MACON — For a long time, Hilary Tong's personality reflected how she lived her faith. Quiet. Reserved. Still.
That may sound odd for a communications major. There's a meticulousness, though, in how Tong previously approached her relationship with Christ and now builds that outward into more witnessing opportunities not only in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, where she's president, but with the community of international students at Wesleyan College in Macon and throughout the state.
“The thing I appreciate most about Hilary is her willingness to ask God to show her the rough edges of her life and faith, and then ask him to put her into situations that smooth those out,” says Danielle Burdette, campus minister at Wesleyan.
Last summer, Tong went on three trips for BCM missions. One took her to to New Jersey to help continued rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Sandy, another to assist church planters in the upper Midwest, and a third as a camp staff member ministering to children with developmental disabilities as well as their families. This year, she was elected to serve across all Georgia BCMs as international student leader, one of only three statewide leadership positions. She's the first international student elected to the role.
Her position as Wesleyan BCM president has encouraged her spiritual growth, she testifies.
"It's been a chance to learn leadership skills, to learn how to guide a team and mix everyone's strength, trigger everyone's energy to serve," she says. "It's an encouragement to see how God has led my fellow student leaders and see how their lives grow. The chance to organize events and lead Bible study is valuable to me.
"The people that I know through BCM are like family, and this relationship is very valuable to me for my days here in the U.S. I enjoy it and am honored to serve as a part of God's kingdom."
This year, Tong felt strongly that God was directing her to lead and teach others about prayer and walking in faith. At the beginning, the BCM only had a few students but now the numbers have grown to 10-15 a week, all also involved in a local church. Recently, Tong experienced leading a fellow student to pray to receive Christ for salvation.
"It is so good to be able to see God's faithfulness in all of this," Tong exclaims. "He has answered our prayers!"
Tong's faith is no longer closeted, but now in the world while still not being of it, points out Burdette.
"God had other plans for Hilary. She listened and acted," says Chris Fuller, BCM campus minister at nearby Mercer University.
"I have learned what it means to be a part of a Christian body and how to work with a group of people for God's mission together," Tong agrees.
How she lives out her faith still represents her personality, but the picture has changed somewhat for Tong. There's a time to sit quietly, sure, but there's a time for action. A time to be a leader.
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