Until I started serving in campus ministry here in Butte, Montana, I had lived in Texas all my life. In fact, I had never been outside the state more than about two weeks. Now, I’ve already finished two weeks service here, working with college students at Montana Tech both through the Baptist Student Union and Park Street Baptist Church in Butte.
I’m living right next to campus at the BSU house with three other students. My first week was consumed with Winter Worship Week, when we we had a dinner and worship for college students at the church, about two blocks down the hill where the campus is located.
I was given a stack of flyers promoting Winter Worship Week to post around campus. The next day, I learned an international student in his first semester saw one of the flyers 10 minutes before we started that night and decided to attend. Pedro is a Christian from Brazil, and he was looking for a new community.
Most of my time I have been spending time with the students, whether eating meals with them at the Student Union Building, hanging out at the coffee shop on campus, watching movies or going to sporting events. But one of my favorite ways so far is playing table tennis at the BSU house. Although I’m not that good, I am learning from one of the international students, Chau (pronounced Cho). Chau, a Christian, likes to bring his international friends, Christian or not, to the house to play pingpong. I’m excited to see where that goes.
One time when I went to the SUB, I brought a snack and my fairly new Kindle. I didn’t see any students I knew, but a guy who had just sat down made eye contact and said hello. I asked to join him, and he said I could. He was sitting down to eat a late lunch and read something on his Kindle. I found out his name is Jacob, and he works on campus with one of the members of the church. We talked about a lot of things for the next 30 to 45 minutes. He never really answered my question whether or not he is a Christian, but I hope to have more conversations with him later
One of the most impactful events so far was meeting Travis and Teresa, a middle-aged married couple. On the last day of Winter Worship Week, we got a call just before we started that a couple of hitchhikers from the mission in town needed help, so we went to pick them up. They ate dinner with us at the church and attended worship with us.
The tears were real
As we ate together, I heard their story. They were on their way to Oregon where Travis was supposed to start a new job when their truck was stolen. The job fell through, and he decided to try to find a job working cattle in Montana. Both of them told us how they became Christians.
When Travis told us about the first night sleeping outside, the tears of shame in his eyes for feeling like he couldn’t provide for his wife hit me hard. Who knows for sure if they were telling the complete truth. I do know one thing, though. Those tears were true. We helped them with what we could, and it showed me even more that compassion and kindness can have an impact. I may never see them again or hear how much they appreciated our help, but that isn’t necessary.
Justin Langford, a graduate of West Texas A&M, is serving this semester with Go Now Missions in campus ministry in Butte, Montana.