MOUNT VERNON — Baptist Collegiate Ministry director Lauren Youmans admits that something needed to change. It’s a step many churches and ministries find hard to take, but to reinvigorate the BCM’s presence at Brewton-Parker College it was needed and a footprint has already been left.
“With being such a small campus and wanting to accomplish so many different things through our ministry we’ve totally restructured ourselves and are trying something new this semester,” she told The Index. “In the past we’ve had a time of worship every Monday night and tried to plan outreach events and social times outside of Mondays. This hasn’t worked well.
“Now we’ve decided to use the Monday night block of time that most of the campus acknowledges as ‘BCM’s time’ and tries not to interfere with, to accomplish all of our goals. We planned three fellowship weeks, three outreach weeks, six discipleship weeks using Kyle Idleman’s not a fan series and will close out the semester with our local summer missions commissioning service.”
On the first outreach Monday, Feb. 1, students gave away homemade apple fritters in the student center and used perspective cards to begin spiritual conversations and present the gospel. At the same time, groups of three walked the campus and asked others if they had any prayer needs.
“They engaged folks in the hall of the student center, the library, and even the weight room in the gym,” Youmans said. “We’re working to create a culture of prayer on our campus and although we’re in the infant stages we’re moving in the right direction.”
The week of Feb. 15 brought the first fellowship week, as the Esangalo Children’s Choir from Uganda made its appearance on the south Georgia campus. Their presence was personal for Youmans and her husband, Gady, as the two have led missions teams to Uganda in the past through Helping Hands Foreign Missions, a ministry begun by members of Riverbend Baptist Church in Gainesville.
“Most of the children who come as part of the choir are orphans who love Jesus,” she said. “The sing, dance, share their testimony and even set up an African market with items they’ve made. We hosted this group two years ago and this was an awesome time for our campus and community!
“The students who were here still talk about how meaningful that chapel service was. My hope is that my students will be challenged in their faith and emboldened to share their stories, both in this country and in others. If orphan children can be radically changed by God and brave enough to travel to a new place to share Jesus, why can’t [Brewton-Parker students]?”
In addition to a performance at Brewton-Parker, the choir also sang at Tabernacle Baptist Church near Vidalia.
“The students absolutely fell in love with the kids,” Youmans said. “You would’ve thought they were meeting celebrities.”
One day after a lunch of Chick-fil-A, BCM members took the choir to Brewton-Parker’s gym where all joined in on an impromptu soccer game with Barons athletes. With many members of the soccer team international students, Youmans said an instant connection was made with the Ugandan children.”
“We want to expand the missions mindset for our local church body,” attested Youmans. “ Our students are now wanting to go and serve and experience [missions] for themselves. Bringing the choir here wet their appetite, but going there and experiencing it will change their hearts.”