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September 22, 2021

'Our Nation Needs Leaders Who Follow the Example of Christ' 

By Hope Arbery

In the book of Mark, there is a story about a paralytic man. After hearing about the powerful works of Jesus, his friends literally carried him to Jesus because they wanted him to be healed. They overcame every obstacle so that they might bring their friend to the only one who could save him. 


BOSTON, USA - AUGUST 9: the historic architecture of the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA showcasing its fancy iron gate at sunrise on August 9, 2016.

When my son went off to college at Harvard, I knew he would make friends. But would they be friends who carried him to Jesus because they wanted him to thrive and flourish? As a parent, this question loomed large in my mind as I wondered and prayed about who would be the people who came alongside my son in these intensely formative years. We all need friends looking out for us and pointing us to Jesus, and my son found these friendships and more in the community of Christian Union Gloria at Harvard. Christian Union creates a culture where friends carry one another’s burdens and spur one another on in their faith. They are biblical friends, not friends based on common interests or hobbies or being part of a team. These friendships are based on being united as children of God. 


hope arbery Hope Arberry and family: husband Chris (Harvard '88) and sons Mason (Harvard '22) and Scott (Harvard '24)In a highly competitive environment like Harvard and other top-tier universities, students need a support group that is not based on their performance and perfection. Students need friendships that help them sift through what is truly of value and what is worldly fools gold. They need friendships that encourage each other to become more forgiving, more loving, more Christlike, and they need leaders who will shepherd them in the truth. 


The ministry culture of Christian Union makes students feel noticed, heard, and encouraged. It is a community where meaningful, authentic friendships are formed with peers and ministry faculty. Students feel like their ministry fellows would do anything for them. Moreover, these relationships create an environment to voice questions and doubts and find acceptance. An environment where doubts are not a sign of a lack of faith but of a growing faith. A place where wise counsel can be found that leads to confidence in God’s love for them. 


When I visited my son during his freshman year at Harvard, we were walking in Harvard Square when we came upon his CU Gloria ministry fellow. I was amazed that this ministry fellow knew my son so well—and so grateful. He was truly shepherding and supporting my son.


I also met some of my son’s Christian Union friends. They not only supported his faith journey but they helped him with his study habits, gave him tips with classes, guided him on post-graduation opportunities, shared meals with him, exercised with him, and included him in clubs and other extracurricular activities. Christian Union had become a community that embraced him where he was and spurred him onward in his faith. 


As a parent, I saw my freshman develop a strong spiritual foundation at Harvard. I saw my son become more confident in God’s love for him, become a better friend to others, and make wise decisions based on the good counsel from ministry fellows, peers, and upperclassmen. I watched his faith flourish as he got to know God better than when he had left home.


But it was not only friendship that my son was receiving through CU Gloria, he was being taught scripture in in-depth Bible courses, being encouraged to pray and fast, spending Friday nights at worship nights with wonderful speakers, attending retreats off campus, receiving one-on-one discipleship and leadership training, and being taught spiritual disciplines.


As I observed the growth of my son’s faith during his time at Harvard, I realized that someone was pouring a lot of resources into my son’s spiritual growth. Our family had not paid a penny but my son had been given so much.


Who were the people paying for and providing these opportunities? It was clearly people who wanted to see God’s kingdom thrive on these college campuses and in the hearts of the students. My son and our family had been blessed, and I wanted to do my part too. I knew I wanted to support the ministry that had given so much to my son. 


It is easy to see that our young generation is in desperate need of a savior. Christian Union is leading students to Jesus and equipping them to be faithful leaders who will influence all aspects of our nation’s culture. The easiest way to support and sustain the incredible work of Christian Union is by becoming a Cornerstone Partner and financially support the ministry. But as I learned more about the mission of Christian Union, I knew I wanted to give more than a monthly contribution. I also wanted to contribute my time and talent. I wanted students (and their parents) to hear stories about why growing one’s faith in college matters. I wanted students to know Christian Union is a community where they can belong and grow in faith and leadership. 

When I was asked to join the CU Gloria Cornerstone Board, I learned even more about how Christian Union supports students during college and after they graduate. I currently serve as the chair of the mentoring program at CU Gloria. The goal of the mentoring program is to pair graduating seniors with Christian Union alumni who will help graduates transition well into the next phase of their life. The Christian Union alumni network provides incredible support for participating alums from all classes and all Christian Union universities. For some, the relationships developed through Christian Union last a lifetime.


Once my husband and I became Cornerstone Partners, I also participated in one of the Christian Union Bible courses for Cornerstone Partners. During this 10-week Bible course that walks through the same curriculum my son was being taught, I learned how better to read the Bible. I met and became friends with CU alums as well as other current parents of CU students. It was so easy and refreshing to talk with another parent whose child was going through a similar college experience. The Bible course and the friendships I made have shaped me and helped me to be a better parent and grow in my knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. 

Students need hope. Our nation needs leaders who follow the example of Christ. Christian Union is making an impact for the Kingdom by transforming and equipping students who will be the future leaders of our country. Please join me in supporting the good work Christian Union is doing to build God’s Kingdom!

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