University of Mobile Hosts Over 2,800 MFUGE Campers

Kathy DeanNews

MOBILE, Ala. – “Your mission field is where your feet are,” says University of Mobile alumnus Joey Cochran ’07, stepping onto the campus of his alma mater with his church’s youth group for a week of service and fun at MFUGE, a summer camp program operated by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Lifeway Christian Resources.


For over 2,800 students and adults attending week-long MFUGE camps during June and July on the University of Mobile campus, the mission field extends to over 30 locations throughout Mobile, Alabama. At sites such as Light of the VillageMulherin Home and Hillsdale Community Center, church youth groups from 11 Southeastern states are working with local children, serving with special needs ministries and evangelism efforts, and helping with light construction, painting and yardwork. It’s just the start of what camp leaders pray will spark a lifetime of ministry service among the middle and high school students.

Mollie Kay Grubbs, site director for MFUGE camps at the University of Mobile, said the experience is aimed at helping middle and high school students understand that wherever they are – wherever their feet are planted – they have the ability and the responsibility to serve others for the glory of God.


“I hope all students and participants come away with an understanding of what local missions looks like,” Grubbs said. “I think a lot of the times, the church focuses on global missions, which is good, but I hope every student comes in and leaves camp realizing that if they can serve in Mobile, then they can serve in their hometowns and communities as well. They can better understand what our Great Commission calling is and have a more tangible understanding of what it means to fulfill the command in Matthew 28:19-20 to ‘GO.’”

MFUGE & the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile has served as a site for Lifeway’s MFUGE or Centrifuge camps since 1981. FUGE officials have said the University of Mobile is the first and longest-running MFUGE location.

Churches send their youth groups and leaders to the 880-acre campus in north Mobile County where they get a taste of college life – staying in residence halls and enjoying campus amenities such as sand volleyball courts, outdoor pool, tennis and pickleball. In Ram Hall, they play games and join together in worship. 

During the day, campers spread out into the Mobile area to serve others. Afternoons and evenings they walk across the Baptist university campus, finding quiet spots for prayer and Bible study, making friends and sharing the stories of how their mission experience impacted others – and themselves.

“Every moment spent at FUGE Camps is intentional. Camp programming is designed to take students out of their normal routine and place them into an environment that is focused on life-change through relationship with Christ,” according to Lifeway. (Learn more about FUGE camps here.)

From Camper to College Student

For some campers, the experience sparks a desire to return to the University of Mobile as a college student. In 2013, Grace Whittington Blankenship attended MFUGE on the UM campus and worked at Light of the Village, painting a classroom and doing yard work. She says it was on the UM campus where she began to understand what it truly meant to be a follower of Christ. Later, she enrolled at the university, graduated in 2022, and now is an enrollment counselor in the university’s admissions office.


“FUGE camp and the University of Mobile are two monumental parts of my testimony. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to attend FUGE multiple times as a student and that He led me to the University of Mobile,” said Whittington.

UM Campus Pastor Jared Baria ’09 &’24 said the FUGE camp experience can be “monumental” in the lives of students – and is an example of the life change that happens to students of all ages at the Christ-centered university.

“God has transformed many lives through the gospel at camps such as this, and on this very campus. We are a Christ-centered university that has a deep concern not only for them as students, but also for their souls. It is such a joy to spend time at a university where you have seen God’s mighty hand at work,” Baria said.

University of Mobile students have served as MFUGE staffers, and UM alumni often bring their church youth groups back to their alma mater for MFUGE camps.

Baria said alumni involvement in MFUGE is a testament to the university’s faithfulness to the Word.

“People who have gone to school here or even spent a week or two here can clearly see what makes UM so special,” Baria said. “The university’s unwavering commitment to God and His Word stands out and will stand the test of time. Those who return here with their students or return to work here show wonderful evidence of that truth.”

‘Where the Lord has Brought You’

For two University of Mobile alumni, a week of MFUGE camp was the perfect opportunity for youth from Journey Community Church in Lucedale, Mississippi, to step out of their comfort zones. Joey Cochran ’07 serves as an elder at Journey, a Southern Baptist church, while Vanessa Wallace ’02 is Journey Kids Minister. 


Cochran said he knew from the first time he drove on campus that the University of Mobile “was God’s place for me.” Returning to campus with the church’s youth for MFUGE was “a blast.”

“It is always a blast to remember where you came from in order to see where the Lord has brought you,” he said.

The youth group includes three of Wallace’s four children, making the opportunity to return to her alma mater all the sweeter.

“It was a lot of fun to be able to share stories from our time at the University of Mobile with our students, and it’s always wonderful to be able to hug the necks of some of my favorite people that are still at UM serving and loving others,” Wallace said.

She added, “One thing that stood out to me while serving at Hillsdale is watching our students stepping outside their comfort zones and shining their lights so bright. This generation gets a bad rap lots of the time, but I watched students engaging with the children they were serving, asking about their families and interests while doing crafts or playing games.”

During their week at MFUGE, Journey students served halfway house ministries, assisted living, backyard Bible clubs and did manual labor. Since their community of Lucedale is near Mobile, they plan to return to some of the sites and serve again in the near future – fulfilling the goal of MFUGE to spark a missions-minded generation.

“It’s always an honor and pleasure to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Cochran.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known. Located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama, on a campus of over 880 acres, the university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs.The University of Mobile was founded in 1961 and is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.