The harvest is ripe at UCR
California Baptist University graduate Holly Gehrig works in full-time ministry with Christian Challenge at University of California at Riverside.
Gehrig goes out to witness to students on UCR’s campus at least once a week. Usually with at least one other friend, Gehrig approaches girls who do not seem to be preoccupied.
“When doing random evangelism, I always take a friend and we approach girls who are sitting alone.“ Gehrig said.
She likes to use an illustration of the Gospel to show the main theme of the Bible.
“I try to appear friendly, but also direct, so they have the choice of saying yes or no to hearing the Gospel,” Gehrig said.
One aspect of Gehrig’s work is to encourage current students in reaching out to their peers. Gehrig engages students involved with Christian Challenge at CBU and UCR to do this.
“Generally, a group of girls from CBU visits and I go out with them. Lately, I have been taking UCR girls I am investing in, so they can practice sharing their faith,” Gehrig said.
Christian Challenge at UCR recently initiated a large group-training night for students they have been witnessing and investing in. The goal of the training sessions is to “help establish these students in their faith and train them to share the Gospel and make disciples in their areas of influence,” Gehrig Said.
Traci Borgh, who graduated from CBU in Dec. 2011, recently joined the ranks to witness to students at UCR. Borgh uses her love of God and the Spanish language to reach out to Spanish-speaking students at UCR.
Borgh loves sharing with international students. Even though there is sometimes a language barrier, Borgh feels confident that witnessing to them is important and impactful.
“The most powerful thing that I have to offer is that I attend a Spanish-speaking church. I invite people to come with me.” Borgh said that it encourages some people to know that they can go to a church that is not Catholic, but still embraces Spanish.
Emily Waldo, who participates in Christian Challenge at UCR said, “Random evangelizing is not effective at making disciples, but it is effective at getting over your fear of sharing the Gospel.”
Gehrig and the staff of Christian Challenge at UCR frequently work with Christian Challenge at CBU.
“The staff and students come to UCR for random evangelism and prayer for the campus. We also help with some events that Challenge at CBU puts on,” Gehrig said.
Attending Christian Challenge when Gehrig was a student at CBU was what inspired her to share her faith.
“My first introduction to sharing the Gospel was in the fall of 2008. Brian Zunigha taught a group of CBU students how to share the Gospel and challenged us at the end to go out and share it that night.”
Gehrig and a friend went to freshman girls’ dorms and practiced sharing the gospel.
It has been nearly four years since and Gehrig has turned something that was hard and awkward to do at first into a lifestyle.
“There are 18,000 students at UCR and most of them are lost. I wanted to be in an environment where I was surrounded by people who do not have a relationship with Christ, so I could be challenged to share the Gospel with them,” Gehrig said.
She began to feel her passion for full-time ministry as a senior at CBU.
“I was an RA for freshmen in the Cottages my senior year of college in 2010-2011. I wanted to influence freshmen and share the Gospel with my residents. One of my residents accepted Christ, and I was so excited to have the rest of the school year to teach her what it means to be a follower of Christ.
“I realized I enjoyed college ministry and would love to do it full time,” Gehrig said.
UCR is not the only campus that Gehrig reaches out to. “I have also spent time at CBU and Cal Poly Pomona doing random evangelism,” Gehrig said.
Making UCR her primary sphere of influence helps ensure more effective follow up as she builds relationships with the girls she meets.
“We focus more on relational evangelism,” Gehrig said. “We get to know students on a personal level and build a relationship with them.”
It is only after she has established a sense of trust and friendship that she presents the Gospel.
“Relational evangelism is more effective and easier to provide follow up because you already have a relationship with that person,” Gehrig said.
Gehrig usually targets the center of campus where students are just relaxing to share the message.
“Where ever there are lots of people that are not doing homework, that is a great place to share the Gospel. At UCR, the center of campus is where students hang out at tables and read or relax, so it is a great place to approach students,” she said.
Gehrig said that the need at UCR is great and “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”