Austin Reaves has grand vision for reaching the world from Georgia State University campus


ATLANTA — Austin Reaves is convinced that Georgia State University can play a key role in getting the gospel around the globe.

Georgia State is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the U.S. with students from 177 nations, and that, Reaves said, perfectly positions the school for worldwide evangelism.

With that in mind, Reaves, the new campus minister at the downtown Atlanta school, and the Christian co-eds he leads through Baptist Collegiate Ministries have taken on the task of reaching the multitude of international students with the gospel.

“Georgia State is one of the most unique college campuses in the world, because it is so diverse,” Reaves said. “It takes time and money for American missionaries to learn languages and cultures and to go to all these countries, but if we can reach international students who are here on campus, and, if they go back to their home countries, the Great Commission will be fulfilled.”

Reaves is preparing for the start of his first semester as Georgia State’s BCM director, eager to begin building on the work of the retiring Teresa Royall who served in the role for some 40 years.

Those who know Reaves best say the Georgia Baptist Mission Board found the right person for the job.

“Austin has a natural ability to connect with students but also a passion to reach the lost and make disciples,” said Chris Bryan, campus missionary at Georgia Southern University where Reaves served as a BCM intern from 2018 to 2020. “I was excited to see Austin go into his role because its such a good fit for him.”

Reaves, 28, is a graduate of the University of North Georgia where he received a business administration degree focused on marketing. He followed that with a Master of Divinity in Christian ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Before returning to Georgia with his wife, Savannah, and 8-month-old daughter, Emerson, Reaves had been serving on staff at Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, N.C.

Reaves has done short-term international missions work in Romania, China and Italy. He has also done domestic missions work in Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

“No one is more relational than Austin,” said Chris McClain, a former BCM student at Georgia Southern. “He is intentionally seeking to make people feel known. This comes from an overflow of wanting to love people like Jesus loves people. He will give everything until his last breath to see disciples made and God glorified.”

As a new arrival at Georgia State, Reaves is busy preparing for the start of classes on Aug. 21. His enthusiasm and excitement are palpable as he tells about his long association with BCM, which even his parents were involved in when they were students at Troy University.

“I absolutely fell in love with BCM as a student,” he said. “I was instantly hooked and knew I want to do this as a career. The Lord in his goodness has provided me the opportunity to step back into the BCM world.”

Reaves said he’s especially excited that the Georgia State BCM position allows him to work with internationals, which has long been important to him.

“When this position came up, it fit exactly what we wanted to do,” Reaves said of himself and his wife, a 5th grade teacher at Greater Atlanta Christian School. “It checked every box.”

Royall had been praying for a successor with a heart for diversity, for ministry in the inner city, and for internationals. She said the Lord provided that person in Reaves, who accepted Christ when he was 7 years old.

“Dad shared the gospel with me,” Reaves said. “I believe it was a genuine conversion, but it was when I got to college and got involved in BCM that I really grew in my faith.”

Reaves said BCM provides the sense of Christian community that’s crucial for college students to grow in the faith.

“Even talking with students here, when I ask them what their favorite thing is about BCM, they tell me it’s the first time in their lives that they feel they have been surrounded by so many genuine believers,” he said. “It’s that Christian community, doing life with other believers day in and day out, that’s important to them.”

Reaves, a native of Newnan, Ga., has a lot in common with the students he ministers to. His work experience isn’t limited to ministry. He has worked in a yogurt shop, done social media marketing, sold insurance, even investigated insurance fraud, most of that during and after his time at the seminary.

Now, Reaves’ focus is on Georgia State where he will draw on all his past experience to reach students with the gospel and disciple them in the faith. He will also draw on his marketing skills to make sure students across the campus know they’re welcome at BCM.

“I want us to be known by students on the Georgia State campus as people who love them and who love Jesus,” he said.