BCM Missions Goes Full-Circle

Julia Bell

Julia Bell enjoys putting words to the story of how God is at work. She served on convention staff for seven years, and as a freelance writer for 12 years. Julia lives in Lexington, SC with her husband Ed, and two children.

Four Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) students recently served alongside a former BCM summer missionary during an eight-week missions experience in South Asia. The trip marks a remarkable story of salvation, call to missions, and full-circle leadership in the field.

Out of an abundance of caution, the names of the International Mission Board (IMB) supervisors and the students will not be used in this article, as some have expressed a desire to serve again in the same area.

During his years as a Citadel cadet, the young man came to faith in Jesus through BCM and then served as a summer missionary. His service continued after graduation, as he remained in the Charleston area as a semester missionary. He then met his future wife while they served in the Journeyman program through the International Mission Board. The couple attended Southeastern Seminary, where he also received Richard Furman Scholarship funds. They moved to South Asia within the last year to begin their work.

BCM South Asia“God working through South Carolina Baptists to provide for BCM and mission agencies, to save a young college student who is now an IMB missionary mentoring and discipling the next generation of missionaries…is just awesome,” says Ken Owens, BCM director with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

That next generation of missionaries included four college students who committed to go to what Owens calls ‘a dark place’ in early June. The students from Winthrop University, College of Charleston, and Clemson University, began their work helping the IMB workers engage native people in the city and at several local universities. The BCM students started a collegiate Bible study, discipled local believers, and tried to build relationships with students they met. They formed an English club, where they were able to meet new people and share Bible stories.
“Our national partners here have expressed great joy and gratitude for the work and partnership of the students. I know they have truly been blessed by the students’ work. We are so thankful for them, and for the energy and passion they have for sharing truth,” the IMB worker says.
One of the BCM students, a senior from Winthrop University, described an English class the team started in the city. The class participants would ask the BCM students questions as they practiced the language. Soon the BCM students engaged a native believer they had met to begin a Bible study, and that student invited another friend who was a non-believer. The BCM students bought a language Bible, began discipling the student believer, and shared the gospel for the first time with the non-believer through pictures and written words. The same Bible study is still continuing today.

“It is cool to be the mouthpiece for the Lord, and to be the first one to share the good news with someone. A lot of people, like our friends that we met, have never even heard the name of Jesus,” the Winthrop student says.

Two of the BCM students met and spent time with a group of women in a local garden. As they all sipped drinking water, the students shared the story of the woman at the well and used the concept of living water to share the gospel. Intrigued, one family invited the BCM students to their house for dinner the following night. The mission team was able to share the gospel with 20 family members over dinner.

A BCM team member from the Charleston area plans to start seminary classes this fall, but says he would like to return to South Asia one day. While serving there this summer, he was struck by the team’s work with native believers who had never shared their faith.

“We trained around a dozen believers to share the gospel, their testimony, and stories from the Bible. We were encouraged to see and hear of several who began sharing the gospel. I think it’s important for college students – and believers in general – to experience cross cultural work because Jesus commands to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ Experiencing new cultures widens the perspective of the believer and positions them to rely on the Lord in new ways,” he says.

This was not the first international mission trip for one Clemson University senior who felt God calling her to this team trip last December. She has served in Africa, Haiti, and Costa Rica and says that each time she goes abroad, she learns about herself, other cultures, and even more about God.

“It is so important to be involved in missions. We are called to go, and our goal should be to share with those we interact with each day. Through missions, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with people who had never heard the name of Jesus before. I also had the opportunity to disciple believers, so they can go out and share with those they know,” she says.

This Clemson student, and a partner from the team, coached two native believers on using Bible stories to share the gospel and encouraged them to practice this with their friends. One of the native believers practiced these new methods with a friend she thought was also a believer. A few days later, the native believer followed up with her friend, to make sure she understood this new method of sharing her faith. The friend confessed she had never understood the gospel before it was explained that way, and then immediately prayed to accept Christ.

“It was really neat to see God working in our lives by teaching these women the methods we had learned, and then to see how He used them to speak into the life of their friend,” the Clemson student says.
For his part, the IMB worker calls his connection to BCM a ‘special’ one, and his experiences in BCM helped open his eyes ‘to the great need for the Good News in the world.’
“Having BCM students come and serve in this way is invaluable to them and to the team in which they serve. We have really enjoyed having the students here for new energy and passion. They have also helped in making connections with people we otherwise wouldn’t have been in contact with. They have contributed to the overall goal of our team here and have become like family,” the IMB worker says.
“We are blessed to have students serving as BCM summer missionaries. And what a beautiful picture of God’s multiplication – bringing a college student to Christ, allowing him to grow through BCM and student missions, and now to see him and his wife on the international field training the next generation of missional leaders,” Owens says.

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