My name is Justin Langford, and I am serving this semester in Butte, Montana, through Go Now Missions. The main portion of my ministry here is with college students at Montana Tech through both the Baptist Student Union and Park Street Baptist Church. Up until now, I had lived in Texas all of my life, and the most I had ever been away was probably no more than 2 weeks. I have just finished my second week here, and, in case you didn't know, Montana is very different from Texas. The ministry I'm involved with looks different than what I had imagined. However, different isn't bad - it's just different.
I'm living literally right next to campus at the BSU house with three other students. It's very convenient because it allows me to get to campus whenever I want, and students are also around the house all the time. The first week here was a bit "weird" (in Mark's words) because I came in during the spring semester, which starts off with Winter Worship Week. That whole week, we had a dinner and worship for college students at the church (which is about two blocks down the hill that the campus is on). One awesome story from that: in order to help me get to know the campus, I was given a stack of flyers for Winter Worship Week to hang up around campus. The next day, I was told that an international student in his first semester (Pedro) saw one of the flyers 10 minutes before we started that night and decided to come. He is a Christian from Brazil, and he was looking for a new community. Isn't that awesome how God uses random flyers?!
Most of my time has been spent hanging out with the students, whether that is eating meals in the SUB (Student Union Building), hanging out at the coffee shop on campus (in the Mill Building), watching movies, going to sporting events, etc. But one of my favorite ways so far is Ping Pong. We have a table set up in the house. Although I'm not that good, I'm learning from one of the international students, Chau (pronounced Cho). Chau, a Christian, likes to bring his international friends, Christian or not, to the house to play Ping Pong. It's given me a great opportunity for open doors, and I'm excited to see where that goes.
During one of my random times in the SUB, I brought my fairly new Kindle and a snack (after almost leaving the house without them). There weren't any students I knew around, but some random guy that had just sat down made eye contact and said "hello." I asked to join him, and he said yes. He was sitting down to eat a late lunch and read something on his Kindle. His name is Jacob, and he works on campus with one of the members of the church. We talked about a lot of things for the next 30-45 minutes. He never really answered whether or not he was a Christian, but I hope to have more conversations with him later. (I haven't seen him since.) But it made me realize that my turning back into the house for the Kindle was a God thing, not a "me" thing.
One of the most impactful events that has happened so far was meeting Travis and Teresa, a middle-aged married couple. On the last day of Winter Worship Week, we got a call just before we started that there was a couple of hitchhikers from the mission in town that needed some help. Jake and I went to go pick them up. They ate dinner with us at the church and attended worship with us. I heard their story: they were both headed to a job for Travis in Oregon when their truck got stolen. The job fell through, and he decided to hit up some potential work with cattle in Montana. Both of them gave us their stories about how they became Christians, but when Travis told us about the first night sleeping outside, the tears of shame in his eyes for feeling like he couldn't provide for his wife hit me hard. In our world now, who knows for sure if they were telling the complete truth. I do know one thing, though. Those tears were true either way. We helped them with what we could, and it showed me even more how compassion and kindness can have an impact that we don't know. I may never see them again or hear how much they appreciated our help, but that isn't necessary.
If you could be praying for us, I have a few requests:
1) We are hosting a dinner for international students on this coming Monday. Pray for good conversations and open hearts! 2) There is a BSU winter retreat coming up at a local hot springs on the first weekend of February. Pray for student engagement outside of the normal students - uninvolved Christians, international students, non-Christians, etc. 3) Pray for rest for our staff. I don't know for sure about them, but I could use some - physically and emotionally! 4) Pray for confidence/boldness in the BSU students. They know the other students a lot better than we interns could ever wish for, so they are the closer ones to have the kind of deep, spiritual conversations that are necessary. 5) Pray for the Go Now Missions staff. Applications have just been completed for summer/fall semester missions, so they are going to be super busy for the next month processing applications, getting ready for Discovery Weekend, and placing students into positions.
Justin Langford serves as a campus missionary at Montana Tech of the University of Montana.