In June of 2015, Clayton Bullion, the BSM Director at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, and his wife Bethany ventured to Portland, Oregon to visit five of their Go Now Missionaries who were serving with the Northwest Collegiate Ministries (NCM) for the summer.
“Our hope was to encourage our team, visit as many campuses as we could, and get a ‘feel’ for college ministry there and see if there was anything we could do to help,” Clayton said. “We were not prepared for what we encountered.”
From Seattle, Washington, down to Eugene, Oregon, they visited 12 campuses and realized that hundreds of thousands of university students were going through school and not being engaged with the Gospel.
“You can't walk among lost and unengaged students like that and it not shake you to your core,” Clayton recalled. “We sat at a coffee shop on Portland State University's Campus our last day in town with Ken and were speechless. We told him, ‘Ken, we don't know what to do. We don't know whether God is asking us to move up here next week or send everybody we know!’”
Ken Harmon, Director of Northwest Collegiate Ministries, recalls talking with Clayton and Bethany in that same Portland coffee shop.
“Clayton and Bethany arrived in Portland all starry eyed, filled with youthful zeal. We talked about how they could be most effective,” he said. “We talked about whether they needed to be in the northwest or stay in Texas to mobilize students and other workers to come to the northwest. It takes a courageous couple who will submit their personal desire and passions to the Lord to be more influential in Kingdom work.”
Clayton and Bethany came home determined to prepare workers for Oregon. They began to pray that God would prepare the hearts of Tarleton students and local churches and that they would catch the vision God had given them to reach the northwest. From this a partnership with the NCM was born.
Since June of 2015, Tarleton State has sent 43 students and staff to work with NCM on 10 different college campuses across the northwest. Local Texas churches have been sending students, members, staff and resources as well.
In November, a team of 14 Tarleton students and local church members and staff will be in Seattle, WA to provide meals for the NCM Fall Retreat.
This past August, NCM was able to send their first team of nine to Texas to serve alongside Tarleton during their first week of classes.
Matt Munger, NCM Director at Oregon State University, brought one of his students to Tarleton in August to help with “Howdy Week.”
“I caught a renewed vision for my campus at Oregon State,” Matt said. “Ministry here has been slow and difficult these past two years with little student involvement from the student leaders I have had. To see students not only leading other students, but motivating each other to work hard and share the gospel during 'harvest season' was reinvigorating to watch.”
During their week at Tarleton, Matt and the rest of the NCM team spent time collecting spiritual surveys on campus, passing out popsicles and BSM information and engaging new students on campus. They also selflessly put themselves behind the scenes at certain events to allow for Tarleton students more face time with their peers.
“This was an extremely humbling week,” Clayton said. “NCM came in and worked hard and loved our students well. They served and took the behind the scene jobs so our students would be freed up to engage their peers. They were ready to serve and constantly asking questions trying to learn. It was an overwhelming experience to see their eagerness to serve in every aspect.”
With a partnership that is now a year and a half old, Tarleton and NCM students have formed encouraging friendships that are not limited by thousands of miles. Garrett Harmon, a student at the University of Oregon, enjoyed getting to serve along side his Texas friends on their campus.
“It was really encouraging just being able to work alongside so many other college aged Christians,” Garrett said. “With an NCM of only three other college age students on leadership, it is great to work and talk with other student believers.”
Tarleton State is a campus of about 8,800 students. During their week at Tarleton, NCM helped reach about 3,255 students. That means that 1 in every 3 students came in contact with the BSM.
Morgan Little is a Go Now Campus Missionary Intern at Tarleton State University BSM.