Rick Jenkins wrapping up 47 years of ministry, last 7 as campus missionary at Columbus State


COLUMBUS, Ga. — When Rick Jenkins first came to Columbus State in 2016 as director of campus ministry after a long career with the International Mission Board, he didn’t see a campus, he saw a mission field where he discipled young Christians and led others to Christ.

“We loved what we did,” said the 70-year-old Jenkins who, with his wife, Cindy, is now moving into retirement. “It was never a job to us. It never seemed like work.”

Before taking on the role at Columbus State, Jenkins and his wife had served 40 years in ministry, including 23 years as IMB missionaries in South and Central America. That experience shaped the way he approached collegiate ministry.

“Rick Jenkins approached Columbus State with the eye and heart of a missionary,” explained Beverly Skinner, collegiate ministry catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “It was no different than any mission field he served overseas.”

“He was always looking for and investing in students who needed to know Jesus and students who already knew Jesus and needed to grow in their faith,” she continued.

Now, as he departs, Jenkins fondly recalls the opportunities he had to share the gospel with students.

One of the many ways Rick shared the gospel was with a simple statement to let them know he cared. “Tell me your story,” he would say, inviting students to share what was going on in their lives. Even when their circumstances were difficult, Rick would acknowledge their pain, express sympathy, and let them know that “God loves them.”

Jenkins cited a book by Nelson Price, longtime pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church, I’ve Got to Play on Their Court, as being very influential. “As Christians, all our games are away games,” he explains, expressing the need to go to people and share the gospel where they live and work, rather than expecting them to come to us.

When Jenkins’ obvious and genuine concern for the well-being of students led to him being asked to serve as chaplain of the football team, he eagerly accepted, seeing it as yet another evangelistic outreach. His caring approach to ministry quickly became obvious to the student-athletes themselves.

As he would walk across the campus, Jenkins was often stopped by faculty, staff, or students and asked, “Pastor Rick, can you pray for me?” He never turned down the opportunity to pray with and for those asking.

“It would take a long time to walk across campus with Rick because he knew so many people and took the time to stop and chat with each one,” Skinner recalled. “Rick was an outstanding campus minister and will definitely be missed.”