When Stephen Galarza got involved in Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) as a student at the University of Texas-Pan American (now UT Rio Grande Valley), his life took a dramatically different direction.
“I fell in love with the ministry there. I was a pre-med bio major and God really transformed my life,” he recalls. “I was doing shadowing hours at the hospital and ministry on campus, and I realized my passion for ministry was so much more life-giving.”
After his first missions trip, the call to serve was even more solidified, and Stephen jumped into BSM with both feet. He became part of the BSM State Lead Team and was co-president, then served the next year as a student leader on the team. He and his wife continued their education at Truett Seminary, then he followed the Lord’s leading to become BSM director at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Del Mar College, where he has served for four years.
“It drives my passion to see how my life was transformed by this ministry and wanting to see that happen in other students,” said Stephen. “I love to see how God is working around the world.”
These full-circle stories are part of what Ginger Bowman says are the best benefit of the BSM State Lead Team (SLT) program, which provides additional opportunities for students to get leadership training, discipleship and peer mentorship to take their service to the next level.
“We have found that it’s really been a key part of shaping our leadership culture. Every year the things we focus on in our Summit time and in the books we read together are focused on our core values,” says Ginger, the church and campus consultant in the Center for Collegiate Ministry at Texas Baptists.
“One of the things we’ve found as we’ve reinforced those values as an organization is that they take those things back to their campus and share with friends. A number of these become campus missionaries, serving one to two years, and from that, we have some who will become BSM staff members. It’s become part of our leadership pipeline, so to speak.”
This year’s State Lead Team has 110 members representing 46 campuses across Texas. BSM directors or church college ministers may nominate up to four students, and then the team is announced in November. The group is divided into cohorts of around a dozen each that begin to meet before Christmas, and that provides an opportunity to share ideas about ministry from across different campuses.
The Lead Team then participates in a Summit event in January to learn about various ministry options, and they plan the BSM Abide Prayer Retreat that will be held Jan. 26–27 for around 500 students from around the state. Their service runs through the end of the spring semester, and they also have opportunities to interact with other areas of the Texas Baptists family for internship possibilities. Two SLT students are chosen to serve as co-presidents, who then attend the BSM Committee meetings during the BGCT Executive Board meetings for a year.
Every Christ-follower a missionary
Ginger said the entire year can be transformational for students in terms of shaping their call to service, just like Stephen experienced.
“We hope they at least catch the vision that every follower of Christ is a missionary, no matter where they are. We want to impart life skills they can take and implement anywhere they go, whether in a church or at their workplace,” she said. “We want them to have practical skills that translate to the campus but also beyond that.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Teresa Young and originally published by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.