ATLANTA — The Georgia Institute of Technology is ranked seventh among the best public universities in the United States; and the school’s engineering schools are consistently among the best the world.
Consequently, Georgia Tech attracts some of the most brilliant and academically elite students in the world. They are extremely inquisitive and although many seem to be agnostics they are in a feverish search for truth.
The extraordinary academic climate on the Georgia Tech campus and the fertile and inquisitive minds of the students make the Institute the perfect place for stimulating discussions. So when the Great Exchange comes to the North Avenue citadel of higher learning the experience is almost epochal.
The Great Exchange is a witnessing ministry with the goal of going to college campuses and engaging students – and sometimes faculty – in Gospel conversations with the intent of leading them to faith in Christ.
Evangelist Tom Rush has dedicated himself to this ministry and recently indicated that in 2017 The Great Exchange that he leads had 98 events, approximately 75 of which were in Georgia. Those events resulted in over 7,000 Gospel conversations and 421 professions of faith.
Rush indicated that 52 events are scheduled for this spring semester and the goal is to have 100 events in this current calendar year.
An exchange that includes evangelism
On March 5 students representing the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at Georgia Tech and others devoted to the ministry of The Great Exchange engaged scores of students over the course of four hours and in some cases the campus was turned into a Gospel sharing extravaganza.
Warren Skinner, who directs the BCM at Georgia Tech, was there with a dozen or more of his students and God was speaking through all of them with such love and grace that one might well have expected a significant harvest of souls.
Joe Graham, who provides leadership for the Collegiate Ministries for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, explained, “When The Great Exchange was first initiated, I didn’t try to force it upon my campus leadership, but I knew it was going to be a good evangelistic approach for our college ministries. I also knew that once some of the campus ministers started using this method of reaching students and had good experiences that they would commend it to others.
“More recently I told them that if they were not doing The Great Exchange they needed to find something else to reach their students for Christ.”
Seeing some grasp the Truth
At Georgia Tech, The Great Exchange tent is set up on a main student walkway between the student center and classroom buildings. Students walking between the buildings are asked if they are willing to take a survey/spiritual inventory.
Many students have in-ear headphones or earbuds and appear uninterested in stopping for a conversation. Others are looking straight ahead and do not pay attention to requests to participate in a survey. But many do stop, take the survey, and enter into conversations about the Gospel.
Josh Sterling, son of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Sterling of Curtis Baptist Church in Augusta, has become a regular at The Great Exchange at Georgia Tech. He stated, “When I first came to school I was a little hesitant to get involved in The Great Exchange. But one semester I decided to try it because I knew God wanted me to be a witness for Him.
“At my first Great Exchange I had a conversation with a student for an hour. It really got me excited. It’s an easy way to start a spiritual conversation with people who are searching. Some will grasp the truth of what you are saying and trust Christ.
“There is always going to be spiritual warfare, because I know the devil doesn’t want us to share our faith. But we must not give in to Satan. We must obey God.”
Trusting that faith comes by hearing
Tom Rush engaged an international student, who professed to be a Muslim, in a conversation and had an opportunity to share the Gospel with him. He did not agree to trust in Christ, but agreed to take the 21-day challenge to read a chapter a day from the Gospel of John.
That encounter was encouraging, because the Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Samantha “Sam” Stewart, a member of Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, is a biology major at Georgia Tech. When Sam enrolled in college she intended to go on to medical school or some other type of professional health graduate school.
The effervescent Miss Stewart declared, “My plans have changed since high school, and I am confident that every step along the way at Georgia Tech has been a part of the Lord’s plan to open my eyes to the next steps He intends for me to walk as I continue to trust my future to Him.”
‘the Spirit of God is working’
Sam continued, “I have attended The Great Exchange and participated in evangelizing through this wonderful program ever since I started as a freshman.
“A little over a year ago, I was at The Great Exchange and on that day, I met a sweet, beautiful soul named Savonte. I had the opportunity to witness to her and share God’s love for her and how to accept Him as Lord and Savior of her life.
“That day will forever be cemented in my mind as I saw her give her life to Jesus and witnessed the Spirit of the living God draw her to himself. I continued to meet with her; and she came to BCM and church with me occasionally. She actually became one of my roommates this year.
“We have lived together for almost a year now and there have been highs and lows of walking through life together. Yet, all I can see is her joy in knowing that she became a daughter of God the day she devoted her life to Christ.”
Sam concluded, “I often go to The Great Exchange and see no fruit. But, I know without a doubt that the Spirit of God is working and planting and watering and harvesting because of this program supported by his faithful workers.”
Every church and every believer needs to have some kind of “Great Exchange” whereby they are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.