SHELBYVILLE—Immersion took on a new meaning for 29 Kentucky Baptist students as they dove heart first into Experience 1:8—an intensive discipleship adventure of Baptist Collegiate Ministry.
After two months of personal growth and servant evangelism, students gave their family members a glimpse into some of those adventures during a homecoming celebration at First Baptist Church of Shelbyville July 30. It was the same location parents hugged their children good-bye before the students headed off to mission spots in Kentucky, and abroad in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and South Africa.
As one college student after another recounted their summer with Experience 1:8, it became clear that these were more than simple summer mission trip stories—they were tales of transformations.
‘Not the same person’
“I’m not the same person I was at the beginning of the summer,” said Jonah Pack, a member of the Shelbyville/Guatemala Team.
Pack described himself as an introvert who was doing a good job of hiding his passion for singing—that is, until he was overheard by some team members. With their coaxing, or as he put it, encouragement with a hint of coercion, Pack emerged from the shadows.
“They had me sing for the church and that was the closest I’ve ever felt to the Lord,” Pack said. “It was as if God was saying, ‘This is what I told you to do. Go do it.’”
Prior to Experience 1:8, Pack said he had abandoned his call to ministry to pursue a teaching degree. But with each passing week, he said the call to lead others in glorifying the Lord through song grew louder and stronger.
“In every discipleship meeting, we talked about using your gifts to the fullest to serve the Lord,” Pack said. “I learned that I need to trust God and if this is what He wants me to do, He will make it fall into place,” he said.
Holy Spirit ‘at work’
College students were not the only ones changed this summer, so were many of the people they encountered.
Jessica Stacey, and fellow members of the Cedarcrest/South Africa Team, had the opportunity to deliver Baptist Global Relief Hospice Buckets to victims of the AIDS virus. During one of these visits she met Charles, a man in bedridden by a stroke.
“You could see where he had been in the bed for a long time because it was caved in,” said Stacey.
Missionaries told the team that locals believe illness is a punishment for crimes committed against God and, as a result, sick people are often shunned. All some really want is to feel the touch of another human, said missionaries.
As Stacey sat next to Charles, she picked up his hand and placed it in her own.
“The Lord laid it on my heart to boldly ask him if he had ever heard about Jesus,” Stacey said, as if still surprised by her actions. “I said, ‘Charles, if you would like to hear about Jesus, squeeze my hand.’ He squeezed my hand.”
Stacey said she proceeded to tell the South African man the story of who Christ is and how desperately He is needed by all. When it came time to ask Charles if he wanted to accept Jesus as his savior, Stacey said that Charles enthusiastically gripped and shook her hand.
“It was just a wonderful experience and it showed me that the Holy Spirit is already at work in people’s lives. All God’s calling us to do is to go to them and share the gospel with them because they are ready to accept Him. They are just waiting for someone to tell them,” Stacey said.
To learn more about Experience 1:8, visit the Kentucky Baptist Collegiate Ministry website at www.kybcm.org/experience18.