How Your CP Dollars Directly Support the Advancement of the Kingdom in Arkansas Colleges
A vast mission field in our own backyard, the 39 college campuses in Arkansas are filled with 160,000 collegians plus new freshman rolling in every year. The Cooperative Program (CP) directly funds the Baptist Collegiate Ministry which focuses on reaching these students with the Gospel.
When the Arkansas Baptist State Convention restructured in 2014 and created the College + Young Leaders Team, the ABSC elevated the focus on college students as one of its four main ministry strategies. As members of this team, CP-funded campus ministers have the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and from countries all over the world during this key stage of life.
Jerome Stockert, BCM minister at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro says, “The world is at our door step. Nowhere else do we have the greatest possibility of impacting the nations of the world than on our college campuses.” There are more than 6,000 international students who attend college in Arkansas. When we give to the CP, Jerome says, “Together, we can make disciples of all nations.”
Lynn Loyd, missions consultant on the College + Young Leaders Team, has seen firsthand how international ministry happens. Dang Le came to the U of A from South Asia to study business. He had completed his undergraduate degree in his own country and even had some work experience. At student orientation, Dang met Timothy, a Christian from Southeast Asia who was involved in the BCM. Dang eventually became a believer. Now that Dang has graduated, he “returns to his home country, but not as a potential businessman,” Lynn says. “He recognizes the need for Christ in his atheist country and understands that he returns as a missionary!”
Dang told Lynn, “I now realize that I came to the U of A not to get an education but to find Christ and become a follower of Him.”
Lynn encourages everyone to give to their local church so that churches can participate in cooperative missions through CP and reach students like Dang. “Baptist Collegiate Ministry reaches future leaders and scholars in Arkansas. We are woefully underfunded. The college campuses in Arkansas are one of our largest underserved, under-reached, unchurched people groups. Funding is needed for staff ministry efforts and mission trips.”
Taking a Bullet for Christ
“Giving to God is not an obligation,” says Tarvoris Uzoigwe, BCM minister at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. “God doesn’t need anything we have to give in order to carry out his plan. God’s plan will be carried out.” And what an honor to be a part of what’s going on at UAPB. Tarvoris is seeing people radically changed on the campus, including La’Travius Hill who put his life on the line to share the Gospel in his hometown.
La’Travius (Tra) was radically saved at an incoming freshman gathering where Tarvoris served pizza and shared the gospel. “He began sharing his faith on campus, and about five or six more students were saved as a result of his testimony,” Tarvoris says. But Tra was burdened for the community he grew up in, so he went home to share Christ with his family and friends, many of whom also became followers.
But the most amazing part of the story is that Tra was drawn to share the Gospel with a local drug dealer. The drug dealer was in the middle of training his protégé when Tra came up and asked him if he could share something with him. Tra started to share his heart, which irritated the drug dealer, who said, “We don’t have time for this bull sh**. We need to go and make this money.”
This is the how Tarvoris tells the story in his own words:
Tra, a new, fired-up, and incautious believer, replied to the young man, “Well, if you do not want to hear about Jesus, you are on the highway to hell!” At this point I had not discipled Tra in how to be tactful. He was just simply trying to share what Jesus had done for him. The drug dealer’s protégé reached in his pants and pulled out a gun in order to shoot Tra. Tra had disrespected the head drug dealer, and the protégé was going to end Tra’s life like many other shootings in Pine Bluff.
I asked Tra, “What did you do?” Tra told me that he took a step back and told the protégé guy, “I’m ready. Do whatever you need to do.” The head drug dealer told his protégé to calm down and let the little man finish telling us about God.
Tra finished sharing the Gospel with the head drug dealer and lived to tell the story to me. What an incredible act of courage. There are many of us who have been Christians for years and can’t take someone calling us names, or we’re too ashamed about how you will look in front of your peers. Tra had only been a Christian for two months and was ready to take a bullet for Jesus.
Tra is now serving in Gould, Ark., as an E4Call summer missionary.
Making Disciples, Not Just Converts
The funding through CP is necessary for growing BCM ministries to connect with more students. At Arkansas Tech, Brad Branham has seen how discipling students to reach their peers on campus multiplied the BCM’s influence.
“We’re not just interested in converts,” Brad says. “We want to make disciples.” His BCM has tripled in size in just one year, and they are expecting to double that next year. These BCM ministers make their ministry a long-term goal of sharing the Gospel, discipling spiritual leaders, and then releasing these college students into the world as ministers.
“The BCM has effectively turned dollars into disciples for many years,” says Phillip Slaughter of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. We are a proven ministry that is producing as much fruit today as we ever have.”
Phillip shares the story of Jeremy who was a high school dropout that came to Christ when Phillip was on staff at a church. After earning his GED, Jeremy joined Phillip at UAM. “Not only has he finished his Associate’s (degree), but he has become an incredible spiritual leader,” Phillip says. “Yesterday he led eight pre-teens to Christ through a partnership we have with a local church.”
Jared Farley of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia has also seen the power of discipleship on his campus. “Reaching and discipling college students is a major priority [for Southern Baptists]!” says Jared. “This is a time in life where young people are the most moldable and receptive. If we can reach this generation with the Good News of Jesus, then it will make a powerful impact on our world.”
When Arkansas Baptists give to their local churches, it enables their churches to participate in cooperative missions through CP. That money goes directly to reaching students on campus. No matter where the students come from—across the ocean in a pagan land or the city streets with the toughest drug dealers—they will find a presence for Christ at the BCM. The Cooperative Program helps these ministers focus on what God has called them to do. Instead of spending their time raising enough money to keep the doors open, the CP gives them the freedom to do what they do best—reach the next generation of leaders around the globe for Christ.