As the saying goes, people count, not numbers.
But numbers do give a sense of perspective to life, whether it is balancing a budget or building the Kingdom. And Baptist Collegiate Ministries have posted strong numbers for 2017 when it comes to building the Kingdom and making a difference for eternity.
In the year covering fall 2016 through spring 2017 semesters, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s ministry to college and university campuses reported 416 new believers on campus and through local BCM ministries. The 2017 total being reported Sept. 26 at the Georgie Baptist Missions Board Education Commission meeting shows 2,696 total conversions as a result of involvement in BCM meetings, a result of local BCM outreach through ministry trips and events, and the ministries of BCM summer missionaries.
What is equally amazing is the number of students involved in summer missions was down 43 from the previous year.
But the good news does not end there. Just this past weekend at the annual Confluence Conference, students donated $5,547.07 for Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, raised $1,118 for Send Me Now summer missions via a silent auction, and collected 521 backpacks for Appalachia. In addition, 542 students were trained and credentialed as Disaster Relief volunteers.
State Missionary Stuart Lang, who oversees Disaster Relief for Georgia Baptists, expressed his appreciation for the student involvement.
"The students were great! They sat through a 2-hour orientation after lunch and didn’t pass out. Campus Ministers continue to rise on my scale of heroism as they encouraged their students to attend this event. In one room, all at the same time, we had the two ministries within SBC life that best exemplify the Cooperative Program.
Regarding the ratio of salvations to student involvement, state missionary Joe Graham noted that there was one new believer for every 1.5 students involved in BCM. There was also one new believer for every 12.5 students impacted through all BCM ministries and outreach such as trips and summer missions.
Graham, who oversees the ministry to collegians, is grateful for the increase in conversions but cautions that those numbers are hard to sustain due to the variables which occur on each campus and in the number of students able to participate in Send Me Now and where they serve.
The better number on which to focus, he stresses, is the number of student conversions through BCM meetings. That’s where sustained discipleship and ongoing mentoring occurs with those who come to faith in Christ.
That number is also up, showing an increase of seven statewide from BCM ministry on 50 campuses. There were 262 professions of faith recorded in the year just ended, while 255 were recorded in 2016.
Nationally, BCM ministry throughout the Southern Baptist Convention reported 4,102 student conversions in 2017, an increase of 113. But the category for “conversions as a result of local BCM ministry trips/events and summer missions” were down 979 nationally.
That’s where Georgia Baptists were unusually strong this year.
“While we are always pleased with the numbers from outreach and summer missions, the part our campus ministers strive to focus on is the personal involvement in local BCM ministries. BCM work is very relational and the ministry’s presence on those 50 campuses is where the real mentoring occurs. This is the environment where lives are changed forever, leaders are created for society in general, and Southern Baptist life in particular.
“That environment is where students look back decades later and realize it is where they were given the spiritual foundation for the rest of their lives,” Graham added.
The reporting cycle shows that 4,033 Georgia students were involved in weekly BCM group meetings statewide impacting 33,573 students during the year.
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