Propel: Christian Challenge students prepare to lead

By Lainee Pegelow | Apr 26, 2021

Late spring is the time of year college students across the United States are thinking about finishing the semester, finals and summer plans. The upcoming fall semester is somewhere in the distant future, and many do not give it much thought until late summer.

Campus missionaries and student leaders with Christian Challenge AZ, however, are thinking about how to reach their campuses with the gospel, ways to connect with incoming freshmen and reconnecting with each other.

In order to do this well and train their leaders, Christian Challenge holds Propel, an annual training retreat each April.

“Propel is a great opportunity to refocus my mind on our mission at Challenge, as campus missionaries [student leaders have adopted the idea that they are missionaries to their campus] and God’s purpose,” said Elizabeth Washburn-Junior. “It was a good chance to reconnect with current student leaders and get to know the incoming leaders.”

Marc Hill, state director of Christian Challenge AZ, spoke about the event’s purpose.

“Propel was designed to help prepare these young leaders for ministry in the next school year,” he said. “Leading up to the weekend of Propel, campus missionaries across the state work to recruit new student leaders for the fall semester.”

In a normal year, Challenge chapters around the state would gather together for a weekend of connecting, training, prayer and worship. In previous years, they have gathered in Pinetop.

With COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event looked a bit different. Rather than a full weekend away from home, a one-day, livestreamed event was planned by the Challenge AZ state team.

Morning sessions were streamed from Greenlaw Baptist Church in Flagstaff and afternoon sessions from Church on Mill in Tempe. Eighty-nine student leaders and 30 campus missionaries joined in from 15 chapters around the state for the event on April 17.

The Challenge AZ state team led sessions on the mission, vision and values of Christian Challenge; mission opportunities and strategies; missional Challenge communities and gospel appointments. In addition, the student leaders spent time engaging in prayer assignments, a biblical basis of missions study, working through a campus affinity group worksheet and live gospel appointment role play.

“Propel was an amazing learning opportunity for students seeking a way to be more involved as a missionary on our campus,” said Niyah Dedman, new to her campus leadership team. She said she really enjoyed hearing that students can be missionaries wherever they are: school, work, around the world.

One of the greatest advantages of Propel is that it helps student leaders around the state see that no matter their locations or demographics, Christian Challenge AZ chapters have the same mission: “to engage college students with the gospel, develop disciples of Jesus Christ and mobilize servant leaders for the church.” It helps campus missionaries cast the mission, vision and values of Challenge with their new student leaders and prepare to effectively engage their campuses this coming fall.

“With this being my first Propel, I didn’t know what to expect,” said new student leader Cassaundra Triolo. “I feel like I gained a lot of knowledge about what Christian Challenge as a group stands for, and it makes me really excited to be part of it and get to share with new students next year.”

Please pray for these campus missionaries and students as they prepare this summer to share Jesus on Arizona’s college campuses.

Christian Challenge AZ is the Baptist collegiate ministry of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. If you know a student who would like to connect with Christian Challenge, you can email for more information.

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