Joshua Lutz and Becky Breneman smiling during Engage week. Photo by Kinsley Lively.

Shantel Cruz

Last Fall, students departed from the TMU campus to trim hedges, share the Gospel on the streets and fellowship with local churches as part of an outreach program through the school.

Excitement sparks as The Master’s University opened registration for Engage, an outreach program to serve local churches. Once headed by Lisa LaGeorge, who has since left the school, the event will now be overseen by Josh English, the new Director of Global and Domestic Outreach.

Engage is an optional four day, campus-wide effort held every Fall to reach out to local churches and serve them. Previously called Outreach Week, the event was renamed by LaGeorge in the fall of 2017. This year, Engage will take place from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 and is open for the student body and faculty to participate in. Sign-ups began on Sept. 17 and will end on Sept. 28.

In a statement on the school website, TMU describes Engage as being about fellowship, evangelism and service. “We desire for TMU students to be impacted by local churches’ commitment to Christ and His Word as they spend time with ministry leaders and members.”

The school’s goal in running the event is to encourage churches and give students the opportunity to interact with local churches, mobilizing about 650 student volunteers to serve.

“We want to give students a chance to serve outside of the campus and a chance to put hands and feet to their faith,” English said.

Students are sent out in groups of six to eight people to a local church. There, they set out to do any tasks the church needs done. The teams serving at churches further away are hosted for four days in the homes of people from the church.

“My favorite thing about Engage last year was my team,” Victoria Nickerson, a student who participated in Engage last year said. “Being a commuter, you don’t get to meet many people and get to know them deeply, but living with your team for four days brings you so close together.”

Students and faculty who choose to not participate have the option to be part of a prayer group. In these prayer groups, the people pray for the local community, Newhall, as well as teams that are out serving in the churches.

“Engage is good opportunity for students to get out of their normal schedules that are focused on themselves and instead be put in the mindset of serving someone else, serving the body of Christ,” Nickerson said.

Classes are put on hold on the Thursday and Friday of Engage so that students can participate in the event without needing to worry about missing school and other student activities.

“We don’t have a whole lot of training for this event this year,” English said. “In the past, we have had an evangelism workshop, etc. We would love to do these but just don’t have the capability to this year. We are confident that (the student’s) classes prepare for what (they) need, and the professors do a great job at that!”

Beginning last year, on the first day of Engage, students were set out into Downtown Newhall where they were tasked with a scavenger hunt to get to know TMU’s surrounding community.

“There is not really anything that has changed other than the fact that we are not doing the Newhall Day this year,” English said.

English has chosen to stick to the things that Engage has done in the past, as it is his first year being in charge. “My hope is that in the future I can make changes based on what I see.”

English and the outreach team has been in contact with the 30 churches involved in the program as those churches organize activities and work for the students. The school has been promoting the event with posters and slides before chapel throughout the week as it prepares to send out  young men and women into local churches to bless them.

“Everyone should do it,” Victoria said. “It’s an eye-opening experience. You go to serve but instead you are served.”