CHICAGO—Members of the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) recently spent their spring break in the “Windy City” with people from 13 different nations.
The trip to Chicago consisted of 19 UCO students spending time at a Solex, a school that provides the opportunity for international students to excel in their career field or improve their English language skills with established successful programs.
Additionally, UCO students spent time on three college campuses in Chicago including the University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago talking to students using evangelism as a communication tool.
According to loopchicago.com, The Loop, or the downtown area of Chicago, is at the “heart of America’s urban campus” with more than 58,000 students attending 22 colleges.
This is why BCM Director Chad Coleman chose Chicago for the spring break mission trip.
“In Scripture it says, pray to the Lord of the harvest for the workers and for Him to send out the workers. We already know God’s will, but we need the workers to have the courage to go out and share the Gospel,” Coleman said.
At Solex, UCO students formed three groups and helped Solex students practice conversational English by doing homework and activities daily until 2 p.m.
“Our goal was to have those conversations with them and establish a relationship so later we could invite them to coffee or dinner,” Coleman said.
Through this process, BCM students developed relationships with the international students of Solex, allowing them to then share the Gospel.
“We had an open door to the Gospel because we wanted to get to know them or be their friends. A lot of them have been in America for a year and have never had a cup of coffee or hung out with an American. So it was a great way for us to connect with them,” Coleman said.
For the second half of the spring break trip, UCO BCM members went to the three colleges with two goals: First, share the Gospel, and second, invite people they connected with to an end-of-the-week event hosted by the group’s host church.
By sitting in lunch rooms or student union areas, UCO students were able to connect with local university students.
“On trips like these, the students realize that they don’t have much time to build a relationship and that they need to get to the Gospel quicker,” said Coleman.
Before the trip, BCM students were asked to pray out of Luke 9:27. “In this passage, Jesus sees the crowds harassing the helpless and had compassion for them. We asked them to pray for compassion for the people they meet,” said Coleman.
He continued, “I think a lot of times we don’t share the Gospel because we don’t have compassion for people. So we asked them to pray for compassion and to pray for courage for each other to share the Gospel.”
The UCO BCM has a large international student population which is why Coleman wanted to show students the importance of building relationships with those unlike ourselves, by shedding light on how international students are often overlooked.
“We were able to connect with students representing at least 13 countries and share the full Gospel or at least some part of the Gospel,” said Coleman, “You can’t do that on any other trip; it’s the best international trip that I’ve ever taken students on, and it’s in the United States.”
By serving others on their spring break, UCO BCM students grew in courage and ability to share the Gospel openly on a college campus.
“I think it really helps them come back and realize that they can build relationships with students on our campus the same way that they did there in Chicago,” exclaimed Coleman. “So they come home with that confidence that they can share the Gospel without being afraid of not knowing what to say.”
When it comes to evangelism, on mission trips or not, Coleman said, “The best training is just doing it.”