Family Helps Next Generation Grow to Spiritual Maturityby Sarah Camp
When Tim Kuo '96 arrived at Princeton as an undergraduate, he wanted to be part of a Christian community, but admits he didn't expect Christ to be central to his college experience.
That all changed for the Palo Alto, California, native within his first week when he met Matt Bennett and Dan Knapke through Cru, the ministry formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. In the 1990s, Matt (who later founded Christian Union) was the director of Campus Crusade at Princeton, and Dan (now Christian Union's chief operating and development officer) was a staff member.
Through his involvement in a college ministry, God provided Tim with Christian examples worth emulating. At that formative stage of life, having relationships with more mature believers who were "content and secure in Christ, who could radiate the joy of being in Christ" changed Tim's life. He remembers, "I wanted that for myself."
Soon, Tim was spurred to pursue a more Christ-centered life and a more rigorous study of the Bible.
At the same time, as he came to a better understanding of the doctrines of the faith, mentors challenged him to learn to convey the Truth with love and grace. "I was eager to engage in deep discussions with my roommates and provide the Christian perspective," Tim recalls. "Matt, in particular, encouraged me to learn to do this with more grace.
I wasn't always successful, but the support I received helped me learn to share my faith in a way I had not done before."
Laura Heinemann Kuo '96 hails originally from Marietta, Georgia. She arrived at Princeton firmly rooted in faith and was active in Princeton Evangelical Fellowship as a student. Her experience with a campus ministry was instrumental for her as well; she credits the ministry with helping her pursue biblical teaching and forging lifelong friendships.
You might say Tim and Laura met over molecular biology. In the summer before their senior years, Tim and Laura were both on campus working in the laboratory and on their senior theses. They had mutual friends, too, and were part of a dinner group comprised of students from different campus ministries.
One night in particular stands out for Tim. The rest of the dinner group was deep in discussion about some controversial theological topic, but Tim was paying closer attention to Laura: "I was just amazed at how deep and thoughtful she was (and beautiful, too!). On the walk home, I told a friend I thought I was going to marry Laura one day!"
True to his word, Tim married Laura one year after graduation.
Together, the two continued their respective educations. On each campus they saw and experienced the vital importance of campus ministries, and they contributed to the impact of these ministries as well. After Princeton, for example, both found ways to engage with campus ministry while at Vanderbilt. After completing her master's degree in biology, Laura went on staff with InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship. While earning his MD at the Vanderbilt Medical School, Tim was active with Medical Campus Outreach. From there, the couple went on to Stanford University for Tim's medical residency and fellowship. They have also been involved in a church's college ministry together.
Today, the couple raises their children, daughter Sarah (12) and son Ian (8), in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area where Tim is an oncologist and Laura is a stay-at-home mom. Now that their children are getting older, she is gearing up to return to teaching. They attend Stonebridge Church (PCA).
"Students coming to a secular institution and finding new independence have great spiritual needs during college...There are amazing opportunities to see Christ tangibly fill that hunger."
Campus ministry, particularly at Princeton, remains close to both of their hearts: "Students coming to a secular institution and finding new independence have great spiritual needs during college. There is so much hunger for knowledge and truth during that time of life."
"There are amazing opportunities to see Christ tangibly fill that hunger."
With a connection to Christian Union's founder stretching back to their undergraduate days, Tim and Laura knew something of the progress the ministry was making in developing Christian leaders in order to promote national culture change. Christian Union launched first, after all, at their alma mater.
They were on board with Christian Union's vision to pursue students and help them to experience life to the fullest in Christ. When the couple became closer, more active partners with the ministry, Tim says they felt blessed. "We were excited to hear firsthand how God was advancing His kingdom on this campus."
The couple is deeply mindful of the difficulty of being a Christian at schools like Princeton. The memory of his own feelings remains strong for Tim: "I remember feeling lonely... in the classrooms, in the laboratory, and in the eating clubs, when I felt like I was standing alone in what I believed."
In those times, God brought Tim repeatedly back to the story of Elijah in I Kings 19. In the chapter, Elijah is hiding out in a cave, running from Jezebel. He cries out to the Lord, "I am the only one left..."
In response, God intimately appears to Elijah, and reveals that He has "reserved" seven thousand in Israel that will stand with Elijah; he is not alone, though he may feel that way.
Tim reflects, "That is a great picture of what Christian Union and other campus ministries do for students who are faithful to the Lord." He and Laura believe God is using Christian ministries to 'reserve' faithful Christians that will stand with each other in a challenging environment.
But there is more – Christians are transforming the environment of Princeton itself. Tim and Laura see that window of opportunity is open to maximize the Christian impact at Princeton. "We're excited to see that take off!"
Both Tim and Laura have hearts for campus ministry, shaped by their own transformative experiences. As Tim puts it, "One of the reasons I support Christian Union today is because of the lasting impact Christian mentors had on my life during college. I want to help Christian Union's faculty have the same profound impact on students."
At every step, in ministry as in their life, Laura and Tim trust the Lord: "We consider it a tremendous blessing that we can be involved with Christian Union – in whatever way God calls us."