Students Warm Locust Walk with Cider Outreach
by eileen scott, contributing writer
Christian Union at the University of Pennsylvania put “campus kindness” into action this fall by giving away hot cider to students on their way to class on Locust Walk, a centrally located pathway. There were no strings attached to receive the hot beverage. Yet, if students chose to sip their drink and discuss faith, leaders were there to engage. The outreach was part of the ministry’s on-going campus kindness effort, which also includes book giveaways and welcoming bags for freshmen.
Benjamin Zeisloft ’22, a leader with Christian Union at Penn, often served with the cider giveaway, which was held for two hours on Tuesday afternoons. Having recommitted his life to Christ in April of 2019, Zeisloft was inspired to share the Gospel with unreached students on Penn’s campus.
“As I rapidly grew in my walk this summer and digested sermons, books, and other resources, I quickly felt a conviction about the importance of evangelism,” he said.
The sophomore has had several conversations with individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Some of those conversations were sparked by a large whiteboard that asked, “Who Is Jesus?” Zeisloft recalled several exchanges with a Muslim student during the outreach. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for students to return for cider and conversation on a weekly basis, allowing ongoing relationships to be formed.
Another evangelism highlight was an outreach to Jehovah’s Witnesses who stationed themselves near Penn’s campus. The students involved with Christian Union took time to research the Jehovah’s Witness theology to equip themselves better to engage in meaningful dialogue.
Tucker Else, Christian Union’s ministry director at the University of Pennsylvania, said these types of outreach initiatives demonstrate that the ministry “is unafraid to engage others with tough questions of life such as ‘Why am I here?’ ‘What is my purpose?’ and ‘Where is this all going?’”
Additionally, Else said the campus community is served well by even briefly considering such questions of faith and meaning.
The acts of campus kindness also challenge the Christian students to mature in their faith and demonstrate courage and boldness.
“It requires them to declare, ‘I am a Christian, I identify with Christ and with Christian Union.’ It requires boldness. It requires readiness to share the Gospel, or at least to give an answer as to why they have this hope in Christ,” Else said. Ministry fellow Fuji Kim is thankful for the opportunity to engage the Penn community through evangelism. He is prayerful that, by sowing seeds along Locust Walk, the campus will be impacted and student leaders will grow in grace.
“The outreach opportunities are tangible ways they can care for people as they engage, listen to others’ doubts and concerns, and offer the hope that only the Gospel can give,” said Kim. “I pray that they will continue to grow in conversing and building relationships…not just during their time at Penn, but long into their discipleship.”