Discipling the Next Generation: Southeastern and BeDoTell Partner to Equip Students
Chad Burchett | April 12, 2023
The College at Southeastern and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (NC Baptist) desire to see future generations become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Through BeDoTell (BDT), the student ministry arm of NC Baptist, Southeastern and NC Baptist are partnering to help thousands of North Carolina students hear the gospel, be discipled, and gain invaluable ministry experience.
Focused on becoming a Christian (Be), discipling others (Do), and telling others about Jesus (Tell), BDT shares Southeastern’s passion for equipping students. As a longtime BDT ministry partner, Southeastern annually staffs and partners with BDT to reach North Carolina students and see them mobilized as Great Commission disciple makers.
“Southeastern’s partnership with NC Baptist, and BDT specifically, represents the best of who we are because it is such a clear expression of our mission to serve the local church and fulfill the Great Commission,” shared Scott Pace, dean of The College at Southeastern.
Southeastern’s partnership with NC Baptist, and BDT specifically, represents the best of who we are because it is such a clear expression of our mission to serve the local church and fulfill the Great Commission.
“As we cooperate together, we are co-laborers for the cause of Christ who are combining our resources to make disciples by reaching and teaching NC students in the name of King Jesus,” noted Pace, who also serves as a regular speaker and counselor at BDT events.
Partnering with BDT is a strategic way Southeastern supports and serves local NC Baptist churches. Annually, dozens of Southeastern’s students, staff, faculty, and alumni volunteer to be summer camp workers, student counselors, and event speakers. This personal investment in these students’ lives has allowed thousands of young disciples to grow and to be equipped by more seasoned Christians, who can encourage them on their spiritual journey.
“Jesus didn’t call any of us to be alone in our journey of faith,” remarked Merrie Johnson, student ministries strategist for NC Baptist. “Jesus intended the Church to work together to reach the world for Christ. Southeastern and NC Baptist exist to help churches work together on mission. Our partnership with Southeastern has allowed us as fellow journeyman on this road of calling out the called to have solid biblical leadership and follow-up for students.”
Jesus didn’t call any of us to be alone in our journey of faith. Jesus intended the Church to work together to reach the world for Christ.
Johnson, who has overseen these student ministry efforts for twenty-two years, knows the profound impact of this partnership on tens of thousands of students across the state. Just last summer, Johnson witnessed God move mightily among the next generation as students came to faith, renewed their commitment to Christ, and took first steps toward vocational ministry.
“This summer we saw 412 students accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives,” noted Johnson. “We saw 1,548 students recommit to following Jesus, studying his word, and living out their faith more intentionally. Amazingly, we also saw 585 students called to ministry as a full-time vocation — whether as a pastor, a youth minister, a worship leader, or a missionary.”
As one of the 585 students who answered God’s call to full-time ministry, Zach Lloyd stepped out in obedience to God’s direction in his life through the encouragement of Tommy Wreay, a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry student at The College.
In God’s providence, Tommy first heard about BDT during one of his classes with Pace in the spring of 2022.
“Dr. Pace knew that I felt called to student ministry, so he pulled me aside after class one day and shared with me that there was an opportunity to go to BDT over the summer as an ambassador for Southeastern,” recalled Tommy. “The Lord really opened every door that needed to be opened for me to be able to go. So, I decided to serve at camp that summer, and it was well worth it!”
While serving at BDT, Tommy was able to answer students’ questions, share about his experience at Southeastern, and even lead a breakout session on discerning a call to ministry and pursuing next steps. As a BDT staffer, Tommy also helped out with the events production team where he met Zach for the first time.
From seventh grade through high school, Zach had grown up going to BDT each summer as a camper and had wanted to be a BDT staffer for some time. When his application was approved to serve on staff at camp over the summer, he was excited for the opportunity to serve. Zach and Tommy met during a BDT training at Fort Caswell in April of 2022, but it was not until the third week of camp that summer that Zach reached out to Tommy for help discerning God’s call on his life.
Zach had been wrestling with a call to full-time vocational ministry for a year, but he kept pushing it aside because he had already committed to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Burdened by a sense of call on his life, Zach texted Tommy for help.
“I told Tommy that I was feeling called to ministry, but I didn’t know what to do about it,” narrated Zach. “He ordered us a workbook to walk through together and was patient to counsel me through the process. It was eventually with Tommy that I got to lead a kid named Jonah through the process of recommitting his life to Christ. That experience helped confirm some things for me. That’s why I told Tommy afterwards that I was ready to pursue full-time ministry.”
Through Tommy’s weekly investment, Zach began to grow in confidence and in his desire to pursue ministry training. Zach decided to apply to The College for the fall semester and resolved that if God wanted him to pursue ministry preparation at The College, he would transfer from UNCW. Zach prayed that God would clarify his next steps.
In God’s timing, Southeastern’s director of admissions was scheduled to visit Caswell that next day. After talking with him, sensing God’s peace, and being accepted to The College, Zach enrolled that fall in The College’s Bachelor of Arts in student ministry program.
Now Zach and Tommy serve together as ambassadors for Southeastern’s admissions team, helping other students as they discern God’s call on their lives and consider ministry training. For Tommy, helping people go where God sends them is integral to what it means now to be a part of Southeastern’s community.
“I love helping prospective students as they consider Southeastern because our admissions team desires students to go where God sends them — even if it’s not at Southeastern,” shared Tommy. “Southeastern is also focused on mobilizing students once they get here. The idea that a seminary is so willing to push their students out on mission and not just hold onto them is really refreshing to me. Southeastern is focused on the mission of mobilizing the Church by training students for ministry. It is so cool that Southeastern provides opportunities for us to partner with churches in ministry and work together at places like BDT at Fort Caswell.”
The idea that a seminary is so willing to push their students out on mission and not just hold onto them is really refreshing to me.
Zach has developed this same mindset and approach to ministry not only since studying and working at Southeastern but also while watching people from Southeastern serve and lead at BDT. He remembers observing Pace and Ronjour Locke, professor of preaching and urban ministry, model a vibrant passion for ministry during their time at BDT.
“Dr. Pace and Dr. Locke preached some of the best sermons that summer, but that was not all they did,” Zach recalled. “They would both take time after each message to sit down with students and leaders to answer questions. They were always willing to meet with students. At BDT, I got to see their heart for the ministry and how it didn’t just end when they stepped down from the pulpit. Being around them at BDT was really encouraging to me as someone who just surrendered to the ministry.”
“Just like Southeastern, BDT is committed to the faithful preaching of God’s word and a daily reliance on God through prayer,” shared Tommy. “BDT is not only a fun and encouraging community experience but also an intentional time of discipleship and ministry. Southeastern students and faculty only add to this discipling community and model a strong commitment to ministry and to ministry training.”
BDT is not only a fun and encouraging community experience but also an intentional time of discipleship and ministry.
Zach and Tommy represent countless other stories of how God is at work in Southeastern’s ongoing partnership with BDT. Together, Southeastern and BDT serve local churches by discipling and mobilizing students. Together, they offer students invaluable ministry experience and an opportunity to learn, serve, and grow in community. Together, they help future generations discern and answer God’s call and prioritize Great Commission ministry through the local church.