I recently had the privilege of attending the celebration service for the 1:8 Leadership Experience. The 1:8 Leadership Experience is the Kentucky Baptist Convention Collegiate and Young Adult Ministry’s summer missions program. Following the Acts 1:8 model, this ministry is a way for students from our university and college campuses in Kentucky to spend their summer break on mission by serving and learning in Kentucky, North America, and overseas.
Worshipping with the students and their families and hearing them describe their experiences left me with the unmistakable impression that God had used the 1:8 Leadership Experience to deeply impact the lives of each of the 54 students who participated. Keith Inman, who directs this ministry, explains, “The purpose of 1:8 is to develop leaders who will have a Great Commission/Great Commandment lifestyle. Teaching is provided by seminary professors, church staff, campus ministers, and committed believers. Topics include: what does it mean to be a disciple? How does one study the Word? How do I become a person who contributes to healthy relationships with authentic love? What is a Biblical worldview? Evangelism training and the overall 1:8 experience empowers students to share their faith with boldness. Each day, leadership principles are studied from the Scriptures. All of this is channeled through the local church and our missionaries serving on the field. It is our desire that students will serve with healthy role models who are willing to invest in the next generation of leaders.”
The students immediately apply their training as they work on mission projects. This summer, students served on four teams: Southeast Asia/Thailand; New York City/Central Asia; First Baptist Church, Shelbyville/Ecuador; and Denver/San Francisco. Inman observes, “Students are returning from the mission field with a better understanding of who they are, who God is, and how His story transforms our story into a bridge of redemption.”
Students shared about many of their experiences during the celebration service. One student told of his team being disturbed as they watched a street preacher scream at pedestrians in Times Square but the experience gave them the idea to use silent “cardboard testimonies” as a unique evangelism tool that drew people off the street into sincere conversations about life, brokenness, and hope through Jesus. A university in Central Asia with no Christian witness opened their doors to our team and the Gospel was shared, answering ten years of prayer by our missionaries. Students shared the Gospel on university campuses in Southeast Asia every day, resulting in additions to newly formed church plants. The hard ground of Bangkok left a powerful impression of spiritual warfare and darkness. In Ecuador, students saw the results of perseverance by missionaries who recently observed two church plants explode to fifty, right in the backyard of Christian martyrs Jim Elliot and Nate Saint. County Fair workers here in the states were converted, children were loved, and people were served.
And in the midst of it all, future leaders for the Kingdom were being trained as the students were exhorting, encouraging, and loving one another, as well as praying, serving, crying, and laughing together.
Now another mission field awaits them: our university and college campuses here in Kentucky. Say a prayer for them to share with the same boldness on their campuses that they displayed this summer, knowing that the percentage of lost persons they encounter on those campuses is probably no different than what they encountered overseas. Pray also for Keith Inman and his team as they scramble for resources and make preparations for the summer of 2012, carrying out the mission of our collegiate ministries to train up the next generation of Kentucky Baptists determined to reach the world for Christ!
How is your church investing in equipping college students? Advice for other churches? Do you currently partner with any of our campus ministers? Leave a comment.