Cindy McBrayer has served the Baptist Student Ministry at Texas Tech University in Lubbock twice, the second time as the cross-cultural specialist. From deep in the heart of one Texan, she shares her background and thoughts on collegiate ministry. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated minister to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
How long have you served the Texas Tech BSM, and where else have you served in ministry?
I recently began my eighth year in my second time around at the Texas Tech BSM.
I served as the associate director of the Texas Tech BSM from 1978 to 1983, then took a 29-year break to minister as a world language teacher, teaching French and Spanish in Lubbock.
When I was about 13 years into my teaching career, Anthony Campolo came to speak at my church. He challenged us “Baby Boomers” to begin praying about what God would have us do as a ministry when we retired.
Retirement seemed to be very far off for me at that time, but I began praying that God would allow me to do some kind of ministry, preferably with international students after I retired from teaching.
Fast forward to 2010. I had begun “volunteering” again with Tech BSM’s international ministry. I retired from teaching in 2012 at the young age of 59 and was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to serve as the cross-cultural specialist at the Tech BSM.
God indeed has answered my prayer for an opportunity to minister with international students.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Lubbock.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
Because I was raised by faithful Christian parents who began taking me to church as an infant, I came to faith at the young age of 9. I had excellent Sunday school teachers and Girls in Action leaders who encouraged me on my faith journey. When I was 9 years old, I began putting the pieces together and knew I wanted to commit my life to following Jesus, whatever that entailed.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I am a product of Lubbock public schools and a graduate of Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Spanish. I also have a Master of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Seminary and some post-graduate work at Lubbock Christian University.
Why do you feel called into campus ministry?
While I was a college student involved in the Baptist Student Union at Texas Tech, I felt God was calling me to the foreign mission field.
I began preparing to serve overseas by going to Southwestern Seminary. While at seminary, I was invited to attend a Texas BSU retreat for international students over Easter weekend. That weekend, I fell in love with the idea of working with international students.
Campus ministry seemed to be a good place for me to get the experience I needed before going to the mission field and a great opportunity for me as a young woman in ministry. I now know the university campus is possibly the most important mission field in the world.
What is your favorite aspect of campus ministry? Why?
I love watching students grow in their faith from the time they enter as freshmen until the time they graduate as seniors. I love seeing their eyes opened to the great opportunity they have by living on mission beginning now, not later.
What one aspect of your ministry gives you the greatest joy?
Having a front-row seat when an international student decides to risk everything and follow Jesus. Nothing else––short of my own personal experience with Christ––has made such an impact in my faith journey.
What would you like more people to know about campus ministry?
Campus ministry is more than a “youth group for college kids.” It is a strategy proven effective for keeping kids involved in their faith journey during and after college and for introducing nonchurched students to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Students who are involved in a campus ministry during their college days rarely drop out of church after graduation. Instead, they are more likely to become faithful church members and leaders.
Describe a situation or event that provides an insight into collegiate ministry.
Several of our international students who have come to faith in Jesus have now taken or sent Bibles home to their families and are sharing Jesus with them. Parents and relatives who live in other countries now are being introduced to Jesus by their children who are studying in the United States.
What priorities or goals guide your ministry?
As a cross-cultural specialist, I also have the responsibility of leading American students to see the great opportunity they have in showing hospitality to our international students. It is not just my ministry, but the responsibility of our Baptist Student Ministry to make the most of the opportunity we have been given.
What is the most heartbreaking thing that has happened in your ministry?
One of my Chinese friends came by to say, “Good-bye,” before returning to China after completing her Ph.D. She wanted to thank me for my friendship and for all the BSM had done for her while she was studying at Texas Tech. I knew she had heard the gospel many times during her time in Lubbock. She faithfully attended the Chinese church and International Christian Fellowship. But I felt led to share it with her one more time before we parted.
She listened politely and then told me she thought there probably was a God who was overseeing the world, but she was not interested in putting her faith in him. I suspect it was because she feared repercussions from the Communist government in China. I continue to pray she eventually will decide to follow Jesus.
Based upon what you have observed from campus ministry, what do you think about the future of the church?
College students who are involved in BSM most likely will become young professionals who marry and have children and will become involved in a local church. I pray the churches will take advantage of the missional skills these students are learning while in BSM so these young adults will be able to continue living out the Great Commission.
How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?
I used to think I had to go and live overseas to do my part in fulfilling the Great Commission. I have learned God has brought people from every nation to our college campuses, and we now have a great opportunity to introduce them to Jesus by showing them hospitality, kindness and friendship.
When an international student decides to follow Jesus, he or she becomes a much more effective missionary to his friends and family. Instead of having to choose one people group to dedicate my life to serving, I am blessed to be able to serve students from multiple nations.
What key opportunities will campus ministry undertake in the next 10 years?
International ministry. I cannot stress enough the importance of this opportunity for missional strategy. It just makes sense on so many levels.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
Dan Yeary was my college pastor at First Baptist Church in Lubbock when I was a college student. He ignited my love for missions.
Doug Ezell was my New Testament professor at Southwestern Seminary. He opened my eyes to see things in Scripture I had never seen before.
Len Sehested was a great influence in modeling love for international students and encouraging women in ministry.
What is the impact of your ministry on your family?
As we have hosted international students in our home throughout the years, my parents, in-laws, children and now grandchildren have become hospitable and sympathetic to and interested in people from other cultures. It truly has been a blessing in all of our lives.
Name some of your favorite non-biblical books or authors and explain why.
While teaching French, I learned of a small village in southern France that was responsible for saving an estimated 5,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust. I had the privilege of visiting Le Chambon and attending the church where the Protestant pastor inspired the entire village––Catholics, Protestants and atheists––to protect and save these children, many of whose parents had been sent to extermination camps. This experience led me to extensive reading about the French Resistance and the Holocaust during World War II.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Lamentations 3:22-23. It is very comforting to me to know the lovingkindness of the Lord is new every morning and indeed will never cease.
Other than Jesus, who is your favorite Bible character? Why?
Probably Paul, because he wrote Galatians, which was my favorite class in seminary taught by my favorite professor, Doug Ezell.