Tom Clemmons understands the need to stand beside other Christians and
encourage them to share Christ with those around them. He takes that approach
everyday with the college students around him.
"I can't walk where they walk," he says. "They're literally going all over
the world on aircraft carriers, submarines, surface ships and onto different
marine bases, and they're going to impact lives that I'll never see. It's the
multiplication principle of evangelism."
An early riser, Clemmons checks his e-mail at 6 a.m. before taking his
morning shower. After logging onto his home computer, he reads the awaiting
messages from students at the three college campuses he serves as director of
the Baptist Student Union in Annapolis, Maryland.
He uses e-mail to keep in touch with approximately 260 students on his BSU
list who are enrolled at the United States Naval Academy, Anne Arundel
Community College and St. John's College. The 34-year-old BSU director receives updates from
students filling him in on their late night witnessing sessions without having
to keep such late hours, "because the students like to stay up until 1 or 2 in
the morning and I don't," he says laughing.
Technology allows him to supplement the face-to-face interaction which is
still a campus minister's main contact with young people who may be at any
point on their Christian walk--from just beginning their walks with Christ to
initiating their own efforts to share Him with others.
Equipped with a keyboard and a modem, Clemmons gains access to Naval Academy
midshipmen and students from the other two colleges whose schedules also don't
leave much time for socializing. He meets with them personally during their
free periods and follows up with more one-on-one counseling via computer.
"Mids undergo an extremely rigorous, disciplined lifestyle without a lot of
freedom, especially during their first year," says Clemmons of the Naval
Academy students. "Their computers are often their only tickets to the outside
world. I can sit in front of mine and 'talk' to them as they share their
burdens and heartaches, just to let them know that somebody is out there who
cares about them."
Although three-fourths of the 120 active BSUers in Annapolis are midshipmen,
civilian students at the other two colleges also "talk" with Clemmons by
e-mail. During the school year, Clemmons sends and receives 150 to 200 e-mails
"When I got here, I committed to taking this ministry into the twenty-first
century," recalls Clemmons, a North American Mission Board missionary. "We've
got to stay on the cutting edge of where our college students are so that we
can converse with them, speak their language."
Clemmons, an ordained minister and Air Force Academy graduate, can relate to
the challenges faced by students preparing for a demanding military
"As an advocate, I'm here to share God's Word and to encourage them during
some of the most pivotal years of their lives."
He has dozens of anecdotes of how some students became more passionate about
sharing Christ and others came to know the Lord for the first time.
"One mid with a nominal Christian background became involved in the
ministry. She was fascinated with our zeal, with the personal relationships to
Christ which others in BSU could share. She even went out with us to evangelize
other college students. During one outing, she realized that she didn't know
Christ as her personal Savior. So she confessed her sins and prayed to receive
Him. Now she's going on our next mission trip with the knowledge of God's
--Lisa M. Smith
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC