by Hanna Newcomer - Tarleton State University, Class of 2019
“Love God. Serve Others. Live Righteously.” That is the mission statement of the Tarleton State University Wesley Foundation in Stephenville. If you do not know, Wesley Foundations are United Methodist student ministries for college students across the country. The Methodist denomination was founded by John Wesley, a man who once said to “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” It might make sense for any and all people who practice a faith in this denomination to be giving and generous, yet the Tarleton Wesley has proved it is much more than just that.
How do we know the Tarleton Wesley is different? This year at Glen Lake Summer Camp (for young Christians), 12 of the camp counselor staff members were students from the Tarleton Wesley! As a member of this group, I can speak for all of us when saying I have never experienced such love and growth than I have in the Wesley. Rev. David McMinn, an elder in full connection who is our director of campus ministry, focuses on strong student leader worship and peer mentorship. At Tarleton’s Wesley, students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones for the sake of others and to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. Bible studies are led by students for students, and mission/outreach is a large part of our focus on what we believe. To take a deeper look at what the TSU Wesley is doing differently that is inspiring such great servant leadership in their students, I interviewed several of the students who worked for Glen Lake Summer Camp this season.
Rachel Hitt, Tarleton Wesley’s intern for the upcoming school year, is a perfect example. With a heart of ministry and a passion for God, she is back at Glen Lake for her second summer and has even inspired others to serve at Glen Lake. Oskar Gallardo, a member of Tarleton Wesley’s praise band said, “Rachel is one of the main reasons I applied … but I also feel that David has been pushing all of us to be selfless servants of God this past year, and working at Glen Lake is the perfect way to do that. Most of us probably felt the call to work here because we wanted to help build God’s kingdom by pouring into these kids.” What a well-said statement. God, who has graciously poured out himself for us, is working through people at the Tarleton Wesley to inspire others to give of themselves and work to be Christlike as they strive to be selfless.
Another Tarleton Wesley praise band member, Kevin Taylor, shared that at first he wasn’t so excited about the number of Tarleton Wesley students working at Glen Lake because he had wanted to meet new people, but he later found he was glad so many of them were there. He observed that the Tarleton Wesley students “saw an opportunity to serve and help little kids discover what a Christ-filled life is all about.” He followed this by saying, “It’s just that we have such a family like atmosphere, and we wanted to keep that growing stronger throughout the summer as we found a way to serve together.” The Tarleton Wesley is a place to form strong relationships and to hold each other accountable in our faith and in our walk with God. Kevin’s testimony about summer camp staff clearly shows he has formed great bonds and with those people he has discovered new ways to offer servant leadership as a Christian and young adult.
One thing I have personally learned from my time with the Tarleton Wesley students is that we are always learning and growing, not only with God, but also with each other. Myjah Stubbs, another Tarleton Wesley student, illustrated this perfectly by saying, “I love being able to see kids learn more about God and get closer to Him. I also like learning from the kids because I’m learning just as much from them.” Pastor David has taught us about growing our relationship with God and the many important ways to do that – two of them being learning from your Christian peers and another being through service and giving. Like Myjah made clear, this lesson is resonating in the young adults who feel they are called to serve at Glen Lake.
There is so much more than words can explain about what the Tarleton Wesley Foundation is doing in our lives and how it is growing us as Christians, but it is obvious that God is here at the Tarleton Wesley. He is alive in each of us, and he is actively teaching us what it means to pour into our faith through people like David and the students who have offered their entire summers to serve something bigger than themselves. One semester our motto was “Sow Love,” and let me tell you, love is being sown. If the words of our giving students can’t convince you, come see us, worship with us, praise God with us. Like Kevin said, we are a family and this faith was meant to be shared.
* photos courtesy of David McMinn, Director of the Wesley Foundation at Tarleton State University
** Article edit by Vance Morton, CTC Director of Communications & IT and Susan Craig, Executive Assistant, Roberts Center for Leadership