In student ministry we encounter all different types of students and meet them in all different seasons of life. In campus ministry, we are constantly evaluating the students we encounter. When we first meet a student, we work to have Gospel conversations with them through Gospel appointments to see if they have a clear understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, we then see if there is interest in being a part of our discipleship pipeline.
As these students get involved in discipleship, we see if there is passion for serving and competency for leadership. This usually happens within the first four months that a student is on campus. For some students, I would even say most, if we do not reach them in their first few months on campus, we will not reach them. There are many reasons why we may not impact a certain student, and the chances that we will have a second or third chance with them are often slim.
Then there are students like Cade. I met Cade when he was a freshman baseball player from a small school outside of Texarkana. The first conversation I had with Cade I encouraged him one afternoon when he was getting in extra work hitting in our indoor facility on campus. I had begun discipling his roommate, Jordan, and we had been trying to get Cade involved. It was slow going. He wasn’t that interested, he was flaky, he was more interested in baseball, video games, and unhealthy relationships. We would pray for Cade, invite him to be a part and encourage him. It would have been easy to give up on him, but I am so glad that we didn’t.
Cade is an overachiever, or maybe he is living up to his capabilities. But whatever the case, Cade’s extra work as a freshman paid off. He was named the conference freshman of the year. He has since been named all-academic all-conference, all-region, and all conference multiple times.
The most important thing that happened in Cade’s life happened in 2021. We continued to pursue Cade the way the Lord continues to pursue each of us. Cade finally committed to discipleship, and in the spring of 2021 committed his life to Christ. He followed through with believer’s baptism, and has since served in his local church, interning with the same church. He has served on summer camp staff and on the BCM leadership team and is currently serving as a campus missionary within our ministry.
Cade, in talking about the shift in his heart, said that change happened when he realized “that following Jesus is not a one-time decision, it is an everyday decision that takes discipline and dedication. When I realized that, my faith came alive!.”
Cade is now in his sixth and final year here at UAM. Want to know how he is doing? The picture below is what Cade was doing when I got into the office this morning. Discipling one of his teammates. Cade is a tangible example of the importance for us not to give up on any student. The message of the Gospel, the message of the Church, is meant to be taken from the Church, shared on our Campus, and is meant for every student.
This article was written by Jeremy Woodall, BCM Minister for the University of Arkansas at Monticello.