STRONG FOUNDATION

Ministry builds new home atop scripture, prayer

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The concrete hasn’t yet been poured, but the foundation’s already in place at Kilgore College’s Baptist Student Ministry.

Before the shovels turned over dirt in Sunday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony on a new home for the faith-based outreach, its leaders, supporters and participants wrote key scriptures on notecards, sealed them in a time capsule and prepared to bury it underneath the coming facility.

“We’re going to lay a foundation of prayer and, actually physically, God’s word to be a part of this process,” said Jaymi Blankenship, BSM director. As that process moves forward, so do the ministry’s activities: “Whether or not we have a building, we still do ministry on this campus week-to-week, and we’re thankful to God for that.”

Longtime BSM supporter Dr. Charles Whiteside offered the opening prayer for Sunday’s groundbreaking, which also ended in prayer as attendees grasped hands in a weaving circle beside the dirt footprint of the coming building.

“What an exciting time for Kilgore College and the community of Kilgore,” said Whiteside, a donor to the BSM’s cause and member of the organization’s building team. He cited Isaiah 54:2 and the call to “Enlarge the place of your tent.

“That’s what we’re going to try to do here on this campus. I’ve been around many, many years and I’ve seen a lot of good things come through the BSM at Kilgore College. It’s just great, and we hope that by building this building we’ll see more blessings of God come on this community.”

The BSM thrives under the umbrella of the Gregg Baptist Association, Blankenship noted, relying on the combined support of numerous churches throughout the area and celebrating their role in bringing the new project to fruition.

“We’re so thankful for all of our churches that participate and help us on a day-to-day basis.”

Whether the old building or the new, it’s God’s house, Blankenship said, and he’s as focused as ever on the mission he embraced when coming to the campus four years ago.

“Let’s just focus on loving God and loving others,” he reminded the group Sunday. “Today the campus ministry here feeds, physically and spiritually, an average of 350 to 450 students a week.”

It all is in partnership with local churches and their congregation members, Blankenship repeated.

“We didn’t want to start the building process until we had the building mostly paid for, and we’re there thanks to many of you out there who have given generously for that ... There are many churches represented here today and I think that is a testimony to what God does on this campus.”

In addition to the building – Blankenship praised contractors Kenny, Keith and Nate Mobbs for their ongoing support and coming construction – the new BSM will include an endowment wall built of bricks, remembering donors and their favorite scriptures, that can be reserved for $500 or $250 each.

“With a new building, with more opportunities to reach more students, it’s going to have more costs,” Blankenship noted. “We’re going to put all our funds together in an endowment to make sure our ministry can continue on well beyond us ... for many, many years.”

After each attendee’s scripture was collected and the handwritten cards were sealed in the time capsule, Blankenship reminded the crowd how those who built the first BSM facility prayed over the land, and invited building team member Montie Martin to lead the circle of supporters in prayer.

The BSM is an investment in the lives of young college students, Martin noted, guiding young people on their own for the first time as they develop their values and choose their paths.

“These are very crucial times in the lives of the students here, and your involvement is so very, very important.”

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