The Challenge Community at ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College gives students a chance to sit on a couch with close friends and talk about what they love — God.
The small group meets weekly on the couches in Honors Hall for a laid-back and easygoing hour-long meeting.
Brandon Reimus, the leader of the Barrett Challenge Community, said he feels like a lot of college students find themselves looking for a purpose. The Bible and small Bible studies, such as the Challenge Community, can be that outlet for students, he said.
“It’s a way to process through some of the hard things in life and find community with people who are like-minded and build friendships,” he said.
The Challenge Community is open to anyone, Reimus said, and the Barrett Challenge Community has met many people just through its welcoming nature.
People will stop and have conversations or join in on the discussion of a passage when they see the small group. One of their regular members joined the group simply because she was walking by them in the Honors Hall and decided to have a seat on the couch next to them, Reimus said.
Reimus said that instances like this are what the group strives for. He said they want to spread the word of God as much as possible, and taking it one curious student at a time is as effective as any other way to do so.
The inclusive nature of the group and of the Bible itself is something that Reimus values very highly.
“The most amazing thing for me is when you go to a Bible study and there are students from Asia and Africa and America, and there’s a girl in the wheelchair and a guy who plays sports and the video game dude,” he said. “They have nothing in common and would never spend time together … the thing that brings them together is the Bible.”
Nicolas Peterson, a member of the group and a sophomore studying computer systems engineering, said these small group meetings are important to make attending a big university a little less lonely.
“It really makes a big difference to make those relationships with other believers on a more personal level,” he said. “It definitely encourages a more personal relationship with God.”
Peterson said the Challenge Community also helps to keep him grounded. He said it’s very easy for a college student to get caught up in building a future, passing classes and planning for what comes after graduation.
It's important for students to find something foundational to come back to when it all seems like too much, he said.
Luke Maldarella, a sophomore studying political science and member of the Challenge Community, said the weekly meetings were a great place for him to go and meet new people and build lifelong friendships.
“I actually met my current roommate through the Challenge Community,” he said.
Aside from the friendships he’s built through the group, Maldarella said his favorite part of the Challenge Community is that there are no stupid questions at a Challenge meeting.
“Asking questions is always encouraged, and there’s no judgement,” he said.
Maldarella said the biggest lesson he’s learned from his time at the Challenge Community is how to listen.
“Even in everyday life, (the Challenge Community) has shown me how to listen to someone in a way that makes them feel understood," he said.
He said that although that is the lesson he has learned from the Challenge Community, everyone can get something different out of it.
“Every week, someone walks away having learned something new,” Maldarella said.