[Next Generation] Following God’s Call: Jessica Sandusky

Ryan Scantling is the BCM Campus Minister for the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. He is also a co-host of the Lead Defend Podcast by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

There are two things that have constantly impacted Jessica Sandusky’s life: Her dad, Mike Sandusky, and Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM). “My dad has been my biggest encouragement and supporter through all of the craziness of figuring out what God is calling me to do. When I have come to him and said, “I feel like God is calling me to…” he was always ready to help me work through it and support me as I pursued God’s call on my life.” Mike and his wife, Kecia, have served Arkansas Baptists by leading BCM at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) since 2007. Before that, Mike and his family served in campus ministry at University of Idaho. “One of my greatest fears,” Mike said, “was that my kids would grow up and hate ministry, so I wanted them to be involved in it and see the purpose behind it from the start.” 

Jessica would admit that growing up with a father who modeled ministry played a significant role in her life. She grew in her faith and in her call to ministry by watching students grow and live out their faith in the ministry that her dad led. “Growing up in BCM was such a blessing to my life…it was like growing up with dozens of older brothers and sisters, all role models of what it looked like to live a Christ-like life. I saw how they served…giving up their time to increase the kingdom of God and I tried to model my own walk of faith after theirs.”  

Mike recounts some of Jessica’s younger years, “We have always had students over to our house. Jessica would often crawl up in their laps and they would read her stories. As she grew older, some of our BCM students became her closest friends and mentors.”  

As significant as those student mentors were, nothing was as significant in Jessica’s faith journey as watching her dad do ministry. “I learned about sacrifice through my dad. Seeing his heart for God’s people has had a huge impact on my life. I am so so so thankful for all that my dad has done for us and am so thankful we were able to grow up in ministry and see firsthand what it looks like to live for God wholeheartedly.” 

Though Jessica didn’t go to Southern Arkansas University for college, she still stayed connected to BCM when she started attending The University of Central Arkansas. “At Conway BCM, I was given so many opportunities to grow both in serving and in leadership…I learned so much about ministry and was stretched in ways that strengthened my walk with Christ.” In April of 2019 Jessica went with Conway BCM to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) to explore what might be next for her after college graduation. “Making the decision to go to seminary was a long process. I was really stubborn about not going for a long time. My dad really encouraged me to think about NOBTS. On the tour, I fell in love with the school. I loved that they were all so passionate about serving the city of New Orleans as part of preparing for ministry.” 

Jessica has just finished her first year at NOBTS and is pursuing a Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies. “I hope one day to be a chaplain at a place of refuge for women who have suffered abuse and show them the love of a Father who would never leave them.” Whatever God has planned for Jessica, she admits that she has an incredible role model in her dad. “I am so proud of my dad and his ministry through BCM. He is passionate about discipling students and helping them learn how to share the Gospel with those who don’t have Christ. He is so intentional. Every week he invests in a ministry of 100 college students, with many going on after college to pursue a call to ministry. His love for his students and for what he does is obvious and has always been inspiring to me.” 

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