Baptist ministry at DSCC, Gibson County Campus, draws about 60 students biweekly
By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
TRENTON — About 200 students attend Dyersburg State Community College, Gibson County Campus, here. Of those, about 60-70 gather during a Tuesday lunch break for Baptist Collegiate Ministries every other week.
The students eat lunch together in the commons area of the college’s building and then hear Joey Hufstedler, BCM director, teach a Bible lesson.
Hufstedler often explains before he begins teaching that he will try to keep the study to about 20-30 minutes but he’s used to preaching longer at his church.
He has been surprised that quite a few students have asked him to teach longer.
“This age group, they’re sick and tired of being told what to believe. They want someone to show them what the Word says,” said Hufstedler, who has led the ministry for about a year. He also is pastor, Poplar Grove Baptist Church, Trenton.
Though he is a member of the previous generation (he is 40 years old), and was willing to accept direction from older people, that has changed, Hufstedler explained.
“They’re tired of people not being genuine.”
He also has seen students stay behind after the meeting to visit with him, even until classes restart at 2 p.m.
He has built some relationships with students as a result, he added.
Most of the students here are young, having just graduated from high school, Hufstedler reported. They are taking classes at this campus to save money. The main campus of Dyersburg State Community College in Dyersburg is about 35 miles away.
The large crowd at the first two BCM gatherings this semester totally surprised Hufstedler, he admitted. Last year the BCM meetings drew from 20-40.
So he quickly ordered more pizzas and had to send some students to vending machines with money to buy drinks. Even then he didn’t get to eat.
“I was extremely surprised. I was not expecting it to be that big.”
Then the large crowd returned to the next BCM meeting.
Of course, the students are happy to receive free food, but also they are searching for information from the Bible and he is thrilled, he added.
“I still love working with young people,” he explained. Hufstedler was a youth minister at a Baptist church for five years.
There are some very “dedicated” Christian students in the regular BCM crowd, he described.
He is especially glad to try to stem the tide of people leaving the church after they graduate from high school and not returning, noted Hufstedler, citing research. In fact, many of those young people identify themselves as a part of the “no religion group.”
Research also finds “that they don’t go back to church even by age 30,” added Hufstedler.
Also he has become convinced that if the United States is going to experience a revival, “it’s going to come out of this age group. … I want to help them learn and help put them on that path toward that revival,” stated Hufstedler.
Roger Stacy, director of missions, Gibson Baptist Association, based in Trenton, which sponsors the ministry, said the fact that “it has really blossomed” is an answer to prayer and the result of a lot of effort over many years to provide “a sustained ministry” on the college campus.
In response to the growth of the ministry, the association has increased its funding and is calling on more church groups to help provide lunches, noted Stacy.
He is especially thankful for Hufstedler who while a pastor with a part-time job and a family, volunteered for the job. He learned about the need while serving on an associational team.
“He’s the guy we’ve been looking for all of these years,” said Stacy.