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Town’s churches greet collegians with home-cooked meals & gospel

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (BP)–Baptists abound everywhere at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas — even the local student bar.
They’re not drinking alcohol; they’re dispensing living water and the bread of life. Local churches provided a free lunch every Wednesday during the first month of school, and students flocked to the food.
“This is not sandwiches, but home cooking, and I mean a whole spread,” reported Baptist Student Ministry director Darrell Samuelson. “That’s a huge draw. College guys don’t get a lot of home cooking, and here they can come and eat all they want, because there is always enough.”
Between 250 and 300 students came each week and got much more than a meal. “We have Christian speakers and music artists, and the gospel is always presented in a clear way,” Samuelson noted. “It’s been exciting to see the Lord bring students who would never darken the door of a church”– or the Baptist Student Ministry.
Many students left filled, not only physically but also spiritually, Samuelson added. “We’ve seen people accept Christ, greater attendance at our Bible studies and students getting out of their comfort zones and having the courage to witness.”
A boost to the program came last year, when the editor of the school paper took his staff to one of the lunches “to see why all those Baptists were going to the bar,” Samuelson recounted.
“After the lunch was over, they discussed it in the newsroom and decided we were taking the [gospel] message to the front lines, and afterward wrote a nice story about the lunches,” he said.
The program was successful in large part due to support from the owner of the bar, Samuelson said.
“We have developed a good relationship with him, and he allows us to do whatever ministry we want. He never serves any alcohol during these times and has his employees help us with anything we need.”
Not every student who attends the lunches shows immediate change in her or his life, Samuelson acknowledged, “but we do know that we are planting seeds.”

Henson is a staff writer with the Baptist Standard of Texas.

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  • George Henson