College students gain confidence in their witness

By Troy Hill, Photos by Lainee Pegelow and Victoria White | Nov 9, 2021

With many options of what to do on a Saturday, more than 100 college students chose to get up early to learn to be more confident in sharing their faith. They attended Proclaim, a biennial conference of Christian Challenge, Arizona Southern Baptists’ collegiate ministry.

This year’s conference was held October 23 at Foothills Baptist Church in Ahwatukee. A total of 147 people attended, including 112 students from 15 campuses across the state, making this Challenge’s largest event since the pandemic.

“This was the first statewide event in which Challenge chapters were able to gather [all in one place] since February of 2020, right before COVID hit,” said Marc Hill, Christian Challenge state director. “I was incredibly pleased by the turnout, that so many students would want to give up a Saturday to be inspired and trained in personal sharing of the gospel. Also, with several chapters having to essentially start over this fall in the midst of the pandemic, 112 students attending was phenomenal.”

The main topic was gospel appointments, an intentional, relational method of sharing the gospel. You simply ask someone if you can meet with them to talk about what you believe — the gospel, set a time, then go and talk about God.

A main focus wasn’t just to teach students how to do a gospel appointment, but to mobilize students into engaging in more gospel appointments, said Noah Jaeger, a collegiate missionary with Christian Challenge on the ASU Downtown campus and one of the leaders on the Proclaim planning committee.

“The idea is it’s kind of a catalyst event to get students to start doing [gospel appointments],” Jaeger said. “The overall goal was to equip students with the gospel, to train them how to effectively share their faith.”

The featured speaker was Steve Shadrach, founder of Student Mobilization, which focuses on evangelizing and discipling college students in the United States and abroad. Shadrach spoke on gospel appointments, and various breakouts addressed different aspects of them, such as teaching a basic how-to course, addressing certain questions students might have and presenting specific tools that would aid a gospel appointment.

Zachariah Shu, a senior involved with ASU Tempe Challenge, said he enjoyed his experience at Proclaim, and that he thought the programming was interesting and helpful — especially for newer believers.

Proclaim provides a context for newer believers to understand the gospel, dig into what it really means, and for evangelism to be highlighted at a time when it might fall to the wayside.
Shu said another aspect that helped him grow was being around like-minded people again.

“Anytime when you’re sitting around with people that believe the same things as you, and they are talking about the most important thing in the world, which is the gospel, of course, it’s [easy] to grow,” Shu said. “Just talking about it encourages growth. It was a good experience. I think I was able to grow just being around believers that talk about the gospel.”

The biggest thing Proclaim did for his students was give them a missional mind for their campus, Jaeger said.

“Instead of just, ‘I’m trying to survive college, and make it out somehow with my faith intact,’ it’s more like, ‘How can I leave a lasting impact on my campus and engage the gates of hell?’” Jaeger said.

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