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christian service: we're all about it

by John Murray, Christian Service Director, Free Will Baptist Bible College


Education without experience is an oxymoron. Someone has said, “Instruction without implementation is an exercise in futility.” Christian service puts into practice what is learned in the classroom.

It was a warm, fall afternoon when a student suddenly burst into my office exclaiming, “Brother Murray we just led a man to Christ!” A man was visiting his mother in the neighborhood near the college and went for a walk. He stopped to relax on a swing near the college library. Two freshmen were in the area and asked him about his relationship with Christ. They showed him how he could be forgiven of his sins and were able to lead him to Christ. They had just learned “one verse evangelism” the day before.

This is one of the many results of Christian service. Every Free Will Baptist Bible College student is involved in a Christian service ministry each week.

It is interesting that universities across America are just now seeing the benefit of “community service.” Nicholas Confessore in his article, “What Makes a College Good?” in The Atlantic Monthly notes the importance of “integration”—where students apply the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom. One of the five benchmarks he emphasizes is “how well an institution promotes activity and collaborative learning,” and whether the school offers “enriching educational experiences.” What is a new emphasis for many colleges and universities has been a weekly experience at Free Will Baptist Bible College for 63 years. Last school year, 2003-04, our students completed more than 7,800 hours of Christian service. Twenty-two groups originated from the campus, and 33 churches benefited from the energetic ministry of our students.

Christian service is more than what we do weekly. Sometimes, unusual events in the lives of others inspire Christians to serve. During the past two falls, such events have occurred. First, a hurricane hit the coast of North Carolina devastating the churches at Davis and Stacy. During the 2003 fall break, 14 students traveled with Jeff and Calisse Caudill to North Carolina to help rebuild those churches.

The fall of 2004 saw hurricane Ivan assault the Florida gulf coast, particularly the Pensacola area. During the fall break, 16 students went with me to help three churches in Pensacola. We helped one family that was not a part of the church, and the pastor said, “You have done more in one hour to influence the husband to come to church than I have been able to do in two years.” Touching lives is what Christian service is all about


Each year FWBBC students choose a different Christian service. This enables each student to be exposed to a variety of ministries. They have ministered in jails, nursing homes, Bible clubs, on the street, as tutors, and as conversation partners with foreign students from area colleges. They have preached at the Nashville Union Mission (for homeless men and women), and have been involved in a host of other ministries in local churches.

One of our students named Sharon, who had a neighborhood Bible club in her home, came into my office. She said what she liked about her Christian service was “the opportunity to reach kids for Jesus and make a difference in their lives.” She related that the previous Sunday three kids from her children’s church group were baptized. She went on to say that one came to her later and told her he wanted to be a preacher.


Free Will Baptist Bible College is committed to training leaders. We believe bold leadership is needed in every area of ministry. The leaders of the Christian service groups that go out from the college are led by students who were in that ministry group the previous year. This provides continuity in the group and allows each leader to learn from the leader who preceded him or her.

The quality of the leadership is evident to the community where they serve. I received an email from Melissa Burka, who teaches international students at West End Middle School across the highway from the college. Our students tutor theirs in English, math, and English conversation. She wrote, “We are enjoying having your students over here to help our students. It is amazing the difference it is making for some of our students.”


I often wonder how those who have made decisions are holding out. I was pleased to have a former student call me and share his experience. He worked at Baptist Book Store. One day a gentleman came to the counter to pay for some books. He asked, “Don’t I know you?” As they talked, the man reminded the student that he had been in a jail where the student ministered. He had been saved and called into the ministry. It was encouraging to hear what God is doing in the lives of those touched by Christian service.


©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists