By Elizabeth Pfeiffer and Noah Jaeger
Photos by Kayla Becton

One hundred forty-five college students from every corner of Arizona united at Emmanuel Pines Camp in Prescott Feb. 8-10 for Christian Challenge’s Surge discipleship retreat.

“For college students to be able to get away from the pressures of academic and campus life to focus on Christ is a tremendous opportunity for spiritual growth,” said Marc Hill, Christian Challenge campus missionary at Northern Arizona University and Surge lead coordinator.

DeWayne Hawkins, keynote speaker and pastor of Life Givers Church, Goodyear, brought messages built around the theme “Surrender.”

“Stop trying to figure your life out. Don’t try to put your life together,” Hawkins said. “Step by step, pay attention to what God is already doing in your life and follow that.”

Students experienced deeper connections with God’s truth after each session.

“If I don’t fall in love with who God made me to be, I am telling God he made a mistake,” said Larissa Hodge, a student at Grand Canyon University.

“I feel like that belief [of surrender] was strengthened and deepened because of Surge,” said Phillip Scheetz, a student at Arizona State University West. “It helped emphasize the importance of surrender and made it more urgent for me to surrender.”

Hawkins challenged students to fight individualism through community and through a purpose bigger than themselves — the Great Commission.

After each session, students gathered by campus for more personal questions. These cabin times deepened relationships within the individual campus communities.

“It was really special knowing that the same people that I have come to know and love as my friends in the last year and a half are a group of people that I can rely on, that we can rely on each other,” said Aubrey Kreutzer, an ASU West student. “We can listen, support, pray and be there for each other.”

Amidst the many activities available at Surge, at one point every student gathered for a campwide game of capture the flag. The activity featured marshmallow guns, shields, pool noodles and spray-painted bases spread throughout the campsite.

“I got to meet new people who I otherwise might not have and come together as a team with them,” said Kyra Parry, an NAU student.

Every Surge hosts the infamous lip-sync battle. Students prepared all year for the competition, which developed their community to an even greater extent.

“The lip-sync battle really showcased the comradery and the family,” Hawkins said.

Surge plays a large role in students’ lives every year. With the business of life and classes, retreating for a weekend to focus on God is a necessity for these students.

Hawkins’ messages on surrender fueled students to focus on where Jesus is leading them on their campus. With a fresh vision, students were excited to start walking more intimately with their God.