College freshman Shemaiah Strickland suffered with horrible nightmares when she first came to Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Adjusting to being away from her home in Atlanta for the first time, she said she just wanted to belong. Strickland attended a university organization fair and met North American Mission Board missionary Vickie Stewart, who was staffing a booth with fellow campus chaplains for The University Memorial Chapel.
Strickland had prayed to God for help with her loneliness. "I asked God what to do, and He sent me to Vickie," she said.
Stewart gave Strickland her card and invited her to call whenever she wanted to talk. She made the call, and Stewart later led her to Christ.
Though Strickland had attended church off and on, she says she never felt she had a personal relationship with Jesus. She started going to Stewart's weekly on-campus Bible studies with other young women and says she was impressed right away with the teaching and was inspired by the seriousness of the students' study of the Scriptures.
Strickland remembers telling herself, "I don't need church. I could just read the Bible. That was my thing. But then I came here, and Vickie brought me to Christ with her teachings."
At first, Strickland says she felt intimidated with how the girls could recall and apply Bible verses so readily during discussions.
"I'm thinking, I've got a relationship with God and I can't even quote a scripture. All I know is 'I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.' How can I get closer to God if I don't read His Word and if I don't know the type of person that He is?"
Reaching students such as Strickland is what Vickie Stewart is passionate about. Simply known as "Miss Vickie," Stewart energetically moves around campus on mission "to connect," as she puts it, with students whenever she can. "Not preaching, but connecting and building relationships" with them is the key to her ministry, she says.
"I might say, 'Hello, my name is Miss Vickie. How can I pray for you?' They'll say, 'Oh, really, you want to pray for me?' And I'll say, yes, and I tell students, I am here to serve you. Here's my number, if you need prayer or want to talk. I am available."
Sophomore Charlene Thomas, 20, says she values having access to Miss Vickie for godly advice. "She's so open, not only to us but to God, and you can see God in her. Her spirit, her smile, and the way she talks to us makes us feel like family."
Laura Sikes, a photojournalist and writer, attends First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.