“And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.’ ” Matthew 13:3-9
There is nothing compared to the end of an academic year in college ministry that brings these words of Jesus into full focus.
A sower goes out to sow seeds. Some of those seeds fall on no soil at all, while some fall on rocky and thorny soil, and finally a handful of seeds fall on rich soil—soil primed for producing much grain.
As May quickly approaches, college ministers around the state and the country reflect on the labor that’s taken place since last May. It all started with the tabling events at our student orientation sessions where we gather contacts of as many freshmen as possible. Then there’s the summer events that happen to keep older students connected and introduce some of those freshmen into the life of Baptist Collegiate Ministry on their campus. Then, as August approaches, we send out texts, mail them tee shirts, and make phone calls to connect with the hundreds of students we met over the summer.
And that’s only the beginning. The students hit campus in August and step into—unknown to them—a war for their souls.
That’s where you find us. We’re right there on the front lines hosting events, doing follow up, having Gospel conversations, building relationships, and working hard to connect everyone we can to a partnering church. We empower the freshmen who get connected during the summer to be leaders among their peers, we empower the older students to step in and have Gospel conversations and establish mentor-type relationships. We fight for all of these students in prayer by asking God to do what only He can do in their lives.
We plant seeds. We water. We labor.
Why? For the sake of advancing the Kingdom here, and everywhere, on earth.
The thing about planting seeds is that you never know what those seeds will produce. Jesus says it Himself. Some of the seeds planted will never even take root. But some of them do. And when those seeds take root into good soil the produce is abundant.
Let’s take one student for example. After connecting with him during the first few weeks of the semester he was invited onto our freshman leadership team. During the interview process we both found out that he wasn’t actually a Christian. Our conversation extended and he ended up placing his faith in Jesus instead of relying on his own good works for salvation.
Where’s he at now? Going on a mission trip to Africa with another campus ministry at University of Central Arkansas (UCA).
What about another student we led to Christ last fall? He’s also going on a mission trip with a different campus ministry at UCA.
In fact, of the roughly 25 UCA students who went to Beach Reach (our spring break mission trip this year) there were six who came to faith or had a rededication type moment within the last two years.
If we could get a glimpse of the Kingdom through God’s eyes on each one of our campuses I would be confident that we would see at least two things:
- Seeds scattered everywhere.
There will be people who come to faith in 15 years because of a seed planted this year on our campuses. I’m confident. There are students who hear the Gospel at a different campus ministry that get involved with ours and vice-a-versa. Those students go on to be leaders in every space on our campuses.
- The fire of God burning in the hearts of students.
God takes the faithful witness of His people to light a small spark in people that eventually becomes a burning wildfire. That’s evident by the eight students I mentioned earlier that have come to faith within the last two years. I can’t even begin to share all the stories from our own campuses in Conway, much less the stories from all our campuses around the state.
As the end of the year rolls around it always puts us in a state of reflection and by God’s grace we’re able to reflect on how many seeds were distributed through the sharing of the Gospel and how many of those seeds took root and developed into people fully devoted to follow Christ. Those students who have chosen to follow Christ come from various backgrounds but one thing is true for all of them: that seed taking root has changed the entire outlook of their family tree.
So, on the front lines of the war on the souls of college students, we continue to labor because we know God is in the business of winning those souls. He’s been doing it, He’s done it this year, and He’ll continue to do it because He is faithful and loves the college student.