Alumni Spotlight: Exactly What I Needed
By Jon Lineberger
Houston Baptist Chapter Alumnus
I was 20 when I made a decision to fully follow Jesus Christ. My friends and girlfriend at the time weren’t ready to make the same decision for their life. After a couple of weeks of falling back into old sinful habits, I knew I needed to get myself away from these friends who were a bad influence on me. Otherwise, I would never become the person God wanted me to be.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) says, “Do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character.” I needed to begin surrounding myself with sincere Christians that would help me and encourage me to live a Christian life.
It was lonely for a while because I didn’t have a lot of Christian friends, but I knew who I hung around in college would determine who I would become over the next few years. Did I want to go back to the person I was before Jesus changed my life? Or did I want to rise above and become a better person in Christ? I had the desire to become better, but unless I put myself around others that were on the same mission as me, striving to be more like Christ, I may not get there.
Over the next few months I did begin to develop some Christian friendships. Including a guy that was in BYX at Texas A&M. He told me about BYX and I was impressed. While on a campus visit to Houston Baptist University that summer, I noticed a BYX flyer on a bulletin board and was excited to know HBU had a BYX chapter. I called and left a message for the president of the chapter at that time and he called me back and told me about the chapter.
After I moved on campus that fall, I decided to go through Greek rush. I was exposed to several secular fraternities and was almost persuaded to join one of them, but I had been to their parties and knew that if I joined this particular fraternity I would fall right back into the lifestyle Christ had saved me from. There was a part of me that said “you can be a witness to these guys if you’re a member,” but I knew the likelihood was greater for them to pull me down than for me to pull them up so I didn’t pledge.
That next spring I pledged BYX, and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made because I built God-honoring, lifelong relationships in BYX. I don’t have to look back on my days at HBU with regret because I put myself around great people. I saw how the secular fraternities negatively influenced some of the men who went through Greek rush with me. One of the guys that I would have been a pledge brother to was kicked out of the school for some of his actions.
I’m not saying my brothers in BYX were perfect. We all had our struggles, but we were trying to get better and helping one another out. We are all in this Christian life together. We need brothers we can count on and look to for support, encouragement and inspiration.
This recent photo (right) is of me with two BYX brothers that I still look up to. They both had a strong impact on me while in college. The one on the left is Justin Pankow. He was the president of the BYX chapter at HBU when I arrived at HBU and the first person from BYX that made contact with me. While I was not a good student starting off, Justin encouraged me to make good grades in school. His encouragement and example inspired me.
On one occasion in the men’s dorm computer lab, which was notorious for viruses, Justin was on one of the computers and an inappropriate image popped up. He quickly turned his head and jumped up out of his seat. We looked to his monitor to see why he jumped up and someone closed the image on the computer.
It was actions like this that made the rest of us look at him and say, Justin is a man of God. He made a covenant with his eyes. Some people may not have been shocked by the image, but because Justin worked to keep his mind pure he had not become desensitized and was shocked. This is the type of person I needed to be around and model myself after.
On the right is Ross Shelton. Ross was another man I looked up to both spiritually and academically. He became president of HBU’s BYX chapter after Justin graduated. Ross and I also became roommates and his good habits rubbed off on me.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
Both Justin and Ross inspired me to be a better student and Christian. I thank God for these men and I thank BYX for giving me the opportunity to meet them and build a relationship with them. This is what BYX is about; brothers unifying to grow in faith, character, and Christian leadership. I didn’t see these qualities among the leadership of other fraternities on campus.
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” -Psalm 133:1
Please don’t get me wrong, BYX wasn’t like living in a monastery. We had a lot of fun, some of the most fun I’ve ever had. In fact, I’ve had more fun living my life for Jesus than I ever did trying to live for and please myself. But I didn’t get in trouble and I never had to deal with guilt or shame after hanging out with my BYX brothers.
My point is that BYX attracts and helps develop men striving to follow Jesus Christ. If you are a college student wondering what group to join look no further. You will never regret joining BYX. If you are an alumnus, grateful like I am for having had the opportunity to be in BYX, find a way to support your chapter and promote BYX by posting stories of your experience on social media so others will know about the great fraternity and impact of BYX.