After Dark tackles question on relevance of Jesus

By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer 

An exclusive one-night event, a nationally renowned speaker, two concerts and one question: Is Jesus relevant today?

“It’s about giving students the opportunity to experience a night to show: one, that they are not alone in this crazy thing we call life, and two, that there is something more out there,” said JD Rodgers, event coordinator and master of ceremonies (MC) of After Dark, an event held at Lovett Auditorium on Thursday night, Oct. 27.

After Dark returned to Murray State’s campus after a five-year hiatus, thanks to the collaborated effort of the campus ministries.

The After Dark staff wanted to make very clear they are not a church, and this event or future events are not limited to Christians. Rodgers said they hope to see students from all backgrounds at their events.

The night began with a concert by the Social Club Misfits, a Christian hip-hop duo from Miami, Florida. The duo got the crowd moving with dance competitions and prizes.

Joe White, a nationally known speaker who has authored more than 20 books and founded Kanakuk Kamps, spoke at the event. Once White took the stage, the event took a more serious tone as he began discussing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. White did this with a dramatization where he played the man responsible for crafting the cross where Jesus died.

At the beginning of the event, each attendee was given a notecard with a red drop painted on it. Later, the crowd learned the red drop was meant to represent a drop of Jesus’s blood.

White preached that it only takes one drop of blood to wash away a lifetime of sins.

After White finished, he asked each attendee to write down, on the notecard, all their burdens and sins which with they were struggling. When they were done, members of the After Dark staff nailed the notecards to the cross White had constructed in his demonstration.

White said this was a symbol that all sins and burdens people struggle with have been washed away by Jesus’s death on the cross.

Rochelle Rosa, junior from Varna, Illinois, said she thought the crowd was very receptive of this interactive event.

“There was a lot of involvement when we physically wrote down our burdens and nailed them to the cross,” Rosa said. “A lot of people were willing to let go of what has been weighing down on their hearts. That is really encouraging to see because that is the mission: to help people heal from past trauma.”

Rosa said this event was an opportunity for her to get into missionary.  She said the key goal of any Christian is to go out and make disciples. This event, she said, was one way to get her non-Christian friends to understand her beliefs.

This event took months to organize, and at the forefront of that was Katie Schoenborn, sophomore from Saint Louis, who served as the quarterback/event coordinator on the university side.

Schoenborn first became involved with After Dark last summer when she worked at Kanakuk Kamps, a camp led by White that is for those who are under 19 years old.

Being the only representative from Murray State at the camp, Schoenborn said she was given all the responsibility of organizing this event.

Schoenborn said she knew it would be a lot of work but she eagerly accepted the challenge.

“I had applied for three or four jobs last semester and I didn’t get any of them,” Schoenborn said. “I had never been rejected so much in my life but it was something I had been praying about and I thought God must have something in store for me.”

Schoenborn said this event was not meant to force ideas or beliefs on anyone at all. She said it was about offering a fun experience and planting seeds in people’s minds.

“If someone leaves tonight not necessarily a believer but has a different perspective on faith and maybe sees it a little differently, then what I was hoping to accomplish happened,” Schoenborn said.

During the nailing of the cards to the cross, more than 75 percent of the crowd participated. Rosa said she thinks the entire event was a great experience for millennials.

“This is a really good event and organization that is going across the country to reignite a spiritual interest for the soul for the millennial generation,” Rosa said.

Rodgers said being the MC for an event like this is always a lot of fun. He said he feels like he can relate to college students and communicate with them in a way that makes sense, because he recently graduated from college.

“For me personally, in college I think we are searching for something,” Rodgers said. “We are searching for our identity; we don’t know our next phase in life, and the number one thing I feel like we don’t want to be is alone, and so we will do anything to not be alone sometimes that could be really negative.”

Rodgers said he hopes after attending After Dark, people will realize there are positive people, positive things and a God who doesn’t want them to be alone.

Many students were so moved by the event they were unable to speak.

Julia Curtis, senior from Oak Hills, California, said when she first heard about the event she was expecting a “normal” sermon but what she experienced was an interactive display of “God on Murray State’s campus.”

“It was just really cool seeing everyone give all their worries and sins up to God,” Curtis said. “It was really moving seeing that God is bigger than anything we face, and through Him we are made new.”

After Dark is a traveling event. For more information on their schedule, students can visit them on Facebook @afterdarkevent.


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Photos by Chalice Keith/The News