Summer plans for many young adults look like taking vacations or returning to their hometown, but for more than 50 students throughout the South Carolina Baptist Convention, plans look like living on mission through the North American Mission Board’s GenSend program.
The convention announced via its website that the 56 students who will be participating in the program this summer are the most from any single state Baptist convention.
“South Carolina is a sending state,” said newly elected SCBC executive director-treasurer Tony Wolfe in a statement to Baptist Press.
“In my short time as EDT, I have been encouraged by a strategic, healthy culture of mission training and going among the churches, the institutions, and our own staff. So, it came as no surprise to me that South Carolina led the way in sending college students on mission in partnership with NAMB through GenSend this year.
“We have one plan as a family of cooperating churches: reach South Carolinians with the gospel, disciple and educate them in the faith, and mobilize them to reach their neighbors and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our partnership with GenSend helps us do exactly that.”
Members of the SCBC’s collegiate team were notified of the achievement by Steve Turner, senior director of Next Gen Mobilization for NAMB.
Turner oversees the GenSend program, which is designed as an intentional, mission-minded summer program for students. Participants are mobilized for ministry during a six-to-eight-week stay in a strategic city, often one of NAMB’s Send cities.
Ministry for the students often encompasses working closely with a NAMB church plant, volunteering around the city and building relationships with locals in order to have gospel conversations.
Locations for this summer include Toronto, Atlanta, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Puerto Rico.
“We are thrilled to see so many of our college students serving with GenSend,” said Chad Stillwell, collegiate ministry director for the SCBC. “South Carolina Baptists are sacrificially investing to reach, disciple and mobilize college students. By God’s grace, we are seeing real movement.
“A strong value we have is to send our college students to places with little access to the gospel. Through GenSend, we are able to send students to those places and see students learn to push back darkness as they serve.”
Stillwell recounted a particularly impactful night of collegiate ministry in the state.
During the most recent CONVERGE event, the convention’s winter event for college students, more than 300 students participated in a midnight prayer and worship night.
The time was designed for students to pray deep into the night that God would raise up people to go out on mission into the GenSend cities as well as overseas locations.
Stillwell said after this event, 51 students committed to serving with GenSend this summer.
“We teach our students that disciples must go and do something with the gospel entrusted to them,” Stillwell said.
“We are proud to see South Carolina college students stepping up to help start churches, and GenSend provides a perfect way to go. Our goal is to see our college students invest their lives for the kingdom after college. GenSend helps us get them started. We’ve already seen several students who we sent with GenSend move to cities in the West after graduation to intentionally invest their lives to start new churches.”
He told Baptist Press sending students on mission via GenSend illustrates the cooperative nature of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“This is the way things should work,” Stillwell said. “We love seeing the ministries of local South Carolina churches partnering together to reach college students and then sending those students to our SBC church planters across North America to learn and help.
“Working together, our Baptist Collegiate Ministry groups, churches and Baptist universities are focused on sending our best to the places of highest need. We are grateful for partners like GenSend who allow us to do just that.”
— Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.