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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Growing the Gospel on America's Campuses

Sept. 26, 2010

Evangel Editor Ken Horn recently visited with seven of Chi Alpha’s dynamic leaders and invited them to share their vision for ministry and the miracles they are seeing in students’ lives.

Pete Bullette, Chi Alpha director at the University of Virginia

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evangel: You interned at Georgetown University’s Chi Alpha in Washington, D.C. Then your very first assignment was to pioneer a work, correct?
Yes, at the University of Virginia. I remember calling the local Assemblies of God pastor. I said, “Pastor Pete, we’re going to come and pioneer Chi Alpha at the University of Virginia.” And he said, “I already knew that. In fact, I presented you to the board last night for missionary support.” That was a big prophetic confirmation to the Lord’s direction in our lives.

evangel: That was about nine years ago. What’s going on in the ministry now?
God’s been very gracious to us. Our first meeting ever we had 52 students show up, which is just unheard of. We created a core out of that of about 20 students, and we have steadily grown for nine years to about 350 today.

evangel: What emphases have helped your ministry to grow?
No. 1 is our small group ministry. We started with three groups — my wife led two, and I led one. Next year we’ll have 35 groups, all led by students. Our growth has been very steady and stable because it has been rooted in relationships through small groups.

evangel: What kind of students do you reach, and how do you reach them?
There’s the student who grew up in church. He has a lot of big questions, but also a sincere faith. We have a party on move-in day, so we throw out the nets immediately. They say the first 10 days on campus are the most important, that the friendships you make then will be the friendships you have for the rest of your time there. Those first 10 days may be the most important 10 days of a student’s life. Because when they leave the university, they’ve established values, beliefs and trajectories that they’ll live out the rest of their lives. So those first 10 days, we’re extremely active.

Then there’s the person who doesn’t know the Lord. One young lady came to our party and was shocked by how people really wanted to get to know her. So she joined a small group and started to study Scripture. On our retreat, she became a follower of Jesus, and she has been revolutionized.

We also reach international students. A student from China saw an ad on Facebook that invited people to our mug party. Within one minute of arriving he said to me, “I’m here for an education, but that’s not the most important thing. I came because I want to learn about God.” This young man ended up giving his life to Christ at our fall retreat. He got into a small group, and right now he’s back home for the summer having been powerfully impacted by the gospel.

evangel: How does discipleship work out in the life of a new convert?
The discipleship is done through the small group structure. Our small group leaders are matched up with a staff worker or somebody who is older than they are, who invests in them. Then our small group leaders invest in the people in their small groups.

Students are able to sit at a table with someone regularly and talk about Jesus and study the Bible and learn what it means to live out the Christian life at a secular university.

evangel: What makes a healthy campus ministry?
One, you have to be authentic; people can smell fake a mile away. Second, you have to be relational. You’ve got to love people. And third, you’ve got to be substantive. This generation wants substance. We’re not trying to make good Chi Alphans; we’re making good lifelong followers of Jesus.

Eric Treuil, South Central Area director for Chi Alpha and the Louisiana District representative

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evangel: You’ve been ministering in one place for more than 20 years.
My wife, Annabelle, and I are both from the New Orleans area. We got married in 1985. In 1987, we felt the Lord leading us to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We went there in ’87 and started out with three students. I was impassioned. I wanted to see this campus reached for Christ. I really thought the three students would feel the same. I shared my vision, and right in the middle one of the students raises her hand and says, “You know, I’m not into this.” And she just walked out. I was down to two. But God was faithful, and the group has grown through the years. We just completed 23 years, and we’ve had the opportunity to see a number of student generations come and go. Now their kids are starting to come. Longevity has its benefits. I have a lot of opportunities today that I did not have when I first showed up.

evangel: You’re conducting a campus missionary training program right now that has trained 88 interns. You have 35 current Chi Alpha missionaries.
Our interns have to have a college degree and a sense that God is calling them to do

campus ministry. They do a 10-month internship where they learn about theology, Scripture, how to preach, how to do small groups — they learn in a classroom and by practice.

In the process, we’re looking at their personal character, developing the character of God in them, and hopefully giving them tools to go and do this on another campus. We have 11 full-time units on various campuses in the state, the majority of whom have interned with me. The number of students we’re reaching exponentially is incredible.

evangel: Talk about some of the creative evangelism you’ve done.
We do Café Chi Alpha: A free meal with a message. A couple of years ago, we did what we called a Resurrection Awareness-a-thon. We set up a coffin on the busiest corner of the campus, and for three days, around the clock, someone was in the coffin. It was a visual that Easter isn’t about the Easter bunny, it’s about a Man named Jesus who actually died and came back from the dead.

One year, a young lady was working a coffee cart right next to the casket. The third day she came over and said, “OK, what is this about?” They explained it to her, prayed with her, and she gave her life to Christ. Now she’s a youth pastor.

evangel: You’ve also had the opportunity to be a sports chaplain.
For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been chaplain for our football team, the Ragin’ Cajuns. I’ve worked now with three head coaches, and I’ve had the opportunity to do a chapel service for the team. When we travel, I travel with them. I’m on the sideline for every game. It’s been a great opportunity for ministry.

I do an athletic Bible study mid-week. Today it has close to 100 students. When Charles Tillman, who plays for the Chicago Bears now, was a student, I had two students coming to my Bible study. Charles came in to study. He’d be sitting in a corner listening. After three weeks, he joined us and shortly after joining he gave his life to Christ. He was baptized in water in the university pool. I later had the privilege of officiating his wedding.


Curt Harlow, director of the West Coast Chi Alpha Area

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evangel: How did you get involved in Chi Alpha?
I came to faith in my high school years, but I didn’t have a lot of discipleship. Three months into college, I had not attended a church service, youth group or cracked open my Bible. I ran into a similarly off-the-track Christian, and he said, “We ought to just go to church.” I can remember walking into my first-ever meeting filled with Chi Alpha students and literally hearing the distinct whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, I want you to show up to this thing every week and every Sunday morning and never miss a time.

Four years later, I did a trial internship for 10 months at Central Washington University. I was two weeks into it and just knew it would be my life’s call.

evangel: Talk about your ministry at Chi Alpha.
We’ve always had a heart to start new Chi Alpha groups. We were in a Chi Alpha group that was very healthy at CWU. The discipleship we received left me with the sense that I have an obligation to be mentored and to mentor (2 Timothy 2:2). We wanted to start a new group, so we went to Cal State Stanislaus. We saw an explosion of students there. From there we went to the University of the Pacific and started sending out teams of new campus missionaries from our internship program at UOP to pioneer new works on unreached campuses. A lot of teams did well, and a lot of teams struggled.

Eight, nine years into that experience we thought, Maybe we ought to take a little break and learn why some of these teams are not doing as well. We spent a year on our church staff. After that, Dennis Gaylor asked us to come on the national staff.

Eventually the Lord said to go back to California, which we did five years ago. There are so many strategic campuses. We said, “What if we team with church planters and districts and local churches to strategically combine to start Chi Alpha groups together?” And that’s what we’ve endeavored to do. We’ve seen about 12 new groups form. We had 12 brand-new campus leaders graduate and begin ministry last year. We have eight more coming into the program this year.

evangel: What do you do to reach people?
People want to experience the community of faith, and they want to experience God before they commit. In a pluralistic culture where they’ve been exposed to a lot of different worldviews, they’re really weighing these things. But the gospel still works. It works at Stanford. It works at UC Davis. It works at UCLA. We’ve seen it work at USC. It works in community colleges and urban areas. I run into very few people who are outwardly hostile to me. A little bit of intelligence and a little bit of kindness can really shock people into saying, “I’d like to consider this.”

evangel: Share a testimony with us.
One post-graduate student at Stanford had a Christian student from our Chi Alpha group studying with her. This Christian student befriended her and articulated the gospel to her. She said, “You know, I don’t believe what you believe, but I like you guys.” Slowly but surely, she began to hang around Christians. Chi Alpha sponsored Francis Collins, the famous geneticist, to give a talk on God and the DNA of humankind. We had an amazing hour with him. After that, over a week’s period, she began to change. At one point, our campus pastor asked, “Would anyone like to share a testimony? Just something God is doing in your life?” And she raised her hand and said, “I have begun to trust Jesus as my Savior, and there is no other way to describe this other than to say it’s like springtime in my spirit. It’s as if I’ve been born again.”


Paul Austin, director of the Big Sky Area for Chi Alpha

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evangel: How did you get involved in Chi Alpha?
I grew up in the Assemblies of God. After I graduated from high school I realized I wasn’t living my faith out. I went off to Montana State University in Bozeman. Dick Schroeder, the Chi Alpha director there, had been alerted that I was coming to campus by my uncle, an alumnus of that Chi Alpha group. Dick knocked on my door and offered to take me out for a Coke, and for nine years we met one on one. He discipled, mentored me. I went on a summer missions trip and was called into ministry. I was trained there at Montana State. I was on staff five years.

evangel: Then you moved to Idaho State?
Yes. The first three years weren’t so good. As we went to pioneer, we just tried to duplicate what we were doing in Bozeman, but it’s a totally different world. Our campus was 70 percent Mormon, and it was a commuter campus, not a residential campus. It took us almost six years of trial and error to figure out the dynamics of the two different worlds.

evangel: You’ve adapted some of the Church Multiplication Network materials to help pioneer Chi Alpha groups.
Right. Because our experience was so challenging and frustrating in pioneering, I began to talk to other pioneers around the United States. I began to think, There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to be able to do this faster, more efficiently, more effectively. In 2005, Chi Alpha set some five-year goals. One was to establish a strategy to more effectively pioneer campus ministry. We looked at other fellow campus ministries, and we talked to Church Multiplication Network and attended their church planting BootCamp. I recognized I didn’t have to go outside the AG family to figure this out.

evangel: Tell us about being a chaplain for sports teams at Idaho State.
I approached the head football coach when he got to campus and said, “Is there any way I can help?” Well, the Chi Alpha director at Washington State, where our head football coach came from, was the team chaplain. So he agreed. My first couple of years, I went to practice and did a pre-game Bible study, and there would just be six or seven guys. We have grown to 20-40 guys who attend. I get to pray with the team before the game, and I do a lot of one on one. I’ve had some great opportunities. We’ve got five guys out of Idaho State who are in the NFL today. One of them, Jeff Charleston, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, has a Super Bowl ring. It was a treat to pray with him the night before the Super Bowl.


Sarah Malcolm, National Chi Alpha Training Team member

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evangel: Talk about your five years of Chi Alpha ministry in Scotland.
I went to Scotland in 2004 with some missionary friends, Joe and Jayne Zickafoose, and we pioneered the first university ministry of the Assemblies of God in Scotland and all of the U.K. We worked in the city of Aberdeen. Outreach was really to a diverse group of people. They weren’t just Scottish, but also came from the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. We did different creative outreaches and discipleship. We were able to see a community of believers created in that city.

evangel: What happens when someone comes into Chi Alpha and gives their life to the Lord?
First, we celebrate. It’s a wonderful moment. But then I think what Chi Alpha does best is train them in discipleship. We have a long history of really investing in people and making sure they understand that their faith continues to grow over a lifetime.

evangel: Talk about your current role as a member of the National Chi Alpha Training Team.
Chi Alpha has been committed to training since it began. But, for the first time in its history, Chi Alpha now has a training team working on development of resources specifically targeted toward our students as they exit the university and enter the marketplace. I work specifically with a program called Menternship that takes students from their university years and what they’ve learned about living out their faith on the campus to learning how to live out their faith when they go into their place of work.

Menternship focuses on servant-leadership. It’s the lifestyle that we see in Jesus; His servant-leadership completely transformed the world. Because He was able to train a few so well, He was able then to reach the masses. We have created an online training program that will teach our graduates 11 servant-leadership consistencies.

evangel: What is the basic outline of the Menternship program?
It’s completely given and assessed online over about a 10-month period. You do eight courses in four-week blocks. Through Webinars, podcasts, online video, PDFs and interacting with instructors, you’re in a very rich learning environment.

It’s for several different audiences, but it was first created specifically for our Chi Alpha graduates. It can also be used by people overseas. If you’ve given a year overseas to a university ministry and would also like some training, this would be a perfect program for you to sign up with and have a Mentern as a foreign campus missionary. But it could also serve the church staff community. If there was someone who was a church staff member who specifically wanted to reach out to university students, this could be a program that would suit them perfectly.


Gina White, director of Chi Alpha at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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evangel: Talk about Chi Alpha’s influence in your early Christian life.
When I went to UNC, I was not walking with the Lord. That first year a lot of things changed in my life that really started me seeking. So, my freshman year I gave my life to Christ.

But I found myself as one in the midst of 28,000 students. I was the only Christian I knew. One day a good friend and I were talking, and I told her what had been happening in my life. She said, “You know, I grew up Christian too. But I haven’t been doing anything since I got here at college, and I need a church.” I said, “Well, I need a church, but I have a car!”

So we began searching together and found an Assemblies of God church. A couple of years later, we had been plugged into the church, but there was nothing on campus that we were really plugged into. Eventually Chi Alpha started a new group there, and we were two of the first students in the group.

In Chi Alpha, I found people who loved Jesus and were living that out in real ways. I really got invested in Chi Alpha. It was the point of no return for me; I chose to go full throttle.

evangel: Your internship was in Washington, D.C., then you returned to your alma mater to work on staff. The majority of your ministry there has been while you’ve been single. Talk about ministry on campus for a single woman.
I have served eight years in Chi Alpha, and I just got married last year. Doing ministry as a single woman had its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade that time. I feel like that was a great shaping time in my ministry and a great time of being able to model for my students that, yes, you can be single and you can have a healthy, Christian lifestyle and be a leader at the same time.

evangel: What do you see ahead for Chi Alpha at University of North Carolina?
We have a track record of producing good, solid leaders, and that’s what we really want to maintain. We just want to produce people who are competent, have the ability to lead, who love Jesus and will go out there and change the world.


Terry Broadwater, director of the Chi Alpha Network

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evangel: You have a somewhat unique background for a Chi Alpha minister.
I’ve been a lead pastor in two churches for more than 20 years. The first was in Leesburg, Va. It was what I would call a revitalization project before we understood revitalization. Then we came to a well-established church in Hagerstown, Md. The last seven years, we’ve planted four churches, and God’s really blessed it.

evangel: How did you become involved in Chi Alpha at this point in your ministry?
We were speaking into the lives of these young leaders and looking to plant more churches. My daughter, my youngest child, is very athletic, and began to be recruited out of high school for volleyball by major universities along the East Coast. And so we were on a lot of campuses. She ultimately chose the University of Connecticut. I realized they didn’t have a Chi Alpha. That concerned me because suddenly I’m about to leave my kid at a secular university. I quickly became more aware of what was happening on our campuses.

God began to touch my wife’s and my hearts, and we became burdened. I began to see some possibilities. So I met with Harv Herman, who is part of the executive leadership team, and asked one question that has changed my life: “What about the marketplace transformation aspect of Chi Alpha’s mission?” He said, “We’re not doing that very well.” When I got home, I said, God, show me something about marketplace transformation for these students. I wrote out a strategy, called the Chi Alpha Network, that is essentially an exit strategy for students when they graduate the secular university to intentionally involve them in church planting opportunities around the country as well as opportunities for marketplace transformation and impact.

We’ve been orchestrating all the relational networks. Church Multiplication Network, led by National Director Steve Pike, has partnered with me, and they’ve been incredible. We’re believing God that in the next two to three years this will be an incredible strategy to intentionalize the process for Chi Alpha students to enter the marketplace on missions to fulfill the cause of Christ.

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