In the fall of 1970, my parents took me to begin my freshman year at Delta State College. When I say "they took me," I mean that literally. No car and launching on an experience that changed my life.
One of the first and best decisions I ever made was to check out the Baptist Student Union. Jimmy Breland had already been serving as BSU Director for twenty years when I arrived. I had grown up in a small church and committed to follow Christ vocationally at the age of 15, my pastor said, "Since you are going into ministry, you will either preach or lead singing." The next Sunday night, Thry let me preach and immediately decided, "You must be a singer!"
I thank God daily for the ministry of Jimmy Breland. He saw enough in me to encourage me to seek God on committing my life to helping college students to "KNOW Christ, AND MAKE HIM KNOWN!". He gave me chances as a student to lead, gave me an opportunity to serve as a graduate assistant during my master's study, and hired me as an assistant the year following my graduate work at Delta State. I owe my life's work and opportunity to his trust in me. It is hard to believe I have completed more than 40 years of working with students. Here are a few things I have learned (maybe I should say am learning) during these years.
1. People matter more than programs.
I often stop and remind myself that I once was a freshman from Alligator, MS, stepping onto the college campus for the first time. Investing in these new students personally is the strength of how God used me during these many years. It has not always been easy, but the rewards have been great.
2. My world is not nearly as big as I thought it was.
BSU gave me the opportunity to see the world through God's eyes. I love to tell students that the sun never sets on the BSU at Southern Miss, my home for the past 25 years. God has used me to introduce thousands of students to more than 40 nations. Before coming to USM, I was an IMB missionary in Taiwan where I learned to communicate in Mandarin Chinese. God has used this gift from here daily on our campus, BUT most of all he has kept my heart fresh for introducing more than 1,000 students to opportunities to take the gospel to the largest nation on earth.
3. BSU is not a para-church organization.
Mississippi Baptists have given me the opportunity to lead students to love, serve, and connect with the church. I find myself reminding our church folks that we ARE their college ministry whether they want us to be or not. My college days were were never a choice between BSU and the local church. My parents took me to church on Sunday night before they left me at Delta State. I will always remember my Dad tapping the couple in front of us at the end of the service and saying, "This is our son, LLoyd. He is yours for the next four years." Dad never minced his words. Peck and Carolyn McClelland became my parents at college for the next four years. This is who we are (or should be) as BSU.
The changes in society and church culture have made things more difficult, BUT, encouraging finding a place of service in the local church is a must for college students today.
Lloyd Lunceford serves as the BSU Director at Southern Mississppi University in Hattiesburg where he leads one of the strongest campus based college ministries in the south and is a model in sending students to the nations.
Coming Late Summer: "The 10 Commandments of College Ministry"....a Kindle E Book.