Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Bringing Chi Alpha to the Black Hills State campus: an unlikely journey

Hayly Clark
Members of Chi Alpha at BHSU in Club Buzz.

Chi Alpha is an on-campus ministry here at BHSU that started out very small in August of 2022, nd has since grown to over 50 members.

The club’s director, Mike Myslinski, was involved in a Chi Alpha chapter during his time in school at the University of North Dakota and trained to be able to run his own Chi Alpha chapter. Though BHSU was not where he originally intended to bring the campus ministry, he felt he was guided here.

“We were 95 percent cleared to go to Duke University,” Myslinski said. “But then with Covid happening, all of a sudden, everything stopped moving. The whole process of trying to get there was like four years.” 

Ultimately, the lead in Duke waned and Myslinski knew he needed to look for other places to bring Chi Alpha. After doing a little digging, it was an easy decision for Myslinski to bring Chi Alpha to BHSU.

“It’s wild,” Myslinski said, describing his journey to BHSU. “I came across a journal entry. It was dated 2014. I don’t remember writing it, but it said, ‘Lord, I believe you are leading me to do something at Black Hills State University.’” 

That was enough of a confirmation. Myslinski set out to inform the Chi Alpha administration that he wished to bring the campus ministry to the Black Hills. After a meeting between his boss and his lead pastor, it was clear to Myslinski this was where he was going.

“My lead pastor was going to a meeting with my boss at the time, in Chi Alpha, because someone asked him, ‘Do you know anyone that would be willing to go to Black Hills State and bring Chi Alpha there?’” Myslinski said. “My boss is going to the same meeting to tell him that [I was] feeling called to go to Black Hills State.” 

A process that had taken close to four years attempting to bring Chi Alpha to Duke University took place in merely two and a half weeks for Black Hills State. After finding the right school, the hard part began for Myslinski.

“We moved here, and we knew nobody,” Myslinski said. “One of the first things we did is come onto campus and try to meet people.” 

The process was tough, since he and his wife had arrived at the end of October, when students were deep into the semester and already had regular schedules. One student reached out and that set the ministry in motion.

“It was my freshman year, before Chi Alpha was an actual thing,” Taylyn Clark said. “My Uncle had reached out to me because he leads a Chi Alpha in Chadron. He gave me the contact number for the people starting a Chi Alpha in Spearfish.” 

Clark and two others started attending regular meetings in an effort to get the ministry started, even though she was not a Christian at the time. Having no experience with faith, she didn’t know what to expect from the meetings.

“I was scared at first, but they were really good at comforting and being open and welcoming,” Clark said. 

The sense of community and connection made it easy for her to continue with the group and she eventually became a Christian.

For the rest of the 2021-2022, Chi Alpha remained a very small group on campus. Little by little, more students began attending the group’s meetings. During the finals week of the spring 2022 semester, Chi Alpha became an official student organization.

Throughout the following school year, Chi Alpha was able to grow to 30 students. As it grew, the group changed from a closer, discussion type of meeting to being more akin to a second church service in the middle of the week. To mitigate this change, Chi Alpha began handing more leadership positions to its students.

The campus ministry started organizing “small groups.” While everyone could regularly meet as a club on Wednesdays, smaller groups of student lead Chi Alpha members would meet throughout the week.

“[The students] went through some discipleship training, and they are the ones who have become more of the leaders of Chi Alpha,” Myslinski said. “We went from having one guys small group and one girls’ small group to three of each.” 

Small groups have become the heart of the student organization, since it allows for more connection and discussion amongst the students.

“I think we hold small groups to be more important than large group,” Clark said. “Small groups are where you can make those connections and friendships and you’re able to be vulnerable with people your same gender and age.” 

She described each small group as having a different atmosphere and the students are able to choose which small group they attend. Myslinski believes small groups will be the driving factor in allowing their continued growth. 

“We might not have the increase like we did in year one or year two, but that’s the goal, to multiply via small groups,” Myslinski said. “Chi Alpha is student-led. It’s students loving and reconciling other students back to Jesus…I am ultimately really proud of these students.” 

Chi Alpha meets as a large group on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. in Club Buzz.