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Christian Union

Students Step out to Lead Prayer Meetings

by francine barchett, cornell ’20

God entrusts His precious seconds, minutes, and hours to each of us. But how can we best use them? This semester two Cornellians who are active in Christian Union prioritized one day each week as God’s day. In those twenty-four hours, they rested from their studies, engaged in fellowship with other believers, and spearheaded an initiative to untangle what biblical rest and the Sabbath really mean.

Meet Klaudia Kokoszka and Alanna Staffin. Kokoszka is a junior economics and government transfer from Rutgers University and a relatively new Christian. In one short year, she has undergone a transformation; the Lord has given her an insatiable desire to understand His Word and share its love-infused message. Staffin, a leader with Christian Union’s ministry, is a graduating dairy science major.


CornellSpringMag2019SmallIn the spring semester, the women formed Christian Union’s Sabbath initiative. On Sunday afternoons, students met in the Christian Union ministry center, Mott House, to pray and study the Sabbath.

“I asked Alanna if she wanted to lead prayer with me this semester, and she told me about her idea to explore the Sabbath,” Kokoszka recalled.

Geoff Sackett, Christian Union’s ministry director at Cornell, was thrilled about the initiative: “I think the very idea of praying and resting on Sundays is great, in particular for our community which needs to understand more deeply the joy of resting.” He adds that now is the time for students to set good spiritual habits. After all, “life will likely get busier once they leave college.”

During their Sabbath gatherings, Kokoszka and Staffin urged Christian Union students to grapple with questions like: What is the Sabbath and how should it be interpreted by busy Cornell students? Is it okay to do homework or participate in social events on the day of rest? And most importantly, How can the Sabbath give God the most glory?

To help answer such questions, students read and reflected on Old and New Testament passages related to rest and the Sabbath. Sharper than a two-edged sword, the Scripture speaks truth and inspires conviction. Kokoszka and Staffin and other students were often compelled to share their struggles connected to living out God’s vision for rest and their uncertainties about juggling the Sabbath with other responsibilities.    

Despite the pressures for Staffin’s senior thesis and a packed semester on Kokoszka’s plate, the two women have made their own Sabbaths and the initiative they lead a weekly priority. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. “Setting apart an entire day from schoolwork was not easy,” Staffin admitted. “But it was life-giving and taught me why God rested on the seventh day. As a God with infinite strength, He did not need to rest. He did so to lead by example and show us how we can find life in Him.”

The Sabbath initiative has also strengthened their prayer lives. “Since we started Sabbath prayer, we’ve been praying over our friends and family who are not Christians,” Kokoszka revealed. “Since then, Alanna and I have had seven of our friends show interest in Christianity and Christian Union events.”

To Staffin, the Sabbath meetings renewed her belief in prayer’s effectiveness. “I often struggle with truly believing in the power of prayer, but the Lord continued to answer my prayers during our time on Sundays,” she said. “This built my faith that He not only hears our prayers, but that His hand is moved when we ask in His name!” 

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