Propel trains Christian Challenge student leaders

By Noah Jaeger | May 4, 2022

Christian Challenge, the collegiate ministry of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network, hosted their annual Propel retreat where they trained the next generation of leaders for the church.

A total of 108 students and campus missionaries from 12 college and university campuses gathered at Porter Mountain Fellowship in Pinetop April 22-24. Pastor Jim Stansberry and his congregation welcomed the college students with incredible hospitality and provision as the students trained to embody Challenge’s purpose statement: to love God, live His Word and serve His church.

Students arrived Friday night and gathered for worship and training. They were introduced to their discussion groups, comprised of students from different campuses and various leadership experiences.

“We wanted to mix up the students so that they would get to know several others who were not from their campus,” Christian Challenge State Director Marc Hill said. “One of our goals is to have students see that the greater Challenge family is much more than just their chapter. We also wanted to have new leaders mixed with leaders who had served previously.”

Hill was the keynote speaker for the retreat. As a supplement to the competency training offered, he shared seven essentials for a leader’s character.

“In reflecting over the years on qualities that are necessary for young leaders to develop, God laid those seven on my heart,” Hill said. “I believe that a leader, or any follower of Christ, that intentionally seeks to grow in those qualities would be an effective servant of Christ.”

The mission of Christian Challenge AZ is to engage college students with the gospel, develop disciples of Jesus Christ and mobilize servant leaders for the church. The competencies to fulfill this mission were taught the following day.

Campuses took time after the training to debrief the material and then were graciously invited to stay at First Baptist Church in Show Low.

Saturday, Porter Mountain Fellowship prepared three homemade meals for the students attending the event.

Staff on Challenge’s state evangelism, discipleship and missions teams all presented training and biblical inspiration. Students learned how to share their faith, invite others into biblical community and serve the nations during their college years.

In the afternoon, students were given free time before heading back into training; however, many decided use their time to prayer walk a local campus, Northland Pioneer College.

“Something that was inspiring to me was everyone as a community of believers coming together to pray and intercede for the nearby college and its students,” said Ezequias Fuentes, a student at Arizona State University in Downtown Phoenix. “It was a great growing and learning opportunity on taking action in our faith and applying what we know of Scripture.”

That night, Nate Parrow, West Region church and student mobilization strategist for the International Mission Board, gave students an insight into the desperate need for missionaries as well as opportunities for students to be sent. Parrow also preached the next morning at Porter Mountain Fellowship for all the students and members of the church.

Students at Propel made decisions not only to be leaders but to be intentional with their relationships with God. During the event, an NAU student leader from Ukraine decided she wanted to be baptized at Propel.

“One student got baptized by Porter Mountain Fellowship at Propel expressing that she now more fully understood her life with Christ,” Hill said. “She was baptized as a child, but not as a believer.”

Other positive outcomes of Propel included “two student leader groups who expressed a new unity amongst their teams and a renewed excitement to be missionaries to their campuses,” he said.

Challenge has a vision to partner with local churches to advance God’s kingdom on every campus in Arizona. Through the partnership of local churches and the willingness for students to selflessly serve in God’s mission, Propel drove Challenge closer to that dream.

Noah Jaeger, a freelance writer and photographer, is a member of North Phoenix Baptist Church and is the launch catalyst with Christian Challenge AZ.

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