Jade Thompson ’21 Leads Outreach Team
For Jade Thompson, co-directing a Text-4-Toasties outreach for Christian Union at Columbia this fall was just one of the many ways she has been challenged to grow as a leader.
by tom campisi, managing editor
Thompson, an Economics and Sustainability major from Westchester, New York, called her involvement with Lumine, Christian Union’s ministry at Columbia, “the best part of my college experience.” “Christian Union Lumine has helped me tremendously in my development as a leader,” she said. “Through the knowledge I gain in my Bible course with Ministry Fellow Yolanda Solomon, to the encouragement I receive through mentorship from her and Ministry Fellow Jesse Peterson, our outreach director, to the practical experience I gain from planning and executing events, I have stepped more deeply and confidently into my role as a disciple of Jesus and a fisher of men.”
With Text-4-Toasties, Thompson, Barnard ’21, and Kyra Dawkins ’20 led the outreach efforts. The concept was simple, Christian Union Lumine spread the word that it would deliver grilled cheese sandwiches to any student who texted in a question about Christianity. As the Outreach Team assembled sandwiches in the Christian Union Ministry Center, students sent in questions.
“Text-4-Toasties was received quite well on campus,” Thompson said.
“Students are always excited for free food and we are always surprised by how deep and thought-provoking the questions are.”
Thompson said some of the more challenging questions dealt with topics such as biblical views of “homosexuality,” abortion, the validity of other religions, etc.
“These questions are challenging because they are sensitive topics which have the potential to turn students away from Christianity. But truly, answering the tough questions is the purpose of Text-4-Toasties,” she said. “The Outreach Team leaders believe that a student receiving an honest, empathetic response to his or her specific concerns can do a great deal of good in moving their hearts closer to a position of understanding and reconciliation.”
The Outreach Team was not caught off guard by such tough questions. Through coaching from ministry fellows and small group discussions during the event, the students were able to deliver answers, in addition to some comfort food. Thompson loved the process that combined intellectual readiness and food preparation.
“In buttering bread, stacking cheese slices, and flipping sandwiches, student volunteers bond over many laughs and loud conversation,” she said. “I pooled all the questions into a shared Google document and the volunteers formed small groups to talk through strategies and key points. It was like a mini apologetics training. For me, this is the best part because I learn so much from other students’ perspectives and I know the same is true for others in Christian Union Lumine. It is always a blessing to have my Christian peers brainstorm thoughtful answers to questions I may have struggled with in the past or may be searching for currently.”
Participation in the sandwich delivery outreach encouraged students to be more vocal about sharing their faith and the conversations increased their understanding, and, in turn, strengthened them spiritually.
“Based on the smiles of accomplishment and exciting stories volunteers had when they returned to the Ministry Center, I could tell that all students were blessed by the encounters and may feel more comfortable sharing their faith with friends in the future,” Thompson said.
“Jade has been in my Bible course since her freshman year and is a huge part of our community. She has volunteered on just about every ministry team that we have,” said Solomon. “Jade has a burden to share the love of Christ and the Gospel on campus. In every semester that she has been involved with Christian Union, she has brought new students to our Bible course.”
In addition to serving with Christian Union, Thompson is also a member of Jubilation!—Columbia’s Christian a cappella group. In December, Jubilation! hosted its winter concert, “The Little Prince,” and shared the Gospel message with the Columbia community via music.
“Christian Union leaders and peers reassure me of my value in ways that encourage me to assume larger roles in other organizations because I have a sense of worth and feel that my voice, input, and contributions truly matter,” she said.
Last summer, Thompson joined students from other leading universities and ministry fellows for Christian Union’s “Passages: Experience Israel” trip. She credited the Holy Land tour and study time with helping her experience significant faith growth.
“The trip to Israel gave me a greater understanding of biblical history and a certainty in my faith that fuels much of my work today,” she said.
And that work includes serving, singing, and studying and shining Christ’s light in her junior year at Columbia. As for the future, those aspirations are best summed up on her Jubilation! Web site profile: “Build tiny homes for homeless people and ex-veterans; travel to every country as a missionary; and be significant for the furthering of God’s kingdom.”