GLORIETA, N.M.(BP)–When Mike Thompson was asked to lead a new summer staff program at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center, he first looked at his calendar and discovered he had nothing planned.
The lack of planned activity is unusual for this Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary professor who generally carries a heavy load of speaking engagements. After consulting his wife, Debbie, about the opportunity, they decided to say yes. It was a decision that would change their lives and the lives of many college students they would meet.
At first the Thompsons thought they would simply lead the new program called Highpoint, but they also ended up as directors of the entire summer staff at the New Mexico conference center.
The Highpoint program was offered to all summer staffers when they applied for their positions and when they arrived at Glorieta to begin the summer. On top of working 40 hours a week at regular jobs such as housekeeping and cafeteria work, Highpoint students devoted time to Bible studies and small groups. They participated in Sunday evening worship and attended a mid-week meeting. They were also part of covenant groups.
Highpoint is a joint project of Glorieta, National Student Ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, state convention and campus collegiate ministries.
In addition to their work and group activities, many of the Highpoint students also put in 10 to 12 hours of volunteer work to help fellow staffers.
As director of the summer staff, Thompson and his wife have worked alongside the staffers in areas such as housekeeping, cafeteria work and preschool work.
“We’re not asking them to do anything we’re not willing to do,” he said.
In addition to the Thompsons, Cindy Owen, a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., and Jerry and Marilyn Fine of Oklahoma City have assisted with the Highpoint program.
For Thompson, Highpoint’s highlight involved students whose lives were changed.
The changes began early in the summer when a Highpoint student wanted to clarify her faith and was baptized in a nearby Baptist church. He also described a young man who had grown up in a Christian home, who told Thompson and others that now he feels like his faith is his own. He even told his parents this has been the greatest summer of his life.
The students have shared their faith with staff workers from the community who are not Christians and with people in nearby Santa Fe. Through their witness, at least one staff member has come to faith in Christ.
Thompson said the students have benefited by learning to share their faith in a new setting.
In addition to college students, some high school students are involved in Highpoint. Thompson said it has been fun to watch them grow not only in spirituality but also in maturity.
“You can’t help but mature when you have to work when you don’t want to or when you don’t feel well,” he said.
Thompson credited the 70 participating students with the success of the program.
“Highpoint took that commitment and supplemented it with Bible studies and covenant groups,” he said.
Through all the hard work and busy schedules, it is the students Thompson said he will remember.
“It wasn’t trouble-free, but it was a very good, valuable, joyful time,” he said.