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Longtime campus involvement fuels collegiate minister

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Bill Wade, newly appointed national collegiate ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, is passionate about the ministry to college students.

Throughout the 24 years he has been on staff at churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia, he has always played a role in student ministry. Wade also has worked on a contract basis with LifeWay’s student ministry area for three years.

His involvement in the work dates back to when he served in a leadership role for the Baptist Student Union at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss., and then was a member of the BSU at Louisiana College in Pineville. And certainly it hits closer to home these days — with a son in college and a daughter graduating from high school this year.

Wade smiled when asked what he thought about the generation of students attending Student Week, Aug. 2-7 at LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center.
“I really believe that this generation only commits to what they believe in,” he said.

He laments that collegiate ministries typically receive less funding at churches than preschool or youth ministries do because churches fear investing in those “who may only show up two Sundays out of the month.”

“College students are struggling to figure out their role in Christ. But if we’re not making the investment in them when they’re hungry, it’s a lot harder to minister to them later.”

Making the investment in students is what Student Week at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center is all about, Wade said.

The 2003 Student Week theme, “Belief=Behavior,” was designed to help students determine whether their faith matched their actions with workshops that challenged them on current issues like relativism and Islamic teachings.

Wade encouraged parents to invest in their college-aged children by helping them find a Baptist student organization and church in the town or city where they are enrolled in school.

“So many parents will come to campus for freshman orientation, drop off their stuff, meet their roommates, see their dorm — making the spiritual part seems to be secondary,” Wade said. “When they actively seek out a Baptist student group or a local church, it sends a message to their child that church is important.”

Wade sees a positive future ahead for collegiate ministry despite the challenges.

“I would like to see national collegiate ministry restored to the prominence it once had in our national convention,” he said. “I hope and pray that the SBC will resource us and help us carry on the ministry that is so very crucial to college students.”
For more information about national collegiate ministries, contact Wade at [email protected] (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RENEWED VISION and SAYING HELLO.

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  • Sara Horn