Students serve communities through Christian Challenge’s Impact

Nov 30, 2020

By Troy Hill

College students cutting weeds along sidewalk.

Students from ASU Tempe help with manual labor and cleaning for Crossroads Youth Intervention in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Zachariah Hsu

Dozens of college students around the state gathered up their courage and ventured out into their communities to serve in Christian Challenge’s Impact event. The biannual missions event took place Oct. 16-18, and more than 160 students from 14 campuses participated in 10 projects across seven different cities.

In years where a global pandemic isn’t disrupting daily life, Impact is a mission experience where college students from across the state travel to Yuma and northern areas of Mexico. There, they partner with local organizations and serve with them for a weekend.

This year, Challenge decided each all of the chapters would tune into a mission broadcast on Friday night, and then each chapter would make their own connections with local organizations and carry out their own service project in the community around them over the weekend.

College students sorting children's clothing.

Christian Challenge students from ASU Downtown, ASU Polytechnic and Chandler-Gilbert Community College help sort clothes for New Life Pregnancy Center in Tempe. Photo by Margarete Moffett

The Challenge chapter at NAU was no exception. Up in Flagstaff, they served with Hope Cottage, a local women’s shelter, passed out food to the homeless in the community, and volunteered with cleaning and maintenance at the Grand Canyon Church parsonage.

Lainee Pegelow, NAU Challenge campus missionary and missions coordinator for state Challenge, said they are hoping that students will see they don’t need a biannual event to “catch a vision” for living missionally every day. She wants students to see they can connect and serve with local organizations and that they will continue to do so on a more regular basis.

“We’re trying to build a deeper culture of missions among Christian Challenge students and staff,” Pegelow said. “I love Impact because it is a collective day that chapters and partnering churches all over the state can come together … as this entity of who Christian Challenge is and just serve our state.”

Pegelow said the students themselves were greatly impacted by the experience.

Students from Christian Challenge at the University of Arizona helping Caring Ministries with outdoor manual labor. Photo by Rob Gaschler

“[The students] really enjoyed being used by the Lord to serve whoever it was they were serving,” she said. “They saw that no task was too small or insignificant. When they ran out of stuff to do, they were creative and trying to just find more to do, because they wanted to keep serving.”

The Challenge chapters at South Mountain Community College, Glendale Community College, Arizona Christian University, Gateway Community College and Arizona State University West campus teamed up with about 40 students to serve their local community.

They spent hours packing more than 100 care packages for the homeless the night before, then split into two teams for the actual day of Impact. In one team, about 15 went to New Life Pregnancy Center to pack more than 15,000 diapers, prayer walk and clean the center so it was COVID-19 clean.

The other group partnered with Bridge Church and went to Rio Vista Community Center to do yard work, trim trees and clean out the back alley, which was full of trash. Then, after these full days of serving, 15 more students stuck around to spend the rest of the day handing out the care packages to any person experiencing homelessness in their community.

Andrew Marchbanks, campus missionary for GCC and ACU as well as the student minister at First Southern Baptist Church at Sahuaro Ranch in Glendale, said Impact was a good reminder that we’re supposed to be reaching out to people as Christians, especially in the time of COVID where there is a lot of emphasis on one’s self..

“We’re supposed to be looking for ways to serve. We’re supposed to be looking for ways to demonstrate Christ in the lives of the people around us in tangible ways,” Marchbanks said. “Jesus didn’t just go around just meeting people’s spiritual needs; He also went around meeting their physical needs as a testament to the spiritual truth He was also giving them.”

Marchbanks also said that many students were deeply impacted by their time serving and have already asked for connections to the community organizations with the intention of serving there again.

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