Despite growing up with a hatred for the church after being hurt badly as a kid, Sophia was impacted by a group of relentless campus missionaries. She eventually responded to God’s call to become a missionary and do the same for other students.
Sophia grew up in Murfreesboro, a central city of Tennessee with a significant international population, and attended Middle Tennessee State University for her undergraduate degree. After giving her life to Christ, she was trained and launched into ministry as a student. She went on a Ten Days mission trip to Bolivia, where she led someone to Christ for the first time. After that moment, she just knew she had to do campus ministry.
Now, she’s had the opportunity to be for others what those missionaries were to her. With the passion of both student leaders and the team of campus missionaries, the ENC chapter at MTSU reaches a wide-range of demographics through Bible-study groups that includes athletes, Muslims, atheists, and internationals. Students that have given their lives to Christ carry that momentum to their peers and bring their families to church. The team has even seen an international Chinese student give her life to Christ, get baptized at an Every Nation Campus Conference, and return home to China equipped to reach her community for Christ.
The average church plant in North America has an attendance of eighty-three people at the four-year mark. In half that time, Valley Gate Church has around 200 Arizona State University students, faculty, and community members attending. In January 2016, Darryl and Jo Ann Morrison launched Valley Gate in Tempe, Arizona—five miles from Arizona State University—the largest on-campus student population in the United States. One of the most significant challenges in the life of a church is breaking though that 200-member barrier. Valley Gate has been growing at a consistent rate for two years now and is on the path to grow through that attendance level.
Here’s a look at the steps that Darryl and this young church plant took to get to where it is today.
Darryl served as an associate pastor for three years with Pastor Brett Fuller of Grace Covenant Church in Northern Virginia, and as Assistant Chaplain for the Washington Redskins.
He was a part of the launch team helping Pastor Donnell Jones plant an Every Nation church in Washington, D.C.
Then Darryl served as an Every Nation Campus director for twelve years, overseeing the efforts at four major universities in the D.C. area.
Darryl and his wife Jo Ann came to the Assessment Center (a three-day evaluation to determine readiness for church-planting) last year, and Darryl to the Bootcamp (intensive church-planting training) in August.
Pastor Donnell Jones sent Darryl out with a dozen launch team members to plant Valley Gate Church of Phoenix.
The Every Nation churches in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. made significant contributions to the start-up expenses in Phoenix.
Darryl and Mike Gowans, (pastor of Bethel Church, the other Every Nation church in Phoenix), teamed up in support of the Every Nation Campus chapter there.
The process of this new church plant is a strong example of how Every Nation plants churches and why it’s been so successful.
At the end of October, Darryl signed the rental agreement on the new meeting place of Valley Gate Church. The young church raised over $85,000 for the essential renovations of the facility, which now has a seating capacity for 300 and rooms for children’s church. By God’s grace, they’re now able to use the building full-time—no more weekly set up and take down—and they’re even closer to ASU.
Every year, thousands of students gather together in different cities around the world to experience powerful life-change and be equipped to make disciples on their campuses. ENC conferences are a mixture of celebration, training, and empowerment, where students come together to hear the gospel preached and connect with other student leaders.
The goal of the conference is to empower students to make disciples by giving them a greater vision to change the campus and change the world with the gospel.
This year’s conference theme, Kingdom Come, calls on our students to be bold ambassadors of God’s purposes. As Christians, we are citizens of God’s kingdom, but do not yet experience the kingdom in its fullness. The challenge we face in our culture is the tension of submitting to Christ’s lordship in a world that rejects and dishonors him. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Where God is not recognized as king, sin abounds with all its effects. But with Jesus as lord over our hearts, we can bring his kingdom into every interaction, conversation, classroom, party, or job. He has decided to advance his life-giving kingdom through us.
In North America, students are coming together in six central locations:
Jacksonville, Florida February 2–3
Corvallis, Oregon February 16–17
Chantilly, Virginia February 23–24
Nashville, Tennessee February 23–24
Austin, Texas March 2–3
Honolulu, Hawaii March 2–3
Watch our recap video for the ENC Conference in Jacksonville, featuring students from universities like the University of Florida, Jacksonville University, and Valencia College.
Join us in believing for more of Christ’s kingdom to manifest in every nation, and on every campus.
Your partnership changes lives.
Thank you for being a world changer and helping Every Nation establish Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation.