The first day of classes for the fall semester at Occidental College (Oxy) in Los Angeles was on August 28th, 2013, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s I Have a Dream speech. The speech was on everyone’s mind, as students re-enacted the March on Washington and a faculty panel discussed the March.
“The college wanted to highlight the intersection between race and spirituality, and so it gave us an opportunity to step right into the midst of that discussion,” said Campus Staff Member Drew Jackson. That night Drew helped lead a candlelight vigil on campus and spoke on Isaiah 40, a Scripture passage quoted by Dr. King in his speech.
Sharing the Gospel with Your Professor
The next morning the campus community had a further chance to discuss King’s legacy, race relations in America, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, as InterVarsity students manned the Hope Proxe right in the middle of campus.
“This was the first time that the gospel had been proclaimed publicly in the quad on campus in quite some time,” Drew said. “We had hundreds of students and faculty come through. Some of our student leaders actually led their professors through the Proxe, and were able to share the gospel with their professors, which was amazing.”
At the end of the four days of the Hope Proxe, the chapter had more than 100 contact cards from students who wanted to know more or were interested in getting into a small group Bible study. Those contacts led to the beginning of several new Bible studies and at least ten conversions.
“Oxy loves the language of reconciliation and justice, and Martin Luther King, but they separate Martin Luther King from the fact he was a follower of Jesus,” Drew said. “We were able to bring that faith back into the mix and show how it was the basis for everything that he thought and did. Students were very open to that.”
Discovering Ethnic Identity
In addition to the Hope Proxe’s apparent effectiveness in outreach, it has also helped chapters develop a stronger understanding of ethnic identity. “The students who have trained to use the Hope Proxe want to learn more about ethnic identity and they want to grow in racial reconciliation because of the outreach,” said Doug Schaupp, Associate Director of Evangelism.
“We are proclaiming the gospel but it’s also doing a transforming work in the students who are leading others through it,” added Maureen Huang, Resource Development Manager for Multiethnic Ministries. The Hope Proxe has been one of the most popular proxes developed by InterVarsity so far.
Spreading to More Campuses
More campuses have used the Hope Proxe, some in mid-November, and now some during February, Black History Month. It is being received enthusiastically, as illustrated by this feedback from InterVarsity staff.
- First of all, I loved it. I loved taking on racial justice and making it known that the gospel has an answer for our many racial injustices. The Hope Proxe takes on the self, the campus, the country, and the world all at once. It offers solid, detailed facts to support the claims that all is not well with the world, and that Christ can transform the racist into the agent of justice.
- I’ve never had so much fun doing a proxe before! It is by far the best looking proxe we’ve ever used. We have seen so much fruit. Our leadership shared the gospel with over 100 students, including many leaders.
- Our students at Arizona State have liked proxes in the past but this was the first one they loved. They still talk about it. Consistently, there were groups of students waiting to go through it.
- In light of last year's hate crimes at Oberlin, this proxe is especially relevant since there is still some tension on campus. Our chapter members have loved this. We've shown it to the Multicultural Resource Center and they like that it will encourage student conversations. I think students are willing to listen to how Jesus can affect change but please pray for good soil. God is moving on campus!
Racial issues are present, to some degree or another, on every campus. Race is not an easy issue for college administrators to deal with. But the Hope Proxe brings a new perspective. “We introduce Jesus into the conversation, and what he has to say about the situation as a reconciler,” Maureen said. Jesus changes everything.