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March 1, 2024

Christian Union Universities Proclaiming the Good News This Spring

By Tom Campisi, 2022, revised and edited by erin conner, 2024 

“What shall you do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”

That was the question posed by preacher Dwight Lyman Moody at his Illinois Street Church in Chicago on October 8, 1871. In the sermon, he paraphrased the question asked by Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of Matthew (27:22). Moody challenged the congregation to think about it during the week and return to church the following Sunday with an answer—would they crown Christ as Lord or, like Pilate and the misguided mob of that time, deny his supremacy? However, as Moody finished his sermon, a warning bell began to ring. The Great Chicago Fire was raging. There was no next week at his church, which burned to the ground like many of the buildings in the city.

older moodyD.L. MoodyAlthough Moody went on to become known as the greatest evangelist of the 19th century, to his dying day he deeply regretted how he once asked his congregation “to come next Sabbath and decide what to do with Jesus.” In his biography (written by his son, William R. Moody), he said, “I have never since dared to give an audience a week to think of their salvation. If they were lost they might rise up in judgment against me. I have never seen that congregation since. I will never meet those people until I meet them in another world. But I want to tell you of one lesson that I learned that night which I have never forgotten, and that is, when I preach, to press Christ upon the people then and there and try to bring them to a decision on the spot.”

The Great Chicago Fire also changed Moody in another profound way. Previously, his ministry was centered primarily in the Windy City with a church, schools, and social programs—but out of the ashes arose a mandate to preach the gospel across the world. Historic campaigns in the United Kingdom and the United States followed.

“This was a poignant time in Moody’s life and the fire forced him to reevaluate his ministry...It was during this time of evaluation he realized he needed to heed the Lord’s call on his life. For years, he had been moving forward and then asking God to support his plans. He knew from this point on, his call was to preach the Word of God to the world” (Moody.edu).

Inspired by the Great Commission and the spirit of great evangelists like Moody, Christian Union launches its annual CU Classic and CU Rise campaigns each spring on the ten campuses where it hosts leadership development ministries: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Harvard Law School, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.  This spring, Christian Union has added an additional event, called CU Proclaim, to equip students to be effective leaders in this initiave.  

In addition to using social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube, Christian Union Universities is sharing the gospel, inviting students to apologetic events, and fostering relationships in which students can pray for peers or answer questions of faith. It’s a large-scale campaign each spring designed to help share the gospel with every student at each of these universities three to five times per academic year. 

Moody once said, “No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one solitary life, wholly yielded, adjusted, and obedient to Him.” 

Through Moody, approximately one-hundred million people heard the gospel. He also started schools in Chicago and his native state of Massachusetts. His legacy continues today as future leaders are trained for service in God’s kingdom at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The nearby Moody Church continues the mission of its founder: Our purpose is to evangelize, edify, and equip people to be true worshipers and effective representatives of Jesus Christ so that we all may “stand confident and unashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

Christian Union, like Moody, senses an urgency to share the gospel with as many students as possible, wherever they may be on their faith journey. 

Will you join Christian Union in praying for many students to come to Christ?—that God would indeed flood these schools with His Spirit, sending bold and unashamed laborers into the fields to lovingly ask the eternal question," What shall you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?"