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Christian Union

Nova’s Sending Team Focuses on Evangelism Training

by catherine elvy, staff writer


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, students involved with Christian Union Nova at Princeton University took a deep dive into evangelism.

During April and May, about fifteen students participated in video conference calls to discover how to share the Good News more effectively in their everyday lives, both on campus and beyond.

“God is doing something on our campus. Our prayer leaders have been praying about how to reach the campus,” said Christopher Heslep, ministry director at Princeton University.

 

“It was encouraging that they did not want to leave it up to us,” said Heslep. Princeton provides a fertile ground for receiving the Good News of Christ’s gift of salvation. Princetonians tend to be more open to exploring the Christian message than students at other top-tier institutions, and Tigers hail from across the globe.

“Princeton is unique,” said Heslep. “There are great opportunities.”

In April, Ministry Fellow Cam Garven led an initial two-hour, online training session on the basics of Gospel presentations. During the calls, students took charge of practice sessions, including ones on initiating spiritual conversations, sharing testimonies, and handling follow-up conversations. 

Still, some of the students wrestled with fears and inadequacies, including concerns over scriptural literacy and personal shortcomings.

“It’s a big step for a lot of them,” said Heslep.

Christian Union’s Princeton ministry team reminded students of the necessity of evangelism and of the nature of spiritual mobilization. Acts 1:8 says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Heslep wants students to understand that evangelism is “not an optional part of Christianity. This is the identity of a kingdom person,” he said. “Evangelism will not happen if we do not make it a real priority.”

Fulfilling the Christian mission of growing the community of believers is a passion for Heslep.

“Sometimes, we miss the urgency,” he said.

During a virtual training session in May, a core group of students led a follow-up session about ways to narrate personal faith testimonies.

“It was just amazing to hear,” said Ministry Fellow Jayne Babij. The undergraduates radiated a “desire to see people come and know and believe the Gospel and have a relationship with Jesus.”

PrincetonSummer2020SmallAmong student leaders on the sending team, Luke Martinez ’22 said he personally strives to reflect Christ’s love to peers and strangers alike when sharing his faith.

“You can evangelize just by being there for someone,” he said.

During 2019-20, Martinez and other participants on the sending team reflected Christ’s compassion when they volunteered at Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Trenton. During fall 2019, the students also traveled to Philadelphia to distribute water and granola bars and offer prayers in a downtrodden neighborhood. 

Martinez hopes to resume such projects during the next academic year.

“It was so great on so many levels,” he said. “Being able to share God’s love with them was absolutely stunning.”

Such aspirations resonate with Christian Union’s Babij. “Our students on the sending team have been very excited about reaching out to others,” she said. “That has been very encouraging to me.”

After all, Babij reminds us, believers are “called to love God and love others by telling them the truth of the Gospel. That’s going to transform lives.”