also canvassed the Lakeshore area to register folks that wanted to participate in a free COVID vaccine clinic the church would be offering.
Finally, on Saturday evening we participated in a “Catch The Vision” tour with NAMB Send New Orleans Missionary, George Ross. The CTV tour highlights much of the need and spiritual struggle that exists in the city of New Orleans as well as the vast need for partners, church planters, and missionaries, specifically student missionaries. This is always the highlight of the trip for our groups.
We wrapped up our time in New Orleans by attending worship service at Lakeshore NOLA on Sunday morning before heading home.
Jared Farley at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia: For our spring break trip we did a ‘Spring Break Mission Stay!’ We opted to stay in Arkadelphia and work in the community/locally to help with covid restrictions and travel. We did service projects during the day but also tried to tie in lots of community and spiritual growth aspects.
We partnered with Josh Bazyk at LifeLine Baptist church in Little Rock to serve with “Our House,” an organization that works with the homeless population in Little Rock. We worked with Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia and conducted a neighborhood blitz. We interacted with the community and hung flyers door-to-door to advertise their worship services on Palm Sunday and Easter weekend. We painted, hung blinds, and did general church work at Cedar Grove Baptist near Caddo Valley with James Taylor, their pastor. And finally, we visited Walnut Valley Baptist Church in Hot Springs and worked with their pastor, David Mason. We helped him prepare a community garden at the church to serve those in need. We then joined in their worship service on Sunday and spent time in various Sunday School classes. After church, we went on a hike and Mason shared a devotional time with our students.
Brad Branham at Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in Russellville: Some ATU students served in Gulf Shores, Alabama, leading a retreat where seven people were saved! Some students also went to San Diego, California to work with several church plants.
Tyler Hoffpauir at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro: Fifteen of us drove and stayed at Virginia Tech’s BCM on the way to and from Washington, D.C. While there we worked with a church called Pillar Church of Washington D.C. They are about 1.5 years old and part of NAMB and a network called the praetorian project.
Pillar Church meets in the James Creek neighborhood of Southwest Washington. They rent space at Carron Baptist Church which is a historically Black congregation that isn’t meeting right now due to COVID. James Creek is one of the last neighborhoods in the southwest part of the city that hasn’t been gentrified. So literally all the way around the neighborhood there are high-rise apartments, corporate buildings, two blocks from Nationals Stadium, etc. The community we worked with was super friendly, but also very broken (poor, drugs, no understanding of the Gospel, etc.). Pillar was getting ready for a big Easter push so we helped them by doing a lot of door-to-door invitations and evangelism. We also helped get the church ready by cleaning, organizing, planting flower beds, raking leaves, power washing, etc.
“We took a lot of young students and it was exciting to see them jump in and serve. I really think it was a growing process for everyone that will help them serve their churches and our campus better when they return.”
Lee Woodmansee at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith: We didn’t actually go anywhere for the spring break trip. After assessing our students’ willingness and financial resources it seemed best to me for us to remain local and complete some projects at the BCM.
So, we did a major overhaul of our landscaping at the BCM building. We pulled out all of the old plants/flowers and mulch from around the main entrance. We installed a retaining wall around each of the flower beds to retain all of the mulch and dirt. Students came for the three days of the break that didn’t rain and installed the wall and reapplied mulch.
We spent each weeknight working through a series of teaching called ‘From There to Here’, where we walked through the storyline of the Old Testament. The impetus behind this series was trying to answer the question, “How did we get from the Old Testament being written in Hebrew to where the New Testament is written in Greek, and now the Romans are in charge?” We didn’t try to give a survey of the Old Testament or look at the content of each Old Testament book. Instead, we were only tracing the major narrative points that move us along in Old Testament history. The link to the playlist is here.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Metro BCM/Conway BCM: This spring break (March 20-25) Conway BCM and Metro BCM joined forces to serve First Woodstock Church, a satellite campus of 1st Baptist Woodstock in Georgia. Woodstock Church is in the midst of a relaunch as they’ve reached an exciting milestone in their church and are rebranding under the name Five Bridges Church. BCM students were able to complete massive work projects in just a few days including painting both the church offices and children’s area, reflooring entrances to the sanctuary, power washing the church parking lot and entrances, as well as assisting in the rebranding efforts in the church lobby.
During the remainder of their time, students were able to spend time fellowshipping on the beach together. From volleyball tournaments to boogie boarding, as well as football and spikeball, students were able to grow in their relationships. In the evenings’ students gathered room for times of worship, teaching, and small groups as they dove into God’s word to discover His heart. All of this was made possible by the faithful giving of Arkansas churches and individuals to the Cooperative Program.
Ministry may have taken a pause in 2020 during spring break, but it came back in full force this year. Whether it was locally within their own communities or across the country, Kingdom work was still impacting students during this time.