I met Ashley last spring on campus, although she only sporadically attended Free Lunch. Fast forward to this fall. She has literally attended every BSM event since our Kickoff event: leaders meetings, lunches, & Meeting God in Scripture.
Tuesday after Free Lunch she told me that she'd never read the Bible but would like to do so someday. Turns out that I had a spare Bible to give her! ; ) & now we're reading the Book of John together.
It's my tradition to take a selfie with everyone I get to give a Bible to. She loved that idea!
Please PRAY that as we read the Book of John together Yahweh would reveal himself to Ashley in a very real & unmistakable way.
BSM just finished the 3rd FREE LUNCH of Fall '19. We've served 53-55 students weekly.
August 27th was BSM KICKOFF & loads of fun!
Sept. 3rd was our first official lunch & was a BSM info-based lunch.
Sept 10th we discussed our first question of the day, "Is the Bible accurate & relevant to my daily life? If so, how?" Which led right into our first Meeting God in Scripture on Thursday, Sept. 12th.
Sept 17th our BSM student president, Rebecca led us in worship.
TODAY after Free Lunch a student approached Rebecca and said that she felt that God was speaking to her through the time of worship. She shared that she has been struggling with her sexual identity for some time and heard God tell her that he loved her and would be with her no matter how confusing life gets. Rebecca asked if she would pray with her and then said, "I've had several friends struggle with sexual identity and they ended up finding their true identity in Jesus. That is my hope for you too."
PRAY that "Kelly" (& others) would find her identity in Jesus this year.
The mission of BSM Montgomery is to, "Walk with students as they take their first steps or next step of their faith journey."
Last May I diligently planned a "Big Sketch" of what the of the upcoming 2019-2020 ministry year would look like. A rough sketch from Free Lunch topics, to leaders meetings dates, a Monthly Bible Reading Challenge, a small group focusing on the Christian Classic: The Celebration of Discipline, and the dates of our student planned events on campus.
While my plans were well meaning, as the fall semester drew closer I realized that I might have been over zealous in my planning and under appreciative of the time it would require of me to prepare for each event as a part-time missionary on campus. I evaluated what would allow us to achieve our "mission" and what of the ideas were "extra" yet & very do able - if I was full time.
Obviously, Free Lunch is necessary as the front door to the ministry, which allows many students the opportunity to take the first steps along their faith journey: investigating spiritual things, asking questions, and relationship with those who know Jesus.
Through the "winnowing" process my desire and prayer was that God would use BSM to "host" ministry on campus that would draw students into the "next step on their faith journey." As I prayed what shape the "next step" would take, I kept being drawn back to "just let them meditate on scripture." Since early 2019 I've been growing in my own experience of Christian mediation and if there's one thing I want students to know how to do when they move onto their next chapter it is to be able to spend time in scripture and listen to God. So, this semester BSM will host a BYOLunch Meeting God in Scripture (based on a book by the same name by my new favorite author Jan Johnson) on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. NO FREE FOOD will be offered at these meetings in order to attract students serious about taking the "next step" along their journey together.
At our first meeting today, I introduced our journey of Christian meditation together by having the 10 students present listen to most of a 30 min podcast with Jan Johnson where she is interviewed, gives a brief overview, and then leads listeners through a guided mediation of a portion of Luke. GUEST WHAT? The students were blown away! They LOVED how easy it is to listen to scripture and hear from God. Several students expressed how amazing it was that we all listened to the same passage, yet God met each of us where we were individually and spoke directly and differently to each involved. All expressed and eagerness for our next time meditating together.
PRAY that students would not only learn the basics of meditation and be able to do so throughout their life, but also truly hear from God and be challenged to "take the next step on their faith journey."
With the help of four local church partners we pasted out
This summer I'm planning the BSM 2019-2020 school year & I'm excited about what God will do in the lives of local college students this coming year! Please begin praying NOW for opportunities for BSM staff & student leaders to walk beside students as they take their first step or next step on their faith journey.
In December, John sent me a message to tell me that he started the Fall as a Universalist, not believing there was a god. But because of our FREE FOOD he came and listened to our conversations about spirituals / faith questions. It was through those conversations over lunch that he decided to believe in God. He further told me that he was unable to attend lunch in the spring and would be transferring in the fall of 2019. But he wanted me to know that he was on the journey of getting to know WHO this God was.
Allie is a deaf student who reads lips. She regularly attended to BSM Free Lunch during 2018-2019. She often struggled to connect because she won't respond verbally. When I've engaged her in conversation she usually types her responses on her phone (which can take a while) or respond to yes/no questions. Near the end of the spring semester she hung around after lunch, approached me, and handed me her phone to read with tears in her eyes. Her message read "my little brother was killed." Through a series of yes/no questions I learned that he was killed accidentally earlier that week. Although I was never really sure how he was killed I was confident that Allie was in pain and needed comfort. So I asked if I could hug her and offer a prayer for her and her family.
Both stories reminded me of two words that keep coming up for me this year - REMAIN FAITHFUL. Faithful because: 1) on a community college campus our investment into a life can often only be for a few months. 2) "each person (in your ministry) sits next to their own pool of tears." Sometimes, God "pulls back the curtain" allowing a glimpse of what He has been up to but most of the time he expects FAITHFUL SERVICE to the journey and ministry to which he has called.
What an honor it is to have a front row seat to all that God does in the lives of local college students. What a fantastic year! Thank you to all our volunteers and our local church partners. Looking forward to 2019-2020!
It dawned on me that Spring '19 will be over in a few weeks! The Spring has gone so fast partly because I've been on campus twice as much each week (see related prayer request below), which mean I've had less time to devote to updating you but let me assure you that Yahweh has been at work on our local campus. As I reflect on our Spring allow me to hit the highlights for you:
1) our Ask the Pastor event when we had a panel of three local pastors and a wonderful conversation with local college students regarding their personal faith questions.
2) the Free Lunch about "What Really Matters: Weakness over Strength" where we talked about the paradox of a life of faith is that we often experience His strength only in our times of greatest weakness. Only to have Rose (a self proclaimed skeptic and seeker of faith related things) remark that that sounds like we were happy to be depressed. Which sparked a great conversation and discussion of the Gospel.
3) when I met Cody after the Free Lunch topic about How to manage our money in the way that would please God (& practical tips). Cody revealed he did not grow up with faith but is interested in spiritual things and adding faith to his life.
4) praying with Allie after lunch because her brother was recently killed accidentally. A great conversation - outside her comfort zone as she communicates through typing due to a speech impediment.
5) our last leaders meeting of 18-19 when our student leaders realized that it was almost over. They typically rush away after our planning meeting but on April 4th they just sat and enjoyed each others company. Laughing and telling stories about our year together. An answer to our pray from summer 2018 - for students to bond together into a group and become leaders.
6) our student leaders wanting to take the next step on their faith journey who came up with the idea for our "How To" series on the Third Thursday's of each month - How do I: share my faith, study scripture, pray.
7) the students that took the BSM Bible Challenge to read scripture together during the February (John) & March (Romans). Many students reading scripture on their own for the very first time, failing, finding out how difficult it can be, and encouraging one another to continue.
There's many more moments and student stories... but you get the idea, it was a great Spring to be on campus and part of what God is doing in the lives of local college students.
1) for students mentioned above - that God will draw them close to himself as well as work in their lives and situations.
2) for BSM 2019-2020 and as our staff pray for and plan..
3) for our wonderful volunteers that make so much of what we do possible & allows Tamara to focus on what she does well.
4) for student leaders for 2019-2020 to rise up, bond, and lead in creative ways next year.
5) for financial provision for Tamara, who has been moved to spend more time on campus and less time trying to "make up" her salary with odd jobs. If you feel led to support her ministry on campus, please know what your donation will be tax deductible through Texas Baptists.
We are grateful to ALL our BSM church partners! Without our partners local ministry would not be possible. How can YOU eencourage your church members to pray for, engage, even financially support the ministry to local college students? (Please keep in mind BSM staff raises 100% of their salary to be on campus).
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Jonathan, Tamara, Joshua, & Micah
(Picture courtesy of Tamara's Camera.)
is a Texas Baptist Missionary, raising 100% of her salary to serve on the college campuses in Montgomery County, Texas. This blog is an effort to keep you posted with what's happening on campus monthly. Please consider becoming one of Tamara's financial partners (of course it's tax deductible).