[Ministry Spotlight] Encouraging the next generation of leaders

A woman and girl walk down a dirt road in the Kingdom of Bhutan. (IMB photo)

If you asked many of our ministry leaders around the state, “When did you realize you were called to ministry?” Many would respond that it was during their collegiate years. Often it is through the biblical community and mission opportunities at either a collegiate-engaged church or campus-based collegiate ministry like the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) that God made His calling on their lives clear. 

I’d like to share with you a story I heard when I was still a college student, and a new believer, while sitting on the shores of the Black Sea on the foreign mission field. God used this story to re-affirm my call to ministry and from it became what I call my “mission statement” in life.  

In the late 1700’s two young men in their 20’s heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had a few thousand slaves. The slave owner had said, “No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he’s shipwrecked, we’ll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he’s never going to talk to any of us about God, I’m through with all that nonsense.” 

A few thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa were brought to an island in the Atlantic and left there to live and die without hearing of Christ. God so moved on these two young men’s hearts that they sold themselves to the British planter for the standard price for a male slave. They used the money they received for their sale to purchase passage to the West Indies. The atheist planter would not even transport them. 

Their community came to see the two lads off, who would never return, having freely sold themselves into a lifetime of slavery. As members of the slave community, they would witness as Christians to the love of God. 

Family members were emotional, weeping. Was their extreme sacrifice wise? Was it necessary? As the ship slipped away with the tide and the gap widened. The housings had been cast off and were curled up on the pier. The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” 

I am sure these young men and their families had hopes and aspirations for their lives. To get married, for a career of some sort, or whatever else folks in the 1700’s aspired to. However, the calling of God superseded those desires. 

In our BCMs around the state we aren’t asking students to sell themselves into a lifetime of slavery, but we are challenging them to give at LEAST one summer of their college career to serve on the mission field and God is doing a mighty work through this challenge. We have students going to serve in Poland, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East as well as around the U.S. this summer. They will serve alongside IMB missionaries and church planters, giving them a glimpse of what a life on mission looks like.  

Not only are they stepping up to this summer challenge, but they are also choosing to give up their spring break to see the Gospel go forth. This spring break hundreds of Arkansas students are headed to New York, Houston, and Panama City Beach to engage a lost culture with the Gospel.  

We are praying not only for fruit within the peoples they are being sent to reach but also for fruit in the lives of our Arkansas students as God calls them to a life of ministry regardless of vocation. That they would be our next generation of church and community leaders with a strong sense of God’s purpose for their lives, that “the Lamb that was slain might receive the reward of His suffering” in each of them. 

Join us in praying for and encouraging this next generation of leaders.


This article was written by Chris Kohlman, College + Young Leader Missions Mobilizations, Apologetics, and Communications Strategist.

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