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.