Group reaches out through multimedia campaign

September 1, 2010

When Lauren Haynie was a freshman, she remembers struggling to find a place she fit into at college.

After winter break 2010, Haynie, a general studies junior and co-vice president of I Am Second UNT, found her calling during a College Ministry road trip.

Later, she was introduced to Chris Plekenpol, one of the first speakers for I Am Second.

“We all have struggles and we are designed to be able to help each other through them,” Haynie said.

I Am Second, a worldwide multimedia movement founded in 2008, was started by Plano-based e3 Partners Ministry, said Jim Williamson, a mechanical engineering sophomore and president of the group.

The stories on provide insight into dealing with daily struggles while relating to others, according to the website.

I Am Second UNT is directed toward the college generation, open to anyone and free to join, Williamson said.

“I Am Second is all about teaching people to live a life where we are always putting ourselves second, never first,” said Leah Olsen, a communications and political science junior and co-vice president.

The group has a core team of seven people who do the decision making and more than 35 members, Williamson said.

Throughout the week, small group sessions meet and every Sunday, a large group meeting is held at 8:30 p.m. at the Clubhouse, which is located at 1026 Hillcrest St. All members gather to worship, pray, receive updates and meet new members, Olsen said.

The sessions follow a process of watching a video from the website, reading a passage that goes along with the video, answering analytical questions and applying what they learned at the session to something and someone before they meet up the following week, Olsen said. “It’s a safe place where you can come and ask questions, where it’s not heavy on doctoring beliefs,” said Steven Bieberly, a communications senior and member. “They don’t force things on people.”

The group is supported by fundraisers such as carwashes, as well as by the national I Am Second organization and Denton Bible Church, Williamson said.

The movement differs from a church because it’s geared toward non-believers and people of other faiths, using an outreach process instead of the in-reach process which is typically used, Bieberly said.

“I Am Second is primarily focused on relating and befriending those who would never darken the door of a church,” Haynie said.

The group participates in Homeless Ministry every Wednesday night in Dallas and is involved with Denton Bible Church and the Village Church Denton Campus , Olsen said.

The next event is at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at the Clubhouse, and is for students to learn more about I Am Second UNT and be placed in a small group session, Haynie said.

“I really want people to see how Christians really live in a community as opposed to the stereotypes,” Williamson said.
I Am Second UNT will celebrate its one-year birthday at the start of the new year, and hopes by then that the numbers are larger because students are willing to give the movement a try.

“I was the girl who came to college and got caught up in the scene of boys, parties and bars,” Olsen said. “I think every person should be aware that they don’t have to go through college alone.”

For more information, search “I Am Second UNT” on Facebook.

By Christina Mlynski / Senior Staff Writer – North Texas Daily


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