During this time of the year I am always reminded of and amazed by the fact that our God chose to come and live among us – that the awaited hope was found in a baby named Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.” What a beautiful step of love and hope for not just Mary and Joseph, but for all humanity and for all time.
We have found this hope in Jesus, but not all know of this great love that has come. Jesus knew this and told us to proclaim the good news in Matthew 9:35-38:
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, â€œThe harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.â€
Knowing that Christ has come and that the harvest is plentiful, we feel an urgency in telling those on the university campus about this Great Shepherd. So, for the first time in Chi Alpha at UVA history, I (Tyler) organized and led a week of focused evangelism called Engage:UVA.
Over 150 students signed up at Monday Night Live to participate in the outreach events. We handed out 20 gallons of water and over 20 pounds of pancake mix at tables, set up for the purpose of showing love to the party- and frat-goers. We handed out s’mores by international and first-year dorms and played pick-up sports. We built a plywood Conversation Wall with a question across the top to engage students in the areas they (and we) care about, and what difference the Gospel makes.
One night during Engage:UVA, I was handing out water to those bouncing between house parties and connected with a guy. This young man used to be a Christian and wasn’t sure how to choose between a life with God and a life lived for himself. We chatted, prayed together and agreed to continue our conversation. During the same night many Chi Alpha students also connected with friends out partying, talked with them and prayed with them. It was an incredible night!
At the heart of every Engage:UVA event were encounters to provide a listening ear, to remember a specific student’s name in a sea of thousands, to make a connection, and to show up as representatives of Christ.