By Noah Jaeger and Elizabeth Pfeiffer
Photos by Elizabeth Pfeiffer

Ninety-four college students from 10 college campuses and four churches united Feb. 9-11 in Prescott to learn about God’s plan for marriage, sexuality and “perfect purity” at Surge, Christian Challenge’s annual discipleship retreat.

Students learned about the sexual revolution sweeping over the nation, the biblical meaning of sex and marriage — and most importantly — Christ’s power to heal. Sins of the past are no rival to God’s compassion and forgiveness.

Dustin Daniels, founding pastor of Seven Places, a Christ-centered purity ministry specializing in healthy sexuality, was the key speaker. Daniels is the host of the daily discipleship podcast, God, Sex & You!, that is heard in more than 80 countries, and he is the author of The Sex Spiral: Forgiven and Free from Pornography. Daniels provided his phone number for students to text questions, comments, concerns and any thoughts or feelings about each session.

“It’s important to have people process what they hear, and most conferences don’t have a way to follow up,” Daniels said. “When it comes to sexuality, you have got to answer those questions. … To be able to see what is on the students’ hearts in a very raw fashion [is] very cool.”

Since the retreat, campus missionaries like Margarete Nasir from Arizona State University’s Downtown campus have been more open talking to students about sex.

“We have more openly talked with students on the topic of sex, asking during on-campus outreach for opinions on what the purpose of sex is,” Nasir said. “I have also taken the time to discuss what temptation and striving for holiness looks like in one-to-one discussion times with girls.”

Surge was inspired by the mission of Christian Challenge: to engage college students with the gospel, develop disciples of Jesus Christ, and mobilize servant-leaders in the church.

Students are now more confident in their abilities to combat sexual temptation on campus and reach out to others who might be struggling with temptation.

“It’s good to know the true beauty of what God has shown us between Jesus and the church [and the parallel between] the groom and the bride,” Alex Cooper, a student from Glendale Community College said.

Additionally, activities such as hiking, soccer, corn hole, and lip sync battles helped students disconnect from technology and encouraged fellowship between the campuses.

“At first everyone’s like ‘who has [cell phone] bars?’ Now we are just enjoying our time together, making new friends, and seeing what God has to offer us,” said Kyleigh Keolanui, a student from Central Arizona College.

Christian Challenge plans to host future statewide events. Fall 2018, the collegiate ministry will call college students from all over the state to collaborate for City Impact — an opportunity for mass service work and evangelism in Yuma.