Although Riley Sowell worked in conjunction with Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at Tulsa, Olivet, he said he never thought he would leave a local church position to work for BCM.
“But God changed my heart,” Sowell said. “He set us up to hand over our leadership at Olivet, and I started with Tulsa Community College’s BCM in January 2020.”
Sowell grew up in the Tulsa area, settling in Sand Springs, where he graduated from high school. He spent a year as a student at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, then moved back home to Tulsa Community College. He finished his bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University, Tulsa.
While in college, he married his wife, Caitlin, who was a student at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.
“I had started seminary online at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City and was also working as a barista at Boulder Coffee, mowed lawns during the summer months and served as one of the pastors at Tulsa, Olivet, focusing on young adults,” Sowell said. “I finished school with a Master’s in Theological Studies with a focus in church planting.”
Sowell admitted he loves what God is allowing him to do at the BCM.
“We’ve witnessed a number of people profess faith in Christ and countless others grow in understanding their role in God’s mission to preach the Gospel and make disciples,” he explained.
Sowell noted the students are on mission in Tulsa every week, telling dozens of people the Gospel and getting to meet new students during their weekly lunches, which local churches supply and serve, while he and those at the BCM sit and talk with the students.
“The weekly lunches at the West and Northeast campus locations serve two purposes,” Sowell said. “And that’s to bless students with an opportunity for genuine conversations, including Gospel conversations, and bless students with a quality meal.”
Sowell said when they meet new students who come to their dinner and Bible study, their goal is to set up a Gospel appointment over coffee or lunch.
“A Gospel appointment is simple,” he said. “We hear their story, tell our story and then tell God’s story. We also like to answer any questions they have about BCM.”
Sowell noted, because COVID happened right after he was hired, he has never led a BCM mission trip.
“But we want students to use their breaks, especially summer, to go and preach the Gospel through IMB, NAMB or trips we organize,” he pointed out.
Sowell said the BCM could always use more laborers and people praying for laborers.
“Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest—more students, more churches,” Sowell said. “God is capable of opening doors and drawing people to himself. He has called us to tell them the Gospel, make them into disciples and connect them with a local church. We labor for this, striving with His strength, which works powerfully in us.”
Sowell’s wife, Caitlin, works a few days a week at a Day School. The couple has three young children—Ruth Cate, Eden and Luke.
“Rarely do we go a week without someone being sick,” Riley confessed. “But we also don’t go a day without hugs, kisses and playing. Life is an adventure, a blast, exhausting, sweet and hard, sometimes all at the same time. I love my wife so much, and she cares for our family extremely well. We couldn’t survive without her. I couldn’t do my job without her. God has been beyond good to us even in the moments when it is hard to see.”
Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together.
Riley Sowell is featured in the 2022 Missionary Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. To see more information about his ministry, visit oklahomabaptists.org/cp.