The Reach the University tracks offered by Chi Alpha Campus Ministries this summer all had record-high attendances, gathering a total of 400 students and faculty at Central Bible College in Springfield, Co., for leadership traininig.
Valerie Kretz, special projects coordinator for Chi Alpha, said participants were able to experience more than just training for their future leadership roles.
Its not just training. Its more than that," she said. "There really was an encounter with God that they have there."
This year's conference had best attendance record for a Reach the U Institute conference. Speakers such as RUI's Director Curt Harlow also engaged students in thought-provoking topics. He shared how believers could witness in a post-Christian world.
Harlow taught the paricipants to"witness for Christ everyday not as an event but more like a lifestyle," said Kretz.
Many students who attended described the event as a "life-changing experience or said they "cant wait to go back.
Kretz commented, "Its the best year we ever had."
What stood out to her most among the six tracks were the gender-specific small groups offered through the Student Leaders Track. Kretz thought the groups were effective in training the students to build the relationships that are essential to leading small groups.
Since the groups were small, "they really got to know eight people," said Kretz. "Through that they really got a hands-on experience with small groups."
Gilbert Lopez, a student from San Antonio, TX who attended the Student track, said, "I learned so much on how to lead a small group and how to do a one-on-one. I felt that God rebirthed the desire in me to reach the lost and to do things that will attract people's attention."
Lopez was also touched by the presence of the Holy Spirit during the conference night services held from June 17-21, which featured worship bands from Sam Houston State University and University Worship Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma, along with evening messages.
The Holy Spirit was present throughout the week and most definitely at the night services," Lopez said. "The Holy Spirit also let me realize that in order to allow God to work in me, I just have to be myself as He made me. I noticed that all the speakers were so different yet they ministered to us students in a huge way."
Another student attending from San Antonio, Olivia Delgado, also enjoyed the atmosphere of the conference.
Not only did we get to meet with on-fire college Christians from across the nation but we caught a vision for how God could use us," she said.
After the conference, each RUI participant filled out an "Action Sheet," which detailed how each was going to implement what was learned. Participants also received a CD containing Power Point slides of the speaker presentations for their personal review.
They are encouraged to really go apply and process what they learned, said Kretz.
[RUI] is something I will never forget, and I can't wait to go back," said Kelly Witek from Schertz, TX.
Power Point slides and an Mp3 recording of speaker presentations will be posted on the Reach the U Web site, reachtheu.com, along with videos and photos from the conference.