Chi Alpha's E. Scott Martin has just challenged a group of students to commit at least a year of their lives to foreign missions. The setting is a Chi Alpha missions summit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The silence lingers. The 50 students shift in their seats, thinking about the magnitude of such a decision.
Finally a female student stands, slowly, yet resolute in her commitment to serve in foreign missions and the tension eases. As a handful respond, other students commence to rise.
Martin, Chi Alpha's missions and evangelism representative, makes other challenges at the September gathering for specific foreign fields, followed by similar numbers of students who respond to the call after prayers and consideration.
Missions summits began last fall when Chi Alpha leaders realized the potential that college campuses had to impact global missions. "We knew that if students were challenged, they would respond," said Martin.
Students interact directly with foreign and home missionaries during the weekend summits, getting a firsthand look at needs represented worldwide. The summit in Illinois followed summits last year in Arizona and Texas.
"God spoke to me about going to Central Eurasia for at least two or three years," said Clifton Mays, who attends Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona.
"It was a real eye-opener in terms of how much of the world isn't Christian," said Melody Bagley, a student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
Students not called to go are challenged to give support. "Missions offerings used to seem pointless to me," said Chris Munoz, a student at Sam Houston State. "But the summit showed me I could invest in people I could never otherwise reach."
"The summits present a clear picture of global needs and provide students with an opportunity to do something about them," Martin said.
By Paulina Chang