Last fall, bright-eyed freshman Lindsay Teweleit stepped foot onto the Texas Tech University campus seeking new adventures and friendships. But since she was placed in a dorm without a roommate, building relationships proved to be a challenge. She had no prior connections and craved community.
Lindsay was sitting alone in her room one day about a week before classes started when she suddenly heard a knock on her door.
"I literally jumped from my bed to the door, flying across the room," she said, expressing her enthusiasm about simply having a visitor.
The students greeting her at the door held a bag of goodies and said they were from the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM). They were eager to meet Lindsay after receiving her information card from the previous night's Steak Night. This one conversation initiated an extraordinary year for Lindsay.
Every August, during the campus' "Welcome Week," the week before classes begin, the Texas Tech BSM partners with local churches to host outreach events to welcome freshmen. From serving 99-cent steaks and holding an ice cream social, to giving away free furniture to international students, leaders spend the week radically loving and caring for new students.
This fall, they served 1500 steaks, delivered welcome baskets to 65 apartments, served 300 bowls of ice cream and gave furniture to 80 international students.
Jeff Kennon, Texas Tech BSM director, said being on the forefront of outreach during the Welcome Week is a prime opportunity for new students to learn about the BSM and local churches.
"It's really about us working together with churches to reach a campus that has thousands of students who aren't believers or are believers but aren't yet plugged in somewhere," he explained.
As new students arrive to campus, Jeff said, they are oftentimes seeking friendships, community and a place to belong. That is why Jeff equips the BSM leadership team to care for all students, especially the fresh faces.
"If there's not a sense that we really care for them, we're just going to be another noise," he said. "Hospitality, being welcoming and caring, plays a big part."
Lindsay, now a dorm resident assistant and active member of the BSM leadership team, found herself at this year's Welcome Week surrounded by friends, inviting new residents to Steak Night and intentionally reaching out to freshmen just as she was reached a year ago.
"I saw every other freshman as me," she said. "Every time I talked to a freshman, I thought, 'Is this another person whose life is going to be changed this year by the BSM?'"
Since that moment during Welcome Week when the friendly BSM leaders knocked on Lindsay's door, she has been on mission trips, served as a volunteer in a youth group and learned how to truly share her faith.
"I had never known how to share faith until I learned through the BSM," she said. "I definitely would not be where I am in my faith without it."
For Kennon, he has witnessed students he first met during a Welcome Week come to Christ, be baptized and become some of the strongest leaders on the BSM leadership team and in local churches.
"You just never know when you're going to touch somebody or make a contact with somebody that God might use later on in their college career," he said.
To learn more about Texas BSM and other Texas Baptists collegiate ministries, visit texasbaptists.org/collegiate.