“We are Christ-led disciples making disciples.”
The Georgia Tech Baptist Collegiate Ministry is driven by this motto and mantra. It appears on their clothes, materials, teaching tools, and in conversations. The students challenge each other with it throughout the year. One such challenge is the Christmas Backpacks collection that occurs at Confluence, an annual event for BCMs in Georgia.
This year, Georgia Tech contributed 587 of the 910 total BCM collected backpacks for the Christmas Backpacks ministry. That’s 64% of the total number of BCM backpacks, which will be distributed to children in Southwest Georgia and Appalachia.
Warren Skinner, currently serving at Georgia Tech, has been a campus minister for 34 years. He said this is a record-breaking contribution from Georgia Tech – and any BCM – in the history of the collection at Confluence. While some years have seen competition amongst the BCMs to see which school brings the most backpacks, Skinner said this year was different.
“It’s just been about the heart issue of serving people, of being able to help kids and families with something they’re not able to provide for themselves,” Skinner said. “It’s very much for us an issue of being able to put the Word in a child’s hands and to know that wherever that backpack is delivered, someone is there to share the Gospel with the people who receive those backpacks.”
What also sets the ministry and activities of the BCM apart is that they are student-led and student-driven.
“When students can come to me and say, ‘This is what we can do. This is what we want to do. This is what will reach somebody,’ that says to me that we’re growing disciples,” Skinner said.
Sarah Tinsley, who is in her fourth year at Georgia Tech, serves as the Service Action Team Leader in the BCM. In this role, she works with a team of students to coordinate and plan activities the BCM does on and off campus.
Tinsley said the backpacks collection is one of the biggest service projects in the BCM. The goal for the BCM this year was 500 backpacks, a 100 backpack increase from last year.
“Gathering 500 backpacks was a team effort all across the board,” Tinsley said.
Tinsley said there were contributions from local churches, BCM students’ home churches, online donations, and BCM alumni in order to reach and surpass the number goal. Other people helped by coordinating shopping efforts for supplies or packing backpacks. Tinsley said the Lord provided and she saw a community come together. Ultimately, however, the goal is much more disciple minded.
“Our goal is to share the Gospel,” Tinsley said. “That’s the beautiful thing about Christmas Backpacks. Through this, we have a chance to share the Christmas story and a Bible with 587 children in Appalachia and southern regions of Georgia.”
Out of discipleship comes service, which is something Tinsley emphasized. This project was an outward show of BCM students carrying out their understanding of discipleship.
“How can you reach someone without telling them first that they are loved?” Tinsley asked. “You want to help them and meet a physical need. It’s such an effective way to share Christ with them, because you are being Christ – His hands and feet – in their lives first before giving them that Truth. It validates what you’re saying; you’re living it out.”
Tinsley said even the preparation process of gathering backpacks is a way to serve. Just going into a store to buy 300 notebooks at one time gives a reason to share about the ministry, as well as the Gospel if the chance arises.
The BCM at Georgia Tech focuses on discipleship as a driving force behind every activity that occurs with its students. Skinner said every missions project, activity, campaign, etc., that comes through the BCM is just a piece of building disciples who make disciples.
“Some people like to think about evangelism as a thing, missions as a thing, prayer as a thing, but they’re not individual things,” Skinner said. “They are all elements of discipleship.”
Skinner views discipleship as something that is a life-long indication of spiritual growth. He said Georgia Tech graduates will live all over the world and be influential people in business, community, and churches.
“I care a lot about who they’re going to be when they’re 40 and 50 years old,” Skinner said. “When I see the results of what they value and who they serve – like 587 backpacks – I look at that and I see the fruit of it. So every semester, when we graduate students out of the BCM at Georgia Tech, I know we are sending out a bunch of missionaries who are Christ-led in their lives and want to share Christ with people who don’t know Him.”