By Analiz G. Schremmer, Contributing Writer
David Ritsema, pastor of First Baptist Church Waxahachie, remembers his ministry days beginning as a student in the Tyler Junior College Baptist Student Ministry (BSM).
Through BSM, Ritsema was connected with a church family and also received help developing much of his ministerial skills. As BSM secretary, and then president, Ritsema learned to organize people, ministries, programs and facilitate meetings. Years later while serving as a pastor, Ritsema knew he wanted his congregation to help start a new BSM in one of his church’s “backyard colleges”: Navarro College at Waxahachie.
“Navarro College is made up of a good number of unchurched people,” he said. “So the potential for people to find God and get plugged in is huge.”
When Jake Herington was identified as the new BSM Director, Ritsema helped Herington and his wife settle into the community. The couple now attends FBC Waxahachie and are involved in the church community.
“We didn’t know the area, so it was nice to have Pastor David help us get connected,” he said.
Herington also offices out of FBC Waxahachie and the church funds half of his salary. In addition, they fund one student lunch every semester to facilitate new relationships on campus.
Beginning the first ministry and organization on campus
Through the support of FBC Waxahachie and other local churches, the Navarro College BSM launched in the fall of 2018. The first campus-wide event was a free lunch, which served 70 students.
“I spent the first semester meeting students and trying to build relationships,” said Herington. “One unique aspect to what is taking place on the Navarro-Waxahachie campus is that we aren't just the first campus ministry there, we are the first student organization to be on that campus, as well. We are trying to change the culture of the campus to encourage students to get involved, rather than just coming to class and going home. That is the bridge that we hope to continue to build this upcoming semester as well.”
In addition to free lunches, the BSM also hosts a Bible study and sets up a table on campus every week with coffee to facilitate building relationships and having conversations with students.
“A lot of times, BSM will be the access point to get students into churches,” he said.
Ritsema believes that collegiate ministry, and BSM specifically, is the greatest missionary tool that Baptists have ever had. He said he would love to see more churches step up and support their local BSMs.
“It is something that every church should want to be involved in and support because it has the most potential to have the greatest impact,” he said.
Texas Baptists are encouraged to pray for this new BSM ministry in Waxahachie and the work God will do through Herington, FBC Waxahachie and the students at Navarro-Waxahachie. For more information on building a college ministry in your church or partnering with Texas BSM, contact Ginger Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888.244.9400.