If you sit on a bench at New Mexico State University and wait long enough, there’s a reasonable chance that someone will come talk with you about the Gospel.
That’s because nearly every day, teams of two to three students from NMSU’s BSU Christian Challenge walk the Las Cruces, New Mexico, campus sharing their faith with anyone who will give them permission to do so. As a result of the evangelism walks, along with students telling their friends about Jesus, nearly forty people have professed faith in Christ at NMSU this academic year, according to BSU Christian Challenge director David E.*
“Our goal is to inspire [students] with the reality that God’s at work in people’s hearts beyond our imagination,” said David, who also serves as director of state collegiate ministries with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. “He is working and drawing men and women to Himself all the time. We’re blind to that most of the time unless we are engaging them in some kind of spiritual conversation.”
When students share the Gospel, often they submit written testimonies to BSU Christian Challenge as a means of accountability and encouragement. Among the testimonies from March and April:
• A student named Ethan wrote, “Aaron and I were just out on campus evangelism today and talked to a guy named Danny. When asked if he thought much about spiritual things, he said that he has been approached by religious groups several times before but was unsure what he believed personally. We presented the Gospel to him, and it was clear he was being affected by it. At the end, Aaron asked him if he wanted to pray to receive Christ and he said yes! So, Aaron led him in prayer, and we invited him to church.”
• Another student named Caitlin reported, “Today Emilie and I went out on campus and met Anna. Anna is a senior majoring in economics. She said that she grew up in a Catholic background, but doesn’t currently call herself a Catholic. Anna believes that all religions point to the same God, and are all the right way . . . I started with the presentation which soon led to her asking if we’ve always been Christians. This, of course, led Emilie and I to share our testimonies with Anna. . . . Anna wasn’t too receptive to what we were saying and thought that it was ‘good’ of us to be sharing our faith with people.”
David said the evangelistic walks around campus are more of a training strategy than an evangelism strategy. Students who have learned to share the Gospel partner with students who have not been trained and teach them to witness by talking to people on campus. By gaining confidence through campus walks, students prepare themselves to share Christ effectively with friends, family, and classmates.
“This is my twenty-seventh year here at this ministry, and I can count on one hand the number of students who’ve come through here that share the Gospel without any training,” David said. “. . . That’s not the average believer. Believers know they need to share, but they don’t share unless they’ve been properly equipped. So that’s our goal.”
Following up with those who profess faith on campus is difficult at times, according to David. But the difficulty of follow-up should never be an excuse for failing to share the Gospel, he said, adding that the person who led him to Christ was unable to follow up and did not learn until decades later how God had used his witness.
“The follow-up is probably going to go better through a relational setting than through a spontaneous one,” David said. “The fatal mistake a lot of people make is to say, ‘Therefore, don’t share with people unless you already know them.’ We’re going to have to tear a lot of pages out of the Bible if we do that. We’ve got to share with everybody and trust God with the follow-up.”
Such a commitment to sharing has made an eternal difference for many NMSU students. It did for one named Nelson.
After being approached on campus by a BSU Christian Challenge student named Josiah, Nelson learned that he and Josiah shared an interest in indoor rock climbing. They connected through the indoor rock wall on campus, Nelson trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord, and he is currently being discipled.
*Last name withheld due to involvement in a ministry partnership in a sensitive part of the world.
David Roach is editorial associate for SBC LIFE and is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky.