Steve Thompson said it wasn’t his plan to go into college ministry — it was a fluke. As a student at Mobile College (now the University of Mobile), he did summer missions one year and got connected with a campus minister at Oklahoma State University.
That campus minister asked him to be his associate the following year.
“I did, and that turned me on to college ministry,” Thompson said.
And now he is retiring at the end of June after 11 years in Baptist campus ministry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and 26 years at Auburn University, where he currently is senior campus minister.
Along the way Thompson also served as minister of youth, students and young single adults at Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham, and as a campus minister intern at the University of Louisville Medical/Dental School while working on a master of divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
‘A great journey’
“It’s been a great journey,” Thompson said. “I’ve been really blessed to be involved in the lives of college students as long as I have been.”
He noted college campuses are a “great missions field,” when students are “at a vulnerable age and are most open to learning about themselves and the world.”
Some of the most joyful times have been watching students come in as freshmen, wrestling with their faith and discovering what faith in Jesus is to them personally, Thompson said.
“It’s also been fascinating to see students come to grips with, ‘How can I harness this vocational calling — teaching, medicine, whatever it might be — how can I leverage that for spreading the gospel?’”
Thompson said he and his wife, Renee, enjoyed hosting groups of students in their home and counseling pre-engaged and newly engaged couples.
“We have loved being involved in so many marriages and watching them grow and develop over the years,” he said.
Mike Nuss, director of the office of collegiate & student ministries at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, noted Thompson’s ministry “has been marked by a deep love for students and for the local church.”
“His legacy is literally hundreds of students who have not only heard the gospel but have seen it lived out in his life,” Nuss said. “Steve is not only a ministry colleague but a dear friend. His quiet influence will be greatly missed.”