Musings from BCM students about what life in college can be like.
Walking on to UT’s campus move in day, I was incredibly overwhelmed. The only person I knew was my roommate, Lindsay. There were so many new opportunities laid right in front of me and it was time for me to take advantage of them. But, I didn’t want to. I wanted to get right back in my car and drive three hours back to Nashville. But I couldn’t.
I knew from the get go that I wanted to check out the BCM because my small group leader, Chelsea, was the President of her BCM at UT Martin. I had heard nothing but good things about it. I had not heard much about the BCM at here, but I knew it existed, so that’s good. UT is awesome because there are so many on-campus ministries. My roommate and I got so many different cards from different ministries, signed up for random email and text lists. It was crazy. We never really went to any of them but we did know that the BCM was having a cookout on the front lawn the night of move in day, so we decided to go.
At first, it was just like a “have to” kind of thing for me. I did not feel like I was finding community and did not feel like I belonged. Not because of anyone there, but just because I felt like the little freshman and that I could not fit in with the people who had already established connections with each other there. And I was so stinking homesick. To a really unhealthy extreme.
I struggled so much from August to early December with being homesick and that feeling of not belonging. I remember a specific day in October where I had gone home to be with my dad because he had surgery, and I had to drive back after that weekend and had a complete breakdown about going back. I told my parents that I hated it and that I wanted to quit. They just hugged me and then let me drive off. I am glad they did not tell me that I could or could not quit in that moment. Because I think that if they told me I could, I would have. My dad called me the next day as I was walking to class and I cried all over again. He told me the common “freshman year is the hardest” “it’ll get better”. He also told me that if after this year I wanted to transfer, I could. I went and talked to my advisor about dropping out that day.
Christmas break came soon after that, and God did some major work on me in that. He showed me that my life existed beyond my sweet little hometown. He showed me that my faith was my own now, and that I was on this beautiful journey with Him. He showed me that it was okay to leave home and make new friends. Most of all, He showed me that He is more than enough in the midst of all of that.
When I got back I felt like a different person. I was happy to be at school and felt like I belonged here. The BCM was quickly becoming a safe haven for me and I was getting to know everyone pretty well. It wasn’t until winter retreat in February that I really felt like I had found my niche. That event was one of the single most fun things I have done to this date.
It is crazy to look back on who I was last August, which was a short time ago but still feels so long ago, and who I am now. The Lord has challenged me in so many different ways, and I have had a lot of different seasons while in this big season of college. The B gave me a place where I could be myself and be surrounded by people who also loved Jesus and wanted to make His name known. Everyone at the B loves well and deeply, shows Christ, and is passionate about making His name known across campus, Knoxville, and the globe.
If you are feeling homesick, know you are not alone in that. It is not easy to leave all you know and come to a totally new place where you barely know anyone BUT it can be overcome. First off, spend some time with Jesus. He is your friend, comforter, peacemaker, and so much more. He hears you. Sees you. Secondly, you have to be willing to come out of your comfort zone a little bit and talk to people and build relationships. It is SO worth it in the end. If you are still struggling after that, do not be afraid to ask a leadership member or Samm, Johnny, Rodney, or KP to go out with you. They will hear you out, I promise. Being homesick stinks, but there are people who love you and care about you that can help you overcome it.
Kaitlyn is a sophomore here at UT studying marketing and Spanish in hopes to be a full time missionary one day in Spanish speaking countries. She is also a life group leader here at the BCM, as well as one of our social media coordinators.
These women plus many more are mentioned in the Bible as part of the Lord’s story in someway.
If you look deeper you know there are many more things these women have in common other than just the Bible. Their strength of character resounds loudly through the scriptures. They are strong, respected, and faithful women. They are of importance to the Lord’s story. But we are able to see all of this played out because the Lord chose to give us the Bible to read, study, understand, and put to use.
We can look at some of the women mentioned and see the part they play, such as Lydia, our first “Christian business woman.” She was also known as one who would open her home up for what we know as corporate worship. Then there’s Priscilla, yes wife of Aquilla, but also one who was a leader in the Ephesian church. She helped in discipleship especially to a man named Apollos, and just happened to be written ahead of her husband three out of the six times we see them mentioned in the Bible, some say this can speak significantly to Priscilla. We could talk all day just about the role each woman mentioned in the Bible had in the spreading of Christianity, but what is the real reason why looking deeper at these Godly women is so important? Why is it so important that we teach everyone in our communities about these women and how the Lord wrote the story with them playing bigger roles than what we would normally expect?
These women and the Bible can help us better understand a question that is on everyone’s mind in today’s time, what is the role of women in ministry, in our churches, and in our communities?
For me this question was exceptionally important as I navigated my own calling in minister. Looking deeper and deeper into sermons, articles, and scripture, I found myself more confused than before. I asked myself many questions, the biggest question being, “Why would we limit our God by limiting what role women are allowed to have in ministry?” I began to think of it as putting our God in a box, by choosing what we want to believe instead of looking at all of scripture and what exactly our Lord tells us in every verse.
That’s when I decided to look at it differently. I turned off my anger, frustration, confusion, and tried to look at scripture the way my Father in Heaven would, not completely possible but a girl can try right? I took a step back and tried to remember who He is, what the Bible tells me about His character, then tried to study again.
I looked at the hard verses, verses such as 1 Corinthians 14: 34 where Paul says:
“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak but they are to be submissive as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”
We also have 1 Timothy 2: 11-12 where Paul says: “Let a women learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Not going to lie, the very first time I ever read these verses, I felt very defeated. I wasn’t sure why Paul would shut women down like that, especially when there are so many women that Paul denotes as prophetess, teachers, healers, etc. So, naturally I decided to seek out why Paul would say things such as this and found my answer.
I found it easy for me to read this passage and just say oh women aren’t supposed to really be in ministry if Paul is silencing us in the church but then I received some worthy advice, really look at the context of the scripture. After looking deeper, I found that in in both of these scriptures Paul is talking to a certain group. In 1 Corinthians he is talking to a group that happens to be women that is disrupting worship to the Lord. He was making it known that worship is a time to adore and give glory to our King, not to ask questions and make unnecessary noise. He wasn’t silencing the group simply because they were women.
I then looked at the contents behind the scripture in 1 Timothy, and found that in these verses it can once again be taken out of context. If you look deeper you can see Paul making this a verse of correction to both men and women, yes both men and women. In the verses before 11 and 12, you see Paul addressing how men were to pray, “lifting their holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Then you see Paul go on to address a group of women of high status who wanted to come in and be teachers and leaders in the church in Ephesus, where he does say “women are to learn in submission.” He is correcting this group of women, not because they were women but because they should be properly instructed on how to lead and teach for the Kingdom before they were given the ability to do so in the church.
Paul gives us these scriptures to teach, correct (not condemn), and lead us in the way that the Lord would want us to go, not to box in someone’s ability based off their gender.
Moral of the story: think about our God, think about His character, His sweetness, His kindness, His grace and mercy, His love, everything about Him, then think about the scripture which He gave us, to read, study, understand, and live by. He says “I created man in My image, male and female I created them.” He gave each of us gifts, qualities, abilities, to use to spread His name, His word, and bring others home to the Kingdom. The Lord didn’t specify what gender was allowed to bring others to Christ, He said “therefore go out and make disciples of all nations.” He didn’t say men, go out or women go out, He just said go.
And remember, Jesus was radical for his time. He sat with women in his midst, spoke with tax collectors, welcomed children, and loved on lepers. So here’s to us seeing the world through his eyes alone!
I don’t know about any of you but for me the hardest part of any thing is getting started. I may leap at an idea whole heartedly when it is first presented, but with no thought to follow through I stumble in the first phases. Take writing this blog for example. When the opportunity to write, this little thing was presented, I was excited. I mean pumped. Especially to write about service, a subject I am entirely and wholly passionate about. But then the time came to write this thing, and let me tell you was it intimidating. All the ideas I had bumping around in my head went right out the window. I had never written a blog before. I don’t even think I had ever read one! So, I sit down to do this and I can’t. I write a little and then I delete it all. And I do this time after time because I was so intimidated by the task at hand I just can’t get started. This I believe to be doubly true for service. We want to jump in and serve God and others we want to make an impact for others BUT then life and our doubts get in the way. We wonder why should we serve, where to go and how to even get started. But let me promise you this once you do you will wonder why it was so hard to get started in the first place.
As to wondering why we should serve I think I could spend days talking on this subject alone. I think first and biggest reason to serve is that Jesus lives as a servant and encourages his disciples to do the same. In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus tells his disciples “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and gives his life as ransom for many.” This is a stout command from the king of kings however it falls in line with the 2nd greatest commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt 22:39. The second reason to serve others is that serving is an act of worship to the Lord Most High. In the book of Acts and in other documentation of early church worship, we see a body of believers gathering together to eat, sing, and worship God. As an extension of this we see early Christians serving each other by sharing food in a time when being a Christian alone was grounds to have all your possessions stripped from you. Not only did they provide for other believers they fed widows and orphans. In Rome, the church went into catacombs and rivers to rescue unwanted children that were legally supposed to be left there as an “abortion.” This while Christians themselves were being persecuted to the extreme. Let’s compare that to our current situation. So with all our favor and blessing, how much more should we serve those around us!
As for the where and how of serving the great thing about college ministries is that a lot of the guess work is gone. We have staff and students who plan out the places and times for you to get out and serve. There are even people who will drive you and pour into you while you are there. While it may feel like there is little time to serve in college, I promise you that your time cannot be any better spent. I myself and countless numbers of my friends can testify that while we may think we are the ones serving we have been blessed beyond measure by the experience. Therefore, as you ride this roller coaster of a ride called college I hope you take time to serve those around you and give them a moment of peace in Christ.
Blessing in our Father,
As in incoming freshman, I was coming from a broken home. Strained and heavy from watching my own family fall apart, I was ready for a fresh start, and honestly the sound of getting out from under my dad's roof and doing life on my own for a while was refreshing.
I was heartbroken from my own failed relationship. Sparing the details, this had stolen all the enthusiasm for coming to college, and almost anything else I otherwise would usually enjoy.
I loved Jesus, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to pursue Him in a college ministry, knowing that I could just continue living my lukewarm Christian life I had been living for years and doing what would have been considered stereotypical "college life."
Whether you relate to me, or nothing I've said so far hits home, bear with me.
I had been very active in my home church throughout high school, and before I went off to college, my pastor kept pushing me and reminding me that I should go visit the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where I was headed to go to school. I wasn't reluctant to visit, I just didn't know if I would fit in or if I would want to make my friends there. I had all sorts of "What if's" in my head, such as…
What if they don't like me?
When I moved into my dorm, I took my dad, my brother, and my best friend on a tour of the campus (which is insanely huge). Tired and hot, I told them there was one last place I wanted to take them before they headed home. We walked into the BCM, and the rest is history, as they say. I say the rest was and still is God's Divine Purpose for this stage in my life. When I walked into that building, I was greeted by the friendliest faces I had ever seen on campus. I was very soon introduced to some of my best friends, future roommates, and people who began to share the love of Christ with me in the sweetest way possible. I was given opportunities to serve the college campus and the community around me, and opportunities to share the Gospel across the globe on mission trips. Through all of these attributes, God was and still is shining through this ministry and showing Himself to me in numerous ways.
Now that you know my backstory, here are my reasons why I am staying involved in college ministry.
The context of this verse is pertaining to the importance of unity and maturity in the body of Christ. Instead of living lukewarm lives void of true devotion to Christ or a desire to grow a relationship with Him, we are called to grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Whether it is college ministry or a church, or both, the Bible makes it clear in so many ways that we are called to be a part of a body of believers desiring to grow, both together and individually in our own relationships with Christ. My college ministry has put many believers in my path who are all on different levels concerning their relationship with Christ, but one thing that they all have shared with me is their desire to grow in their Faith as they seek the Lord in their daily lives as college students
I'm not demeaning the importance of sharing the Gospel with the nations. This is a direct straight forward command from the very lips of Jesus that we should all pursue in some way or another, whether it be going yourself or funding someone to go, praying for the nations, or however else God calls you to do.
But this issue of hidden complacency is blinding us from the gold mine we are sitting on.
For example, at the University of Tennessee, the 40,000 students that grace the grounds of campus do not come from Knoxville alone, but all over the country, and all over the globe. During a time of prayer, one of my mentors gave this prayer of thanksgiving before the BCM's International Coffee and Conversation that absolutely blew my mind:
"Lord, we thank you for bringing the nations here to us at UT"
God brings people from numerous nations that don't know Christ to a majority of college campuses.
Those words from Jesus's lips I was referring to was the Great Commission in Mark 28:18-20
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
We can obey this command from Jesus without ever setting foot on a plane. We can do it while we are in class, while we are walking across campus, while we are living among people who are lost without Jesus.
We live among people from all nations, and we are called to share the Gospel with them.
We are called to share the Gospel with everyone, and our campuses are full of those who don't know Christ and are struggling through life in the darkness. From locals to all nations people, we are called to be a light to them if we bear the light of Christ. I can't stress this enough.
My college ministry realizes these things and has given me the opportunity to attempt to fulfill the Great Commission by participating in numerous campus and community outreach activities.
My sophomore year I was able to serve as the Freshmen coordinator, and I got the privilege to introduce many freshmen to the BCM and build long-lasting relationships with them, hoping to make them feel welcome on a campus that's so big. I planned weekly meetings called "Freshmen Connection" where they all got to come and hang out, make friends, learn about the BCM, and learn of ways to serve the Lord through the BCM as well as growing in their relationship with Him.
This year I get to serve as the Worship Leader, which will be a completely riveting and exciting, and I'm so excited to see what God does during worship this year.
I know that I have gained some very useful skills that I will be able to use when I go to serve on a more permanent basis in a church once I graduate, and I'm excited to see what is in store for the use of what I've learned.
I could seriously ramble on and on about all the fun things we do as a college ministry, and the fun things my friends and I get into. All of it is just a wonderful perk that I've gotten to partake in while doing life with the BCM.
Talk about some sweet memories.
Doing life with those who want the best for your relationship with Christ is far better than people who want only the best for you, or worse, for them.
We are called to go get those people and lead them to Jesus with love, because He is better than anything this world has to offer.
— — --
Please understand that my main point here is Jesus first and foremost. College ministry has just helped me see and serve and know Him better.
So if you're where I was two years ago before starting college and you're trying to make a decision, choose Jesus, because I promise you that He is better. Find out how to make some good friends that are believers and find ways to serve your campus and share the Gospel, and have fun doing it.
I promise you won't regret it. God just might use it to change your life.
-Meghan Russell, UTK '19
Before arriving at UT, I knew I would visit the BCM. My brother had been involved with the B when he attended UT, and had shared stories about his involvement with my family. However, I did not know how involved I would become. The first event that I went to was 4th meal and 4 square where I met some BCM people there. But, like any other first encounter with new people at a large gathering, I did not remember all the people I met. Even at other Welcome Week events, it was overwhelming. Although everyone was friendly at the events, it still did not feel like home for me. I was also struggling emotionally because it was the first time I was really away from my parents after shadowing them during their missionary trips. I really felt lonely. At that time, I remembered the stories my brother shared of how he hung out at the B when he wasn’t at class or studying in the library.
On the first Monday that we had classes, I decided to visit the B and see what it was like on a day when nothing was happening. I was scared and nervous because I constantly worry about intruding on other people. All of those worries were blown away after I met some of the people who were in the building at the time and some of the residents. They were not only friendly, but also very welcoming.
I became friends with the people I met from the B and they became the kinds of friends I could share my struggles with. As a result, I started attending events more regularly, hanging around the BCM, and becoming closer with some of my friends who I could spend late nights talking about real life and our relationships with God. These friends not only pushed me closer to God but also shared with their struggles. In Proverbs 27:17-18, it is written, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who cares for his master will be honored.” The older girls that I met at the B took me under their wing to disciple and encourage me. At the same time, I got to encourage them through my growth.
Through the BCM, I received many opportunities to go serve God and the B. I went on my first mission trip which was a time of learning: how to step out of my comfort zone along with brothers and sisters in Christ, the importance of prayer, and its power. Simply believing that God can move people’s hearts and asking Him to do it has been one of the biggest themes for me. He even moves our hearts when we worship Him. I ran lights for TNT during Spring 2017, and have seen and felt God move when everyone is genuinely worshipping Him. Through the formation of friendships and seeing God work, I knew that the BCM was the ministry for me. Now as the next school year approaches, I look forward to seeing my BCM family again and to meeting all the new people.
I look forward to pouring out what God had poured into me through the upperclassmen.
See you soon!
Alisa Lim UTK '20
At the beginning of this summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve on my first international mission trip in Guatemala. As I was preparing my heart and mind to go, I had to humble myself before the Lord and realize that I did not know what to expect because at my core I am a planner. But what I came to realize on this trip is that God’s perfect plan is so much greater than my plan or what I expect to happen. He had a specific plan in mind for each home visit we did, each child we interacted with and each church member we encouraged. His plan is always greater than my own, because He went before us all throughout the city of San Pedro La Laguna.
Our ministry in San Pedro was really two-fold. On some days, we would teach and work with students in Getsemani Baptist Academy. We would also go around the town and deliver food baskets to the community. Both of these required a translator because none of us were able to speak Spanish fluently none the less the native Mayan language that many of the townspeople spoke. At one point in a conversation, all three different languages were being spoken at the same time which is a beautiful picture of what heaven may sound like. Before I left, one of the expectations and worries I had was the language barriers we would encounter. But as I said earlier, His plans are always greater than my own. God broke down every barrier that I could have ever imagined.
Tennessee Baptist Churches giving through the Cooperative Program, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, and through the Chilhowee, Clinton, and Knox Baptist Association make this BCM ministry possible.