PLAINVIEW– A student from Wayland Baptist University experienced a great adventure with God through a semester long mission. For many college students, taking off a semester to do mission could sound very unusual but for Steve Howe it didn’t. He simply obeyed God’s calling.
Howe, a senior religion major, was in Massachusetts leading a college ministry. Upon his return in January, he wishes to share his valuable experience as a collegiate minister with other students.
It was the last spring that he made the decision to go to Massachusetts after listening to a guest speaker at a Wayland worship service addressing the need for ministry workers in New England, especially Connecticut. At first, Howe was looking for a position in Connecticut through Go Now Missions, a project of the Baptist General Convention of Texas student ministries, but the position wasn’t available in Connecticut that time, so instead they offered him a position at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
"I'd never really thought about that area, but I really felt like God was laying it on my heart," Howe said. Although going on a mission meant delaying graduation by six months, he said he "kept feeling like God wanted me there."
During his semester at Clark, Howe served as one of the four collegiate ministers affiliated with the Worcester Collegiate Christian Network. He held a Bible study on campus one night a week and helped lead a biweekly service “Ignite,” building relationships with the students there.
"People would come up eventually and ask me why I wasn't in classes or what I was doing, and I got a chance to say, 'Funny you should ask. …' and tell them a little about what I was there for," Howe said.
Howe said still one of the most effective evangelistic tools that drew students was holding jam sessions in one of the campus dorms, which allowed him to reach out to students through music calling it "very non-threatening presentation of the gospel."
Howe said the biggest lessons he learned involved realizing how differently religion is viewed in different parts of the country.
"Some are really jaded toward Christianity because they see some who are supposed to be Christians but don't live like it," he said. "At Clark, they're pretty liberal and open-minded, which just means they'll listen to what you say, but they don't want you to push anything on them.
"Absolute truth is not a popular idea to talk about, so we had to be really tactful when we presented the gospel. God really convicted me about my mindset about other religions and having a greater sensitivity toward people who aren't Christians."
Through his experience in mission, Howe gained new passion for college ministry. He also realized how God could use his ideas to perform something greater that he would never expect.
"You walk in thinking that you're going to do all these great things, but I think I came away receiving more than I gave away," he said. "God really reduced me to the place where I realized I'm just a guy trying to reach out and not judge people."