Students Making a Difference for Eternity
"Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
"Here I am. Send me."
These are familiar words that many Christian college students hear. Yet how do they respond? Two years ago, 20 seniors at the University of Colorado's Campus Crusade for Christ movement heard the request of a small Spanish church in Málaga, Spain, for someone to come start an Agape ministry, Campus Crusade for Christ in Europe. At that time there was no Christian witness to the 42,000 Spanish students in a country whose evangelical Christian population is less than 1percent. The challenge and sacrifice was clear. Who was going to go?
Six months before graduating, seven seniors responded by saying, "Here we are. Send us." On January 17, 1999, these seven graduates with two full-time Campus Crusade staff left the U.S. to go where no one had gone before, the University of Málaga. They left with fears of how Spanish students would respond to the Gospel and how they would be able to communicate in a new language, as well as the anticipation of what God was going to do in and through them these next two years.
Right away the response from the other Spanish evangelical churches was overwhelming. The churches invited this team to come and share their vision for reaching college students for Christ with their college students. One student named Anabel told the team that they were an answer to prayer. She had desired to share her faith with peers and friends and make a stand for Jesus on her campus but did not know how to start and what to do. Many of the Spanish college students were eager to partner with Agape to reach the campus for Christ.
After meeting with the Christian students the Agape team got on campus and prayed for lost students. The team went to each department and cafeteria to meet students and learn about their lives and culture. The Christian Spanish students locked arms with Agape, helping the Americans become more Spanish in their outreach. Together they started Charlas (English discussions) where over 20 Spanish students would meet weekly to talk about life, Spain, the U.S. and spiritual things. The team soon realized that there was such an interest to talk about Jesus and the Bible that they started a Charla Biblica (Bible discussion) where students would come to read and discuss the Gospel of John. Soon after the Charla Biblicas started, four women came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In a country where it takes time to break through the cultural and religious traditions, the team saw God move in Málaga and answer prayers as they began to see more and more students want to be around them and talk about a relationship with God through Jesus. It was exciting!
Now, just 11 months later, 15-20 Spanish students have committed to give direction and leadership to the campus ministry of Agape in Spain. These students took the initiative to make Agape an officially recognized organization of the university.
The difference today's college students can make in the world is tremendous. What will your response be to the challenging question, "And who will go for us?"
Steve Van Diest led a Campus Crusade team to Spain for seven months with his wife, Christine, and son, Jonathan, . He is on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Colorado, Boulder.