I surfaced from a Nyquil-enhanced sleep, lumbering clumsily into the day. The times and traffic of student ministry bring lots of contact with lots of ‘carriers;’ sometimes I get caught. We have a major event on our horizon, so I am pressing into the process of getting well.
I grabbed my 200-strength “readers” and my wee copy of Joy and Strength, Mary Tileston Wilder. My first-thing-in-the-morning readings determine the petition I pray for those in my daily prayer litany. I am led to Romans 12:2. I prayed for each of these on my mind, in my heart, and in my day that they would be transformed by the renewing of their minds in order that they might discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. This provided the background for getting ready for the day.
I have the privilege of walking to work. By the time I rounded the corner, I triaged the Urgent and Important things to be done; I began by texting the group of ten students who will travel this weekend to interview for Christmas mission trips. We are coordinating their carpools. I answer any shining or shouting e-mails and make a list of Things to Cover in the first meeting of the day.
I met with the assistant director, Jena Coulson, and the four student co-directors of our upcoming Missions Emphasis Week. We are coordinating final details of bringing fifty-one+ missionaries (the + includes friends and children) to campus for five days of whatever-it-takes to get them on the front lines of relationships with students, staff, and faculty in our campus community. These four are new to this level of leadership, and are rising into the yoke each in his or her own way and time. Delightfully, two of them are Missionary Kids. All of them are stretched as they lead thirty of their peers in one of the most complicated events at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Missions fair, seminars, concert, Global Runway, poverty simulation, prayer room and events, meals, worship and chapel services, club and organization meetings, and classroom interactions: it will be a full-and-fruitful week. And it will have their fingerprints all over it.
There will be two important things happening concurrently: the obvious and visible events of Missions Emphasis Week, and the formation and development of the students involved. Each is precious to me. The week will never be flawless, for it will always be ‘produced’ by amateurs. Yet it will nurture students who will be that much more likely to say YES to major Kingdom service in years ahead. They practiced that in a ‘lab’ here. While failure is possible, it isn’t fatal. So my eyes are on both the task and the students.
We finished in time for me to scoot down the hall to Belton Ministerial Fellowship. This group of local ministers and ministries is drawn together by 1) a common concern for the poor and hungry among us, reflected in our support of the local food bank, and 2) community-wide expressions of faith (Thanksgiving and Baccalaureate services).
Afterward, I wedged in several calls related to arranging host homes for visiting missionaries.
I ate my sack lunch while attending a Ministers’ Forum on Evangelicalism, led by local Baptist statesman and favorite professor Leroy Kemp. A feast in several senses!
I returned to make some calls, shoot some e-mails, and load our recycling for delivery. We made $2.45 for missions from cans we’d collected! As I drove, I called a church in west Texas to provide a reference for a former student who might be their future youth minister.
I dropped by the ‘memory care’ facility where my Mom lives to replenish her stash of sweet potato chips, a plausibly healthy snack. She was very sleepy today, yet warmed by heart as she mouthed an “I love you” as I bent over her bed. Right now, she knows me, and that makes these the Best Days.
Traffic troubles led to a quick call to the freshman who was coming to practice sharing the gospel with me. We met and she told me of the goodness and love of God and we prayed about her upcoming missions interview.
I met with the three leaders of Freshman Ministry. We prayed about the concerns of their souls, evaluated this past week’s meeting, and planned our next adventures in studying I Peter while learning a specific Bible study method. We are meeting freshman for a walking tour of Belton tomorrow, so we mapped out the route and divided the names of Freshmen so that we might text reminders and invitations.
I had time to visit with a senior who had just had some disappointing academic news. He was orphaned at an early age; fortunately, the Lord has provided him with folks who are Like Family. So we groaned, hoped, and prayed in response to his situation.
Three of us who work with student missions quickly reviewed carpool situations for Saturday and solved a couple of mysteries. We went over the need to practice articulating the gospel and prayed for the applicants. One of them walked with me to the Christian Studies building.
I had asked four students to share with our group of ministerial students about different routes of missions service—all of which are options open to them. Students spoke of heart-rending or soul-stretching encounters in Alaska, Jamaica, South Padre, and the United Kingdom. Afterward, I visited with a winsome Freshman who is already praying about how to expand his current church internship into multiplied ways to serve this summer. This guy loves VBS! Who knew?
I returned to the BSM to meet with the young lady who serves with our Barnabas ministry. She and her ministry partner serve our Ministry Leadership Council as encouragers. We got to catch up on how she is, body, soul, and spirit.
I grabbed a spoonful of peanut butter while visiting with the great guys who lead Christians on Campus, a new ministry that meets in the BSM on Thursday nights. I love their fervor!
I had a phone date with a missionary who works with refugees in Fort Worth. We laid the foundations for a mini-mission trip over MLK weekend where we will bring students to plan a day-long camp for African youth. It looks to be exciting!
Before leaving the office, I checked the latest MEW e-mails and send out a list to those faculty and staff I am recruiting to contribute to a campus Advent devotional guide.
I now left to return to Mom’s and tune her TV to the debates of the Vice Presidential candidates. When I got home, I kept one ear tuned to the debates while I prepared my home and cats for a couple of missionary guests coming my way.
Shawn Shannon is director of the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, Texas.