Food Pantry Leads International Students to the Bread of Life

TRENTON, MO—Jesus had a habit of feeding people. Why? Because he knew that as he met the practical needs of hungry stomachs, he could point people to the eternal Bread that satisfies hungry souls. Following in his footsteps, the food pantry at the BSU at North Central Missouri College provides food for hungry college students—and points them to the Bread of Life.

International students eat free lunch at BSU.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost a quarter of undergraduate students on U.S. campuses are food insecure, meaning they lack sufficient access and funds to meet their basic food needs. Baptist college ministries have a long history of providing bountiful home-cooked meals once or twice a week at the BSU building in partnership with local churches. The NCMC BSU has taken it a step farther by creating a food pantry that provides students on their campus with ongoing access to food.

The pantry started in the fall of 2019 as an overflow of excess supplies from dorm goodie bags put together by Calvary Baptist Church in Chillicothe. Campus Missionary Christina Boatright regularly received requests from students who privately asked for help with food and supplies during their Wednesday free lunches. “So I started putting the excess supplies in a wooden cabinet with a “free to take as needed” sign on it.” The pantry grew from there when she told area churches how regularly it was being used, especially since 2020. 

This is especially important for international students, who, even if funds are sufficient, lack transportation to get to and from the grocery store. The pantry’s participation, both from donating churches and receiving students, has blossomed since Boatright informed the on-campus coordinator about its availability for international students.

Boatright with Plinio

Last year, Boatright started building a connection with a Panamanian student, Plinio, through the food pantry. Later in the semester, she transported Plinio and his friends to and from the airport when they flew home for breaks.  Meeting those basic needs led to deep conversations about faith.

This year, Boatright encouraged Plinio to attend small groups at the BSU. Plinio started to attend the men’s group, where he dove deeper into his faith in Jesus.

At one Wednesday lunch in September, Boatright encouraged Plinio to come to the coed Bible study she teaches on Thursdays. Plinio not only came but invited a friend, a Japanese student. The topic was justification—what it means to be justified in Christ. At the end of the study, Plinio got Boatright’s attention. He shared that his friend doesn’t have a religion in his country and doesn’t know anything, but he wanted to know Jesus.

Stunned, Boatright looked at Plinio’s friend. “Do you?” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” he replied.

Small group leader Sawyer McCallon leads prayer at flagpole.

Right here in front of the group, Boatright explained what it means to be a Christian and how. They prayed together for him to receive Jesus. Sawyer McCallon, the men’s small group leader, immediately helped him download the Bible app and wrote down verses for him to read. “We were all so in shock and excited,” Boatright says. “God is moving!”

Boatright and Sawyer are continuing to teach him about Jesus and build trust with him as he starts this new relationship with the Lord. Plinio continues to be instrumental in connecting international students with the BSU, inviting them to free meals and to use the BSU building and food pantry.

As thrilled as Boatright is to have a new brother in Christ, she’s equally thrilled to see the growth in Plinio. “Watching Plinio grow in his faith has been a real joy,” she celebrates. “And watching him take ownership of his faith has been the greatest blessing.”


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