“Where else can you identify that God has brought so many 18-22 year olds together that they might hear and respond to the Gospel?” Ryan Scantling says in reference to university campuses. For just over six years, Scantling has worked for Arkansas Baptists leading ministry at Conway Baptist Collegiate Ministry – a ministry to the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College, Central Baptist College and more recently University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton and Arkansas State University-Beebe.
“The university campus is the greatest and most strategic mission field in the entire world,” Scantling said. “Not only is the campus the ideal place to reach young adults for Jesus, but also the pivotal place to raise up a new generation of missionaries and church leaders to impact the world.” It was around 100 years ago that God began laying it on the hearts of Arkansas Baptists to penetrate the college campus for the Gospel. Local Arkansas Baptist churches in college towns determined that they needed specialized ministry to reach and connect with the college students that were flooding to the university campuses. These churches independently started Baptist Student Unions, now known as Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), across the state. Over time, each founding church of each local BCM realized that the work of reaching college students would be best stewarded by all Arkansas Baptist churches working together. “BCM truly is Baptists doing college ministry together,” said Scantling. “It’s because churches all across the state have a heart to reach the next generation that we have an active BCM on over 30 Arkansas college campuses.”
“For the past 6 ½ years, we have seen God do some incredible things amongst college students in the Conway area…34 students have made first-time decisions to trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, over 40 of our graduates from the last six years are currently serving in paid vocational ministry, and hundreds of students have had the opportunity to serve on mission across the world. All of that happens because churches all throughout the state are willing to work together to reach students through both their churches and through BCM.”
Though he talks about how incredible his time in Conway has been and how much he has loved serving with the churches in Central Arkansas, Scantling is excited to move to Fayetteville and begin work at the University of Arkansas. “Allie and I are eager to start in ministry somewhere together. We have been married for just over a year and are eager to jump in it together from the start. There are over 27,000 students in Fayetteville… which means the student population alone would make the university in the top 20 largest cities in the state. There is no other place in the state where you can make a Gospel impact like you can at the University of Arkansas…if you can reach this campus, you can reach the whole state and the world.”