Why am I "reflecting" @ the BEGINNING of the FALL? Well, after the past week I'm curious what God might be up to as we begin our fifth semester @ Lonestar Montgomery. As of today:
1) BSM had an amazing Kickoff that allowed us to connect with 300-400 students.
2) Over 10% of the students we met @ our Kickoff chose to sign up for our weekly reminders & express interest in begin part of BSM weekly.
3) We have wonderful local local friends & churches who partner with us to make our special events & weekly lunches possible.
4) We have an incredible relationship with LSCM Student Life.
5) We have some GREAT student leaders (leading an Explore God Group) this semester!
6) We have wonderful volunteers - both on & off campus who make BSM possible.
7) UGGG! We were assigned our second choice for a room this semester. Here's that story & maybe why...
The past 3 semesters we've been in Building G. This past April, I requested a classroom in Building G again for this Fall. Building G is the "General" building on campus with a lot of foot traffic & a majority of the typical "freshman" courses. On Monday, I was told that all the classroom space (which hold up to 40 students) was completely full this Fall during our FREE LUNCH & that we've been assigned to Building B, Room 102. So I spent some of Monday evening complaining to my husband about Building B. Two years ago, our first semester @ LSCM, we used B-102. Not a bad room as Building B (the sciences building) it runs along the major sidewalk on campus. So it's not a terrible spot on campus to be. Actually it's easier to access than the 2nd floor classrooms in G we used last 3 semesters. Oh, did I mention that B-102 is a theater, which holds 75-80 students?!
During our Kickoff Event Tuesday, I found myself hoping that all 300-400 students did NOT come back next week for FREE LUNCH - we won't have room (especially in a classroom) nor enough food... that's when it hit me that we would be in B-102. Maybe God knew what he was doing after all... praying we pack B-102!
HE's in charge & I'm just along for the ride. Thank you for your continued prayers & support.
This is an exciting time of year. My kids off to the first day of school & I'm focusing my attention toward the BSM's first day back on campus. From new teachers to new pencils and new tennis shoes... it's a new year and a new start. It's the time of year that I get to watch the seeds of ministry that were planted back in May begin to poke their tiny little heads up out of the ground. Seeds that have been watered by YOUR faithful prayers and the planning / preparation of our staff, many volunteers, partners in ministry, and our Student Life Office. All of it means that the FALL is just about to start!
A few signs of new seedlings:
1) confirmation phone calls, emails, and texts for lunches and Welcome Week.
2) pictures from partners in ministry as they help prepare for the FALL. (Pictured: a ministry partner pick up 600 snacks and cookie for backpack treats).
3) our 1,000 new business cards to give out during the first few weeks of class have arrived.
4) incoming students already inquiring about BSM this Fall.
5) BSM T-shirts we delivered yesterday! (We use these as a walking advertisements & personal invitations on our current / active students).
6) prep meetings with student leaders & staff.
7) new promo display for student organization fairs.
8) new invitation sign to be used outside the room/door of BSM FREE LUNCH (came about due to a conversation with a student after the last lunch last Spring).
This year we want to walk with students as they "Take the first step or next step on their faith journey." Please pray that Yahweh uses the plans and preparation of our staff, our volunteers, & our student leaders to make the BEST NEW of ALL - an experience with the God that makes ALL THINGS NEW.
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
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:
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?
I met Joey after a BSM FREE LUNCH in March. He was wearing an SFA BSM t-shirt. He mentioned that he had transferred to UT-Austin online to finish his degree & was working @ LoneStar as a tutor. In our conversation he mentioned that he was drawn to the Question of the Day @ BSM FREE LUNCH: "How do YOU know the Bible is Relevant?" After lunch, he talked with Tamara @ length about his spiritual journey. Joey mentioned that he had been attending the Mormon Student Association "Bible Studies" on the LoneStar-Montgomery campus & that because of this he was confused about his faith. He mentioned that he was glad he saw the BSM sign on campus & decided to come eat FREE LUNCH because we had reminded him of what he already knew to be Truth. Throughout the remainder of the Spring, Joey continued to struggle with questions but instead of attending the Mormon student group he chose to attend the BSM Explore God Group each Thursday for a more in-depth conversation about spiritual his questions. PRAY for Joey stays on the right path and does not get swayed by those who tickle his ears with words that sound spiritual. PRAY for discernment and wisdom that comes from the Spirit that already lives inside of him. PRAY for his involvement in a local Christ-centered church & the development of deep spiritual roots.
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).