For college sophomore Arly Garza, handing out hot dogs and Bibles on her university campus took on a deeper meaning when she was able to serve alongside both her college friends and church leaders.
The idea behind the UT Rio Grande Valley BSM-led initiative, called "Feeding the 4,000," derived from Mark 8:1-9 where Jesus and His disciples distributed a small amount of bread and fish to 4,000 people.
Local churches, such as Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, joined in the effort by providing financial donations for hot dogs and New Testament Bibles, by praying for the college students and by volunteering at the event.
During the lunch hour on Sept. 22, those local church volunteers teamed up with BSM student leaders to cook and serve hot dogs and distribute the Bibles to around 4,000 students.
Garza, who also serves on the BSM leadership team, said seeing the churches join the BSM students on the college campus was an extraordinary example of being united as the body of Christ.
"It meant a lot for me to be serving God along with my friends, my pastor and pastors from other churches," Garza explained, admitting it literally brought her to tears. "In the end, it doesn't matter (what church we're from) because we are all representing God. It meant a lot for me to see everyone serving together."
Julio Guarneri, pastor of Calvary Baptist, said partnering with the BSM for such events provides his church a strategic opportunity to help the BSM students with the logistics (like buying, grilling and serving hot dogs) so they can focus on boldly sharing the Gospel to their peers.
"In my 30-plus years of ministry, I've seen how the BSM is a blessing to the church and how the church can be a blessing to the BSM," he said.
Because of the servant-hearted efforts from around 100 volunteers, the BSM fed thousands of students and distributed every Bible they had.
"We weren't out there for ourselves," Garza said. "We were out there representing God and what Christ has done in us."
Seeing the body work together so efficiently and witnessing students willingly take the Bibles is what Garza said made the event feel like a true success.
"It brought a big smile on my face to see them take the Bible and open it up," she said. "Not only did they get food, they took the Word of God home with them."
Baptist Student Ministries impact thousands of college students each year on 115 campuses across the state. Through outreach events such as Feeding the 4,000, BSM student leaders are reaching their campus for Christ every day in unique ways and invite local churches to walk alongside them in their outreach endeavors. To find and connect with a BSM near your church, visit texasfreshmen.org. Please view the photo slideshow of the event below.