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Christian Union at Yale Enjoys Fruitful Welcoming Campaign

by tom campisi, managing editor

Jin Li, a sophomore psychology major, knows firsthand how important it is for campus ministries to reach out to freshmen.

It wasn’t that long ago that Li arrived on Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut, and was quickly welcomed by a Christian Union ministry fellow and student leader.

“I connected with Christian Union at Yale through an ice cream social event on Cross Campus just a few days after I moved in,” recalled Li.

Christian Union at Yale distributed a bag of snacks and copies of the Gospel of Luke to all freshmen dorms this fall. 

Li became active in Christian Union Bible Courses and has emerged as a co-leader of the ministry’s outreach team. The Queens, New York native helped coordinate Christian Union’s Freshman Welcoming Campaign at the beginning of the semester. One of the highlights was the distribution of 1,500 Gospel of Luke booklets to all incoming freshmen. Members of the outreach team hand-delivered the welcoming packages, which also included snacks and information about Christian Union, to all the freshman dorms.

Josh Purtell ’21, a co-leader on the outreach team, also connected with Christian Union as a freshman through its annual Block Party.

“We decided to give away the Gospel of Luke because we felt that the beginning of the semester was a time when freshmen would be particularly open-minded and willing to have their worldview challenged,” said Purtell. “We think that the Gospel of Luke is an effective introduction to the Good News, and one that is both short and plainly written enough to reach a wide audience.”

“The Gospel went forth to over 1,500 first-years,” said Li.

The Gospel went forth thanks to a team of 15 students who spent several hours canvassing the dorms, climbing stairs, and visiting each room and suite.

“It was overwhelming, yet invigorating; seeing their joy, gratitude, and curiosity about who we were and why we were doing it reminded us of our larger mission,” Li said.

 “The mission of the outreach was to spread the love and truth of Jesus Christ on this campus, as we are called to do, and to let the first-years know that there is a Christian ministry and community on campus ready to welcome them with open arms, regardless of where they are in their faith journey.”

Clay Cromer, Christian Union’s ministry director at Yale, said the outreach is a tangible way to share the love of Jesus Christ with the class of 2022.

“When you consider the myriad of syllabi, new books, information pamphlets, and flyers,  not to mention all the e-mails and e-newsletters that are flooding their inboxes, the Gospel of Luke giveaway will rank as the most important literature received during their initial weeks on campus,” Cromer said.

Purtell, a math major from Beaver, Pennsylvania, is also hopeful that these freshmen will have “an opportunity to choose the Truth.”

“Often, students insulate themselves from the truth in their social and academic circles because it is easier to do at first. Over time, a lot of people develop an intuition that there is something more... By bringing the Gospel to the campus community, we can show people God’s will for humanity in an audience-appropriate manner and allow them to discover the Truth.”

Included in the welcoming packages were invitations to Christian Union’s block party, which was held at its ministry center. The block party, one of several welcoming events, featured a menu of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and Moe’s burritos.

The prayer, hard work, and zeal of the freshman welcoming campaign yielded some immediate fruit as 65 freshmen signed up for Christian Union Bible Courses, which focus on the book of Hebrews in the fall semester. Click to Tweet  
One freshman thanked God that Christian Union “provides a space to study the Word of God in this way.”

“After we finished the first lesson, he encouraged the rest of the guys to go hard after Christ in this journey,” recalled Cromer.

These freshmen, along with returning upperclassmen who are enrolled in Bible courses, will also have an opportunity to participate in Christian Union’s Rooted leadership lecture series each week, conferences, “Family Dinners” in the dining halls, and one-on-one discipleship meetings with ministry fellows.

“This year’s freshman campaign really took flight on the leadership of the student leaders and gatherers,” said Cromer. “We had record numbers (and record temperatures) at our ice cream social on Cross Campus this year. At all of our events, and in the hundreds of student meetings in between, we’re really aiming to make the hospitality of God explicit in the way we take a lavish and loving initiative to welcome new students.”