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Mission's Conference 2017

The SALTIness of Missions

Arjuna Chigiluri calls students to Start the conversation, Ask questions, Listen,  Turn the conversation deeper, and Integrate Jesus.   |   Caroline Sommers/THE CHIMES


Students packed the gym Wednesday morning for the opening “Witness” session, but the wooden bleachers looked vacant for the Friday morning session. Despite the smaller audience, Arjuna Chigiluri closed the 2017 Missions Conference with a powerful call to action. He urged students to season the world with salt and fulfill the command Matthew 5:13 presents.

Stuck in the bubble

Preaching the gospel remains a difficult task in the current generation. So many students, especially those who feel stuck in the “Biola bubble,” ponder ways they can share about Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection without others calling them “Jesus freaks” or “Bible thumpers.” As a result, some have trivialized the idea of witnessing to others, but Chigiluri’s acronym, SALTI, can aid anyone lost in the contemporary, consumerist Christianity world.

“Start the conversation. Ask questions. Listen. Turn the conversation deeper. Integrate Jesus,” Chigiluri reminded students several times during the hour he spoke. Although all these components hold significance, “turn the conversation” deeper resonated with me the most.

The importance of profound discussion

I realized the immense importance of profound discussions when served as a counselor at Ponderosa Pines Christian Camp this past summer. I grew up as a typical church kid and can recite every painstaking detail about the Creation story or Jesus’ several parables.

I quickly realized throughout my Biola education that I did not really know anything about the Bible because my church leaders immediately shooed any difficult questions away and assumed a spiritually immature child could not comprehend greater Christian truths. Imagine the spiritual transformation that could occur if adults would engage youth in deeper conversations and answer their inquiries.

As a result of my childhood experiences in the church, I vowed to serve as a counselor that would spiritually strengthen my campers’ relationship with Christ and share the gospel through complex conversations. Our small group studies often started with simple questions, “What does this passage mean to you,” but they soon turned into “Why does God allow horrible tragedies to occur if he really is a good God?” I instantly turned these questions into discussion opportunities and took my campers down a road of deep thought.

Start the conversation

I could have given these young adults a superficial answer about how God uses all circumstances for the good of those who love him. Instead, I shared important themes from the gospel message and tried to help them understand these difficult topics.

Biola students can witness to others around them in the same way. Don’t take simple questions for granted — jump at the chance to answer anyone’s question about the Bible or God. You never know where the smallest conversations can lead or how God will work through those moments. Witnessing to others doesn’t have to become a grandiose presentation about God’s divine plan for humanity. Look for simple moments to sprinkle salt, such as coffee dates or random encounters with people at the grocery store. Start the conversation and God will take care of the rest.

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