In the next few weeks, many parents will move their children into a dorm at one of the many universities in our state and beyond. This experience is one of the most exciting and fearful times in the lives of both parents and children.

We have shaped and cared for our children across the years anticipating this moment. During this time, we realize how very important our investment is in their lives. We have taught them how to manage time and money, and make moral decisions. We have tried to teach them right from wrong, and now they will be forced to make those decisions for themselves.

How can we help our students get an edge and stay strong during their college experience? How can we counter the secular and, sometimes, even anti-Christian bias held and taught by unbelieving professors? How can we help our students respond to, perhaps, their first real experience of freedom?

I would suggest that if you are moving your students to Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), some of the challenges will be blunted. They will face freedom and choices that are real. What your students will not face are professors who try to destroy their faith and demolish their Christian worldview. Students at OBU will have their faith challenged in respect to growing in Christ, and they will be encouraged to become all they can be as a follower of Christ.

But parents with students on their way to a state university do not need to despair. Oklahoma Baptists have Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) on many campuses across our state. These ministries are designed to bring our Baptist young people and others together around the truth of Scripture. These Kingdom outposts are havens where our college students can meet, worship, share, and find spiritual encouragement in an often hostile environment. Your students will be challenged to use their new freedom in a way that will give glory to God.

Parents, you would do well to take your student by the BCM as you move them into the dorm. Make sure they get information about times when the BCM meets. As an aside, the testimony of many adults who were involved in a BCM is that they found their spouse at a BCM.

I would also suggest that one of the best things you can do is help your young person find a local Baptist church where they can connect. I know we, as parents, want them to come home every weekend, but that may not be best for them and their maturity. Students need the break from home and opportunity for guided independence. When students connect with a church during college, their ability to grow and stay spiritually strong increases.

College can be a great experience,  even when faced with the tsunami of voices pulling our students in the wrong direction. But be assured, spiritual growth and strengthened faith will not happen by accident. Isn’t that true for all of us?

If students unite the influence of the local church and the BCM, their days at college will be very positive. Indeed, these days will prepare them as leaders for our world as well as for the church. They will become mature adults and believers, having been discipled and given opportunity to work out their faith in a real adult world.