Great Commission Congress encourages students to step out of their comfort zones in more ways than one

By Meredith Schellin
News Editor

Through Asbury’s annual Great Commission Congress (GCC) led by Majors Stephen Court and Danielle Strickland, students were encouraged to overcome fears, step outside their comfort zones and live “boundless” lives. 

According to the brochure given to students on the Monday of GCC, the goal of the week, which took place Nov. 4-8, was to motivate students to live the “Great Commission Lifestyle” year-round, train students on how to live this lifestyle and provide a way for students to actively fulfill the Great Commission. 

As part of their messages, Court and Strickland asked the chapel audience several questions throughout the week. To respond to the questions, students texted their answers to a number which then polled and projected the answers anonymously onto the screens in front of the auditorium.

These questions ranged from general, such as, “How much time do you spend on the Internet for entertainment?” to more personal questions, such as, “Have you ever had sex?”  

Some students believed that the honesty that was displayed through the texting polls represented a greater message than the actual idea they were intended to communicate. 

Junior Phoenix Skye felt that the texting polls were very eye-opening. 

“The honesty that seemed to be displayed in the texting poll responses demonstrated to me that Asbury students are generally open to discussing their personal struggles,” said Skye. 

She believes that, as a community, we should be willing to openly discuss problems. 

“That is very encouraging because, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be able to share and support each other in personal struggles. I hope…that Asbury is a place where students can come together to bear each other’s burdens and be real with one another; living real life together.” 

Freshman Hudson Ensz agreed with Skye’s observations. “From my experience, the students are dying to talk about their personal struggles; they just don’t ever feel comfortable enough or feel like anyone cares about what they are going through,” Ensz said.  “It is great that these topics were brought up. It can create an environment for life altering conversations.”

However, there were several other students who felt that, while a vast majority of crowd participation was achieved, it was clear that students  only wanted to disscuss their personal issues if they could remain anonymous. 

According to senior Kaity Scanlan, Asbury can be a place where students can talk about these issues; however, students must be willing to do it without being anonymous. 

“I believe that it shows that we are willing, but not necessarily when people can see who is dealing with those struggles. I think it is easier for anyone to be honest about their struggles when no one can see names,” said Scanlan. “We can still in a way hide behind our struggles by it being anonymous. However, I do believe the students at Asbury can be more vulnerable than other schools, because of the sense of respect and love.”

Sophomore Nathan Sharp also believes that, as a community, Asbury should foster an environment that asks the hard questions, rather than pretend they do not exist. 

“Willingness is a sign of desire, and I feel that this campus desires to live a life that is truly transformed,” said Sharp. “The polls reveal that there is a lot of brokenness left unaddressed on this campus. As a community of Christians, we should be helping one another in these areas rather than what we often do, which is merely to brush them aside for the sake of not being vulnerable, uncomfortable or ashamed.”

The week of morning and evening chapel services not only emphasized vulnerability in what hinders students from sharing the gospel globally, but it also encouraged students to step outside their comfort zones, and to that end, several mission organizations sent representatives to further discuss global missions with willing students.

Additionally, an offering was gathered throughout the week for Crossroads Women’s Outreach.

When Joy Ireland, assistant director of campus ministries and campus chaplain, addressed students in chapel on Friday, she reported that the $1,000 goal had been met, and money was still coming in. 

At the conclusion of the final service on Friday, students were asked to fill out a card in response to the messages they had heard throughout the week. Students will receive the cards back through the campus post office in the spring to remind them of the commitments they made. 

Skye considered emphasis weeks like these a nice break from the chaos of being a college student and a time to refocus. 

“Great Commission Congress is a way to remind students that there is more that we are meant to do for Christ than sit in our rooms and read our Bibles,” said Skye. “We are called to take part in God’s beautiful vision for His kingdom—going out and showing Christ’s love to the nations.”