Francis Marion BCM Proclaims ‘God Belongs on My Campus’

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Francis Marion BCM Proclaims ‘God Belongs on My Campus’

The students at Francis Marion University’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) have a message for their school – ‘God belongs on my campus.’ What started as a small group’s outreach several years ago has turned into an event-based experience open to all in Francis Marion’s diverse student population.

“It’s a strong statement to say, ‘God belongs here.’ But we believe God belongs in the biology department, on the sports teams, in the honors college, and every aspect of what we do on campus. Wherever people are, that’s where we belong,” says BCM Director Kendal Danford.

A few years ago, a BCM student captured the message from the Christian rap song telling the story of young people who proclaimed that God belonged in the midst of their hometown. The student challenged his core Bible study group, saying they could do the same at Francis Marion. The idea took off. The small group made hoodies printed with the phrase ‘God belongs on my campus,’ and began wearing them.

Others in BCM joined the movement, and Danford ordered t-shirts with the phrase for more students to wear. They wore the shirts as they prayerwalked their campus and around the city of Florence, worked in a homeless shelter, and served in the Boys & Girls Club. Danford says people began to ask questions, and they decided they could do more with the message.

BCM held its first ‘God Belongs on My Campus’ event in the fall of 2016. It was so well received, the second event was held on January 23. Danford says BCM intentionally promoted it to all segments of the student population – including through coaches, sororities, and fraternities. He estimates close to 300 people came out for the event, and the first 200 received free t-shirts.

“It was the most diverse group of people worshipping together anywhere that I have seen around. Our ministry is diverse here, and we want to carry that on campus. We want to reach our whole campus and give everyone something they’d like to come to, so that they can lift up Jesus’ name, too,” Danford says.

The evening started with a prerecorded video of students talking about God in different contexts around campus. They read Scripture and, while a band led in worship, a visual artist painted an image of a lion on a five-foot high canvas. That image was used later in the message given by guest speaker Stephen Splawn, evangelism and African-American ministries strategist with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Not everyone on campus has embraced the message. BCM students report being approached by professors or other students who have challenged the statement. Danford says those are opportunities to engage, acknowledging the power a simple t-shirt has had to share hope with the lost in this student-led movement.

“It’s a question that starts a conversation. No t-shirt can lead a person to Jesus, but it can start a conversation that leads to the Spirit moving in a person’s life. We are challenging students to not just wear the t-shirt but live out the gospel in your words and actions and in how you treat people,” Danford says.

According to Ken Owens, director of BCM ministries for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the emphasis was a bold declaration that God is worthy of worship and devotion in this world, and especially on a college campus. “It was so moving to see a diverse group of students gathering together to worship the Lord and to declare their desire to serve Him. I am so grateful that BCM is taking the lead in bringing unity around the gospel on campus,” Owens says.

Submitted by Julia Bell

 

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