This past weekend more than 400 students, faculty and staff, scattered themselves across 33 Southern California churches, participating in the 20th annual Outreach Week. Stopping school for three days, The Master’s University disseminates teams to “serve, evangelize, and fellowship.”
A dense fog lay over the city of Los Angeles early Friday morning. A team of seventeen students, serving alongside members of Grace Community Church, could be seen spreading out at the North Hollywood Metro Station. As the bright orange buses came and went, dropping off and picking up a flux of passengers --- strangers in a crowd --- these students shared their faith in Jesus Christ.
A man dressed in all black was sitting alone on a concrete bench waiting for his bus. “Where are you headed today?” Taylor Sinclair, a senior Business major, asked. With that simple question Sinclair entered into a conversation with this man about his life using it as a transition into sharing the Gospel.
The evening before, the team was given a crash course on evangelism, which they used in their time at the metro station on Friday, Skid Row on Saturday, and Door to Door on Sunday. Many on the team expressed being nervous before they went out, worried they might communicate miserably, however Sinclair, a frequent participant with Grace Evangelism and the TMU Evangelism Society, remarked, “The only time we fail in evangelism is when we fail to evangelize. Outreach Week placed me in a variety of different situations to share the Gospel, which I am thankful for.”
Another team was able to serve a group of people who experience the world in a completely different capacity. Imagine a life of white noise and inescapable darkness: being able to feel the heat of the sun on your skin but never see its light. This is how some of the members of Grace Bible Deaf Church in Highland Park, who are either blind or deaf --- or both, live each day.
The team of nine spent their time physically serving the church: cleaning up the apartment complex these people live in, sanding down railings, tidying up rooms, repairing a stairwell, and even throwing a carnival. Junior, Amber Mullenbach, has served on this team for two years and said, “Being deaf and blind can be isolating and scary,” and gave an example of this fear, “If someone walks into the room, [they] can only feel the vibration and air movements. Not knowing who has walked in, many assume the worst and are afraid it’s an intruder, rather than a friend. It makes them insecure in their surroundings.” The team got to experience this firsthand through a simulation: blindfolded with headphones producing white noise, they were lead around the complex. Mullenbach continued on, “their fear and insecurity can help us focus in on the Gospel, how God is always watching over us, He is present and protecting us ---- God is their eyes and ears in that sense.”
Though Outreach Week is only a few days long, and these are only brief examples pulled from two teams out of thirty-three, it stands as a poignant reminder to “serve, evangelize, and fellowship.” The strangers we normally pass by, those sitting on concrete benches waiting for their bus or standing in front of us in line for coffee, are not merely objects filling our vision but people with a soul destined for eternity; each one created by God and desperately in need of a Savior.
Barry Moore, Multicultural Advancement Coordinator at The Master’s University and organizer of Outreach Week emphasized, “Long after their time at Master's is over, no matter where their careers take them, the local church will be there. God will continue to build His church and He, in His gracious wisdom, uses broken individuals to help. Outreach Week gives the students an opportunity to partner with local churches and help them advance the gospel in the areas God has placed them in. It's a beautiful picture of the needs and opportunities students will have no matter where they live, or what church they go to. If they can catch that vision now, as a college student, they will be set up for a life of awesome ministry.”