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Christian Union: The Magazine
December 14, 2021

CU Caritas Offers Discipleship, Spiritual Refreshment to Students

By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor

Justin Woyak, Christian Union’s ministry director at Stanford University, understands that even the most intellectually-gifted young people need something more than academic achievement, social activities, and camaraderie during their college careers.

Woyak, who graduated from Princeton magna cum laude with a degree in Classics in 2009, served as Christian Union's student president and then as a ministry intern for a year. He knows firsthand the importance of belonging to a vibrant, seeking God community, and studying the Word and God at college. When he arrived at Stanford in 2016 as a CU ministry fellow, Woyak’s fact-finding concluded that the university’s founders held similar values and believed that education should include an acknowledgment of God’s providence and obedience to His commands.

Palo Alto, CA - Jun-28-2015: Stanford University Hoover Tower. Completed in 1941, the 50th year of Stanford University's anniversary, the tower was inspired by the cathedral tower in Salamanca, Spain.Stanford University (Shutterstock.com)

In their founding grant in 1885, Leland and Jane Stanford assigned eighteen duties to the Board of Trustees. The fourteenth reads: “the Trustees…shall have power, and it shall be their duty…to prohibit sectarian instruction, but to have taught in the University the immortality of the soul, the existence of an all-wise and benevolent Creator, and that obedience to His laws is the highest duty of man.”

As the fall 2021 semester began at Stanford, Woyak and student leaders with Christian Union Caritas took the founder's vision and ran with it. Christian Union offers weekly Bible courses, a leadership lecture series, mentoring, and other conferences and events. The Christian Union faculty includes Ministry Fellow Susan Brown, the wife of former Ministry Director Garrett Brown, and Woyak, who earned a master's of divinity from Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis. At Bethlehem, he also served as an instructor in Bible and theology.

1 jUSTIN W editedJustin WoyakIn the fall, CU Caritas’ Bible courses focused on the book of Philippians. One of the highlights, Woyak said, was “meditating on God’s all-encompassing and lovingly wise command for our thoughts and actions: ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’” (Phil 4:8-9).

Later in the fall, as the excitement of returning to campus (following the COVID-19 restrictions of last year) began to wane and pressures of midterms began to mount, Woyak, in a prayer email, declared that “students are in need of refreshment from the Lord…”

“Stanford students—disciples and non-disciples alike—are desperate for the spiritual food and drink that God offers us in Jesus.”

In an 1885 letter to the trustees accompanying the founding grant, the Stanfords wrote: “the object is not alone to give the student a technical education, fitting [them] for a successful business life, but it is also to instill into [their] mind an appreciation of the blessings of this Government, a reverence for its institutions, and a love of God and humanity, to the end that [they] may go forth and by precept and example spread the great truths by the light of which his fellow men will be elevated and taught how to obtain happiness in this world, and in the life eternal.”

May it also be so at Stanford during the 2021-22 academic year.

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