The TJC campus’ Baptist Student Ministry is filled with black, leather chairs, students playing pool, ping pong and the sound of Christian music throughout the building. Longtime BSM Director Mark Jones is almost always around, ready with with a “Hey, how are you doing,” making the ministry feel like a second home.
Jones has worked at TJC for 18 years as the BSM director and as a Professor of World Religions. His time on campus began when he formed a friendship with former BSM Director Bob Mayfield. When Mayfield left, local residents asked Jones if he would be interested in coming to serve.
“The opportunity for me to work on campus and to be in the lives of students on a day-to-day basis was very attractive to me,” Jones said.
It was in his junior year of high school when Jones began to see how much his life changed through a relationship with Christ.
“I grew up in San Antonio, I went to high school in San Antonio and I became involved in the campus ministry,” said Jones. “Although I had grown up around the church, I knew for sure I had not made a personal commitment to follow Christ. It was really in high school that I made that commitment and saw some real change.
Mark has loved working with all of his students and when students come to him, he often tells them his favorite Scripture.
“One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 1:5 where Paul is reflecting on the background that Timothy has and his spiritual heritage,” Jones said. “He says, ‘I’m reminded first of the faith that was in your grandmother then is in your mother. I’m confident he lives in you also. I remind you therefore to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you through the laying out of my hands.’ What those verses say is now is the time for students to own their faith. You got to do something with it. It’s not your momma’s faith anymore; it’s not your grandma’s faith anymore. You’re an adult and when it says ‘fan into flame,’ to me that says be active in your pursuit. Do something to develop your life.”
Three or four times each week, Jones leaves his office to walk around campus, talking to students.
“It’s a way for me to connect,” said Jones. “A lot of times a student will be going through a hard time, they’ll see me and they’ll come and say ‘Dr. Jones could pray with me, could you pray for me about this particular area?’ And that doesn’t happen unless I make myself available.”
When TJC students Ian Wade and his wife Fausthyara needed a place to hold their Bible studies, Mark took them in at the BSM, and has built a relationship with them over the years.
“Brother Mark has been an encourager of allowing me to host my Wednesday night services here,” Wade said. “We start at 8 p.m. every Wednesday, and we just have a good time in the Lord. We’ve seen a good turnout, we’ve seen students come to Christ, students come to God and lives changed.
Jones says the best part of his work is watching students’ lives change for the better, often helping with advice.
“This doesn’t have to be the best time ever in your life, but I hope it’s a great time and I hope your building friendships and relationships in your life,” said Jones.
Every Wednesday at 11 a.m., there is different local churches provide a free lunch at the BSM, and on Thursday nights at 8 p.m., free pancakes and bacon follow a worship service. For more information, call 903-592-0382.