When you think about evangelism, taking out the trash is probably not the first thing that comes to mind—unless you’re involved with the Christian Reformed campus ministry at William Paterson University (WPU).
For the past year, students at the Paterson, New Jersey-based school have participated in “Garbage Evangelism,” an outreach program that usually takes place following weekly campus ministry meetings.
Typically, at least 10 students go into student residence halls, knock on doors, and introduce themselves as members of the WPU Christian Fellowship. They then offer to take out residents’ garbage and ask if they have any prayer requests.
The “garbage evangelists” have knocked on almost every residence hall door, says Rev. Ken Vander Wall, who leads the campus ministry at WPU. The ministry is one of 24 North American campus ministries supported by Christian Reformed Home Missions. “Our vision is Changed Lives, Changed Campus, Changed World,” Vander Wall says.
“One goal is to have a prayer group in each living area dorm on campus, and for that group to serve that location and pray for their neighbors. This is certainly helped because we have students from the Christian Fellowship who are Resident Assistants, meaning that they are leaders of floors in the dorms.”
So far the program has succeeded in introducing the gospel to students on campus. “Last spring we had a coffeehouse gathering with the theme of transformation,” Vander Wall states. “The first three students that came through the door that night said to me, ‘We’re here because you guys took out our garbage last night!’ One was a new convert to Christianity, and two others had rededicated their lives to Christ.”