Special Kits Make Outreach Easy For Students

By Howard Hardegree

"Would I go to heaven?" Diana, a student at Cedar Springs High School in Michigan, wanted to know.

She asked this of Sarah, a senior who had helped pass out some Christian-themed boxes -- called Student Survival Kits -- at their school.

Diana wanted to know much more. She came to Sarah after class, full of questions and holding the New Testament that came in the box.

"She had it all highlighted and had written notes in the margins," Sarah told Mari Beth Walker, a volunteer with Student Venture, Campus Crusade for Christ's high school ministry.

Diana had obviously come prepared to get some answers.

"And another girl, Katy, watched over Diana's shoulder and listened in," said Sarah.

Sarah read through the gospel presentation tract that came in the box along with the Bible; both girls listened intently.

"Neither girl prayed to receive Christ," says Mari Beth, who met regularly with Sarah during her senior year. "But both left with a new understanding of the truth of the gospel."

"The Kits made it easy," Sarah told Mari Beth.

In the days preceding the encounter with Diana and Katy, Sarah and about 20 other Cedar Springs students had distributed 765 Student Survival Kits among the 900 students at the school.

Mari Beth, along with her husband, Jeff, first heard about the Kits at a Student Venture conference in Colorado. Both volunteers thought the Kits would be a great asset to the Student Venture ministry at Cedar Springs High. Together they campaigned to get them for the school. A coalition of local churches funded the outreach.

Forty volunteers stuffed each box with a video of New York Yankees players talking about the lasting effects of September 11, a Bible, a music CD, an evangelistic booklet, Josh McDowell's book More Than a Carpenter, a note referring the student to a Web site called Beyond Extreme, and a postcard to request more information.

One young student later brought the card to Jeff, a counselor at the school, wanting more information about Christ. Jeff explained the gospel message using the evangelistic tract in the Kit, and the girl received Christ.

Christian kids benefited too. One youth pastor told Mari Beth and Jeff about a very shy student who took risks during the outreach.

While playing basketball with a non-Christian friend, the young man asked, "So, what did you think of that video in the Survival Kit?"

His pastor overheard their conversation, and when he later asked the student about it, he explained, "The Kit made it easy."

Mari Beth and Jeff -- who came to know Christ through Campus Crusade's ministry at Michigan State University -- work with high-school students through VITAL LINC, Student Venture's volunteer ministry.

Every VITAL LINC volunteer receives ministry coaching from an experienced Student Venture staff member -- Scott Livermore coaches the Walkers. During 15 years of high-school ministry, both Walkers have seen dramatic changes in the spiritual awareness of the students.

"I am amazed at how many students have no idea who Jesus is," says Mari Beth.

When she and Jeff first began working with high schoolers, most of them had an exposure to church, and at least a rudimentary knowledge of Jesus and His life. But today many of the students they meet do not.

"Unless there is a Christian student in their class who is willing to say that there is another way,'" says Mari Beth, "they may never hear."