by Danielle Waddell (Class of 2018)
For the Kaiser family, Baptist Campus Ministries means more than a handful of years on a college campus. The University of Alabama BCM lies in the very makeup of their family.
Tim Kaiser first discovered BCM as a student at Seminole State College in Oklahoma, home to about 50 on-campus residents.
“It was about the only thing to do on campus,” he said with a laugh.
A member of the Seminole State basketball team, Tim teamed up with the campus’s BCM director to create a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) chapter. Tim recalled a time when, because of the relationships built between himself, the BCM director and fellow athletes, about a dozen people received salvation at a local barbecue.
When time came for Tim to transfer to The University of Alabama, where he knew only a handful of people, his experience at Seminole State led him to one specific place.
“One of the first places I showed up was the BCM because I knew I could connect with someone there,” he said.
There he connected with Beth Kitchens, a UA BCM leader and his future wife.
“Here we are 28 years later,” Tim said.
Beth’s connection to BCM started early—her mother was the president of Judson College’s Baptist Student Union. Because of her mom’s stories, Beth said the decision to try the BCM came easy.
“The BCM was sort of a safe haven, especially freshman year,” she said. “It gave us a lot of leadership opportunities and really an opportunity to build community.”
A community that surpasses graduation, too, they said. Tim and Beth remain close with many of their friends from UA BCM, attending the same Birmingham church as a number of fellow BCM grads and even watching their children become friends themselves.
“One of the biggest things is the relational, longevity aspect. It’s impacted us and now our children. It’s a generational thing,” Beth said.
For oldest daughter, Sarah, the choice to get involved at the BCM came just as easy. After visiting UA’s campus and touring the BCM over the years, enrolling at the university and attending the BCM seemed to go hand in hand.
“For me, the BCM was a way to get plugged into a solid group of Christian friends,” Sarah said. “Through that I was able to grow a lot of leaderships skills, to be in and lead bible studies.”
When Sarah later became chaplain of her sorority, she said her leadership experience at the BCM helped her feel comfortable and equipped for the role. Through each of those leadership positions she said she found a place for community that allowed a deeper sense of accountability.
Younger sister Emily said she found the same kind of company when she came to UA BCM.
“It’s a transition for everyone, so having a group where we had the consistency of those friends to meet weekly and talk about the nervousness of freshman year was so good,” Emily said. “Our group ended up being a really small one. For me that was great because I was able to get to know those girls really well.”
The Kaiser family’s most recent graduate, Emily will be pursuing her master’s degree this year and continuing her involvement with the BCM. Finishing her undergraduate work with a year to spare, Emily said she never considered herself finished with school or on-campus involvement in any sense, so continuing such for a fourth year just makes sense.
“I’m kind of just now counting myself as a senior,” she said. “With grad school this fall, I’m looking forward to Journey group and continuing that accountability.”
Now as the youngest Kaiser daughter prepares for her final year of high school, each of her family members said she at least knows that the BCM is a good place to be, no matter what campus she finds herself on. Through the years she has heard stories detailing cherished memories, accounts of soul-deep community and seen the impact of Christ-centered campus involvement, all thanks to her family’s ties to BCM.
With each of the Kaisers’ future ahead, the influence of Jesus through BCM—both at Alabama and beyond—shines far past four years and a degree. Through leadership, service and exposure to the gospel, BCM students are impacted for life.