With Christian Challenge, Casa Grande church reaches college students

By Lori Pruit, Photos by Victoria White | Sep 13, 2023

Pinal County Cowboy Church church members Lynel and Art Thomas (from left), Associate Pastor and Christian Challenge missionary Steve Dokka, Christian Challenge intern Mike Vega and Harvest Church at Anthem Pastor Mike Bishop pray on the Central Arizona College San Tan Valley Campus.

Pinal County Cowboy Church began more than 16 years ago through a partnership that was focused on cooperation and kingdom expansion. The church has continued to share the DNA of partnership and kingdom growth.

When Pinal County Cowboy asked Steve Dokka, campus missionary, to lead Christian Challenge at Central Arizona College’s Signal Peak Campus, they were certain they had asked a likeminded leader to take on a ministry that could grow.

Early in the work, Dokka challenged the church to pray for the Gospel to spread on all five CAC campuses. Southern Baptists have had a Christian Challenge presence at the Apache Junction campus for many years.

“As our members prayed, God first opened the door for us to expand to the Maricopa Campus of CAC,” said Tim Pruit, lead pastor of Pinal County Cowboy. “Our next step was to focus on the San Tan Valley Campus.”

Pruit invited and encouraged church members who lived close to the campus and a pastor of a sister church to gather for a prayer walk of the San Tan Valley Campus.

“The Pinal County Cowboy Church leaders have a great heart to reach college campuses with the Gospel,” Dokka said. “For some time now, Cowboy church members have been participating in a 21-day prayer challenge at the start of each semester to pray for lost students on CAC campuses. It’s been amazing to see God open doors to the Gospel at CAC San Tan.”

Dokka had already tapped an existing CAC student at the Signal Peak Campus to spearhead the work at San Tan Valley.

After struggling in his relationship with Jesus, Mike Vega surrendered his life to Christ last year. Vega joined a mission trip to Mexico and followed Jesus in believer’s baptism at a church while on that same trip.

Pinal County Cowboy Church Pastor Tim Pruit, Christian Challenge intern Nick Harden and Associate Pastor Chuck Craig pray on the Central Arizona College San Tan Valley Campus.

Following the Lord’s leadership in his life, Vega opted to take his classes as a nursing student at the San Tan Valley Campus, even though he lives much closer to the Signal Peak Campus.

On the first day of class this past semester, Vega and Chuck Craig, associate pastor at Pinal County Cowboy, planned a pizza outreach on campus. While attending class, Vega struck up a conversation with a student, Nicole, and invited her to come by for pizza. She declined saying she was on a gluten-free diet.

After class, Vega went to order pizza for the event only to discover he could get an extra pizza for free. He decided to order it gluten-free.

Later that day as Craig was giving away pizza, he offered it to a passing student who declined, stating she was on a gluten-free diet.

You guessed it! That student was Nicole.

She was surprised and overwhelmed that anyone would take such an interest in her to provide a gluten-free pizza. She not only took a piece of pizza, she listened to a Gospel presentation.
Nicole prayed to trust Jesus as her Savior and Lord that day.

“I am very grateful to God for Pinal County Cowboy Church’s support in reaching college students with the Gospel,” Dokka said. “This church demonstrates its willingness to obey the Great Commission every time it shares buildings and resources and volunteers to impact students.”

Next Steps

  • Is there a college campus near your church? Start by praying for the students.
  • Pray, asking God how you could be part of a campus ministry.
  • Go to challengeaz.com to learn more about Christian Challenge and where there are chapters currently.
  • To learn how your church can partner with Christian Challenge on an unreached campus, contact Marc Hill, state director, at marc@challengeaz.com or Noah Jaeger, launch catalyst, at noah@challengeaz.com.
  • Pray big prayers for the students on campuses all over Arizona that they will hear the Gospel.

Lori Pruit, a freelance writer living in Casa Grande, is a member of Pinal County Cowboy Church, Casa Grande.

Victoria White, a freelance photographer, graphic designer for Christian Challenge and social media strategist for the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists, is a member of Passion Creek Church, Queen Creek.

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