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His Baptist campus ministry opened a world of missions opportunities

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (BP)–Four years ago as a college freshman, Calvin Daniels was focused on completing his degree in political science and then going to law school.

Daniels had made a profession of faith at age 12 and wanted to remain faithful to God, taking to heart Paul’s advice in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee the evil desires of youth … .”

“I was planning to sort of hibernate and hide out for four years” at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

God, however, had different plans, including six Baptist Student Union mission trips that would send Daniels all over the United States and the world. Now entering his final college year, Daniels’ own goals have given way to God’s will for his life.

The BSU was the tool God used to change Daniels. Ironically, Daniels had never even heard of BSU when he came to campus. He began asking around to find a Bible study to join when an upperclassman introduced him to the BSU director, Jackie Flake.

Daniels and Flake developed a friendship as Daniels became a leader in the BSU, which was helping him see missions and evangelism in a practical light.

A BSU spring break mission trip to Kansas City, Mo., is what brought a new excitement to his spiritual life, Daniels recounted, citing the excitement of the small African American congregation the BSU group worked with.

“It was my first time to really see people’s lives being committed to service to God,” Daniels said.

The positive experience from this trip made Daniels anxious for more mission opportunities. Through spring break and summer missions with the BSU, Daniels has taken part in Beach Reach in Florida; worked with inner-city churches in Pennsylvania; encouraged Christians in the jungles of Guyana; and ministered to the poor in Haiti.

It was a cultural exchange trip to universities in China, however, that Daniels considers his “most exciting and impactful” trip. It was there in that communist nation that Daniels surrendered to full-time ministry.

“In China was where I absolutely knew that my life would be used by God and I would be involved in missions. I fell in love with that experience,” said Daniels, who, at the outset of his college days, had known nothing of missions opportunities.

“As far as ministry as a career, I felt my only options were to be a pastor, a musician or a lifelong usher,” Daniels said. Without the BSU, he could see himself being what he termed a “cultural, contemporary Christian,” going to church on Sundays but “just sort of existing” the rest of the week.

Now, upon his graduation in May, Daniels is exploring going to seminary rather than law school, interested in working with developing youth ministries in African American churches in the South.

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