The Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville, is an active avenue for college students to come together, ask questions, explore new ideas within their faith, and learn more about Jesus Christ. Another initiative of BCM is to connect students to their local churches for community, service, and growth through different volunteer opportunities, internships, and filling staff positions. When BCF students were required to move fully online to complete the spring semester and continuing through the summer months, the BCF Campus Minister Lance Beauchamp explored unique ways to keep students engaged and connected which resulted in a long-distance friendship between a student in Graceville and the other living in New York.
Determined to keep BCF students connected and engaged spiritually, Beauchamp moved his weekly Coffee Hour to a virtual meeting and added a weekly Bible study “virtual but real Bible study” for all of the students through Zoom. He sent out email reminders, posted on Facebook, and encouraged students to participate in the online BCM events to stay connected throughout the semester and through the summer. All of the BCF students, whether taking classes online or on campus, were now connected to the BCM events online, together, in a way that otherwise may not have been considered in the past.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, two BCF students connected via one of the BCM Zoom sessions and formed an unlikely friendship. Hannah Weber is from New York, specifically Hudson Valley, and started her degree program at BCF in 2018 as a fully online student. She is seeking to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education in hopes of one day teach in a piano studio or potentially a school. Being a fully online student, Weber has never been able to join any extra events or gatherings that BCF has provided other than those seen on the website or through classroom experiences. “When I came to BCF, I had no idea how someone taking an online class could commune with their peers or classmates on campus,” stated Weber. “There is such a Christlike community at BCF, and now anyone can take part in this community!”
The second BCF student is Elyssa McCallum, a senior pursuing her degree in Elementary Education. McCallum is originally from Crestview, Fla., but has resided in on campus housing until BCF had to move to a fully online presence during the spring. McCallum returned home and complete her coursework online in Crestview. Missing the interactions with other people, McCallum made it a priority to join every Zoom meeting and every online Bible study that the school offered. After hearing Weber’s testimony, McCallum reached out and offered support from one BCF student to another. After an exchange of emails, it soon turned into personal Zoom meetings, face time calls, and now a wonderful friendship.
Both students shared how this experience and unique connection has been a blessing. “While this pandemic has brought many hardships to the world, the Lord has brought many blessings through it as well. Without the pandemic, I don’t think I would have ever been able to join a BCF Bible study online, and I definitely wouldn’t have really ‘met’ Dr. Lance or Elyssa,” stated Weber. “I have been very blessed to be able to find a like-minded Christian friend, and it is truly an answer to many years of prayer.” McCallum agreed stating, “This unlikely occurrence has just brought so much encouragement in this difficult time. Getting to connect with other Christians that are the same age as me is a cool experience. And that we have so much in common is like a super God thing, like we would have never met if quarantine hadn’t happened.”
BCF is a place where students are trained and equipped through classes on campus and online. What a special connection that these two students, one in Graceville and one in New York, now have, resulting in a forever friendship, having met online during extraordinary circumstances. According to Beauchamp, even though classes have now resumed on campus, the online students are forever connected to the Coffee Hour and Bible studies!
For more information on The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800.328.2660 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.