What does community service mean to you? In today’s launch of BEYOND: Serving with Purpose, a BJU student-led initiative meant to reshape how we look at community service, students were challenged to change their perspectives.
Beyond the College Years
“BEYOND started out small, but it really has morphed into a true public relations campaign,” said Ian Dyke, the communications director for the Student Leadership Council at BJU. “Our purpose is to highlight community service and show how it’s needed and to get people to serve when they go back to their communities.”
At BJU, there are many opportunities to serve. So many, in fact, that it wouldn’t be possible to do them all. “We’ve noticed,” Dyke said, “that when students go back to their home communities, the outlets for service are not as prominent, there’s not as many [of] them … For a lot of students, community service has become a college fad—something they did in college but don’t continue to do for the rest of their lives.”
Beyond the First Step
BEYOND will be a five-week long program with a wrap-up week. The campaign will be bookended by what are called BEYOND forums: the first being today’s student body chapel.
Instead of worship and sermon, three Greenville community leaders walked through their personal experiences with community service. They discussed how they’ve used their various gifts to reach the community and highlighted not only the rewards but also the need for community service. Students were able to use their phones during chapel to submit questions for the panel to answer and Bradley Shepard, director of the Community Service Council, moderated.
The panel consisted of Wendy Nanney, former South Carolina state representative and current practice manager at Piedmont Women’s Center; Marshall Franklin, former BJU chief operations officer current partner at Ernst & Young; and Kipra Anderson, director of Let There Be Mom.
Franklin said, “You don’t need to think about a grand plan, but just take the step in front of you to make a difference in your room, in your classes, with your friends. Pursue leadership opportunities. It may not have … a title with it: it can be leadership [in] your room. Just seek God’s guidance in wherever you can influence others.”
The initiative is meant to be the spark that encourages a real change in communities around the world. As Dyke pointed out, community service is more than serving at soup kitchens and organizing a back room. While those activities are valuable, the student body at BJU has much more to offer.
“Community service looks like your passions, it looks like who you are,” Dyke said. “Using the specific talents that the Lord has blessed you with and then using them to help people all around you is really what BEYOND is about because we think of ‘beyond’ as the other side of the world, a mission field, and it is, but it also starts as soon as you leave your room in the morning, with the people next to you, with your local neighborhood here in Greenville but also your home community.”
Dyke, the Student Leadership Council and the Community Service Council want to show students that everyone can find a community service outlet that matches their passion.
“I think that says so much about our student body, that when we try to change something, it’s not a policy about dress code or the student experience,” said Dyke. “Our heart is for the community. We care about social issues, we care about people. As student leaders began to hear about it, they became passionate and it turned into this five-week campaign to try to increase a meaningful service for the Gospel.”