Delia Cantu, a freshman at Texas A&M International in Laredo, was on campus four hours too early for class – on her birthday – and was not sure why. She also was not sure why, as she kept “hopping from building to building with nothing to do,” she was drawn to the simple poster on the table. Or why she stopped when Emilio Vega greeted her at the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) table.
“Oh, I don’t want to talk with him,” she remembers thinking.
But she’s overjoyed that she did.
Vega, who’d only recently started as the BSM campus missionary, was hanging out with several BSM students in the Breezeway, a shaded space between two buildings on campus, for “Breeze Reach,” a weekly canvassing opportunity to meet and forge connections with students.
“How do you feel about religion? Where do you stand?” Vega asked her.
“I don’t know,” Delia replied. “I’m completely lost.”
That encounter back in October was the start of a journey, Delia says, to something – Someone – she didn’t even know she was searching for. Several weeks later, she answered another question – are you ready to trust in Jesus? – and found new life in Christ.
“It’s surreal,” Delia says. “I have so much love for God, I don’t want it to ever end. I’m so grateful I have the opportunity to feel this.”
Delia’s story – which she tells everyone – is an example of how Baptist Student Ministries across Texas are reaching college students for Christ. In fact, the campus’s BSM directors both found salvation through the BSM at Texas A&M-Kingsville during their time as students.
They felt called to start a similar ministry because they knew what an impact it could have. Last June, they moved to Laredo, where Texas A&M International and Laredo College combined have more than 15,000 students, and began working to reach students with the gospel.
Beginning with two students, the group has now grown to almost two dozen. It’s still early, but the Vegas believe they’re seeing the results of their prayer for the ministry.
“It’s not about the numbers we bring in,” Emilio says, “but about faithfulness to God. We want to make sure we’re proclaiming the gospel and walking that out. (Delia) is a testament to that work.”
Although Delia’s family heritage is Catholic, she grew up without much involvement in religion. A lifelong Laredo resident, she started college on a search for meaning. “I was really lost,” she says. Just days before that meeting at the BSM table in the Breezeway, she’d dabbled in Buddhism.
When Emilio asked what she was searching for, Delia answered quickly: “Happiness.”
Emilio asked: “What if I told you that with Jesus, you get more than happiness – you get joy? Because happiness is fleeting.”
He shared the gospel and then prayed for Delia. As Emilio began to pray, Delia started to cry – actually, she describes it more as “bawling, sobbing.”
“I didn’t understand what was happening,” she says. “I didn’t plan to go and cry at the Breezeway. There were tons of people there – 50 people walking by. It was so embarrassing. I’d never met this man, and I’m crying.”
When Vega finished praying, he asked if Steph, a fellow student, could have Delia’s number to give to Priscilla. The next day, Steph and Priscilla met with Delia in the student center. They brought a birthday cake and just talked.
Priscilla and Delia quickly became inseparable. “The Lord really placed her on my heart,” Priscilla says. Along with studying with Priscilla and attending BSM worship gatherings, Delia started reading the Bible on her own.
Several times, Emilio or Priscilla asked: Do you want to follow Jesus? But Delia wasn’t ready. Then one day, she visited the Vegas’ house to bring them a gift – and received a much bigger gift in return.
“You’ve been hearing what it means to be a follower of God, and the cost of following Jesus,” said Priscilla that day. “But we haven’t heard what you think, how you’re intaking it.”
Delia understood that to follow Christ meant giving him control of her life. And while she confessed to being afraid, she also said:
“I’m ready to surrender. How do we go about it?”
And then, in their living room, Delia gave her life to Jesus.
“Before Christ, I was living a life full of fear, temptation and misery,” she said. “Through all this, I believed that I was living a life with unconditional love, excitement, entertainment and wonder. I excused everything that was misleading for temporary pleasure.
“Surrendering to God opened my eyes to what life really is. … Life with Christ has given me the opportunity to experience life full of purpose, my heart full of peace, and newness of life.”
She wants others who are in what she describes as “dark places” – like she was – to find life in Christ, too.
“Understanding the gospel, I’m capable of sharing it with others,” she said in the video. “And I like providing service to others and loving on them like God loves us.”
Learn more about the impact BSM is having at txbsm.org.