You better believe Christian service makes a difference: FWBBC students take Bible and life truths from college classrooms to the Nashville community.
christian service makes the difference
by John Murray
When I was in seminary, I worked at Choretime Brock where we manufactured chicken feeders. One day, a factory engineer came to help us solve a problem with one of the plastic extruders. He told us he had worked throughout his college experience, putting into practice what he studied in the classroom. Each summer he took jobs where he could use what he had learned. After graduation, he and a classmate were hired by the same company. Six months later, their supervisor asked him, “Are you sure you both went to the same college? He doesn’t know how to do anything.”
The same principle is true at Free Will Baptist Bible College. We believe students need to practice what they learn in class. That’s why we use Christian service to launch them into the broader community beyond the classroom, giving them the opportunity to become experienced Christian workers.
Christian service is the practical arm of the classroom. For 18 years, I have seen students “practice what we preach” (teach) in the classroom. Every student has a specific assignment. The Christian Service staff keeps a list of opportunities available, and each student chooses a place to serve for the year. Students participate in a different outreach each year. Five words describe Christian service outreach at FWBBC: anticipation, appreciation, ability, affinity, and opportunity.
Each year, I call or visit all the places where students perform Christian service. At Knowles Nursing Home, for instance, the activities director invariably says, “The residents constantly ask, ‘When are the students from Free Will Baptist Bible College coming back?’” The point is our students make a definite impression on the people they serve. Every Thursday night of the school year, you can be assured that many Knowles residents are already waiting in the chapel when our students arrive.
At the end of last semester, a children’s Sunday School teacher commented about one of our college students. “He has been so consistent. He is always available to do anything, and he does everything so well.” This is nothing new. I constantly hear about our students and the fine jobs they are doing.
The Apostle John wrote, “He who does will know.” Wouldn’t it be great if “He who knows would do?” It is a proven fact that one retains more when he puts what he knows into practice. When students reach their junior and senior years, we direct their Christian service so they are ministering in the area of their studies. (We like to do the same all four years.)
One area I supervise personally is preaching trips—taking student preachers on out-of-town excursions so they can preach. Why do we do this? Because the only way to learn is to preach! The classroom can give a preacher helpful principles and guidelines, but if they are never put into practice, they are of little use. We schedule eight preaching trips a year. This gives student preachers opportunities to preach and allows pastors to share practical wisdom with the students. Our pastors have been very helpful sharing practical suggestions about ministry and preaching.
I wish you could ride in the van with me. I usually drive and listen to the men as they talk about a variety of subjects: preaching, dating, doctrine, pastoring, and more. I am amazed at the wisdom shared and the advice given by college juniors and seniors. I am privileged to see young men grow in the Lord and put into practice what they have studied.
Disaster relief has been a uniting factor at Free Will Baptist Bible College. Each time I extend a plea for workers to help those devastated by a hurricane or tornado, a large number of students volunteer. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, 35 students volunteered for disaster relief.
They raised money to furnish their own food and rent a bus for the trip. We stayed at a camp in Mississippi where we cut trees and repaired roofs. There was even a tree-cutting contest where students used axes to cut a tree (five feet in circumference) that had fallen, and I got in on the chopping. We worked morning to night. Disaster relief groups have ministered in North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
You ought to see leaders rise to the occasion. Leaders are revealed, but teamwork is exemplified. They clean out mud and crawl under churches to replace ductwork. They cut trees, lug limbs and debris, and enjoy working together. They work with heart, the heart of a servant. What a pleasure to work with our students.
I constantly receive calls from pastors looking for an assistant or youth minister. I usually have no one on my list. That’s because our students are ministering during the summer. Some minister in churches, others in camps, and some on mission trips to other countries. While they are ministering, they are making contacts, building a reputation, and endearing themselves to people in many areas. These times of service provide avenues for future ministry.
Christian service opens the door for future employment and ministry. Almost all our students who graduate in May have solid job/ministry offers by the December preceding graduation. Believe me, Christian service doesn’t cost. It pays! Whether summer camp, summer ministry, or ministry during the school year, Christian service provides ways for students to link-up with people and places where they will work in the future.
Christian service is the centerpiece at Free Will Baptist Bible College. It provides students an opportunity to put into practice what they learn in the classroom. Send us your sons and daughters—let us show them how practical Christian service can change them and change their world.
About the Writer: John Murray, former missionary to France, serves as Christian Service director at Free Will Baptist Bible College. Learn more about the college at www.fwbbc.edu.