I really love college students. Being around them every day is one of the best parts of the professor gig. It makes me feel young(er)...it gives me hope for the future...and they're just plain fun!
However, I am also burdened for college students. Have been for some years now.
We parents really like to think that our children have all of their spiritual convictions & their lifestyle & their behaviors nailed down before they graduate from high school. We like to think that 18 years of living under our roof has landed all of that.
According to statistics, we are wrong.
To be sure, our impact as parents is HUGELY important. CRITICAL to shaping our children's worldview & lifestyle. We have the great responsibility and great joy and great challenge of trying to guide our children's views on life & faith & behavior.
But stastically, it is between age 18 & 24 that the vast majority of people make three VITAL decisions that shape the rest of their life:
Once again...hear this, parents!...between the ages of 18 and 24.
This reality has haunted me, cost me sleep, and driven me to prayer many times since I first ran across it some years back.
That is why I am so very thankful for those who do the incredibly difficult, messy, time-consuming job of connecting with and ministering on college campuses. Who love on young men & women in the midst of them working through those gigantic life-shaping decisions. That's a slice of the ministry harvest field that wears out & runs off many a gifted minister.
Which is why I am SO VERY GRATEFUL for the life & ministry of my buddy Lloyd Lunceford.
Lloyd is the director of the Baptist Student Union at the University of Southern Mississippi. Over the past 20 years, Lloyd has connected with, encouraged, challenged, equipped, loved on, cried with, prayed for & with, welcomed, and sent out countless students all over the world. (Literally all over the world!)
This afternoon, a number of folks will come back to USM for a football game against Marshall. But a bunch of them will gather at the BSU to honor 20 years of faithful, God-honoring ministry that is impacting the campus and world for Christ. I'll be there too.
Lloyd is one of my best friends on the planet. You know those very few friends you have to with whom you can share the depths of your heart & soul? Who know things about you that would raise eyebrows if they were broadcast, but you have no fear of them being broadcast? Around whom you can be completely yourself without having to be nervous? Lloyd's one of those guys in my life.
I'm so very grateful that Lloyd's ministry journey which previously had him living in East Asia for several years brought him to USM no long after I took a professor job on campus. (He still speaks the language he learned there fluently...I'll come back to that).
Much of what I know about ministering to/with college students, I learned from Lloyd. Much of my own passion for world missions, I learned from Lloyd. Grace toward those who hold to a different worldview, while still holding firmly to my own? Yep. Passion for students of all stripes? Yep. Priorities ordered by faith and by the Gospel? Learned that from Lloyd too. Integrity? Being "missional"? Check. Much of that learned from Lloyd.
For some years now, I've had the *great* privilege of being a small part of Lloyd's ministry as treasurer of the BSU advisory committee.
You know what Lloyd wants people to do to honor him? It's not writing blog entries like this one...and it's not vacation time...and it's not financial bonuses. He is ALL about helping students be financially able to go overseas on mission trips.
I personally know of a BUNCH of students & USM alums whose first taste of missions was as part of the USM BSU. Where will you spend this Christmas? I know where Lloyd will be; he'll be in China with a group of students, where he's been for the last several Christmases.
Lloyd is passionate about several things, but mostly about equipping men & women for world missions. And there are people living now or who have lived all over the world whose life path was set by God when they passed through the orbit of Lloyd Lunceford.
Congrats, Lloyd, on 20 years of amazing, fruitful, high-impact ministry. Thanks for letting me be part of it! Thanks also for all the cups of coffee, meals, prayers, chats, challenges, words of wise counsel, and encouragement. Thanks for letting our Lord use you so mightily in the lives of so many in so many parts of the world. Only eternity will show the full impact of what our Lord has done through you and your time at USM.
I love you, Bro!
2 Timothy 2:2
p.s. - Want to be part of something HUGE? Make your check out to: Mississippi Baptist Foundation. In the memo line write: Lloyd Lunceford student missions fund. Mail your check to Mississippi Baptist Foundation; P.O. Box 530; Jackson, MS 39205.