There are many things I don’t excel in. I’m terrible at ice-skating and roller-skating. I am not a logistical genius, nor am I incredibly detail-oriented (ask Hoyt of Bember if you would like that confirmed.) I am not gifted at maintenance, and personality profiles tell me that I have a high need for change. At the end of the day, I feel like I have a handful of strengths. One of those strengths revolves around the process of starting things.
Simply put, I am a starter. I believe God has hard-wired me as a pioneer. The word pioneer can be defined as a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others. God has given me the opportunity to pioneer a number of efforts over the course of the past two decades, and for the past two years, I have had the privilege of doing just that for BYX.
When a lead for a prospective new chapter comes to us via our website, alumni or through one of our current members on the ground, I am almost always the first guy to respond. I will reach out to the new lead to establish a relationship, which is where the journey typically begins.
Don’t get me wrong, in most cases the groundwork for a new chapter has been laid well before the lead comes to my inbox or iPhone. The groundwork I refer to is a network of supporters all across that country that I can communicate with in order to help support young men interested in establishing a new BYX chapter on a university campus.
Once I contact a new lead, I immediately begin to reach out to other folks who may have connections on that campus to see how we can collectively come alongside and encourage a group of prospective founding fathers in their journey to start a new BYX chapter.
Last week Blake Hankins joined me for an exploratory trip to the University of Iowa and Iowa State. Although we have not had a significant lead on either of these campuses, we have kept them on our radar for quite some time because we believe that BYX can thrive on these two universities in the heart of the midwest.
The groundwork that was laid for a trip to Iowa started well over a year ago. One day I received a call from a lady named Barb from Ames, Iowa. Barb was inspired by how God was using BYX in the life of a young man for whom she had been praying for years. She asked if she could help sponsor a new chapter that had just been started.
During that first conversation, I informed her of our intention to start a chapter at Iowa State and Iowa, and the groundwork began to be laid. Although we had someone who was connected in the community of Ames willing to advocate for BYX, what we did not have was a guy who had caught the vision and was willing to lead the way. That all changed last summer at Pine Cove Camps in Tyler, Texas.
The journey to start a new chapter in Iowa officially started nearly a year ago during a trip to Pine Cove. It was at Pine Cove that I met a student named Dalton Storm. Dalton had already caught the vision of BYX and had considered starting a chapter, but had decided against it because the task seemed too daunting. After my meeting with Dalton, he decided that God wanted to use him to bring a BYX chapter to the University of Iowa.
For the past year I have reached out to Dalton and Barb nearly every week. Because Dalton graduates this May, he decided to hand the torch to his freshmen brother Hunter, who I began to communicate with regularly.
Meanwhile, Barb continued to advocate for us in the community and committed to leverage her relational resources to help pave the way for us. All that to say, when the time was finally right for a full-scale expansion trip to the state of Iowa, there was over a year of work that precipitated the events that took place during out trip.
Blake and I split up to cover more ground. Blake flew in on Sunday night and headed to sorority row at the University of Iowa. Blake is the founding president of the Alpha Zeta Chapter at the University of Tennessee. Those boys figured out early on that finding favor with the sororities on campus goes a long way towards establishing credibility and success in regards to the social and campus presence of a BYX chapter.
Blake spoke with five sororities Sunday night. He shared the vision of BYX and asked the girls to help us get the word out on campus. He shared that our desire in hosting events is to honor and respect girls as Christ would. By his account alone, he had them “swooning.”
I arrived at Iowa State Monday morning for a meeting with Barb and her husband. I had a handful of other meetings with guys who were high school friends with one of our brothers from Michigan. Blake met up with me in the afternoon before we went to the Chi Omega house to share our desire to start a new chapter on campus. Immediately following that announcement, we headed over to the Memorial Union for an informational meeting we were hosting.
There was a total of 10 guys who came to the meeting Monday night. We watched the “What is BYX” video while we ate cookies and brownies courtesy of Barb. After the video I was able to cast a vision for BYX at Iowa State.
Blake shared his experience as a founding father at Tennessee, and I encouraged them to pray about committing to start something on campus that would outlive their time, something that God could use to transform the lives of young college men on the campus of Iowa State for generations. There was a great response but we are still waiting for a clear leader to emerge from that group.
After our informational meeting, Barb and her family took us out to dinner with a friend of theirs who happens to be the President and CEO of the Iowa State Alumni Foundation. He loved hearing the vision of BYX and affirmed there is room on campus for us. Establishing relationships with people of influence is critical to our success on campus as we start new chapters, and I am so grateful for all Barb has done to connect us to people of influence in her community.
Blake and I went to bed late Monday night with our trip approaching the half way mark. We drove to Iowa City Tuesday morning and met with our two leads on campus for lunch. Even though I felt like I knew him, it was my first time to meet Hunter in person.
Mac also joined us for lunch Tuesday. One of our brothers from our Alpha Beta Chapter of the University of Kansas reached out to me a week before the trip and gave me Mac’s number. Mac and I had a great conversation by phone, and, in a matter of days, he decided he was committed to do everything he can to bring BYX to Iowa. Mac actually joined Blake Sunday night as they shared with sororities. He has emerged as a clear and capable leader.
After another meeting with a leader in the community of Iowa City that Barb connected me with, Blake and I prepared for our informational meeting Tuesday night. Our two leads reached out to their friends and nine guys attended the informational meeting. After the meeting we joined the group for pizza and continued to discuss the vision of BYX.
We had a great time and, as we left to drive back to Ames that night, it was clear that a handful of young men had caught the vision of BYX and wanted to bring it to the University of Iowa. In just a matter of days, the word on the street is that there is a buzz on campus about a new BYX chapter, and we have two capable leaders that are willing to rally the troops. It is still too early to be sure, but as a result of our trip, Iowa has clearly emerged as one of our next potential chapters
To cap off a full and fruitful trip, Blake and I drove just a bit more through the cornfields of Iowa in order to meet with Bruce Wirin. Bruce is a founding father at TCU and he has been a faithful donor for years. Bruce and his wife have sponsored many chapters in the past few years, and we could not expand to new campuses without faithful supporters like the Wirins. We had a great time hearing Bruce’s story and getting the tour of his office and the downtown community of Marshalltown, IA.
Blake and I felt great about our trip to Iowa. It was clear that there is much potential for BYX on both campuses and I’m excited to see what happens with the seeds that were sown for BYX in the state of Iowa last week. It is a privilege and an honor to pioneer the effort of establishing new BYX chapters across the country. It is my hope and prayer God continues to open new doors for us and that we will continue to advance His Kingdom on college campuses throughout the nation.