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TIU partners with EFCA at the 2018 Challenge Conference

Trinity CommunicationsJuly 08, 2018

Mackenzie Morris knew Trinity International University was going to award a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to someone attending the 2018 Challenge Conference.

When she heard the winner’s name announced in front of nearly 5,000 people in the conference’s final worship service, she had one immediate question.

“Honestly, I thought ‘is there another Mackenzie Morris?’” she said with a smile. “It caught me by surprise, but it was exhilarating!”

On her way to Kansas City from Boone, Iowa, Chris Burdess, her church youth group leader, had talked to Morris about the possibility of attending TIU – something Morris says she had not thought much about before this week.

“Jesus is doing a mighty thing for her,” Burdess said. “I have no doubt that this is a part of God’s plan.”

According to the event website, Challenge is “a catalytic environment challenging students to live on mission with Jesus every day, everywhere and with everyone.” It ran from July 2-6 at the Kansas City Convention Center. The Evangelical Free Church of America leads and organizes the event during even-numbered years, and Trinity International University is a strategic partner.

About 4,500 students from 220 EFCA churches coast-to-coast came to Kansas City for equipping labs, mission projects, large worship gatherings, small group meetings and recreation. Organizers recruited a staff of more than 200 volunteers to assist with daily programming and mission work throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. Planning for the event takes two full years.

In addition to the large concerts and worship services, smaller group settings such as the equipping labs each afternoon tackled issues that students face every day. Under the conference theme “Bold Moves: It Starts Here,” students and group leaders tackled some difficult subjects such as presenting the gospel to atheists, a Christian approach to race relations, candid discussions about pornography and sexuality, and the compatibility of science and faith.

“All the topics are designed around what youth leaders are dealing with in their school settings.” Challenge conference communication director Rae Phillips said. “We want to equip our students and church leaders to address these things from a sound theological perspective.”

“We’re living in a time when a lot of things in our culture are confusing and there’s a lot of division,” national director for EFCA ReachStudents Shane Stacey said during that final worship service of the week. “When we look at a group of young people like this and see how you have pressed into the Lord together, I just simply want to say ‘thank you.’”

Trinity brought 20 current students, alumni, enrollment staff and administrators to Kansas City to assist with logistics, host exhibits and run contests throughout the run of the event. Enrollment counselors were able to discuss college plans with the students.

“The response from both alumni and prospective students has been tremendous,” director of Undergraduate Admissions Jordan Bryant said. “We’ve had a lot of interaction with some really strong prospective students.”

Although some of the students at Challenge 2018 are still in middle school, Bryant said making early contact is increasingly important.

“It’s not common to recruit a student you speak to for the first time as a senior,” Bryant said. “You have to get in front of them when they’re freshmen, sophomores or juniors.”

Bryant led equipping labs Tuesday and Friday titled “Navigating College Chaos.” He gave students advice about the college search process. Among his key tips for college-bound students: apply early, visit at least two college campuses, and explore all forms of financial aid.

Bryant also talked about finding the right fit at a prospective college. Morris, who wants to study psychology, said her experiences with TIU at Challenge led her to believe she will fit in well on the Deerfield campus.

“Throughout the week, (attending TIU) felt like it was what God was calling me to,” Morris said. “It just seemed like it was right.”


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