Baptist Collegiate Ministries across South Carolina saw 337 students give their lives to Christ during the past school year.
According to collegiate ministry group director Ken Owens of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, 17 BCM ministries across the state have been intentional in their focus on evangelism and outreach, and they are seeing tremendous campus response.
“We are being intentional to share the hope of the gospel with every life on our college campuses. It can be through a planned outreach on campus, equipping students to pray for lostness, or sharing the gospel with students one on one,” Owens said.
Charleston BCM students opened Café Two16, a pop-up coffee and breakfast station, as an outreach opportunity in one of the busiest spots at the College of Charleston last year. They served more than 200 cups of coffee while engaging students in conversations to open doors for sharing the gospel. They conducted 30-second surveys and captured followup contact information. Café Two16 resulted in several students praying to receive Christ, and a few new students connected with BCM in leadership positions.
Austin is a member of Clemson University’s BCM and led his friend Linda to faith in Jesus this year. A former atheist who was raised in a Chinese-American Buddhist family, Linda initially was not open to hearing about Jesus. But as she spent more time with Austin and his Christian friends, she became curious. Austin answered Linda’s questions and shared the gospel with her, and she eventually decided to follow Jesus. Her new faith has changed her relationship with some family members, but Linda is growing in her faith and prays for her family to know Jesus one day, too.
“We have been calling for BCM students to take a 3-2-1 approach to evangelism — to pray specifically for three lost friends, reach out and serve at least two of them in the love of Christ, and then look for ways to share the good news of Jesus with at least one of them,” said Owens. “Through that, BCM is seeing more and more students praying and sharing on their campuses.”
Winthrop University BCM saw record numbers of student salvations over the past year as a direct result of intentional prayer. When BCM director Jack Blankenship met with student leaders before ending the 2016 spring semester, they asked God to do something big in the coming school year.
“We had seen God move through prayer in awesome ways,” said Blankenship. “New people were coming to BCM, and there were conversations about Jesus on campus, but we hadn’t seen a large number of people pray to receive Christ. We longed for a God-sized prayer.”
Inspired by their street address of 620 Oakland Ave., Winthrop BCM students started a “620 Prayer Initiative,” which was for six students to join 20 small groups in the coming year, and that God would save 20 people through the ministry. Students began to pray over the initiative, and Blankenship asked alumni, local supporting churches and pastors to join them.
When students returned to school last fall, 168 signed up for small groups, which was eight more than they had prayed for. About a month into the semester, 17 students prayed to receive Christ after Blankenship shared the gospel during a BCM meeting. By the end of the school year, Winthrop’s BCM saw a total of 24 new believers.
“It’s helped students understand and home in on the importance of prayer and that God answers them. We know He is at work, and it’s encouraged all of us to pray and share the gospel more. God is working in the lives of students, and disciples are being made,” Blankenship said.
In addition to evangelism, BCM ministries across South Carolina reported strides in the areas of missions, disaster relief training and participation, and ministries to international students.
Owens said 433 students served in short-term mission efforts in the past school year, and 169 participated in summer mission experiences. The BCMissions program sponsored 60 of those summer workers, who served in South Carolina, in areas across the country, and in North Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe and Mexico. Owens reported that, from among just 25 summer missionaries he’s heard from so far this summer, the students have ministered to more than 11,000 people, shared the gospel with more than 5,700 of them, and seen 580 people pray to receive Christ.
Samantha, a North Greenville student serving in North Africa this summer, said she “learned so much about the essential characteristics of God” this summer. “When facing Islam every day, I naturally began to compare it with Christianity,” she said, “and I asked myself why I believe what I do instead of what my Muslim friends believe. God solidified my calling to overseas missions within a city context.”
Grace, a student from Lander University, said her faith has grown while she’s served at Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood. “Being forced out of my comfort zone and stepping into a leadership role has made me rely on God more and allowed me to seek His guidance and wisdom,” she said.
Also, BCM student teams served during Christmas and spring break vacation times this year through disaster relief efforts in affected areas of the Midlands, Pee Dee and coastal regions. Following flooding and Hurricane Matthew damage across the state, Owens reports that hundreds of college students volunteered to clean and rebuild with ongoing relief teams.
The University of South Carolina and Clemson University have large concentrations of international students. Owens said BCM has built intentional ministries at both campuses, and they are seeing God change lives. Additional international ministries have begun at Lander University, South Carolina State, and through Spartanburg area campuses. BCM ministries are eager to partner with local churches and associations in all areas of ministry, and Owens specifically points to international ministry as a way for churches to connect with BCM to reach these students.
As he looks to the new school year, Owens said he’s thrilled about his newest full-time collegiate minister to the state. David Neace serves the growing university population in the Myrtle Beach area, including students at Coastal Carolina and Horry Georgetown Technical College.
“We are also praying to mobilize 3,000 people — including churches, associational leaders, BCM alumni, and parents — to actively pray for spiritual awakening and lostness on college campuses,” said Owens. “We want to minister to at least 800 international students living in South Carolina, equip 2,000 college students to have gospel conversations with at least one person, and mobilize 300 students in global missions opportunities.”
For more information about BCM ministries in South Carolina or upcoming partnership opportunities, visit www.scbaptist.org/collegiate-ministry.
— Julia Bell writes for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.