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Representatives of HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry work with churches in New York

Six representatives of the Howard Payne University Baptist Student Ministry recently traveled to New York City to serve with churches in the city. During the 10-day trip, the team visited and worked with Graffiti Church, First Polish Baptist Church and Maranatha Romanian Baptist Church.

 The group consisted of students Tyler Dingle, a junior from Bellville majoring in youth ministry; Ryan McCord, a sophomore from Round Rock majoring in Bible; Destiny Ramirez, a senior from Odessa majoring in elementary education; TJ Shands, a freshman from Stanton majoring in liberal arts; and Madison Zardiackas, a sophomore from Lockhart majoring in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and social science with an emphasis in jurisprudence. HPU BSM director Keith Platte accompanied the students.

“Taking students on a trip like this is instrumental in helping them see how God works across geographic, racial, socio-economic and generational boundaries,” said Platte.

The group spent three days at Graffiti Church helping with the church’s afterschool program and served meals to people in local parks through the Free Lunch in the Park program.

“Our students got to learn from the people of Graffiti Church about their philosophy of ministry,” Platte said. “Their church is often out in the community serving people as a means to share the love, grace and message of Jesus Christ. They often say ‘meet the need first,’ which is how they believe Jesus would be ministering in their community.”

Following their time spent with Graffiti Church, the BSM team attended a Sunday worship service with First Polish Baptist Church, where Tyler Dingle preached through an interpreter. They also visited Maranatha Romanian Baptist Church, where Dingle also preached. The group visited members of the Polish church, living in other parts of the city, and helped to clean around the church building.

“Cities like New York are global cities,” Platte said. “You can visit people from every inhabitable continent and see the work of God. You can also see the immense need for God’s people to continue serving and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. It was an invaluable time for us to connect with believers from other parts of the world, in different languages sometimes, serving the God who created us for good works.”

Ryan McCord commented on the significance of the trip, specifically the learning opportunity it presented.

“The trip I took to New York with the BSM was both challenging and reformative,” said McCord. “It was unlike any mission trip I had ever been on. We jumped in and did what we could when we had the chance. The biggest thing I learned from this is that you do not need a plan or a set schedule to serve God. Jumping in and helping here and there is just as much a blessing and a valid way to do God’s work.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester at Howard Payne University ( For more information about HPU, including the wide range of available financial aid options, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Six representatives of Howard Payne University’s Baptist Student Ministry recently travelled to New York City to serve with area churches. Pictured from left to right are Madison Zardiackas, Destiny Ramirez, Keith Platte, TJ Shands, Tyler Dingle and Ryan McCord.

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