By Warren Peper/Photo by Seth Friend
Friday nights are valuable to most college students. It’s a springboard to the weekend and a break from the classroom until Monday.
A group of CSU students heads to downtown Charleston every Friday night with a different objective. The goal is to share Jesus with people they don’t even know.
Hayden Jacobs, a Christian Studies major from Boiling Springs, helped form the group in the fall of 2016. The average number of participants has grown to approximately 20 on any given Friday. They meet first in a designated residence for a devotional and prayer. They then split up into teams and head to King Street, Marion Square, East Bay Street and The Market.
The street ministry is called Urban. “We’re not asking for anything in return; we’re just planting seeds, and people notice that something’s different,” explains Jacobs. “We try to engage people. Some are very guarded; some are receptive. We ask intentional questions, and the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide the conversation.”
The students who participate are not all future pastors or Christian Studies majors. Actually, the majority are not. The teams all have a leader because even those who want to participate are not initially comfortable with these personal encounters.
One very tangible outcome of this outreach is that students who don’t really know how to share their faith overcome those fears. Jacobs honestly admits that “sometimes, it’s a ministry of failure. But God’s doing things we can’t see.”
The Urban team members are asked to look at their encounters as people not projects. Efforts are made to secure names and phone numbers for follow-up conversations. Sometimes, a person is interested in knowing more and will entertain the dialogue at a more convenient moment.
The team has also bumped into people who just need help. One person needed shoes; the group found a way to get him a pair. A poor street artist was provided new supplies of brushes and paint. One team of students learned that a person they’d met on a previous Friday was hospitalized after being beaten-up on the streets. They visited that person and prayed for his recovery in his hospital room.
The teams usually spend about 90 minutes on the streets of downtown Charleston. They then reconvene to learn about the various encounters and situations.
Summit Church sponsors this Urban evangelism. There are no classroom credits or required attendance. This is a group of college students who are passionate about their faith and anxious to share it. Their goal is to encourage and empower.
Photo: The Urban team spends time role-playing how to share their faith in preparation for their street ministry.