Update from Arizona State University

Posted by Bethan Mingle on February 23, 2017
Topic: Blog

Shawn Hart gives a brief update on recent RZIM events at Arizona State University (ASU).

Thank you to all of you who joined us in prayer while we visited Arizona State University in January for University Mission Week. In just one week, we packed in 16 events and held multiple conversations with students for hours each day.

A University Mission Week with RZIM brings together campus ministries, churches, and the community for a focused week of public proclamation of the gospel, as well as conversations inviting students and faculty alike to consider the good news about Jesus Christ. We will usually provide two lunches back-to-back each day with a talk followed by a Q&A. After these lunches, we follow up with students to engage their questions and work through discussions. We will then host an evening event in the same talk and Q&A format. This happens every day for five days. Our goal is to begin thoughtful dialogue with students about their toughest questions on Christianity, the Bible, science, culture, relationships, and more.

We saw a huge turnout during the week: students lined up for lunches and seating was scarce. We covered topics like “Is God sexist?” and “Can we really believe Jesus rose from the dead?” Students asked good and honest questions, revealing the intellectual challenges they face daily, as well as the challenges on an emotional level.

Vince Vitale had the opportunity to meet two students who started their journey of looking into Christianity during our mission week at ASU last year. They continued their investigation in the months following the mission week and about three months ago made commitments to follow Christ.

On Monday, the first night we were on campus, Vince Vitale and Michelle Tepper spoke alongside six-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, as well as alongside former National Football League player Darryl Morrison. In 2014, Amy was injured in a severe accident that severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. The speakers and athletes spoke on how they have dealt with experiencing extreme suffering after reaching the pinnacle of successful in their respective sports. Afterward, Vince shared a powerful message on how Christianity engages with suffering. It was a moving night.

The next evening, Ravi Zacharias and Vince spoke on topics from their new book, Jesus Among Secular Gods, followed by a joint Q&A. Both gave powerful and compassionate addresses.

At the start of each mission week, many students come with many objections to the Christian faith, but by the end of the week we find the skepticisms are either significantly reduced or gone altogether as we walk with them through answers to their difficult questions and offer them countercultural, intellectual truth.

Next stop: UC Berkeley March 5-10.