FRANKLIN — Thirty-eight Baptist Collegiate Ministry students from across Tennessee spent their summer showing the love of Christ in unique ministry settings across the nation and the world.
The students, representing seven different Tennessee BCMs, served through Send TN Missions, a ministry of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board that exists to provide ministry training and cultural immersion for college students, according to Jessica Jiang, collegiate missions specialist for the TBMB and coordinator of Send TN Missions.
Teams are “equipped and sent to share the Good News of Jesus Christ” throughout Tennessee, the United States and around the world, she added.
The number of students who served this summer more than doubled from last year, Jiang noted.
“The Lord is truly raising up students who are willing to serve the Lord and share the gospel in new, unique contexts.
“This is no surprise to me as our Tennessee BCMs consistently disciple, equip and mobilize students to daily live on mission, now on their college campuses, but also in the future,” Jiang observed.
Stacy Murphree, TBMB collegiate ministries specialist at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, is a strong advocate of Send TN Missions.
“As a campus minister, I see so many benefits to students serving in summer missions. They go and serve in a different ministry context but end up learning so much about evangelism and discipleship that they can bring back to their campus.
“Year after year, I have the opportunity to see students mobilized to serve and come back even more excited about how they can serve their own campus and better view their campus as their own mission field. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation,” Murphree observed.
Thirteen of the 38 students received a scholarship from Send TN Missions to serve internationally with the International Mission Board. Students traveled to Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and South America.
Nationally, students served in state at Linden and nationally in New York City, Boston, New Orleans, Seattle, Riverside, Calif., and Maine.
Phinehas Rollman, a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, served on a seven-member team in Seattle with Epic Life Church for 10 days. He observed that their ministry in Seattle “brought so much joy to the lives of everyone who got a chance to be a part of it, whether they were Christians or not.”
The BCM volunteers worked with local artists to paint a mural for a local mural festival that Epic Life Church and a ministry partner held for the community. “God taught us all so much while we were there,” he noted.
“One thing we all came back trusting is that even in a place with so much brokenness, the hope of the gospel is changing lives in north Seattle,” Rollman said.
Leighanne Higgins, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, served through Metro New York Baptist Association with One Community Church in New York City (Hell’s Kitchen community) for two months.
Higgins said she learned what it meant to live “missionally.”
“I was challenged to be aware of all people’s needs, such as homelessness, sadness and loneliness,” she said.
Higgins, who taught English as a Second Language, also said she was encouraged “to build relationships with my students and their families and to help them settle into their new environment because, for many, they were in their first home in the United States.”
One of the most meaningful things from her experience was the friends she made. “ A few of my ESL students started joining me for church on Sundays and no words can express how grateful I am for them. Even with a language barrier, God was able to use me to glorify His name by helping the asylum-seekers find refuge amid the chaos of Manhattan.”
Jiang observed that most of the summer missionaries had similar stories of immersing themselves in a culture much different from their own.
She has heard from representatives of the various ministries where the summer missionaries served. “They shared how impressed they were with the students’ boldness and faithfulness to shine the light of Christ in the midst of spiritual darkness.
“This feedback was an answer to prayer as I’ve prayed the Lord would encourage long-term workers through our students. It’s evident to me that these students willingly chose to serve, not because they felt like they had to do so, but because the love of Christ for all people compelled them. I am proud of each of them,” Jiang said. B&R