By Lainee Pegelow
Mission projects and times of worship highlighted City Impact, a Christian Challenge AZ event in partnership with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, held Oct. 23-25 in downtown Phoenix.
About 175 college students and staff attended the gathering, hosted by Mercy Hill Church. All Christian Challenge ministries were represented, as well as six church groups.
City Impact was birthed several years ago as a way to involve Arizona college students in missions through serving alongside new church plants. The hope is that they catch a vision for church planting and how they can become involved. In previous years this event has been held in the Tucson and Phoenix areas.
Friday and Saturday nights, the group was led in musical worship and times of prayer by a group of musicians assembled by Kelcey Fry from Hi-Way Baptist Church, Mesa. David Johnson, AZSBC executive director, and British evangelist Dennis Pethers brought biblical challenges to have a “Heart for the City.”
Groups of students served in five projects around the Phoenix area on Saturday morning. The projects were as varied and unique as the communities being loved and served.
One group aided in the remodeling of Mission Drive Baptist Church, preparing the facility for Arizona Baptist Children’s Services to move in. They also distributed flyers in the community with information about the services that will be offered once the ABCS office opens.
Just down the road, another group served with First Southern Baptist Church, Phoenix, offering children’s tutoring and a backyard Bible club for Burmese refugees in nearby apartment complexes. The group also did some “spring” cleaning at the church facility.
At Mercy Hill — a new church plant that recently merged with an existing church with a more than 70-year history — students cleared an area for a community garden. They were so efficient that they also had time to clean some of the church rooms and offices.
“I liked helping people I don’t know, and learning what you believe,” said “Jessica,” a Chinese national non-believer involved in Challenge AZ at NAU. “I am glad I came to City Impact.”
A fourth group worked with DTPHX Church, which partnered with DTPHX Zombie Walk 7, with the goal of gathering food for St Mary’s Food Bank. The students were trained to apply makeup to “zombiefy” participants in this fundraising walk, furthering the church’s relationship with their community.
The final group of students was spread between Centro Cristiano de Alabanza y Adoracion, Iglesia Vida Cristiana Practica, Mision Hispana Westridge Baptist Church and Tempe Christian Church. Students distributed flyers inviting the community to upcoming events, prayerwalked areas that hopefully will birth new church plants in the Hispanic community and built relationships to further the gospel.
“The best part was seeing students from all across the state gather together in fellowship, working as one body of Christ to reach the community,” said Brandon Reimus, an intern with Christian Challenge AZ in Tempe. “It was a really powerful experience. Friends were made, the community was reached and lives were changed!”