Zona Crew lives on mission at Zona Camp

By Lainee Pegelow, Photos by Lainee Pegelow and Victoria White | Oct 21, 2021

College students and staff share the gospel and pray with individual campers during response time following an evening service at Zona Camp.

With pure joy and excitement in her eyes, Mackenzie Fugatt talks about leading someone to the Lord for the first time in her life. As a college student serving as Zona Crew, she experienced this opportunity following one of the evening worship services at Zona Camp.

Zona is a spiritually charged, fun-filled week of camp for teenagers. For college students and Christian Challenge campus missionaries, it’s a 10-day mission experience that stretches and grows college students in ways they never knew.

While the teenagers are still home packing and preparing to leave for camp, the Zona Crew is already on location praying, training and gearing up for the week. They spend their days getting to know each other, studying God’s Word, practicing gospel conversations and praying for the salvation of the teens they will meet.

“Before getting to serve at Zona, I had no idea of the scope and impact that Zona had, but the past few years I have seen firsthand the depth of spiritual investment,” says Victoria White, Challenge AZ graphic designer and campus missionary at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Zona Crew members spend time sharing and praying together during training before Zona Camp begins.

Spiritual investment — that is the key to the Zona Camp experience for Christian Challenge. Campus missionaries approach camp as a short-term mission experience, with the goal of investing in the lives of college students, who, in turn, invest in the lives of the teens attending.

Like any mission trip, training is a crucial part of being prepared to serve on the field.
So, what comprises the hours of investment Christian Challenge campus missionaries devote to prepare themselves and the students for camp?

To begin, the crew is divided into groups assigned to individual missionaries who pray for them even before arriving at training. These “family” groups are designed to help the crew know and perform their assigned camp duties, with their assigned missionary being the go-to person for any questions. The missionary also prays for and disciples the group members while they are on mission.

A deep desire to see others give their lives to Jesus Christ motivates evangelism training, helping the crew become comfortable in sharing their personal story of salvation and walking with others in their spiritual journey.

“Zona is an opportunity for college students to become bolder in their faith and invest in the spiritual lives of junior high and high school students,” says Maya Bickham, Challenge AZ administrative assistant and campus missionary at Northern Arizona University. “As a campus missionary, it’s amazing to disciple our college students all school year [and] then see them take all they’ve learned and apply it on the mission field of Zona Camp.”

Eddy Pearson (standing) and Mark Hill (far right) lead the Zona Crew in evangelism training.

Helping the college students know how to lead small group biblical discussions demonstrates the importance of God’s Word and teaches them how to disciple others.

Kirstie Alderman, campus missionary at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, which will be Christian Challenge AZ’s newest chapter in January 2022, was able to serve at Zona after several years of obstacles prevented her from going.

“Serving at Zona with our college students was awesome,” she says. “I know why it has changed the lives of so many, including our college students. It was great getting to see them invest in the youth and for me to get to invest in them.

“Several students needed encouragement and prayer, or just a cry, after a difficult conversation with teenagers.” Being on mission with them allowed her to do just that.

Mission matters most, and Arizona Southern Baptists get to serve on mission every year by investing in Christian Challenge AZ through the Cooperative Program. This enables a 10-day Zona mission experience reaching teenagers with the gospel of Jesus Christ — the mission that matters most!

Next Steps

  • Pray for the Zona Team — a group of pastors, youth ministers and Christian Challenge leaders — as they pray, plan and prepare all year long for the week of camp.
  • Pray for the teens and youth workers who will attend Zona next summer.
  • Pray for Christian Challenge AZ as campus missionaries and students disciple others and lead their campuses to Christ in partnership with local churches.
  • Want to help a college student serve on mission? Give at challengeaz.com/Give.

Lainee Pegelow, a freelance writer and photographer, is communications specialist, missions coordinator and a campus missionary for Christian Challenge AZ. She is a member of Challenge Church, Flagstaff.

Victoria White is graphic designer and a campus missionary with Christian Challenge. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Chandler.

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