By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — As Charles Nored’s retirement approaches, it would be difficult to succinctly sum up the enormous impact that he has made in his nearly 40 years of ministry.
But Jeff Jones, the BCM director at Memphis, was recently able to capture the essence of Nored’s ministry — which has included tenures at Walter State, MTSU and Motlow State — in one simple statement.
“Students love Charles,” Jones said, “and he loves them.”
Indeed, that’s what Nored has always been about: Investing in the lives of college students, building meaningful relationships and friendships with them, and helping them strengthen — or in some cases, start — their walk with Jesus.
Nored says that those are the things that have been the most important to him throughout his ministry. He said those elements also just happen to be his favorite parts of the job.
In fact, when asked about what he has enjoyed most about his ministry, Nored said: “Personal relationships. Spending quantity and quality time with students. Put plainly, I love working with college students,” Nored said.
Nored’s final day as BCM director at Motlow State will be July 31.
Nored and his wife, Ann, were recently honored for their years of service during a meeting at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Bill Choate, collegiate ministries director for the TBMB, said it is almost impossible to measure the enormity of Nored’s ministry.
“Charles has impacted thousands of students, and mobilized hundreds of missionaries, through the years,” said Choate. “Lives have been changed because of Charles Nored.”
Nored said he feels blessed that his duties with the BCM have opened so many doors to form tight and lasting bonds with students.
“If you are a pastor or a church youth minister, you are lucky to see your church members and youth twice a week,” Nored said.
“As a BCM director, I got to see most of my students a minimum of 4-5 days a week, more when we had weekend conferences or mission trips during fall, Christmas, spring, and summer breaks,” Nored said. “This quantity of time allowed me the wonderful opportunity to develop relationships with a lot of students. Real, life-changing ministry can happen in that environment.”
Nored began his ministry with BCM at Walter State in 1981, and has been developing relationships with students since.
“Charles’ life is marked by great, great faithfulness,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB. “We greatly appreciate the work he has done in Tennessee. He has impacted young lives for almost four decades.”
And what, exactly, has been the secret to Nored’s ability to form so many lasting and worthwhile relationships?
According to Nored, the best way to get close to students is by being close to the students. Literally.
“In 34 of the 40 years of my BCM ministry, I was very fortunate to have a Baptist Student Center close to campus that served as a gathering place for students,” he said. “They could come over in between classes as well as when attending BCM lunches, worship and fellowship times, and Bible studies. This allowed students to build relationships with each other as well as with me.”
Nored said being able to meet with students in person — and being able to do so on a moment’s notice — is a critical component of the ministry. College students are constantly facing major decisions and choices, and simply “being there” for them can make a big impact.
“Having a building to work in close to campus meant I was physically close to students when they needed me most, especially when a crisis was occurring in their lives,” Nored said. “Whether it was a struggle with a class, a decision about changing majors, girlfriend/boyfriend problems, parents going through a divorce, the death of a grandparent/parent/close friend, etc., it helped immensely if I was a 5-minute walk away and easily contacted.”
It was during these “intense moments” when many college students were open to learning more about the Lord, Nored said.
“Many students inevitably have spiritual questions and faith struggles,” he said, “and those were great times to have deep, life-changing conversations that went off and on for weeks and sometimes months.”