Hot Dogs & Jesus

The smell of hot dogs filled the student union. Sally Henien worked with excitement as her team finished setting out condiments and buns for the annual Hot Dog Giveaway, an outreach event that partners with local churches and campus ministries to give students free food.

Sally pulled the last of the campus ministry flyers out of the box and arranged them on the table, just as a line of students began to form.

Megan was heading through the union and back to her dormitory when she noticed people gathering. Free food? Why not? she thought to herself. Being a new freshman, she longed to connect but was nervous about fitting in.

As she approached the table, Sally greeted her. “Hi, I’m Sally. Are you a new freshman this year?” she asked, handing Megan a hotdog.

“Yeah! I’m Megan,” she replied with a nervous smile.

“Well, welcome to UB!” said Sally, and Megan suddenly found herself in a tight welcoming hug.

At first Megan was caught off guard by the friendliness of this stranger, but then she felt a warm feeling inside of her, something that told her she could trust Sally.

“And hey,” said Sally. “If you’re interested you should join us this week!”

Megan took the flyer Sally held out to her – Campus Ambassadors, 8:00 PM, Tuesday night. Okay, thought Megan. I could at least try it.

Created for Campus Ministry

Sally loves connecting with nonbelievers and sharing the Gospel all around the world. From a young age, she was involved with mission trips inside the U.S. and abroad in Asia and Africa, where she experienced firsthand the powerful impact of ministry and outreach.

She had grown up immersed in ministry and the Christian faith, so when she began attending the SUNY Buffalo: University at Buffalo in 2009, it was only natural that she plugged into Campus Ambassadors right away.

During her years as a student, Sally dedicated much of her time to serving and mentoring college students through Campus Ambassadors. She grew in her own faith as well while being a part of the worship team, leading Bible studies and planting a Women’s Discipleship House, an off-campus house designed for female Christian students and recent grads who are intentional about growth in their spiritual walk.

Within her last few months as a student, she applied and was appointed with Missions Door in 2013 to serve on staff with Campus Ambassadors at the University at Buffalo.

After her first year on staff, she became the Acting Director and later moved into her current role as the CA Director on campus. She invests in Christian student leaders, teaching them to lead Bible studies, evangelize one-on-one, facilitate outreach events, and cultivate authentic worship experiences.

“I feel like I came to Buffalo not for my psychology degree but to major in Campus Ambassadors,” Sally says with a laugh. Her heart overflows for college ministry and Campus Ambassadors has become her passion, her home and her calling.

The Transformation of Faith

Sally remembers how excited she felt when Megan accepted Jesus. She had just gotten home from a leadership conference where the topic had been about the urgency of sharing faith, and Megan laid heavy on her heart.

In the past, Megan had been unsure about accepting Jesus. When they hung out after Sally’s conference, Megan shared what she had been learning in her history class and asked how she can be sure that Christianity is the one true religion.

Sally brought her back to a study they had been doing about Jesus and how scripture tells us He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In that moment, something clicked in Megan’s mind and she said, “Okay, I get it!”

Sally asked her if she believed in Jesus and wanted to give her life to Him. Megan had always been quiet so when she simply replied, “Yeah,” Sally’s heart leapt with joy.

“It’s so funny that we feel shocked when people accept Jesus Christ and are transformed. I love sharing my faith with people and seeing God surprise me every day,” said Sally as she remembered that moment.

Sally later learned that Megan had grown up without her father in her life. Over the years, she had developed anger and bitterness toward him and it had been years since they had spoken.

Megan told Sally that she was considering reaching out to him. She was experiencing a change in her heart, from bitterness to compassion, and later decided to go visit her father.

“It was amazing to see the transformation and freedom in Christ which allowed Megan to heal and forgive her father! With her identity in Christ, she experienced His freedom,” said Sally.

Megan’s story is just one of many. College students searching for identity and belonging are encountering loving community and life changing faith in Jesus Christ on their college campuses.

Sally and her team are creating genuine environments of faith where students can safely ask questions, share doubts, hear the Gospel and ultimately grow into the embracing love and powerful purpose Jesus has for each them.

Students are coming to faith, and even greater, they are being transformed. This transformation is exactly Sally’s dream for every student she meets as she hands out a free hot dog and says, “Welcome to UB!”