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Christian Union: The Magazine
August 16, 2022

The Transition Into College Life Eased As Newcomers Are Welcomed Into A Thriving Community Of Faith

By Anne Kerhoulas

The transition to college comes with many unknowns. How will classes go? Who will your friends be? What will you end up studying? But for rising sophomore Amaya Allen, the biggest question was wondering how she would sustain and grow her faith in a non-Christian environment. 

Amaya Allen

Growing up in a Christian home and attending Catholic school for most of her life, Allen felt the typical nerves about going to college. But add in starting college during a pandemic after going to school online for a few semesters, and going to a school for the first time that would predominantly be non-believers, and Allen was unsure about the big transition into college life.  

“I didn’t know what to expect going into college. I was so used to being surrounded by Christians,” says Allen. “Going to Brown was a really different experience, and I realized how important it is to have Christian community on campus.” 

When Allen arrived on campus, she was overwhelmed by how many different organizations she could join and uncertain where she might find the Christian community she both desired and needed. After Christmas break, she heard a fellow cheer teammate talking about how she had read a CS Lewis book during her time away. Allen began to talk to her about her faith and community at Brown, and within a week she had attended church with her teammate and met Sheri Casali, a ministry fellow at CU Libertas. From there, Allen’s freshman year began to orient itself around participating in the CU Libertas community at Brown.

“The people [at CU Libertas] are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” says Allen. “I love how they keep God at the center of everything they say and do—they are such lights not only in the Christian community but throughout the Brown community. I really want to be like them and aspire to be the light that they are to the community.”

Allen quickly joined a Bible course to dig into Scripture with her peers, something she notes had always been a weak spot in her faith. Coming together with friends each week, studying Scripture, and discussing how it applies to their lives ended up being a highlight of her spring semester. But it wasn’t only Bible course that began to form Allen, CU Libertas paved the way for her to grow in spiritual disciplines. 

Ministry Fellow Sheri Casali was integral to this growth for Allen. “She is such a light for the community and gives really great advice. When she leads a Bible course she really knows how to lead and keep us rooted in the word. She is so encouraging and has really helped me grow in my faith.” 

Studying the Seeking God Lifestyle in her spring Bible course, Allen was challenged to grow in new ways in her faith. “I’ve always known that we need to seek God in everything, but it was different learning material in the Bible course format,” reflects Allen. “Something that was new to me was fasting. I’ve always fasted during Lent, giving up electronics or sweets, but I’ve never fasted from food and used that time to draw close to God. That was something I actually practiced this year.”

Allen saw the benefits of incorporating fasting into her spiritual routine immediately. “When I was fasting during Lent, it was probably the strongest point in my faith this year. I attribute that to CU because they got me thinking about how to fast and what to do while fasting. I’ve been thinking I need to do it again because I really was able to grow spiritually and connect to God. I have never felt so energized and close to God.”

Allen, who will be serving on the leadership team this fall, is excited about pouring into the community and watching it grow and flourish next year. “I’m excited to do a lot of activities to get more people involved with CU Libertas, to bring more people in. Right now our community is strong but small. I want to see more people join, invite more freshmen to get involved early, and see how our community can grow and make God’s presence known throughout campus.”