The Latest from Christian UnionCU Today highlights stories from Christian Union's university and city ministries, news, trends, items of interest from culture, spiritual growth articles, and other types of content to inform, encourage, challenge, and inspire.
"For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness."
— Ezekiel 34:11-1
Student Leaders Mobilize Online Initiative
BY EILEEN SCOTT, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Slack. Zoom. Pray. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the University of Pennsylvania moved classes online, members of Martus, Christian Union’s ministry on campus, swiftly leveraged digital and social media tools to create a sacred space for remaining close to God and each other.
Ministry Director Tucker Else reading Scripture with students weeks prior to the pandemic
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
— Psalm 46:1-3
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
— Numbers 6:24-26
"Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house."
— 1 Kings 21:29
By Anne Kerhoulas
The semester winds down, celebrations, endings, farewells, and fatigue sweep us into the early summer days. June always felt like a surprise. The summer had arrived. But the flash flood of the semester left me cleaned out, leaves and branches in my hair, and trying to reorient myself to where I had landed.
June always felt like a surprise. Surprise! The turning of a season. Surprise! You are another year older. Surprise! You have neglected your spiritual life. Surprise! You don’t actually know how to slow down.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
— Psalm 103:8
Miss America Contestant’s Faith Journey Includes God-Inspired Dream
by francine barchett, cornell ’20
“Hey babe, you should get baptized.”
Synclair Gonzalez was ready to make her faith public. Her boyfriend’s voice, calm and reassuring, told her that now—the end of this church service—she should do it. So she went to the pool of shimmering water, letting the pastor guide her head under the rolling waves. But he kept her there…far too long. She felt herself flail, drowning.
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
— Psalm 1:1-2
Christian Union New York
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
— 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Our New Alumni
During the past several weeks CU New York has partnered with Christian Union’s recently hired Vice President of Alumni Engagement Christine Foster, to coordinate meetings with our ministry fellows and graduating seniors. CU New York reaches out to CU’s seniors annually in an effort to facilitate connections within professional networks and to build the Christian Union community in cities across the nation.
Initially, these connections were to be made in person on each of the campuses in which CU is currently present, but under the circumstances of COVID-19, these meetings have migrated to Zoom. Using a virtual webinar platform has actually provided a unique opportunity for an even greater involvement of our CU alumni, as they were able to dial in from across the country. On each call, CU alumni shared testimonies and practical advice to these graduating seniors on how to navigate the challenging transition from college to the workplace.
Call with CU Martus (UPenn)
Ministry in the Midst of a PandemicHere are the latest updates from Matt Bennett, Christian Union's founder and CEO. The most recent is immediately below. To read his previous updates, simply scroll down. Please pray for the ministry, and consider making a special gift today.
May 29, 2020 Update
Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,
Greetings in the name of our wonderful and great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be all praise and glory!
As I write, we are now in day 120 since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic.
Like you, I have continued to hear heartbreaking stories about people and their loved ones who have become sick or have passed away due to COVID-19. I heard a story a couple of weeks ago about a student who plays basketball at one of the schools where we minister. Her father, a doctor, passed away after contracting the coronavirus as a result of his work serving the sick. Please pray for her and for her family. I live in New York, where similar stories are, tragically, not uncommon.
I also continue to hear stories about men and women who have lost some or all their livelihood due to the far-reaching economic effects of the coronavirus.
We will continue to pray. We will continue to pray for those who are hurting in this difficult time, and for those who are sick. We will continue to pray that we, as individuals and as a nation, will humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and repent — trusting that God will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. I cannot overemphasize the importance of repentance as we ask God to bring this pandemic to an end. Every time a pestilence is mentioned in the Bible, the context is that of God using it to call people back to Him. May many return to Him.
We also continue to hear from our faithful ministry partners that they would like me to keep the updates coming during this unusual time. So I will continue to communicate openly about how the pandemic is affecting our work.
In short, we are seeing two realities as we survey all that is happening in and through the ministry. One is an enormous blessing, and the other is an enormous challenge.
First, because God is who He is and because He causes all things (even a pandemic) to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, He has been at work in tremendous — and even unprecedented — ways during this time. Don Weiss, the ministry director of Christian Union Gloria (CU’s undergraduate ministry at Harvard), reports that nearly 40 incoming freshmen have already connected in some tangible way with others in the ministry. This is remarkable.
If you’ve been around Christian Union long, you’ll know that outreach to freshmen at each of these schools is a concentrated effort in the late summer and early in the fall semester of each year. But we’ve never before had one of our ministries connect with this many incoming freshmen, this far in advance of their arrival.
At Dartmouth, the story is even more amazing. Not only has Christian Union Vox, our ministry there, been intentionally connecting with incoming freshmen, but they’ve already started a Bible course for these students. As I write, 12 such students are involved. Each of these students is just wrapping up high school and is headed to Dartmouth in the fall. This is both extraordinary and extraordinarily encouraging.
Both of these stories are perfect examples of God working in new and creative ways that we may not have seen if not for the pandemic. Here is another encouraging update, a video update from four CU faculty members who serve as a part of Christian Union Nova, our ministry at Princeton.
The second reality is that we continue to face very real and not insignificant financial challenges as a result of the pandemic. One of the steps we’ve taken is to establish a new initiative we are calling Cornerstone Partners.
We are asking anyone who wants to bring sweeping spiritual change to America and appreciates Christian Union’s work, but who is not already a Christian Union ministry partner, to consider making a financial gift to help maintain and even accelerate the ministry’s work at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Harvard Law, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale — and in New York City.
Our very real need is to develop an army of men, women, and families who care about impacting the nation’s future and current leaders with the Gospel — and who will agree to help support this work on a monthly basis. If at this time that is not possible for you, we fully understand. But if you do have the capacity, we’d ask you to please prayerfully consider joining us, at any level.
If you are inclined to give, I have even better news — if you act soon, your impact will be doubled. Because of a wonderful challenge gift from our partner, the BridgeHead Foundation, any gifts up to a total of $125,000 will be doubled!
If you have the capacity and feel God leading you to give — thus doubling your Kingdom investment — please go to http://www.ChristianUnion.org/Cornerstone.
Please pray for us as well, for we know that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We are excited about all that God is doing, and our trust is fully in Him. In the days and months and years to come, we look forward to being able to continue sharing great stories about what God is doing in and through our amazing ministry faculty — because we serve a great God.
Thank you for standing with us, and for your continued interest in our ministry.
Yours in Christ,
April 23, 2020 Update
Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,
I recently asked Christian Union faculty to share a little bit about how their ministries are functioning in a COVID-19 environment. I think you will be encouraged by this short video (6:51) that they sent in response.
Without you, this transformation simply isn’t possible, and God will do abundantly more in the coming year. Please read the previous updates, below, to learn more about how the pandemic has had an impact in our ministry, and consider making a special gift today to spur the ministry on during this critical time. To God be all the glory.
Thank you again — and may God bless you richly in these difficult times,
Founder and CEO
April 9, 2020 Update
Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,
I know that many of you who are reading this letter may be facing uncertain or difficult times. If you have suffered personal loss of some kind in this season, as so many have, my heart goes out to you.
My prayer for you is that you will draw near to God, knowing that He will keep His promise to draw near to you. Even if you haven’t suffered loss, but are facing tremendous uncertainty professionally, financially, or health-wise, I will pray you’d cling to Christ and that you’d cast your burden upon the LORD and allow Him to sustain you. This is His promise from Psalm 55:22: “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Christian Union's Statement on Recent EventsChristian Union denounces in the strongest terms the brutal killing of George Floyd. This and other recent events show that the human heart is desperately sick and in need of redemption. This is a time of great sadness and should be a time of repentance, humility and the pursuit of Christian unity in our nation.
This Sunday, May 31, 2020, is Pentecost Sunday — the day we remember the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples.
We need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our churches today.
As amazing as Jesus’ earthly ministry was, the Church would not be alive today if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit’s coming. As irreplaceable as Jesus’ crucifixion was, we would not be in Christ today if it weren’t for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As powerful as the resurrection of the Son of God was, most of the world would never know about God’s love if it weren’t for the advent of the Holy Spirit.
Christian Union Lux Helps Produce National Event
By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor
Christian Union Lux was honored to host the Collegiate Day of Prayer at Yale University on the evening of February 27 in Dwight Chapel. The two-hour event assembled Yale ministries in united prayer, worship, and exhortation from Scripture, and also served as the national broadcast for over forty thousand online viewers.
Over two hundred years ago, Yale, along with Williams College, Brown University, and Middlebury College, established the Collegiate Day of Prayer as a regular event on their campuses. By 1823, almost every major denomination and university in America “embraced the practice of a concerted day of prayer for colleges,” according to the Collegiate Day of Prayer Web site. The event lasted for about a hundred years and helped fan the flame of various revivals and awakenings on campus.
A CU New York Virtual Forum featuring CEO & Founder Matt Bennett
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."
— Titus 2:11-14