There was no burning bush, but today our ordinary classroom became unmistakably Holy. For a few moments, with the typical smell of pizza, the movement of students coming and going to class, and as two local pastors answered the faith/spiritual questions of students over lunch, our conversation turned from inquisitive questions about theology, faith, and the spiritual realm to "What is sin?" which ended up turning into a conversation with one student about the Gospel.
You remember "Holly."* She "found" our FREE LUNCH in January because there was FREE FOOD. She admittedly has no faith/spiritual background or comprehension. She came back today, for the second time, because she was curious to know more. As our conversation progressed, I glanced around the room at other students, mostly Christ followers, and by the looks on their faces could tell we all felt the energy of the room change as we realized that for about 15 minutes this conversation became a Holy conversation. A seekers conversation. The conversation moved from the most basic: sin, to an intro into 10 commandments, to who was Jesus, why He came in human form, why He died, our response to Him, & how to make Jesus the boss of your life. Tears came to my eyes as I witnessed the beauty of the Holy Spirit pursuing Holly.
After lunch, she and I chatted in the hallway. She mentioned that she knows there is a God, a "bigger Being." Although she does not understand and know that "Being" she wants to. She's unsure about religion and skeptical of Christians. She asked, "How do you pray?" So I told her the cool thing about God is that he's all about friendship (not religion) and showed her how to just say what's on her mind. We prayed in the hall with our eyes open, "God, I don't know you but I want to. Show me who you are."
Lastly, I asked if she had a Bible. "No." I asked if she wanted one. "Yes." So I showed her the youversion app and ended up giving her a Bible. She said she had never held or opened a Bible, so I gave her a quick tour explaining the division of testaments, books, chapters and verses (ALL completely foreign to her). I booked marked the book of John with my business card and challenged her to read chapter one by next Tuesday. Then I handed her the Bible. Her face light up with awe as she held HER Bible for the first time, "There's something special about this book!" I responded, "There's no magic in it, but it is a very special book."
PRAY FOR HOLLY:
* the names of individuals in this story have been changed.
It's the time of the year for an update on BSM! We're in a good place and it's all a God thing! Here's why: BSM Montgomery is a ministry of volunteers & we are blessed to have AMAZING VOLUNTEERS! I received the following text from my friend who attends our lunch regularly to help build friendships in what can be a very fast event. It's nice to have help making personal connection so students don't slip through the cracks.
"(Free Lunch) felt so different today! I saw lots of community forming! Loved having (a student) give announcements and the Valentine prep created a fun energy! Glad I got to talk to the two new girls before lunch and SO THANKFUL to meet "Holly,"* who only came because she saw our sign on campus about FREE LUNCH and now she has exposure to the gospel for the first time! I'm already praying for her."
What she experienced is the result of what I can only be a direct answer to your prayer. If you pray regularly for BSM Montgomery, YOU are a powerful and vital part of what happens on campus. Your prayers are bringing fruit:
*names have been changed
WHAT A GREAT DAY @ BSM TODAY! Thanks to all who prayed for our last FREE LUNCH conversation for the Fall of 2017. Our question of the day was "Is it possible to be friends with God?" The conversation was lively & honest. All agreed that a friendship with God is possible, was Yahweh's intent for our creation, as well as what set in motion his plan to redeem us after we "messed that all up." We spent time on The Bridge Illustration as part of our conversation.
AFTER LUNCH - a first time student came up with tears in her eyes. After I hugged her I told her that no one I'd ever given pizza to had cried about it, which loosened the mood & got her talking. She was overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. She'd felt drawn to attend BSM throughout the semester but when she finally did it was about "knowing God." Turns out she trusts God but has never been baptized and is not currently attending church. So I hooked her up with some of our local partnering churches, my email address, and an invite to join in next semester. PRAY FOR HER: to find a church home and complete the outward expression of her faith through baptism.
BEFORE LUNCH - per our conversation from lunch last week (Is the Bible reliable?") I had a follow-up convo with my friend, "Jenny" who said she had tried to read the Bible but stopped @ Leviticus! I told her to SKIP to Joshua. This week I picked up a few Bibles & offered her a better translation than the one she was reading. We chatted a bit. I ended our convo by asking her if she'd be interested in reading a chapter each week & chatting about it over coke / coffee next semester. "She gave me an overwhelming YES! I'd love that!" Continue to PRAY FOR JENNY: that Yahweh draws her to Himself in a way that is unmistakable & undeniable to her.
Ask the Pastor is one of my favorite events! It's fun to have local pastors on campus and the event brings an energy with it that I just cannot explain. The questions are often difficult ones but they are always respectfully asked in honesty. The answers are thoughtfully balanced with grace and truth from scripture. Thanks to FBC Conroe & Crossroads Baptist Church for helping make this event so fun! Here are some pictures from our recent Ask the Pastor event on Halloween.
This week I saw how God uses the Body of Christ: the faithfulness & hard work of our volunteers, how He answers the prayers of our prayer partners, and blesses the financial investment of individual friends and local churches. These three working in tandem allow the ministry of BSM Montgomery to thrive, new seeds of friendship to be planted with “Mary Kate,” as well as the sprouts of spiritual growth in “Jenny.”
Mary Kate walked into FREE LUNCH this week about 15 mins late and sat down. After lunch I introduced myself & she immediately shared how she enjoyed our food and appreciated our conversation about Thanksgiving. So, I asked her if she went to a local church. “Oh, I don’t believe in God, although most of my family does.” She further explained that she struggles with the idea of a “fictitious being playing puppet master to our world.” In spite of all of this, she enjoys having honest conversations with her friends of faith (Catholic, Protestant, & Muslim) as well as attending services @ their places of worship. One of her most pressing questions is “how can the world religions be so similar when it comes to values but not agree?” By the end of our brief conversation we had touched on why Christ followers believe that Yahweh God is different from the other world religions, GRACE vs works, LGBTQ, BSM Free Lunch, and why we hoped she’d come back to discuss spiritual questions on a weekly basis. As she left (talking to another student) she looked at me with a smile and said, “I’ll see you next time!”
Jenny has faithfully attended BSM Free Lunches this fall semester. At first, she seemed to be a prickly counter voice in our weekly conversations. Throughout the semester her demeanor seems to have “softened.” Her questions and comments have become less abrasive as of late. She seems to be leaning IN to our conversations rather “pulling back.” Today, in our conversation about Thanksgiving, I asked if anyone had a favorite verse about being thankful. After a few responses, she commented, “Some of us are just learning verses...” I affirmed her attitude of seeking and her faithful attendance to seek Him weekly. This conversation and attitude is an answer to pray.
BODY OF CHRIST, CONTINUE BY PRAYING FOR:
I need to be completely honest with you. The beginning of this semester has been the exact opposite of my expectations for the fall & it's been hard! In fact, most weeks, I dread Sunday because I know that means I'm going to have to go to campus and I just don't want to go.
First of all, it's a LOT of work to get there. I have to load everything: a sidewalk A-frame sign (weighing about 15lbs), a folding dolly to move the sign across campus, a cooler loaded with ice & 30+ bottles of water, paper plates, napkins, & other necessities for our FREE LUNCH. (Let me pause and say that I am so very grateful for my amazing friend & volunteer, Krystal, who coordinates all the food coming to campus brought by local churches, herself, or delivery - without her I do not know what I'd do.) Needless to say, it takes a lot to get there & get set up.
Secondly, no matter how much I prepare for the Question of the Day these conversations take on a life of their own and can go in ANY direction. This experience can be both exhilarating and exhausting. As a type A person, I've learned that the art of facilitating a conversation can be both frustrating (because I cannot be in total control) but also fun if I let go & enjoy the conversation. As I prepare, I plan point A & point Z, the rest I've learned I can lean into the process and trust the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation every week, When I do it's always amazing to be part of!
Third, I feel pulled in so many directions. My husband recently told me we are part of the OREO generation (caring for the top cookie: aging parents as well as the bottom cookie: young children). So life can be busy. On top of that, I've got 3 part-time jobs. I continue to raise my support as a Texas Baptist Missionary (hovering between 40-50% funded). My goal is to be on campus one day a week (Tuesdays) doing BSM & do office work Thursdays. To fill in the funding gap I'm a crossing guard and I've started a photography business: Tamara's Camera.
ALL of the above make me not want to go to campus. But then Tuesday rolls around and I go. Many days, like today, I leave on cloud 9! Energized! After preparing, dragging myself, and ALL the stuff to campus, I got into room 223. The pizza came. The students came. We ate & we discussed our Question of the Day: Is there a God? If so, how do you know? The discussion was deep, thoughtful, & honest. Again. I couldn't have planned the exact words to say or scripture to reference but the Holy Spirit was there and spoke through students & myself. My goal is that our FREE LUNCH is a safe place to have an honest conversation about God and spiritual things. We accomplished that today... in just 30 mins.
So, please continue to PRAY:
It's easy to become discouraged & listen to the negative voices in my head after a month like August. I realize that my month does not compare in the least bit to many individuals who live so close to me, their lives have been turned up-side-down.
However, BSM was poised for an EPIC start to our semester.
The BSM's first FREE LUNCH has been scheduled for September 5th for months. Now, Tuesday, September 5th is the FIRST DAY OF CLASSES. As so many of our Lonestar students have lost so much, I've been thinking & praying about how the BSM should respond on campus. In conversations with the Student Life Office and our scheduled lunch provider (Crossroads Baptist Church) BSM will be hosting a Tent of Reflection and Prayer from 10am-1pm. We are going to move our regular FREE LUNCH outside & offer free food to those who come through and spend time in the tent. With this event we are NOT trying to feed the entire campus but to minister to those who are hurting. I've also offered the Student Life our ability to connect students and their families with the network of Baptist Churches in Montgomery County (and beyond) standing ready and eager to help.
The Tent of Reflection & Prayer will include opportunities to respond through:
PRAY for our time on campus Tuesday:
As we brace for Hurricane Harvey and pray for those that will be effected by his impact, I cannot help but think of all the prayer, prep work, coordination, and organization that has gone into the BSM KICKOFF COOKOUT next Tuesday, August 29th. We all knew there was a chance that the Disaster Relief Trailer from West Conroe Baptist Church would not be available if there was a national or natural disaster. BUT WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT, right? Well, there's a very good chance with Harvey looming in the gulf. So now what?
I've always said that this BSM is a God thing. All that has happened so far... can only be explained because of the working of God. Our God is big and can move on campus regardless of how we start the semester. Let's pray that he shows off in a big way in spite of Harvey.
If you are a church partner or volunteer, hold tight. I'll keep you posted as the weekend progresses and I know more.
If our BSM sandwich sign could talk ... what would it say?
is a Texas Baptist Missionary, raising her financial support 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).