“There will not be a more crucial crossroads in a person’s life than the short period of their lives when they are in college—before they get into the 9-to-5 routine where comfort is guaranteed to become their new god, if they are not saved, and their worldview becomes more solidified.” That quote is from a David Manley, a senior, majoring in finance at the University of Delaware.
Manley arrived at the University of Delaware as a new Christian, ready to take on the world, but, he admits, was filled with pride. After being forced to leave his home, and an important relationship, Manley was spinning out of control. Then, he said, God used the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) on campus to change his life.
“God broke my idols and gave me a community to fall back on for encouragement and growth when He started to strip away the false foundations of my life.
“I can say now with absolute certainty that I would not enjoy Christ like I do now, and I would not be in awe of Him like I am now if it wasn’t for college ministry.”
Matt Jones, a 2013 graduate, also was transformed as a result of his experience with campus ministry when Blake Hardcastle, BSM director at the University of Delaware, challenged Jones to explain the Gospel.
“I just couldn’t believe that I grew up a Christian, and I had no idea how to explain that,” Jones said. Through discipleship, Jones learned to always be prepared to give an answer.
He grew in his faith and led freshmen small groups for three years, building relationships with first-year students through activities and leading Bible studies.
In fact, the entire BSM strategy, Hardcastle says, is to intentionally reach students with the Gospel, disciple them and connect them to local churches. In particular, Hardcastle says that after graduation, connecting BSM students to local churches is vital.
“We want them to dive in, see the value and experience what it’s like to be part of a church body,” he adds.
Ogletown Baptist Church has been a strong BSM supporter for over a dozen years. They’ve continued to nurture the students, and the students are stepping up as leaders.
“They know how to engage lost people. They know how to make disciples, “says Curtis Hill, Ogletown’s pastor.
Now, the University of Delaware’s BSM is making inroads with the international community through natural friendships and practicing conversational English.
Manley explains, “This semester, I have seen a Saudi Arabian student proclaim Christ as Savior. I have been discipling this student and a Chinese student who used to be atheist who came to Christ last year; these two young men have reached out into their people groups that live on campus and have shared the Gospel with more than a dozen other students that came from their birthplace.”
Manley says it’s a ministry worth supporting.“If you want a generation that is unashamed and unafraid to share what they believe, this is something that a church must invest their resources in. We need people on the front lines before we lose this generation to atheism and nominal Christianity,” he said.
Presently, there are 171 college and university campuses across Maryland and Delaware, but only nine campuses (University of Delaware; Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland, College Park; Montgomery College; Salisbury University; Anne Arundel Community College; and Frostburg University) have an established Baptist presence.
There are many ways to support collegiate ministry: prayer, providing financial support, adopting students, and supplying resources on an “as needed” basis.