A total of 217 people, including international students from 16 countries, recently came together for Surge, Christian Challenge’s annual collegiate discipleship retreat.
One of the students from a country closed to the gospel, gave his life to Christ during the event which was was held at United Christian Youth Camp in Prescott, Arizona.
Surge is “a catalyst for helping [Arizona] students connect to God through worship, Bible, teaching and community,” said Jeff Mashaw, southern regional catalyst with Christian Challenge AZ and leader of the discipleship team that planned the event.
After last year’s virtual approach to the event due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, spirits were high as students once again experienced in-person fellowship while learning about the theme of the retreat, “Living as Exiles.”
Thriving as exiles
Chad Murrell, keynote speaker and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Scottsdale, emphasized that living as an exile on earth requires understanding our primary citizenship is not in this world, but rather in heaven living with Christ.
While the world will inflict pain and suffering on us, there is always a cause for celebration because of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ, Murrell said.
“There is no greater honor than to live like Jesus, even in our suffering,” Murrell said while addressing the students during the event. “You must have the Holy Spirit working in and through you if you want to thrive as exiles.”
This year the Surge discipleship team introduced breakout sessions for students with topics ranging from managing finances to navigating singleness and dating .
The themes of each session were selected to address the typical struggles of college students and young adults, according to Andrew Marchbanks, campus missionary at Glendale Community College and leader of the “Spiritual Disciplines” breakout session.
“I really enjoyed interacting with the students and the questions they asked,” Marchbanks said. “I always enjoy challenging students and encouraging them in their walk with Christ, so I had a lot of fun with it.”
After the breakout sessions concluded, groups of students shared key takeaways with one another.
“I decided to come to Surge to grow my relationships with people in Christian Challenge,” said Kyle Villa, a sophomore at Arizona State University. “I feel like I already know a lot of people very well, but it allowed me to strengthen my relationships with people I don’t see very often.”
Various recreational activities, including archery tag, zip lining and rock climbing, were open to students on the second day of the retreat. Many students used this as a chance to meet new people from other campuses.
Marshaw noted, “When we get together, there’s students from all the different campuses interacting, hanging out and seeing how God’s working across the state.”
To learn more about Christian Challenge, visit challengeaz.com.