STEPHENVILLE (April 10, 2016) – Stephenville Baptist Student Ministries director Clayton Bullion and his family- his wife Bethany Bullion and his children Noah, Nate, Sophia and Obadiah- love to serve others through the BSM.
“We exist to help students connect with God through a personal relationship with Jesus,” Bullion said. “The BSM is a place to connect to people who become family, and we do that through discipleship, small groups, retreats, things like that.”
But, Bullion did not ever intend to become a BSM director. His plans had nothing to do with God at all until his senior year of high school.
“I just kind of did my own thing and kind of ignored what my parents and grandparents thought I should do and lived a pretty wild child life as a high school student,” Bullion said.
Then for his 18th birthday, his then girlfriend gave him a Bible. Bullion began reading it over Spring Break while at his grandparents’ house.
“I end up in Matthew- Matthew 4:19,” Bullion said. “For the first time ever, it was like God was speaking to me and saying, “Come follow Me, Clayton, and I will make you fishers of men.” I finished the book of Matthew and John that week, read the book of Acts, and just realized that I needed a relationship with God.”
From that point on, Bullion’s priorities began to change. He planned on being a music major and attending the University of North Texas, but was not accepted by the school. He attended Howard Payne University instead.
“The last thing any kid growing up in Brownwood dreams of is going to Howard Payne University,” Bullion said. “They offered me the most money out of everybody, and they let me be a music major. So God used that tool to get me in the door at Howard Payne”
God was not finished with changing Bullion’s plans though. He began going on mission trips overseas, starting in southwest China.
“I left Texas twice in my life at that point,” Bullion said. “Complete culture shock. First time I’d ever experienced anything other than small town Texas life. So, it was really, really eye opening.”
Then, 9/11 happened Bullion’s sophomore year. Rather than be angry over what had happened, Bullion had a completely different reaction.
“Maybe it was something about being 19 and feeling invincible, but I just remember, kind of in my spirit, hearing God say, “There’s more to what’s going on than you are seeing,”” Bullion said. “I began looking at projects to spend the summer working in the Middle East.”
After spending time working with Saudi Arabs, Bullion came to the conclusion that he was meant to move to the Middle East. He began studying Islamic and Arabic and changed his major.
“[I] realized that if I wanted to live and work in regions of the world where the Gospel was not being proclaimed, closed countries is what we would say, then I needed to learn a skill that would allow me to help in the community, learn to, not just share the Gospel, but to teach them.”
At that point in time, Bullion was working toward a ministry major, but realized that the degree could hurt rather than help him in going to foreign countries where Christians were not welcome. However, it was Bullion’s senior year.
“I switched my major, and the only thing I could find was a degree- a bachelor of applied arts and sciences- in general studies with no minor,” Bullion said.
After marrying Bethany Bullion postgraduation, the couple moved overseas and lived there for three years. Two of his four children were born in that time.
“The goal was, when we left for the Middle East, was not to come back,” Bullion said. “That was the plan. We moved; we were in our career. We would come back for Christmases, but we were done. The Middle East was our home now.”
But, because of circumstances that were out of the Bullions’ control, they were unable to return to the Middle East from furlough. The situation overseas “just kind of fell apart.”
“So, we went from knowing what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life, knowing where I was going to raise my kids, knowing all these things, knowing how I was going to retire, to being unemployed,” Bullion said. “You want to talk about a really tough transition- knowing what you want to do and having worked towards that for five years and then not knowing who you are and what you’re supposed to do.”
After applying for multiple jobs in the United States, Bullion began working with Iraqi refugees in Fort Worth as part of a refugee resettlement program. He was able to use the skills he learned in the Middle East to help those in need in the US.
“That’s the best job in the world if you love non-English speakers and you don’t mind not getting paid very much,” Bullion said. “It’s a great job for a single guy; it’s an awful job for a guy with two kids. I realized that I couldn’t raise a family in Fort Worth when I qualified for the same benefits that my refugee families did.”
After Bullion and his wife looked at their current situation, they also saw that they wanted to be part of a family ministry where they could all be involved as they were when living in the Middle East. That was not possible though with Bullion being involved with social work.
“God opened up and just reminded us of when was our family the happiest?,” Bullion said. “It was the Middle East. But for both of us the most fulfilling part was when we dealt with American college students, teaching them to engage culture. We were both in BSM. We met through college ministry at our church on our campus. So we began to think, okay what would it look like for us to be on a college campus?”
In the summer of 2010, Bullion applied and accepted his current job as the director of the BSM, which currently serves both Tarleton State University and Ranger College.
“The best part about this job is college is that crossroads,” Bullion said. “You are launching out on your own. You’re trying to figure out what your faith is, if you want to have faith, if faith is important for you. College is the place where you set the pace for the rest of your life. It makes sense that this is a place at the crossroads where the Gospel needs to be -the story and the hope of Jesus Christ and what He means to bring peace and hope and life to us. We get to be a part of sending students all over the nation as teachers, as businessmen, as ministers. It’s a missional sending hub that never ends.”