Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) and churches have a desire to reach the world with the gospel. Whether the world is the neighborhood down the street or thousands of miles away in a small Asian village, there are lost people far and wide.
April 8-10 brought more than 600 students, many of them internationals, together at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center for a Spring Retreat. Through the gracious giving of Oklahoma Baptists to the Edna McMillan State Missions Offering, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) collegiate ministry offered scholarships to international students, enabling them to attend the three-day event.
International students will fly into Los Angeles, New York or Houston, then ending in Oklahoma City, and many will not get other opportunities to travel. They want to see America and explore the culture. Through the Falls Creek Spring Retreat, many are able to get out of their college city and see a different part of Oklahoma.
Hailey Maddox is an Oklahoma City public school teacher with a passion for sharing the gospel with international students. When she was a sophomore in high school, she went on a mission trip to China and learned an evangelism method called Creation to Christ. Now, in her spare time, she teaches people how to utilize the method.
“I use Creation to Christ not with just international ministry. This is my tool for sharing the gospel now,” Maddox said. “Before I learned this, when I shared the gospel, I just talked about Jesus and what He did here on Earth, but now I have to go to back to Genesis 1 and start at the beginning.
“I love being around international students and getting to share the good news of Christ with them.”
Maddox was one of 11 breakout leaders at the Spring Retreat, sharing new skills for sharing the gospel. Other breakouts taught about world religions, articulating beliefs and how to have the difficult conversations without debating.
BCM ministries are intentional about reaching international students. The BCM ministry at Oklahoma City University (OCU) is one example of how effective this can be. They will pick them up from the airport, invite them to coffee and lunch, and start building a relationship with them. One way they do this is placing nearly 50 international students with Friendship Families. Friendship Families adopt a student for their time in America and share their lives with them. They have dinner together, attend events and church, and generally learn about American culture.
Shane Kammerer is the BCM director at OCU. He shares his excitement about Friendship Families because “this gives us the ability to train people from local churches on how to do international ministry. It also gives us the ability to follow up with the students and ask how their time with their Friendship Family is going. It gives us the opportunity to share with them and create relationships with them.”
Kammerer tells the story of Brian, a student from Taiwan.
“He came out of an atheistic background, and through relationships, church and then with (the BCM), it took a bunch of different people sharing with him. He went on a retreat with us to Colorado and gave his life to Christ. Then he was a baby Christian and didn’t know what to do. We met with him and started discipling him. Then he went home, and the last time I heard, more than 60 members of his family had come to Christ. There’s a huge idea of seeing international students come to Christ here and sending them out as missionaries because they are going to go back home.”
Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) professor Scott Pace was the general sessions keynote speaker at the Falls Creek Spring Retreat. Pace led those attending on how not to be of the world and then how to impact the world. He encouraged those attending to “let God use you, set aside your worldliness. The way you think, talk, act. Repenting of that, confessing that, turning from that. Through Christ it’s not your victory to win. Jesus has already won the victory.”
Young adults, ages 18-24, were able to get away from their local communities and experience fellowship, recreation and the opportunity to delve into the word of God.
Cris Lowery, collegiate ministry specialist at the BGCO said, “the vision for the Falls Creek Spring retreat is to bring college aged students from churches and campus ministries together in one setting where they can discover Jesus for the first time, be challenged spiritually and network with other young adults from across the state and around the world. One of the highlights of the retreats is seeing churches and campus ministries work together for a common goal of reaching students for Christ and helping others take the next step in their walk with Him.”
Through the Falls Creek Spring Retreat leaders, students and young adults are able to build relationships and hear more about the gospel. Thousands of international students come to Oklahoma colleges and universities each year. These students give Oklahoma churches opportunities to reach them with the gospel. When the gospel is shared, many will receive Christ and become missionaries when they travel back home.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger, baptistmessenger.com, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)