Christian Challenge’s Propel inspires, equips leaders

By Ellie Lambert, Photos by Christian Challenge | May 2, 2023

Christian Challenge exists to engage college students with the Gospel, grow them through intentional one-on-one discipleship and raise up the next generation of servant leaders for Christ’s church. Propel, Christian Challenge’s annual leadership retreat, aims to inspire students in Challenge’s mission and equip them for ministry on college campuses throughout Arizona.

A total of 111 students and campus missionaries from 15 college campuses across the state assembled for Propel at First Baptist Church in Show Low April 14-16.
“We do Propel to train missionaries and student leaders to fulfill the mission that God has given Challenge,” said Marc Hill, Christian Challenge state director.

Eager students gathered Friday night, and the weekend kicked off with a mixer activity. Through the mixer, students engaged with others from various campuses and with different levels of leadership experience. Participation enabled students to share their strategies and open their eyes to the bigger mission and family of Challenge chapters statewide.

Hill, who served as keynote speaker, laid the foundation for leadership by sharing the importance of being consistent in the Word and in prayer in two talks given Friday and Saturday evening.

Saturday consisted of training for students and missionaries. After training, campuses engaged in free time to share ideas and bond.

Because of the annual nature of this event, Hill and his team contemplated how best to deliver training to leaders without repetition of lessons learned in previous years. As a result, his team proposed multiple levels of training where missionaries would be able to assign firstcomers and returning students their own breakout sessions while also being able to attend training for themselves.

The training was divided into three main sessions focusing on the pillars of Challenge’s mission statement: discipleship, evangelism and mission.

For sophomore student Amie Trescott, Propel provided the perspective and training necessary for her to take her first step in joining student leadership at her campus at Arizona State University in Tempe.

“I am very much an introvert and doing evangelism on campus is very intimidating, but, through the training, we practiced setting up a Gospel appointment, and it was really emphasized that there is a relational aspect. We have a purpose, and we want to get to know the students on our campus and that [perspective] helped me,” Trescott said.

Trescott and her peers were given opportunities to learn how to create community through discipleship, how to set up Gospel appointments and about Challenge resources available to serve on mission.

“It really helped me change the focus from what I can do to what God can do,” she said.

New to this year’s Propel were sessions specially designed for campus missionaries and apprentices to be able to workshop and trade ideas for serving in ministry.

“It was encouraging to learn from those with more experience and hear some of the things you should be aware of and how to best serve,” said campus missionary Kirstie Alderman.
Alderman is the campus missionary at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low. On the second day of the retreat, students and missionaries were invited to prayer walk at Northland Pioneer College. There, Alderman shared some of the unique challenges her chapter faces.

“The school does not want to have any clubs that are considered divisive,” said Alderman while addressing the students before the prayer walk. “We are not allowed to be a club on campus. It has been hard to meet new people, and it has to be mostly all through the students. Pray for opportunities to connect with people to show them we are here to create community.”
Students were then sent out to pray for the campus. For many students, walking the campus was an eye-opening experience to see the challenges smaller colleges face in creating community and sharing the Gospel.

“It means a lot as a new campus to have a state team of missionaries and students that are willing to pray for us and encourage us,” Alderman said.

To close the day of training, Hill provided a keynote address on the importance of persistence in prayer and time in the Word.

“I think a lot of Christians struggle with being faithful in prayer and being faithful in the Word,” he said. “I wanted to make a challenge to not settle for an inconsistent prayer life.”

Students left the weekend feeling empowered in the mission God has given Christian Challenge here in Arizona to advance his kingdom. Through Propel, students were equipped to love God, live his Word and serve his church for years to come.

Ellie Lambert is a Christian Challenge missionary serving at Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix.

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