Summer is a distant dream to most of us at this point, far away and down a long tunnel lined with exams, Christmas break and second semester. But the warm sunlight is waiting at the end, and the Summer Ministry Conference is here to get you thinking.
As you tramp between classes October 15–16, representatives from almost 40 organizations will descend on campus. They represent dozens of camps, mission teams (here in the U.S. and abroad), BJU EDUcamp and more.
Dr. Kevin Oberlin, associate dean of the School of Religion, said the two-day conference is beneficial for ministries and students.
“Instead of traveling to 50 churches, they can come to where all those people would be in one place,” he said. As an example, much of the Wilds Christian Camp season staff is pulled from our student body, so you would have a good chance of working with friends and people you might already know.
Oberlin also pointed out that these ministries are aligned with the University’s values. You will be able to meet like-minded individuals and make solid connections.
Not only is this an opportunity for students and ministry representatives to connect, it is also a great opportunity for the University. As BJU facilitates the recruitment process, representatives get “to interact with each other and with the BJU campus community,” said conference point person Brendon Johnson. It is a perfect time to do some networking and represent the University.
As you head past the dining common, take a short detour to the Davis Room. That is where all the representatives will be setting up shop.
There will be a variety of time commitments (weeks, months, days), locations (near, far, overseas), and kinds of service. Has God given you a desire for youth or children’s ministry? Check out some of the camps. Hear testimonies from fellow students about how God used them and grew them in past summers.
Already know what you are doing this summer? Go anyway to hear some inspiring stories about the things God is doing, meet someone new, shake a few hands. Find out just how many options to serve are at your fingertips.
The conference will run from after chapel until 9 p.m. October 15 and after chapel until 5 p.m. October 16. “Many of the representatives will also be interacting with students elsewhere on campus,” Johnson said.
Stretching Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Junior business major Christen Moore visited her freshman year. “I went to the summer ministry fair just curious about what camps were nearby,” she said. Moore talked with a representative from Camp Eagle in Virginia, and the discussion lingered in her mind in the weeks that followed. She prayed about it and decided to follow up on the opportunity.
“That summer was life-changing learning under the camp director and seeing his burden for people and passion for living a victorious life in Jesus Christ,” she said. It turned out to be a special summer in another way. That fall, the director died. Moore was deeply affected by his example. “He has made such an impact on so many, and it challenged me,” she said.
Moore returned to Camp Eagle the following summer and worked as a counselor. “The Lord stretched me even more and gave me a greater love and appreciation for His gospel I’m beyond grateful for. I’m so thankful for the unexpected ways the Lord leads, His grace in my life, and the peace in knowing He’s sovereign over all circumstances,” she said. “I’m sure glad I went to the summer ministry fair that first day as a freshman with a friend.”
Joanna Ryland, a junior accounting major, initially visited the displays for extra credit in a class. At that time, she was not interested in going anywhere that summer or getting involved in the ministries presented. However, she still filled out an application and, as the weeks went by, she began to feel nudged in a new direction. By the time she was accepted, God had opened her heart to realize that this was what she should do.
This past summer Ryland worked at the Wilds Christian Camp as a counselor, which was out of her comfort zone. “It was a blessing,” she said. As the weeks passed, she saw God at work in herself and in her campers. Whenever she needed it, God gave her grace. Her summer was transformed, and she learned a great deal.
Seeing God Work
The common denominator in these students’ stories is, of course, God’s working. Neither expected to find the contacts and neither expected to find themselves working in camps over the summer. If you visit the displays with a willingness to be challenged and be used by God, it may be that God will direct you to a life-changing summer. And as you minister to others in various ways, you will also be challenged in various ways. New doors will open as you venture down new hallways.
Pray during this upcoming week. The way you spend your summer is important to God. Will it be in one of these ministries? Maybe. Maybe not. As you have opportunity to sample options during the Summer Ministry Conference, pray that if God has an opportunity for you, you would be ready and willing to go.