Community opportunities allow students to minister

‘God’s fingerprints’
November 2, 2018
Column 11.2.18
November 2, 2018

Community opportunities allow students to minister

Elisa Chodan teaches Sunday school at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Photo: Kayla Pierce/BJU MARKETING

Every week, BJU students serve the Lord and their community by participating in unique ministries all around the greater Greenville area.

Students become a part of these ministries through various channels on and off campus.

Jesse Unruh, a junior business administration major, ministers to teens through his church, Gateway Baptist, which is located in Travelers Rest.

Unruh said a little over a month ago he was approached by his pastor, Dr. Greg Stiekes, who asked if he would be interested in leading Gateway’s teen discipleship group.

Unruh told his pastor he was interested in the opportunity, and he started ministering a few weeks later.

The youth group meets at the church on Sunday mornings and eight teens, ranging from seventh  grade to 12th grade, attend.

Unruh also said this is the first teen group Gateway has ever had.

“My pastor gave me the liberty to run this in the way I see fit,” he said.

Unruh said he plans his lessons every week to focus on themes relevant to teenagers.

“Instead of something too deep, I want to do things that will apply to everyday life,” he said.

“I want to ask them ‘What do you face at this age?’ and let them choose some topics.”

He said every time he speaks to the teens he wants to speak from the heart.

Three other BJU students, Rachel, Ashley and Zeb Anderson, help Unruh with the ministry.

These three family members have been excited to get involved in this ministry opportunity.

Ashley and Zeb, siblings, have enjoyed working with Rachel, their cousin, in the youth program so far.

Unruh said he is a little intimidated by the responsibility but also excited about what the Lord will do with this ministry.

Rachel Ervin, a junior communication disorders major, is involved in ministry through her church, Grace Baptist Fellowship in downtown Greenville.

She plays the violin in an orchestra that accompanies the congregational singing in both the morning and evening services.

Ervin got involved in the ministry her freshman year and has enjoyed it ever since.

She said she is involved in the music ministry at her church back home and being a part of a church music ministry here was very important to her.

She said there are many reasons for students to be involved in their churches.

“To get plugged in to a ministry like this is a great way to get to know your church family,” she said. “The reason we are getting involved in ministries in our churches is so that we can serve. Not so we can just sit in a pew and take in, but so we can give back.”

Ervin encourages other students with musical abilities to get involved in their churches.

Students also discover ministry opportunities through on-campus channels.

Joshmarie Antolin, a senior biblical counseling major, first learned about her ministry through BJU’s outreach fair that is held at the beginning of every academic year.

The ministry was once a part of Antolin’s society ministry but is now overseen by the Center for Global Opportunities.

Antolin and other BJU students visit the Greenville Juvenile Detention Facility every week.

The student volunteers are separated into groups by the way they minister to the teens at the facility.

Some students minister through science, others through the creative arts, and Antolin’s group does Bible study and music with the teens.

The groups visit at various times during the week. Antolin’s group goes on Sunday afternoons.

She said she has been going on this ministry since her freshman year and she teaches the teens to sing gospel songs.

“While teaching them how to sing the song, I get to teach them the truth in the song,” she said. “That is my little gospel presentation.”

For her, the high point of the ministry is when she gets a chance to interact with the teens personally.

“A lot of them grew up in churches,” she said. “They heard just enough gospel to be inoculated against it, but not enough to realize Jesus’ beauty and what it means to know Him.”

She said the personal interaction can be a very effective way to present the Gospel to them.

Antolin said the cultural differences that exist can sometimes be difficult.

“You have BJU students and then you have urban youths from broken families who sometimes don’t even know what its like to have a real father,” she said. “That’s all the more reason to share the Gospel with them and point them to the Father.”

She encouraged students to look up the ministry at the CGO and consider becoming involved.

“It’s a challenging ministry, but a rewarding one,” she said. “It’s well worth the effort and time.”

Many students become involved in ministry by going on outreaches with their society.

Seirra Martinez, a freshman early child care and development major, went on her first outreach through her society, the Tri Epsilon Pirates.

Martinez and some of her friends in society earlier in the semester brought meals to two homeless families.

The girls worked with United Ministries, a local organziation that specializes in assisting the homeless.

“It was a really good experience,” Martinez said. “I had a lot of fun.”

“[Our] being able to go there and do this for them was a really big help,” she said. “We are probably going to continue to help with this ministry.”

For Martinez, ministering to the homeless has always been important.

She said back home in Washington state she would make homemade meals with her friends and give them to the homeless in her area.

“I have had some experience doing this,” she said.

She said serving with her society was just as fun and enriching as serving back home.

“We get to grow as sisters in Christ,” she said. “We also get to know each other better.”

Martinez said she would encourage any student to get involved in their society ministries.

“Being able to get out there and do outreaches is a huge thing especially in society,” she said. “You get to grow together.”

Another way students become involved with ministries is from hearing about them from other students.

Andrew Leaman, a senior Christian ministries major, heard about his ministry from friends.

He is the student leader of an outreach for blind and deaf children.

He has been a part of the ministry since his freshman year, but just started to lead it last year.

Leaman said his role as the leader is to communicate between the students and the volunteer leader of the ministry at Grace Baptist Church in Campobello.

Every Wednesday night BJU students travel to Grace Baptist and meet with children from the South Carolina Boarding School for the Deaf and Blind.

At the church, BJU students play games with the children and then separate them into groups by age and teach them Bible lessons.

Leaman ministers mainly to the deaf children by helping teach the lessons and organizing games for them to play.

He said one of his favorite parts of the ministry is playing games with the children.

“I like to see the kids running around, laughing, and smiling,” he said. “I love to see them have fun.”

He said ministering to deaf children is very important to him because he is deaf himself.

Leaman signs to the children in American Sign Language but can communicate very well verbally himself.

“I am able to communicate with them on a deeper level than others can,” he said. “I think that’s a real blessing and something very special to me.”

Abby Leaman, Andrew’s younger sister and a sophomore communication disorders major, also participates in the ministry but she is involved with the blind children.

Leaman became involved in the ministry through her brother and has been teaching the blind children since last semester.

She said ministering to blind children can be very different.

“When you are with the blind children, you have to be talking with them the whole time,” she said. “They need to know what’s going on and where you are and where they are.”

She said the ministry is very individually oriented. She also said teaching Bible lessons can be difficult at times.

“It can be challenging to not use words that have connotations to seeing,” she said. “You can’t explain the Gospel to them like you would any other person. You have to be really creative.”

Abby Leaman said any student from any major can come and easily become a part of the ministry.

‘’I think it’s extremely beneficial for any person to have contact with and understand people with disabilities because they are all around us,” she said. “You are the one who will benefit from coming to this ministry.

Andrew Leaman said students should consider joining the ministry.

“The CGO motto is ‘Reach Beyond Yourself’,” he said. “This is definitely a ministry where you can reach beyond yourself.”