By Troy Hill
Photos by Noah Jaeger
College students from all over the state came together on Oct. 19, 2019, for Christian Challenge’s Proclaim Evangelism Conference.
The conference was held at First Baptist Church, Chandler, and covered different aspects of evangelism and the gospel.
The main speaker was Trey Van Camp, pastor of Passion Creek Church in Queen Creek. The breakout sessions were taught by highly qualified theologians and leaders who came from as near as a local church to as far as England.
The main theme of the conference was “The Gospel is Enough.” The main session and all of the breakout sessions, which ranged from basic apologetics to engaging people in normal situations, emphasized this theme.
Trevor Bush, the Phoenix-region catalyst for Christian Challenge Arizona, said as much as evangelism techniques can be helpful, for this evangelism conference they wanted to emphasize the gospel and help students be more confident in the Holy Spirit’s and Bible’s work to change people’s lives.
“All the techniques … how much knowledge you have, how much you know — all of that doesn’t change lives. The gospel changes lives,” Bush said.
Van Camp, whose church is the Christian Challenge partner that focuses on ASU’s Polytechnic Campus, said he loves the feeling of unity and camaraderie that comes from the “people up north and down south and everybody in-between” coming together for statewide events.
“I love it, I feel like [the college groups are] not segregated,” Van Camp said. “We’re obviously united by the blood of Christ.”
He said he also really enjoys the breakouts and how they teach students how to share their faith and how to address obstacles that everyone is dealing with. It was helpful to have a day where everyone could get away and really focus on evangelism, he said.
“I think [Proclaim is] just encouragement and just equipping our people to share the gospel. I think it’s super valuable and I’m glad we do this,” Van Camp said.
Paul Smith, senior pastor at First Baptist, Chandler, and teacher of one of the breakout sessions, said he enjoyed the conference and hopes Challenge students see they are not alone in their struggles of being a Christian in college.
First Baptist, Chandler, is the relatively new Christian Challenge partner for Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Their partnership was established in January 2019, and Proclaim 2019 was the first state Challenge event that their chapter had attended.
Bush said it is important that students and church members are regularly reminded, coached and trained on evangelism.
“I think it’s something that easily becomes less of a priority than it should,” he said. “I think that evangelism, in particular, is something that we need to keep talking about in order to keep it on the front of our minds. And I think there’s a lot of training, as well, that goes along with evangelism that we just need to keep up with.”
Bush said it is important for the church to invest in its young adults and college students for the church’s long-term health.
“If we ignore our young people, and just kind of cross our fingers and hope that they get it, then I think we will miss opportunities to really do what God called us to do — and that’s develop disciples,” he said.