Pictured, David Williams, with his wife Jennifer and their two sons, Daniel, left, and Davis. David will serve as Baptist Campus Ministry Director at Valdosta State University.
Perhaps the most strategic ministry in America today is the one focused on the redemption, mentoring and discipling of college students. Many secular colleges and universities are doing more indoctrination than education, suggesting that God is irrelevant to the real business of living. In many ways there is even an insidious danger that comes with secular education.
Those who are a part of Baptist Campus Ministry are called and gifted to help college students across Georgia understand that we live in a world that is charged with the grandeur of God, that He sent His Son to make the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and that He passionately desires to give us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Georgia Baptist campus ministers are guardians of the Christian faith on multiple campuses across our state. David Williams has joined their ranks as the new campus minister at Valdosta State University.
“Surprisingly enough, I was saved and called into ministry while a student at Valdosta State,” Williams said. “Although I was raised in a godly home and in a faithful Baptist church, it was not until college that I surrendered my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“One night I was pulled over for a broken taillight and the police officer immediately smelled alcohol. It was not long until I was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car where I audibly said to the Lord, ‘Okay, You have my attention. I’ll do whatever You want me to do.’ Little did I know that the ‘whatever’ was a call to lifetime ministry.”
Williams completed his bachelor of arts in history at the University of Georgia and continued his education by earning a master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and expects to complete his doctorate in ministry in Christian leadership at Southwestern in December.
For the past eight and a half years Williams has served as senior pastor of Iron City Baptist Church in Seminole County, where by God’s grace he has led in sustaining and reinvigorating a 120-year-old dying church in a declining community.
“With David’s help, I’m confident we will be better positioned to reach students throughout south Georgia,” said Levi Skipper, who oversees campus ministry as leader of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s church strengthening team. “David’s heart for ‘next gen’ is evident and his gift set is just what we need.”
Tim VanLandingham, the Bowen Baptist Association’s mission strategist, described Williams as “one of God’s choicest servants.”
“He and his whole family love serving,” VanLandingham said. “They are a true ministering family. David not only brought stability and theological soundness to his church, but he has been intricately involved in the life of the community and the school systems. He was our associational moderator when I came into the association and was a tremendous blessing to me then and has continued to be during my service here.”
Williams learned at Iron City that life’s trials and tribulations can help refine and mold a man into the likeness of Christ. He explained, “In March of 2018 I hit the wall of pastoral burnout that affected me for the next two years as I slowly recovered. I went through bouts of depression and great despair.”
In October of 2018 Hurricane Michael swept through Seminole County and David and his family were displaced from their home for nine months. Five months later COVID-19 changed life for everyone in the United States and around the world. The Iron City church was not exempted from the fallout caused by the pandemic. The trials grew for the Williams family when a tornado touched down in their backyard in April of 2021 destroying church property, the church playground for the third time in three years and the Williams’ vehicles.
In the Summer and Fall of 2021 the stress on Williams and the church grew exponentially when they discovered that the foundation of the church needed repair.
“We fixed the foundation of the church in the two-story building and the sanctuary and proceeded to fully remodel our worship center and the children’s area,” he said.
“It was a grueling season in many ways as I faced my own internal struggles, pastoral struggles, while doing my best to be the husband and father that I am called to be. During those challenging years I was sustained by the Word of God. I continued to show up wherever I was needed, knowing and trusting that God is always faithful. Through it all, the Lord has been so good to show much favor in our efforts to make much of Jesus here. I will be forever grateful for the many dear friends and ministry partners to whom I was able to serve and with whom I served. Many funerals have been preached, tears have been shed, meals served, Gospel invitations given, and lives changed.”
During his years in Iron City, Williams has been responsible for a large Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry in the local schools.
“At least half the student population at Seminole Middle School and Seminole High School have heard the Gospel, had an invitation to salvation extended, and given a FCA Bible,” he said. “It really has been incredible what the Lord has done.”
Williams’ experience with students has helped to prepare him for the campus ministry he will have at Valdosta State.
“There is little doubt that campus ministry in our country is pivotal to the future of families, churches, the workforce, and our nation,” he said. “In many ways, those in the 18- to 22-year-old age bracket are the last opportunity to reach young adults before their hearts embrace many ungodly truths about the world around them.
“I want to use my role at VSU to help local churches see the great need and opportunity to reach a lost generation. The BCM serves the purpose of preparing students to be faithful husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and future leaders in the life of the local church and the nation. We will endeavor to show the students the importance of local church involvement, equip them to regularly share their faith, and become leaders in ministry rather than passive bystanders.”
David and Jennifer, his wife of 12 years, have two sons, Davis, six, and Daniel, four. Jennifer was a student at the University of Georgia when she met David. She was visiting her sister, who sang in the choir at Crossroads Church in Valdosta where David was a member. She was adorned in her UGA attire and from that moment he was committed to building a relationship with her. Their rapport grew and he proposed to her on the 50-yard line at UGA’s Sanford Stadium in Athens.
Even the casual observer would have to conclude that Williams is indisputably capable to significantly influence the students entrusted to him. He is qualified by reason of his indominable spirit, his education, his experience, and his victory over some formidable challenges in life.
Article written by J. Gerald Harris, and reprinted from The Christian Index