A Legacy of Life-Changing Community

Let me tell you a story.

In the fall of 1991, a young man and young woman entered Vanderbilt University. They joined what was then the Baptist Student Union and met at a live nativity. Sure enough, one thing led to another and on May 20, 1995, the week after graduation, they got married. Ten months later, I was born.

My mom is one of those who paints up for basketball games and jumps up and down when the wide receiver is running for a touchdown and shamelessly asks coaches for autographs and roots for her school, win or lose. (More lose than win, but hey, we’re the best at what matters most.) Naturally, I decided I was not going to attend Vanderbilt. Too much fanaticism, and I was trying to prove that I was my own person. There are thousands of other schools; I didn’t have to follow my mother’s footsteps.

But the Lord has a funny way of working in our lives, and I applied Early Decision I to Vanderbilt and was accepted. I did not apply to a single other college. When I got to campus, I had a church in mind that I wanted to attend. (My dad is a pastor, and he knew a guy who knew a pastor in Nashville. Pastors just know people like that.) The problem was that I didn’t have transportation. So when I noticed a table for that church outside this large wave building on my Visions campus tour, I decided to come back and take a look. I met the assistant pastor, who hooked me up with a ride to church on Sundays, and I met one of the seniors in the BCM. Thanks, but no thanks. I may be at Vanderbilt, but I am not joining my parents’ student ministry.

You know what happened next. Spring semester freshman year I joined BCM leadership team as a worship team member. Sophomore year I was on discipleship team and helped completely redesign our small groups. Now, as a junior, I have formally joined my church here in Nashville, am in a small group there, lead the BCM discipleship team, and also lead a BCM life group. It’s safe to say that I have drunk the BCM Kool-aid. And I have seen God do powerful things in my life through the BCM.

The BCM has encouraged me to be invested in a church, not just attending a service on Sunday mornings. The BCM has taught me to keep my mouth shut when I need to and to speak up when truth is at stake. The BCM has shown me how to love people around me that I have nothing in common with. The BCM has introduced me to great expositors of Scripture and trained me to be discerning. The BCM has stretched the limits of grace that I am capable of and challenged me to sacrifice for the good of others. The BCM has been God’s tool for maturing me in this past three years, and will continue to be in this last approaching year.

Without the BSU, I would not be here today, and without the BCM, I would not be here, at Vanderbilt, today. I would have given up and done something easier and less exhausting for my education. But then I would not now know all that I know, and I would not be able to pour into the lives of the people that I can currently pour into. I would not have joined my church family and I would have missed so much of God’s mercy.

If you’re considering a student ministry, start here. God works in mysterious ways, and I believe He works through this small community in very mighty ways. If you want to hear more of my testimony, e-mail me at abigail.hinkson@vanderbilt.edu and I will be happy to tell you about the shouting matches I don’t get into anymore, the cross-cultural friendships I’ve made, the prejudices I’ve overcome, and the grace that I’ve experienced. Maybe God wants to push you out of your comfort zone and make you part of a 20+ year legacy that gives Him glory.

With Friends Like These


                I planned on posting this blog post about a week ago, but I couldn’t do it. I’m not the type of guy who makes personal blog posts at the drop of a hat, especially when I’m not in the mood. For the last few weeks I haven’t been feeling love but content about my life. It seems that having your uncle die before exams and fall break doesn’t do much good. I’ve been burying myself in my school work and even now I still have 4 assignments to do after I attend Veritas. I’ve barely socialize with my friends outside of things that require my presence and I feel like everyone has become a bit less familiar. But only now do I realize that I’m grateful to have friends like these. While I don’t rely on them as much as I should and I probably won’t ask for help until I’ve reached orange levels of bad, it’s comforting to know that there are people out there for you. People who love you. It’s an easy thing for me to say, but a hard thing for me to accept and realize. Because it’s hard to believe that everyone isn’t acting out for their own best interest or whenever they feel like it, but out of love. So, while they don’t always find my hilarious jokes funny, and while I’m not always open to them, I’m still glad to have friends like these. To trust. To cherish. To build a community in Christ. And also to attend their weddings. Because I think I would make a great best man.

What do I put here again,



Why I love the BCM...

This has been a hard week. It's not easy for me to come out and admit that, but I have seriously struggled in so many aspects of life: in being present at Vanderbilt because of family issues, in school work and being completely overwhelmed, in time management and lack of sleep, and even in mental health (because this should not be an off-limits topic). But the difficulty of this week has been so evidently and indelibly entangled with the movement of God. 

In this tough week, I have learned of the closeness and goodness of God when I am weak and vulnerable. I have seen Him answer prayers, and have caught glimpses of how He is using these really tough situations. And I have been overwhelmingly convinced of the brilliance of His design in creating the Body of Christ.

In the struggles of the week, my BCM family has supported me in a way that goes beyond friendship- they have loved me beyond what is easy or convenient, and have stuck with me in my messiness. I have had so many people check in with me about my Grandpa, who's really not doing well, and offer prayer and comfort. I have had people help motivate me to be present here when all I wanted to do was go back home to be with my family. I have had people stay with me when I wasn't okay and I didn't even know why. I have received encouragement notes, supportive text messages, and even hot tea when I woke up feeling sick. I cannot adequately express how much all of this and more has meant to me. I have never seen a better display of Christians carrying each other's burdens as I have this week when my burdens have felt so heavy.

As we settle into the school year and get back into the rhythms of college life, I think about a question I've been asked a lot lately- what is the BCM? I think that's a really important question and I certainly don't want to downplay it; however, today I want to shift the focus onto a different question, one that has been more present on my mind this week: why do you love the BCM? 

I love the BCM not so much because of what we are, but because of who we are, and that is the body of Christ, displayed through everything I've listed above and so much more. And if you're looking for a home here on campus, I want to invite you in to learn not only about what we are, but to experience who we are.

Football and Friends

Yesterday was the Super Bowl, a huge event in American culture. Whether you watch for the game, the commercials, or just come for the food, it is an event that draws many. We held a viewing party at the BCM, an event that falls under the jurisdiction of the Community/Service Team.

I have not been feeling well all weekend, and as Sunday afternoon rolled around, I sat on the blue couches thinking about everything that had to be done to prepare for the game and summoning up the energy to actually do it all. As I sat on those couches (a bit pathetically, I must admit), people came up to me and asked what needed to be done and how they could help. The people on my team, along with whoever was already in the BCM, pitched in until everything was ready. All sorts of friends (new and old) showed up and it was quite the gathering.

While I can't tell you much about the game, I can tell you about the community that gathered to watch it. After the game was over and people began to leave, I went downstairs to see what had to be cleaned up/put away. When I got there, almost nothing was left for me to do; food was put away, dishes were soaking, and couches were moved upstairs. The only thing I did find was encouragement in my envelope. In my slightly-under-the-weather state, it almost brought me to tears.

The verse in Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens" really came alive for me in the actions of my BCM family last night. I am so thankful to everyone who lent a helping hand or offered some much-needed encouragement. I want us to continue to be a community that seeks ways to bear each other's burdens the way Christ bears all of ours. When we all support each other, no one really has to carry that much.




In 1789, President George Washington set aside November 26 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God..." The day now filled with floats, balloons, and marching bands (that's for Katie) in the Macy's Day Parade or with football, followed by football, followed by football. The day filled with food, and more food, and the ever-popular leftover turkey and mayo on white bead with the slice of pumpkin pie eaten directly from the pan. A day for travel and family and celebration and even for remorse. A day for giving thanks.

In Psalm 100, we are instructed to "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise." A verse earlier we are given the why to our thanksgiving, "the Lord, he is God. It is he who made us and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." The psalm concludes with the promise that "his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations."

I pray for each of us this season a time of rest and a time of celebration with family and friends. I pray for the fellowship around the table and the laughter that warms the home. More than anything else, I pray we all stop and reflect on the goodness and the love of God, shown to us in such a myriad of ways. Amidst all the activity of the season, let us stop and give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours!


Wanna Get Involved on Campus: Here's How!

The semester is at its peak and all around campus student organizations are hosting events and the school is abuzz with activity! With so many things going on and so many things to get involved in it can be hard to decide what to do to jump in and get involved. And once you've chosen some things to get involved in, it can be difficult to get to know people from other campus groups. Well have no fear! The BCM has got you covered! We have a lot of upcoming events and opportunities that will help you meet new people and get involved on our campus!

First of all, this Wednesday we have L@B! For those of y'all who don't what L@B is, it is basically free lunch with awesome friends! This is also an awesome opportunity to get to know new people. So  bring a friend and make a friend and enjoy some delicious Chili and Grilled Cheese!

Trick or Treat with the Greeks is also this week and this year BCM is participating at our very own building! We will be face painting and passing out candy to all the little kiddos who come out to see us so we need lots of help! You'll get to dress up in costume and see little kids toddling around campus dressed in all sorts of adorable costumes. Another really awesome part of this event: we will be working alongside our Greek neighbors! This is an awesome chance to meander over and get to know some of the girls of ADPi or the guys of Kappa Sig! So come on out and make these kids' day and meet some new folks while doing it! 

Next Saturday (Nov. 7th) is Relay for Life and this year BCM has a team! I am very excited about this because Relay is such a good cause that does so much good in cancer research. I am also very excited because this is an AWESOME opportunity to show the campus that we, as the BCM, care about and want to be involved in what is going on around campus. There will be a lot of student groups represented at this event so there will be lots of opportunities to get to know people from all over campus. Nothing bonds people together quite as much as running for the same cause so making friends at this event will be super simple :) So pull out your running shoes (or walking shoes as will be my case ;)) and warm them up for the big day!

The final thing I want to mention is Thanksgiving for international students which will occur on Thanksgiving. This was a huge success last year and we are very excited to be hosting this event again! We've already had several Chinese International students show interest in having Thanksgiving with us this year and we hope even more folks will come and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you know anyone who has nowhere to go this Thanksgiving, send them to the BCM for some delicious food and great company! And if you are staying over Thanksgiving break, join in the fun and meet some international students! 

Hope everyone is having a great week and I look forward to seeing y'all come together as we branch out, meet new people, and get involved in new things to show the campus the love of Christ!

Love, Nikki

Fall SPOTS 2015: Atlanta, Georgia

Fall Break.  A normal weekend (with a couple of extra days) that marks the halfway point in the semester.  Many students take the opportunity to go home and visit family or hang around campus to catch up on homework and much needed sleep.  Nevertheless, this was not the case for the 33 Vandy students who journeyed to Atlanta for Fall SPOTS (Special Project Other Than Summer). 

We left campus Wednesday evening for Atlanta and returned Sunday afternoon.  The trip down was a bit long.  We hit traffic in multiple cities, and the bus didn't arrive at Park Avenue Baptist Church until after 1 a.m. EST.  After a short debrief, we all went to bed and were up for breakfast at 8 a.m. the next morning. 

Thursday marked the beginning of our work with Park Avenue.  Students were able to choose from two different module options: Poverty Through the Eyes of a Child or Race and Reconciliation.  Each module consisted of a time of learning about an issue in Atlanta and also a hands-on service opportunity.  I was in the Poverty Through the Eyes of a Child group, and we discussed everything from illiteracy to the challenge people in poverty face to how the same issues are present back in Nashville where we live. 

After the learning portion of the day, our group went upstairs to where the church holds their after school program to help organize and clean.  A major component of that project was the library.  As we put books on shelves...and eventually decided to reorganize the whole collection of 1000+ books....we all reminisced about our favorite childhood books and the countless books that were read to us.  It made us think about how blessed we are to have had people in our lives who invested in us.  We were reminded that that is not the case for every child.  What really drove these ideas home for me, is the time I got to spend serving at the Stewart Center (an after school program that Park Avenue Baptist Church partners with) the next day.  Sitting down with a second grader who couldn't read or spell the simplest words was heart breaking but it felt right to being doing something about the problem.  Reading with her didn't change the illiteracy statistics in Atlanta, but the hope is that I got to be a small part of the impact the Stewart center is seeking to make in the individual lives of children in the area.  In the words of Mother Teresa, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

The rest of the trip consisted of more modules on Friday and Saturday, exploring the city of Atlanta, and attending the Park Avenue Baptist service on Sunday morning.  Fall SPOTS 2015 was an unforgettable trip full of bonding, laughter, delirious nights working in the library, and cookie dessert.  It's hard to believe that it is already over but we eagerly await our Spring trips and how God is going to work.  Stay tuned for more information about Spring SPOTS 2016!


Lots of Love,


Hiking in the Rain

This weekend, the BCM took a trip to Cummins Falls. Fourteen of us made the trip; only four made it to the end to see the actual waterfall. Let me be honest: this is my first year as a team leader and I am still trying to figure it out. This hiking event is one of the first few where I have been in charge of the team planning them. It is a little bit scary. My team and I planned the event and got people to sign up; I worried about all the details and thought of all the things that could go wrong. The morning of, I was worried no one would show up, but even more afraid that no one would have fun. Somewhere along the way, I had confused the success of the event with my success as a leader. 

It rained most of the hike. Not only did it rain, but the temperature was in the low 50's. People had to walk in the freezing water. We dropped a camera and a cell phone. Two-thirds of our group turned around before getting to the end. With each and every mishap, I was reminded of a simple fact: I cannot control everything. Sometimes, I am so caught up in my success or failure that it becomes my source of worth. I scrutinize my actions until all I see is myself; I become my own god. This happens in academics as well. Doing well in school can become a source of pride; the opposite is crushing because we are not good enough to satisfy ourselves. Sure, we should work hard and put in our best effort, but that cannot be our source of worth.  

This weekend, we hiked in the rain. We also bonded over the ridiculous weather and all the crazy happenings. Community is not built in perfect circumstances, but through experiences. I was reminded that at the end of the day, I am not defined by what I do. I can plan and work and fail or succeed, but only God is in control. And sometimes, he lets you hike in the rain.



Keeping Focused

     I think it's that time of the semester when many students have had their first round of exams, pulled an all nighter or two, and allowed laundry to fall to the bottom of their list of priorities.  For me, it has been really easy to get caught up in everything going on and focus on myself instead of my true purpose for being at Vandy: to be a witness of the life-changing love of Christ in the mission field that God has placed me in.

     One of our favorite ways to redirect our focus as a community at the BCM is through our SPOTS trips (SPOTS stands for Special Project Other Than Summer).  If you’re new to the BCM, SPOTS trips are the BCM’s short-term mission trips that happen over fall and spring break.  Join us as we travel to Atlanta, Georgia, October 14th-18th, for this year’s trip.  The cost is FREE for first year and transfer students and $50 for other students.  In Atlanta, we will be staying at and working with an inner city church, have some city exploration time Saturday afternoon, and return to campus after church on Sunday.  Our work will center around issues like homeless, poverty, race and reconciliation, and living in a global society in addition to learning from local speakers and pastors. 

     If you are debating whether you should go or whether you should stay on campus to catch up on sleep and school work, no worries.  We understand.  Nevertheless, I have never met a student who has regretted going on a SPOTS trip.  Last year's Fall SPOTS trip is when I really felt like I got integrated into the BCM community and bonded with other freshmen who are now some of my best friends. 

Things to expect: serving others as a way of reflecting Christ's love, fantastic fellowship with each other, and cookie dessert.

Things NOT to expect: 5-star hotels to sleep in, a vacation to the beach, and Pepsi.


  Hope you will join us! Post-trip update soon to come!


A New Season

           It’s finally starting to look like fall around Vanderbilt’s campus, and for many, it’s the most perfect time of year! Some may argue with me, but the cooler mornings, the appearance of more than a few sweaters, and the new fall line of Starbucks cups tell me fall is coming, and I am more than excited. As the seasons are changing, I find it entertaining to watch the evolution of clothes as people adjust to the weather. Right now there’s a confused mix of whether it’s still summer or if fall has begun. There’s something to be said about how we respond to the changing of the seasons, and the necessity of preparing ourselves accordingly.

            Here at the BCM at Vanderbilt, we are experiencing a new season as we look forward to a new class of freshmen and grow as an organization. As we look on the new season, there is the need for creating more opportunities for community that is authentic and accountable, that prays together and celebrates together and studies God’s word together. Just as we prepare for winter by purchasing a new coat (or maybe ice skates if our winter is anything like last year), we at the BCM are approaching our new season by creating a new small group setting called Life Groups. Life Groups are small groups of three to six students who meet each week to study God’s word together, spend time sharing about the week and pray together for each other, our campus, and Nashville. All of the life groups are studying the same passages each week, with the overall theme for this semester being “Implications of the Gospel.” This week, we are looking at the freedom that we have in Christ, and how that freedom changes our actions, our priorities, and our interactions with others, both believers and non-believers. As we study 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 this week, we find Paul encouraging us to consider what is helpful rather than what is permissible, and to do all for the glory of God.

            We also have four awesome Bible studies going on this semester at the BCM! Reflecting the love and light of God, being a man that God uses, women of the Bible, and seeking and responding to God’s calling are the topics that our small group Bible studies are focusing on. Our small group Bible studies focus on creating a space to dive deeper into God’s word and not only learn about it, but discuss how that translates into each of our daily lives. Bible studies meet at various times throughout the week and are led by BCM members and our BCM Director Thom. This semester presents a unique opportunity to study how both men and women can be looking to be used by God in the studies The Man God Uses and Women in the Bible. We are excited to dive into these studies, and you can find more information about them on the rest of our website!

                 Happy almost-fall, my friends!