This article was written by Michael (Mike) Sandusky. Mike is the campus minister for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. He is married to Kecia Stuart Sandusky and they have three daughters.
When you look back on the year 2020, do you see a year filled with frustration, cancellations, sadness, and overall disappointment? This is definitely the case for many high school seniors and college students. Athletic events, proms, youth groups, college ministries, mission trips, and summer camps (and the list could go on) were all canceled. When classes began in the fall semester, for many students it was the first interaction they had had in a great while, but even this was limited by masks and social distancing.
Students were hungry for social interaction, but they were scared, not just about Covid-19, but also because of all the social unrest from the riots, and because of the upcoming election. Many had questions, many were pondering the meaning of life, and some were just confused.
The BCM at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) made the decision early in the fall semester to be present on the SAU campus to interact with students with the intention of sharing the Gospel. Each week, five to six students from the BCM set up a table on campus and began engaging students. In the past, students on campus were not very open to having conversations, especially about spiritual matters. What we discovered though was that students were not only eager to have conversations, but they also had a lot of questions and concerns, and they had even already been thinking about spiritual matters.
We began by asking simple questions about the current events that were on the forefront of the news and then transitioned to asking spiritual questions. A large majority of the students we spoke with were looking for answers. We were able to share the Gospel one-on-one with over 100 students. Many of the students that were engaged with the Gospel left without making a decision for Christ, but at least they had been offered the true answer to many of their questions, and that was that God loved them and had a purpose for their lives.
The impact of this was not just limited to the students that were encountered. Several of the students from the BCM were also impacted. Hillyn Vardeman, a sophomore agriculture business major, said that she felt like she was impacted just as much as the students she shared with. Vardeman shared, “There is something so restful about obedience to the Lord. A divine kind of rest, that you know is being given to you by God. I gained confidence in sharing the Gospel and I felt more on fire for God and His Kingdom.”
May Hyman, a freshman from Texarkana, said she was scared at first but grew in her confidence. “I was intimidated by what other students were going to ask because I was new to the Christian community myself. After making myself go through with talking about God with other students, it really helped me grow in my own faith and realize how powerful sharing my testimony can be.”
Halfway through the fall semester, BCM students were taking the lead in evangelism on campus. They were taking the initiative of setting everything up and fully running the outreach on their own. The hope is that as we continue to share the Gospel on campus going into 2021, we will not only see more students sharing their faith, but more students coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord.