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Dennis and a group of students gathered on couches and chairs around a coffee table with snacks

How do you share your faith with students who aren’t Christians?

At Agape and Ecclesia, your Resonate Global Mission partner at Loyola University in Chicago, the answer isn’t a Bible study—it’s a new ministry called an Explore Group.

Week after week, students trickle into a room on Loyola University’s campus. They shrug off their coats, grab a snack, and settle down into couches and chairs as laughter and chatter fills the air. In the midst of busy weeks of full class loads, papers, homework, and extracurriculars, they can finally pause and breathe.

One minute students might be discussing a silly question like, “How would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?” The next minute, someone might ask, “What do you believe is the meaning of life?” Some weeks, they also read and discuss a Bible verse.

Loyola is a Catholic university, but not every student is Christian. Students might come from different denominations of Christianity. Some students are only Catholic by name but might not know very much about the Bible. Some students aren’t religious, or they just aren’t sure what they believe. That's why your support of campus ministries through Resonate is so important.

I think in this day and age, relationships are the road to evangelism. Show the gospel through how you live your life and how you treat people.

“We were trying to brainstorm a space to engage with students who aren’t Christians and not have it be a Bible study necessarily—but something kind of less threatening,” said Dennis Hong, one of your Resonate partner campus ministers on Loyola’s campus.

That’s one of the reasons why Explore Groups have become so popular with students at Loyola.

Explore groups have become a safe space for students from all faith backgrounds to come together and ask questions, share what they believe, and talk about their uncertainties. And Dennis hopes that these groups will be a first step for students who aren’t Christians to learn about the gospel and follow Christ.

Explore Group out to dinner

A Safe Space for Students

“I believe the Explore Group to be one of the most effective approaches to ministry,” said Paul Kalapala, a fourth-year student studying biology and business administration at Loyola.

Paul has been actively involved with Agape and Ecclesia throughout his university experience. This year, he’s been working alongside Dennis to lead Explore Groups as a way to share his faith and build friendships with other students on campus.

“We create a space for students to listen, ask questions, and share their perspectives on God and faith. Not only that, but as each member shares, they are always treated with dignity and respect, even if other members of the group disagree with them,” shared Paul.

I believe the Explore Group to be one of the most effective approaches to ministry.

One of Paul’s favorite gatherings was a meeting where they all discussed, “What’s your faith background?”

“Although the question may seem simple on the surface, it struck at the heart of why people had the current faith views that they did. It was a vulnerable time for many of us as we shared both the highlights of our faith, but also difficult experiences we’ve had,” said Paul.

Seeing Growth

Explore Groups are a new ministry, but Dennis is already seeing God at work through the relationships that are forming and the conversations within the group.

“We’ve been able to build deeper relationships. Supporting one another through difficulties in everyday life,” said Dennis. “It can go the other way, too. Even recently, many of the members repeatedly reached out and checked on me as my family was going through some difficulty.”

Students are starting to bring their friends, members occasionally meet for other activities, or they might grab lunch or dinner with one another. And for some students, Explore Groups have become a door to Agape and Ecclesia’s other events, like Sunday worship services, volunteering, and other gatherings.

We’ve been able to build deeper relationships. Supporting one another through difficulties in everyday life.

“That’s one of our goals,” said Dennis. “To open the door to these relationships where they can become part of our community and see Jesus through our community.”

“I think in this day and age, relationships are the road to evangelism,” he added. “Show the gospel through how you live your life and how you treat people.”

At the end of the night, it takes a long time for the room to clear and quiet down. Students slowly walk toward the door, often continuing the conversation from the group, and say goodbye—until next time.

Thank you for helping to make this important ministry possible! Will you please pray with Dennis and Paul for these Explore Groups?

  • “All the people we’re meeting and are going to meet,” shared Dennis. Pray that these Explore Groups would continue to be safe places where people from all backgrounds can gather, share what they believe, build relationships, and explore faith.
     
  • “Pray for members of Explore Groups who aren’t Christians—that they’re hearts would be moved to know Jesus more,” asked Dennis.
     
  • “Pray for wisdom, love, and empowerment for leaders,” said Dennis. “I want to share the truth, but I don’t want to do that unwisely.”