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Campus Ministries at Mississippi College Adjust to Changing Times

BSU director Mandy Phillips pictured with MC students.
BSU director Mandy Phillips pictured with MC students.

This Spring’s health crisis led Baptist Student Union leaders to try innovative approaches to strengthen their work at Mississippi College.

Having weekly worship times over Zoom meetings, posting short Proverbs Bible studies on BSU’s social media sites, and creating the “Prayer Partners & Pen Pals” program are a few of the changes.

Student leaders signed up to be matched with prayer partners and encouraged them through texts or weekly face times. Other initiatives reach MC students by writing cards, or praying for them.

Adjustments for campus ministries the past seven weeks stem from Mississippi College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stressing many families, more than 30 million Americans suddenly lost their jobs in recent weeks. Anxiety levels are soaring and so is uncertainty.

BSU Director Mandy Phillips delivers a comforting message to students that seldom changes from one week to the next.

“We know there are many different challenges facing students in ways no one would have imagined a few months ago,” Phillips said. “Above all, we can rest assured that God is still on His throne and cares personally for each of us. Reach out to Him through prayer and Bible study. He can provide comfort, grace and truth that gives us eternal hope.”

The BSU leader encourages students to reach out to others during difficult times. That can be done by counseling, talking to mentors or confiding in loved ones.

The ministry normally serves about 250 students on the Clinton campus, but now does so remotely at their homes. BSU leaders set goals of seeing students grow as disciples of Christ, and stay motivated to invest in the Kingdom’s work worldwide.

Also keeping in touch with students is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at the Baptist-affiliated university. Leaders of the interdenominational Christian sports ministry hope to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.

This Spring, MC’s FCA director, Justin Graves, stepped up the group’s presence on social media. He first launched that effort about two years ago.

“Even when everyone was on campus, college students are so engaged digitally. If we weren’t digitally strong, we would soon become irrelevant,” Graves said. Students took control and moved things on social platforms to the next level.

“When the coronavirus hit, since so much was already in place, thankfully, we didn’t have to create anything. We just took what we had online and poured gas on it!.”

The FCA shortened their Monday night experience. Leaders broke it down into student-led testimonies, worship videos, and devotions. “Honestly, our kids have led the way, and it’s been fun to watch them lead.”

Making digital the way to communicate with students achieved results. On Facebook alone, the FCA chapter reached nearly 20,000 views for social media posts and videos.

In late April, Graves challenged the Christian university family to select a different MC Choctaws sports team each day and pray for them. “Our athletes are in a strange time where something that has defined them for over a decade, sports, is not there right now. Pray that they will find their identity in Jesus Christ.”

Mississippi College students such as Emery Applegate, 20, are building their faith and serving others in other ways off campus. Emery is a student intern at First Baptist Church Jackson.

A marketing major, Applegate is a Servant Leadership minor with plans to pursue a higher education career. Far from campus and dear friends due to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Indianola resident daily feels God’s presence. “The Lord is definitely showing me His graciousness and beauty in this time of separation from MC.”

Her hard work in classrooms and community involvement are getting noticed. Emery Applegate was among the students honored Thursday as a new member of “Who’s Who at Mississippi College.”