Mississippi State University student, Colton Hardin, has been selected to serve as a summer missionary with Central Atlantic Leisure Ministries (CALM), associated with the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware and Ocean City Baptist Church.
Hardin is the son of Kent and Lesa Hardin of Eupora and a member of Eupora’s First Baptist Church. At MSU, he is active in the Baptist Student Union. The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board commissioned Hardin as one of a six-member team of students from BSU’s across the state to serve in Maryland. The trip begins June 3 and will continue through July 19.
“While there, I will be working with the local Baptist church to do a variety of community outreach services,” Hardin said. “In the summer, many internationals come to Ocean City, Md., seeking employment and my team and I will be there to get people connected with the church and be involved with those that come there for vacation, so this will be a great opportunity to work in a very diverse setting.”
Hardin said he hopes to learn more about various cultures and simultaneously get people plugged in with the local church.
“Please be in prayer for those I come in contact with and the team of individuals with me from Mississippi that we will work well together to further the gospel,” Hardin said.
Rev. Travis Gray of Eupora’s First Baptist Church reminds everyone to keep Hardin and other missionaries in your prayers.
“It is encouraging as a pastor to see young people with a servant’s heart,” Gray said. “Colton will be a blessing to the people that he comes in contact with. He will represent Jesus in a manner pleasing to our Lord and his church.”
Lynn Davis, director of the Central Atlantic Leisure Ministries (CALM) said she is delighted Hardin will be serving in Ocean City this summer. Davis said he is coming to a mid-Atlantic beach community and will be working with youth mission teams that serve for a week, tourists, campers, locals and J-1 visa international students from 43 nations, most from eastern Europe.
Davis said the summer staff from BSUs in Mississippi and Texas will be assigned to the various campgrounds and ministries and supervise the many volunteers that come to assist.
“I do not know which ministries and which campground will be Colton’s domain until I actually meet him and see how his personality will match,” Davis said. “The summer missionaries are essential to the resort outreaches as they are given the responsibility of connecting the volunteers with the areas of ministry and keeping campground rules obeyed and children safe. They also develop friendships with the J-1 visa students working here in Ocean City, which you pray will lead to changes in the world environment and better relationships between nations as they become world leaders. Please feel free to look at the web page for more details. Thank you Mississippi Baptists for sending him and still supporting the summer mission program and BSU. You are developing the next generation of spiritual leaders.”
Jennie Taylor, assistant director of Collegiate Ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, said the unique opportunity with this ministry is outreach to about 4,500 international students that come to work in Ocean City during the summer.
“These students are open to friendships and many of them will be eager to hear about Jesus and learn about Christianity,” Taylor said. “These students are young leaders in their own countries, speak English, and will come to worship services and dinners designed for them, as well as conversational English classes, cooking classes and a coffee house each Friday evening. All of these are events planned each week by CALM. We have a team of six student missionaries from Mississippi serving with the ministry this summer. They will also have informal opportunities to interact with these international students through sports activities such as beach volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer and basketball. It’s all about meeting people and intentionally building relationships that lead to opportunities to share the Gospel.”
In addition to opportunities with international students, Hardin and the other student missionaries will have responsibilities that include supervising youth mission teams that will come from various churches throughout the summer to help with the ministries, outreach to children in area campgrounds as well as local children that attend Ocean City Baptist Church’s “Surf and Sand Clubs” and “Parents’ Night Out.”
“What excites me most about involving our Mississippi BSU summer missionaries in opportunities like this is the chance they have not only to help with the ministry, but to grow in their own faith and discipleship,” Taylor said. “Students will learn many things about themselves this summer as they leave Mississippi and go outside their comfort zones. Their worldview will be changed, and most of them will return to their campuses with a new heart for serving others and a stronger desire to reach out to those around them with the message of hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
Taylor said she is very thankful for the vibrant ministry of the Baptist Student Unions in Mississippi and the commitment they have to disciple students and make Christ known on the college campuses and among the nations.
“Students make many choices when they leave home for college,” Taylor said. “What a testimony it is that Colton made the decision to become involved in BSU and is now serving as one of our student missionaries!”
This year, the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board commissioned 144 students to serve this summer on five continents, in 15 countries and 14 U.S. states. Some of them have already departed for the field but most will depart in early June and return in early August, Taylor said.
“We are thankful for all prayers for these students and their families, as well as the ministries they will be serving with this summer,” Taylor said.
For more information about Hardin’s summer missions experience, go to http://www.occalm.com.
See this story in the May 27, 2015 edition of The Webster Progress Times at http://websterprogresstimes.com/2015/05/27/hardin-to-serve-as-summer-missionary/
A portion of this story was published in the May 26, 2015 edition of FBC Eupora’s newsletter at BR Newsletter 5-28-15