July 30, 2020
Students from Auburn University at Montgomery serve in Puerto Rico over spring break in 2018, encouraging a local church and assisting in disaster relief work. (Photo courtesy of Lee Dymond)
By Margaret Colson
The Alabama Baptist
A sophomore went to the Baptist Campus Ministries at University of North Alabama and “began to ask deep questions about following Jesus and what it actually means. He grew up in a Southern Baptist church. However, during the quarantine, he realized he did not have a faith of his own. He had been walking with his parent’s faith and decided he needed to follow Jesus,” reported Matt Daniels, BCM campus minister at UNA.
A young student arrived a little late and alone for worship at the BCM on the campus of University of Alabama at Birmingham. Over the next three years, as the young man got to know other students and leaders at BCM, he went from being “a first-time attendee at the BCM, eventually a new Christian and ultimately a BCM leader,” said Bill Morrison, BCM lead campus minister at UAB.
Ben Crocker recalls his days as a student at Auburn University at Montgomery, when BCM “was my lifeline. The Lord used my local BCM to connect me to the lost on my campus, to older guys to disciple me and to missionaries overseas who helped bring the gospel to the nations. It was so impactful; the Lord drew me back to campus ministry years later to serve my alma mater as [interim] campus minister.”
These stories of lives changed through BCM reflect a snapshot of the scope of Alabama Baptists’ collegiate ministry.
“I am admittedly biased, but I believe that collegiate ministry may be one of the most important things Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists can do to spread the gospel, win the lost, ensure a future missions force and staff the local church for the future,” said Mike Nuss, director of the office of collegiate and student ministries for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Nuss directs the ministry of 17 full-time BCM campus ministers and 21 volunteer and part-time campus ministers across Alabama who serve thousands of college students.
“The missionaries, pastors, deacons, WMU leaders, church lay leaders of tomorrow are on college campuses today. In Alabama alone there are over 300,000 college students — with perhaps more than 200,000 without a personal relationship with Jesus. The college campus is certainly one of Alabama’s most critical missions field,” Nuss said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “will for sure change much of our thinking and approach to ministry. Most likely there will be less ‘gathering’ of students and more ‘sending’ students to the campus missions field.”
But BCM leaders are committed to “appropriate safety measures” relative to the pandemic, he said.
Alabama Baptist collegiate ministry “will continue our longstanding focus on reaching, discipling and mobilizing college students,” Nuss said. “BCM, church collegiate ministry and our recent collegiate church planting efforts are strong and busy gearing up for what promises to be one of the most challenging fall semesters in recent history.”
Nuss expressed gratitude for Alabama Baptists’ role in collegiate ministry through their financial gifts through the Cooperative Program, as well as through churches becoming involved in collegiate ministry.
“Almost every church is a college church, and ministry to college students isn’t limited to churches in large college communities,” Nuss said.
With fall semester quickly approaching, Nuss urges parents and youth pastors to connect high school graduates and current college students to a BCM and to a local church on or near their campus.
This connection can be made at bcmlink.org/connect.