By Joe Luna, Director of SLU BCM
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – Equipping students to be mature followers of Jesus who impact the campus and become catalysts for advancing the Gospel globally is at the heart of the mission of Baptist Collegiate Ministries across Louisiana, according to Mark Robinson.
He is the director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries for Louisiana Baptists.
Louisiana BCMs accomplish these growth objectives by training students in evangelism and mission outreach as well as preparing them through church life and leadership experiences, Robinson said. Moreover, he was enthusiastic about the extraordinary opportunity the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting provided in giving insights to these young men and women about the size and scope of the work Southern Baptists do worldwide, while giving these students the opportunity to serve and grow as leaders.
As Louisiana Baptist BCM student ambassadors, these volunteers helped register, greet, and be the face of Louisiana Baptists to the more than 12,000 messengers who came to New Orleans this year.
“The ambassador program is a reimagining of the state council from the past, expanding it to involve more leaders,” Robinson said.
Moving forward, Robinson said the benefit (for BCMs and Louisiana Baptists as a whole) is that these students will be “more invested students, involved in a process that will help them grow in their discipleship and make them stronger church leaders in the future.”
It was this opportunity to inform students and involve them in the process of Southern Baptist life, as well as provide networking opportunities, spiritual growth, and leadership skills, that was the goal for the ambassador program, he said. According to participants, the “arrow hit the mark.”
“I’d never heard of the SBC before,” Audie Owens, a McNeese State University elementary education student, said. But her BCM Director Blake Grundy suggested she serve.
“When he told me, I was like ‘ABSOLUTLEY!’” Owens stated. “I was excited to talk with people I’ve never met and learn more about discipleship.”
Austin Grooms, Northwestern State University senior, indicated he was glad to be able to fill an essential supporting role with the Convention and loved being part of the “grease that holds the machine together.”
Others echoed his sentiments.
“I love seeing everyone coming together and uniting,” Carter Manning, University of Louisiana Lafayette said. “Even though we’re in the same denomination we still disagree on issues, but everyone is still so passionate about Christ, the church, and reaching the lost.”
Manning, who just finished her freshman year in nursing, also said the annual meeting was an eye-opening experience.
“I don’t think I realized before how many behind the scenes people it takes to run a meeting like this,” Manning said, “but now that I’ve seen it, I have a new appreciation for it.”
Robinson said the 41 students from the 13 Louisiana BCMs gleaned a valuable insider view into the inner workings of the Convention, and seemed to deepen in their appreciation of the rich heritage they are a part of as Southern Baptists.
“When these students make it back to their campuses, they will spread the word,” he said. “This will help many others in their generation to get a better understanding and catch the passion to be God’s hands and feet as part of the SBC.”
Joe Luna is the director of the Southeastern Louisiana University Baptist Collegiate Ministry in Hammond. He is a veteran reporter, having served with the Daily Star, Hammond, St. Tammany News, Covington, and WGSO radio, Slidell.