It’s Never too Late! 

Scott Belmore
Group of college students gather together for a photo. One man in the middle is wearing a birthday sash.

By now, most state conventions have appointed students to “GO & SERVE” this summer. Deadlines have been met, and hard lines have been drawn as final preparations and decisions for summer mission opportunities are being filled. But sitting in your office is a student needing help with whether or not they should serve for the summer. Is it too late? Should you write the student off because the deadline has come and gone? Definitely not!

During my university years, I witnessed many friends making significant sacrifices to serve during their summers. Some were dispatched to camps, others to ranches, and a few were sent to serve across North America. A handful even embarked on international missions. My wife, for instance, put summer classes and her part-time job at a law firm on hold and dedicated ten weeks after her sophomore year to work with two churches in Montana. These experiences deeply enriched their missional mindsets and reignited their sense of gospel purpose, equipping them to make a difference in their universities and communities upon their return.

Meanwhile, I spent my summer hours back at home, working two part-time jobs to ensure I could pay my rent and tuition. But I did what I could, using my vacation time and spring breaks to serve locally for a week each year. Still, I constantly desired to serve somewhere for an entire summer in a greater capacity. It never happened. 

My schooling ended, and I thought the opportunity to spend a summer serving was gone. I’d missed it, right? Little did I know that God would use those short one-week experiences to change my life and fulfill His calling and my desire to serve in full-time ministry.

Years later, after a wedding, seminary, one child, and one on the way, I returned to the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, not as a student but as the Director. Although I was back to wearing Ragin Cajun red, I was no longer that same twenty-year-old longing to spend my summers out of town serving Jesus. Now, I was serving Jesus by sending students. My hope and aim was to disciple, equip, and mobilize twenty-five students a summer to serve in some capacity of missions. I encouraged my students to give their ten weeks of summer to the Lord, challenging them to ask God, “What would you have me do with my time?” 

After nine years in Louisiana, urging students to sacrifice their summers, God mobilized me and my family of four to give up life as we knew and loved to serve on mission ourselves. He was now mobilizing us. Settled and holding my dream job at forty-two, I thought again, “Wait, isn’t it too late?” Apparently not. God commanded our family to pack up the U-Haul and move to Alaska to serve as the State Collegiate Director and local university missionary. What in the world was He thinking? Again, we began to encourage and send students to serve and be a part of God’s mission. 

Nine years later, the Lord called us to move again. This time, overseas. My excuses were loud and long. I have teenage children. How can I leave one behind and ask the other to give up their life? Besides, we’ve built a life here in Alaska, Lord; surely you don’t want me to uproot my family again? It’s far too late in my career to consider starting over. Do you know what you’re asking? At fifty-two, it was too late. Right? No. Once again, God made the way. Our yes on the table and our dogs rehomed, we sold everything, hugged our goodbyes, and headed to London. 

Is there a student in your ministry who could serve? Who longs to give their time but needs to figure out how, where, or if their boss will consider giving them considerable time off? Can their studies wait? Have they missed the deadline? Is it ever too late? The answer is a resounding NO! Keep encouraging. Keep asking. Keep challenging your students to serve! Take the next step by identifying potential leaders within your university ministry and local churches. Consider those who have shown a passion for missions in the past. Buy them a coffee and begin the conversation. The opportunities are abundant, and the need for the gospel is pressing. 

It is always a good time to get students involved in missions. Each of your students—no matter their gifts, talents, or studies—can be used by God on the mission field. Whether through short-term mission trips or by utilizing the skills and passions they acquire during these trips in their families, communities, careers, and university campuses, no time spent on the field is wasted. The Lord will use these local or abroad trips to inspire a life lived on mission as students learn to leverage their lives for the gospel. Take it from me; it’s never too late. 

Scott Belmore loves college students and has worked with them all over the globe! Follow him on Instagram @belmores2uk and the ministry @thebridge_brunel.

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