It’s hard to believe that a bowling match could change your life.
It was my first week of college. I was out from under my parents’ supervision, and it was time to party. However, the party I went to that first night of freedom was pretty depressing and I left early.
Then some guys I met at my dorm invited me to go bowling with a Christian organization on campus. There was something different about these guys. My roommate, whom I had just met, read his Bible the first night in his bunk. There was a brotherhood among the older guys down the hall from my dorm room that was subtle but attractive. They talked about Jesus like they actually knew Him, and they were … normal.
Now don’t get me wrong, I knew a lot about Jesus. My only “drug” problem was induced by my parents when they drug me to church every Sunday. Len G. Corder was my pastor and my grandfather. But I didn’t realize that knowing about Jesus was not the same as knowing Jesus.
And so I sat in the bowling alley with about 50 college students. I watched the joy that came out of them, the smiles on their faces and the energy in the room, which was captivating. Many upperclassmen took the time to come and ask my name. Others cared enough about me to find out my story and to listen.
As the weeks went on, I hung out with them, went to the weekly campus organization and heard the gospel. After two months of struggle, I surrendered my life to Jesus and began to live the life I had observed them living.
Here in South Carolina, there are more than 250,000 college students in the universities and technical schools. The Cooperative Program funds missionaries on 28 of our largest campuses. Twelve of those missionaries are dedicated fulltime to equipping college students to love and disciple students just like me. State Baptist conventions across the country engage in similar ministries on their campuses as well.
The college campus is filled with our future. Possibly, our only hope at shifting our culture is investing in the next generation in these critical times in their lives. Get outside the walls of your church building, and go to them. They are longing for someone to care for them and love them. The local collegiate missionaries can’t do it by themselves. They need you, and they can connect you with collegiate students who need you.
So, to Jeff, Dow, Lopez, Jack, Hugh, Witney, Ryan, Alan, Tommy and Luke: Thank you for your investment in me. A special thank you also goes out to adults I’ve never met who invested time and resources in a campus ministry. This side of heaven, they will never know the multiplication that God did with their investment. On the other side of eternity, we will party together and give Jesus glory for transforming lives.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lee Clamp, @leeclamp on Twitter, is evangelism group director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. For contact information for Baptist Collegiate Ministry nationwide, go to bcmlife.net/ministry-directory or Google search for Baptist Collegiate Ministry or contact your state convention.)