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Christian Union
November 8, 2014

Harvard Alumnus Embraces Christian Union's Holistic Approach

by Sarah Camp, Contributing Editor

Cimmarusti-familyFor Harvard alumnus Tony Cimmarrusti and his wife Martha, supporting causes they care about is an endeavor to model the love of Christ, and it is something that "is a major fabric in the life of our family."

Cimmarrusti (Harvard '81, HBS '86) is CEO and co-founder, with Bryce Gray, of Majestic Capital Management. In a dynamic, wide-ranging career, he has worked on Wall Street and at the Chicago Board of Trade; developed real estate; led numerous family offices; and served as CIO for the Majesty Fund since 1995. He explains how he and his wife discern which charitable organizations to support, citing insights gained from attending conferences such as Generous Giving, and by studying great works such as Henry Blackaby's book, Experiencing God: "You have to see God and join Him where He is working; it just doesn't work the other way around."

Over the years, Tony and Martha have followed the Lord into a number of faithful, effective ministry programs. For some time, two close friends urged Tony to take a look at Christian Union and give support to its focus on developing Christian leaders within the eight intensely secular universities generating as much as half of the nation's most influential leaders. Tony was intrigued, but careful. "We didn't get involved with Christian Union right away," he notes. Getting to know an organization, he and his wife had learned over the years, was important before getting fully behind it.

But, having heard about the changes God was bringing about at Princeton through the ministry, Tony took an opportunity to meet Christian Union faculty and students at Harvard, who by this time were making noticeable inroads at his alma mater. "When I finally met Don Weiss, the director of undergraduate ministry at Harvard, and Nick Nowalk, teaching fellow, I was impressed...when I met with the students involved with the ministry, I was blown away."

Beginning in 2011, Tony and Martha began to take the ministry close to their hearts, channeling time and treasure to help address a lack of Christian resources at the key universities, and to help supply the nation with godly leaders. "For anyone who cares about leadership in the U.S., it's imperative we reach the students at these schools."

As Bible course sponsors, Tony and Martha enable Christian Union's ministry fellows to meet weekly with eight to ten students per course and provide in-depth instruction in Scripture. Courses typically form during freshman year and often stay together for four years, fostering intimacy and accountability. Tony says, "Christian Union takes the right approach. It's both spiritual and intellectual; it's holistic."

In addition to teaching the Scriptures and helping students seek God wholeheartedly, Christian Union's ministry faculty also coach and develop students' concrete leadership skills, in order to amplify their effectiveness as Christian leaders. Ensuring students receive spiritual mentoring and coaching at a pivotal stage in life fits in with Tony's background. A former All-Southern California football player and wrestler, Tony went on to captain the wrestling team at Harvard, while also playing linebacker on the football team. Over the past three decades, Tony has coached collegiate, high school, and youth football, wrestling, and baseball. Through it all, he carried out his passion for Jesus. "Whether I'm coaching, teaching, or working in business, I've sought to maintain a kingdom mindset."

Tony's heart for mentoring and coaching came full circle when he met Kevin Collins (Harvard '89), Christian Union's director of undergraduate ministry at Dartmouth. Tony was finishing his degree at Harvard Business School, while also coaching the Harvard freshman football team. Kevin, a player on that team, is now bringing his own love for Christ, coaching skills, and marketplace experience to students in the Ivy League. Tony was delighted. "It was extraordinary to see this fellow Harvard alumnus as a man of God, impacting Dartmouth."

Last year, Tony served as a panelist speaker at Christian Union's Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action. The experience provided Tony with another confirmation that his family's commitment to the ministry was advancing the kingdom in meaningful ways. The Congress drew more than 390 students from eight campuses to hear speakers address the intersection of faith and vocation. "I was humbled by my co-panelists, including Adam Berry (Princeton '09). As a student, Adam was involved with Christian Union when it first launched; now he is at Goldman Sachs. He's young and he is talented, and he is getting it done for Jesus!"

As parents desiring to raise their sons to care about and participate in God's work, the Cimmarrustis share, "We tried to teach our children that all of the things we have can be used by God to help others, and that everything we have is either a tool...or an idol!"

The parents' lessons took root. In 2013, their oldest son, Mike, graduated from Wheaton College, where he served as the captain of the ice hockey team. He now works in private equity, serves with Young Life, and coaches youth hockey. Wesley is a founding board member of Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), a Christian fraternity, at the University of Michigan. He's also involved in Young Life. Their third son, Caleb, is a freshman at the Naval Academy, and already involved in a church and his company Bible study. Youngest son, Mac, is a junior in high school, a Sunday school teacher, and a leader in Young Life.

Tony quips, "Whenever anyone asks me how they turned out so well, I tell them there are three reasons: 1. Martha 2. Martha 3. Martha!"

After 26 years of marriage, Tony and Martha continue to adventure together. They are leaders at Grace Community Church in Detroit, and in their town of Grosse Pointe Farms. The couple has even bicycled across America together. The recipe for the Cimmarrusti family's energetic approach to ministry is simple. Tony explains it this way: "God's work is our work. Our work is about doing His work."

The Cimmarrusti family has a passion to coach and mentor godly leaders. Donors are invited to support transformation at any of the eight campuses where Christian Union operates. To learn more about giving opportunities, including Bible course sponsorships, or to make a gift, go to www.christianunion.org/give.
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