Once a semester, the Christian Service Expo presents students with numerous opportunities to reach the Pensacola area for Christ through Bible clubs, nursing homes, door-to-door visitation, puppetry, and more. In the lobby of the Crowne Center after a Wednesday evening service, students pause by decorated booths to meet a variety of Christian Service leaders.
After the Expo, those who have chosen a ministry will meet with their group and set aside time each week to focus on the needs and interests of others. These service opportunities help students to be united with other students, experience leadership, and serve others. The following Christian Service leaders shared the lessons they’ve learned while serving and how they can apply those lessons after graduation.
“God honors time spent serving Him,” said Taylor Bates (Sr., TX). As a nursing student and leader of Oak Tree Bible Club, Taylor has had to learn how to manage her time. “I am an advocate for Christian Service being worth the time, even in the midst of a busy semester. I have to rely on the Lord to help me stay on top of nursing school and all the ins and outs of college life,” she said. “But the Lord has a way of working things out and honoring time spent serving Him, which has been a big blessing in my life and has helped in my walk with the Lord.” She can take her time management skills into her possible future in medical missions.
Nathan Campbell (Sr., GA) has increased his communication skills through the Deaf Outreach. Meeting one Friday a month, the group seeks to bring a Christlike influence to the deaf community in Pensacola. “I joined to interact with a culture different from mine, and I continue attending to maintain the friendships I’ve made,” Nathan said. “Christian Service has allowed me to increase my communication skills, which is useful in any degree or career.”
Having served the elderly in the past, Lizzie Moger (Jr., NJ) didn’t realize how much the Oak Tree Bible Club ministers to children.“I have learned how to properly share the gospel with kids—which is vastly different from sharing with adults,” she said. “We’ve begun incorporating craft time into our club this semester to create intentional conversations with the kids about salvation.” Lizzie can apply what she’s learned in Bible club to her future as she prepares to be a teacher. “I want to be the kind of teacher that the kids look up to and can come to if they are struggling with anything,” she said. “This service has prepared me for that.”
“I’ve learned that little is much when God is in it,” said Nick Elizondo (Sr., CA), co-leader of the Elmcroft Assisted Living group. “On Friday nights we sing to the residents, share a devotional, and try to be an encouragement to whoever stays and listens. These wonderful residents always have a smile on their face. I know that this is a great way to practice my life verse (Jude 22) by showing the compassion of Christ to people who need it most,” he said. “My Christian service is preparing me for the privilege to teach junior high and high school students after graduation. Because the nursing home has taught me about having compassion, it makes me feel more equipped to have compassion for my students.”
“I like to talk,” said Malachi Kauffman (Sr., PA), leader of the Homestead Village Retirement Center Christian Service. “And talking with older people is always a fun time because of the stories they’ll share . . . sometimes on repeat,” he said. Leading his group once a week on Sunday afternoons has given Malachi leadership experience that he can take to his future ministry as a military chaplain. “I want to be the best ‘me’ that God wants me to be—spiritually, physically, and mentally, wherever He has given the green light to serve.”
Lucas Whiteside (Jr., IL) was drawn to the Harvester Door to Door Christian Service as a freshman. “I’ve always thought door knocking a necessary tool to witness. As I lead others in the group, I’m showing them how to be bold in giving the gospel,” he said. “During my time, I have learned how to present the gospel clearly and effectively and am more comfortable with it than when I first started.” As a mechanical engineering major, going door-to-door has helped Lucas develop leadership skills and relationships with all kinds of people.
“The hardest lesson to learn is that success does not equal numbers,” said John Mark Armstrong (Sr., IN), a two-year leader of the Englewood Bible Club. During his first year attending, two Bible club groups combined for a special puppet show event, and only one child came. The college students were discouraged but the greatest blessing happened unexpectedly. “After the gospel presentation, that one little boy made a profession of faith,” John Mark said. “There was not a dry eye in the group as we listened to his simple prayer of faith and learned that God was working perfectly even though we did not see it. The lessons I’ve learned in Christian Service have encouraged me to serve Him with my missions degree, domestically or oversees.”
“Seeing the heartbeat of students who are burdened to serve God uplifts me week by week,” John Mark continued. “When it’s blazing hot in the Florida sun or disappointing when there are few or no children, these students are flexible and willing to serve. God does work, even if we don’t see the fruit; we just need to be faithful to the work of the gospel.”
“I would encourage all students to join a Christian Service because we are all called to full-time Christian ministry,” said Nick Elizondo. “You do not have to just be a pastor, missionary, or Christian school teacher to serve. I pray that many college students will take advantage of the Christian service opportunities this year. It is a great way to give back to our local Pensacola community.”