CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa.—Several churches partnered with Baptist Bible College and Seminary to introduce high school students to local and cross-cultural ministry.
The four-day “Radiate” conference, April 10–14, was an inaugural event for the school, mixing classroom instruction with off-campus outreach opportunities. Students took part in daily training workshops on teaching the Bible and sharing the gospel and then worked directly with a range of ministries in the afternoon, allowing them to experience ministry in a small town, midsize city, and big city.
On the first full day, teams worked in Wyoming County, Pa., with Osterhout Bible Church. This was followed by an afternoon serving with Restored Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and the following day with CityView Church in Astoria, N.Y. Restored Church and CityView Church are both fairly new works, having joined the GARBC fellowship in 2012. (Read about them in “A Gift That Lasts,” “Welcome Nine New GARBC Churches,” and “All Nations Sing in Astoria.”)
Rob Rodriguez is pastor of CityView Baptist Church. He says, “I really have to hand it to Baptist Bible College for showing young people what kind of ministry they could be involved in, instead of just showing them around campus.”
Jason Jackson attended with his students from Heritage Baptist Church, Clarks Summit, where he is pastor of student ministries. He says, “In Acts 1:8, Christ lays out a simple model for living out the Great Commission in the concentric circles of geography and culture. At BBC’s Radiate Conference, teenagers were taught how to follow that model in their world. Our high school missions team from Heritage Baptist Church attended Radiate as part of the training process for our summer short-term missions trip, but Radiate trained us for much more than the summer. Our team learned how to live a missional lifestyle from experts at BBC, local church pastors, and church planters on the front lines of ministry. The workshops, general sessions, training opportunities, and field experience combined to create a meaningful, challenging, and highly practical laboratory for missional learning.”
Jason joined Mel Walker and John Jackson in speaking throughout the conference. Mel is vice president for enrollment and external relations at BBC&S, a youth ministry specialist, founder of Vision for Youth, and author of several books published by Regular Baptist Press. John is associate professor of the missions department at BBC&S, a veteran missionary, and a youth worker.
Jeffrey Bartz, associate pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Batavia, N.Y., appreciated these speakers’ teaching along with the opportunities to put it into practice.
“Putting students in a hands-on, real-life ministry setting is like injecting steroids into their spiritual maturation!” he says. “While on Radiate, we had students sharing the gospel who have never shared their faith before. Our students had the opportunity to talk with people from all over the world, from a variety of walks of life. We even had students talking to each other about the gospel, resulting in one of our students trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior right on the streets of Astoria, Queens! What was really great for me as a youth pastor, and provided me with post-trip opportunities, was getting to participate in ministry right alongside students and be involved with their learning curve. Having BBC faculty, BBC students, their pastors, and youth leaders right beside them equipped and emboldened them to serve people and share their faith. Radiate is ministry mentoring at its best! The spiritual passion of BBC’s faculty and staff rubbed off on our students. Every single one of our students told me to make sure that I sign us up for next year!”
When the conference concluded, many students went home with a passion to serve Jesus Christ where they are.
“This was the most life changing thing because I finally found my true calling—missions,” said Rebekah Eroh of Weatherly, Pa. “I feel like God is calling me to that.”