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October 15, 2023

Student Spotlight: Senior Reflects on Her Faith Journey at Princeton

By erin conner


Cynthia Makachi, a public and international affairs major and a member of the executive team at Christian Union Nova, describes her faith journey at Princeton by saying, “divine intervention is evident in my life." From accepting her offer to Princeton three years ago to sitting beside a stranger three weeks ago, God has shown up in powerful ways during her academic career. 

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Cynthia is a member of the class of 2024– the class of students who graduated from high school, received their acceptance letters to college, but could not move into their dorm rooms at their respective schools to begin their college careers. Cynthia, like all the students in her class, needed to virtually attend college from home during her freshman year due to the lock-down policies in place in 2020. 


Cynthia, who grew up between catholic and non denominational churches serving on worship teams, recounts this start to her academic career as an uncomfortable blessing. She said being at home forced her to grow in “a secret place” with God. She discovered prayer to be a communication line with the Lord that gave her life. She found Christian Union Nova online at this time and was surprised to find such a strong community of believers here. Through CU Nova, she was blessed to be encouraged to pursue the Lord with her whole heart and to put Him first. 


However, a heart-shift needed to occur in her, she claimed, before she was able to do this. Once she arrived on campus to start her sophomore year, Cynthia vulnerably admits that she felt her priorities shifting from a focus on God to a focus on pleasing the people around her; she claimed she began to prioritize friends and school over her relationship with the Lord. “I began seeking the world for satisfaction by looking to other things to fulfill my needs– I was looking to success and people for a sense of purpose, worth, and belonging,” Cynthia said. “I began thinking if I changed myself slightly, I’d find more satisfaction and approval. But what I discovered over time is that this kind of seeking only made me more miserable. Nothing I was chasing after satisfied me."  


A turning point in her walk with the Lord came in 2022 at Christian Union’s Winter Retreat: Nova’s Ski Safari. Here, she experienced the Holy Spirit; she surrendered her idols; and she remembered: she remembered her first love– the Lord; she remembered that He placed a calling on her life, that He desires to move in mighty ways, and that He promises to satisfy her and give her everything she needs. The Word that she studied in Bible Course truly became alive and active, ministering to her as she made room for God to move in her life. 


Following CU Nova's winter retreat as a junior, this vivacious and intuitive student whose smile and laughter light up a room, decided to take a leap of faith and attend a mission trip to Mexico– not just once, but twice. As she drew near to God, He drew near to her. She began to see Him moving more clearly in her life; she began to practice the promises of Scripture, and began to allow God to bring things to the surface in her heart and mind to work on. She needed healing from past hurts and disappointments. God intervened. Cynthia testified with strength and confidence that God is the God who heals. 


Another step of faith Cynthia made her junior year was to commit to pray with other CU Nova students each morning at seven a.m. CU Nova students gathered to pray each morning of the spring semester for God’s Kingdom to come to Princeton.  

At the start of the fall semester of 2023, just a few weeks ago, Cynthia attended a Christian Union event at the Robert L. Melrose Center for Christian Leadership, CU Nova’s Ministry Center. She arrived late. There was only one seat left. The empty seat was beside a freshman girl she had never met, so Cynthia believes that she would not have chosen that seat otherwise. During a break, they both walked to the kitchen together and over a counter of food, the freshman girl told Cynthia that she was an unbeliever who was invited by a stranger (another CU student) in a hallway earlier that day to attend this event. She came because had questions that she needed answered. Cynthia asked her if she’d like to talk somewhere more privately, and they decided to go to another room in the ministry center to talk. 


The things that Cynthia had been through in her personal walk with the Lord at Princeton and the things she had been trained to do as a Christian leader prepared her to share the gospel with this seeking freshman. Cynthia ended up asking her, “Do you want to accept Jesus today?” and the girl said yes. Cynthia proceeded to lead her through a prayer of salvation, prayed for her afterwards, met up with her for a meal the following week, and connected her to CU Nova's women ministry fellow.  Divine intervention occurred yet again.

During a recent Princeton alumni zoom call update, Cynthia shared this salvation story by saying, "the fact that I got to be a part of this and see the fruit is a blessing." Cynthia's humility was revealed as she explained it was the Lord who led the girl to Christ, not her. "The Lord led her to accept Christ that night, and she did," Cynthia said with a thankful heart. 

To start this term, Cynthia helped the outreach team at CU Nova under the leadership of Julian Jensen-Lim, '25, knock on over 1,000 freshman doors to welcome them to school, to give them a Christian Union goodie bag, and to offer to provide them with anything they needed for their rooms, as a means of expressing the generous heart of Christ.  Julian, who led two of his roommates to Christ, said in the recent zoom call, "I am excited about what God is doing right now in terms of outreach to unbelievers at Princeton." 


In the call with alumni, Cythnia shared that being a part of CU Nova has been one of the biggest blessings of her time at Princeton. She explained that one-on-one discipleship was critical in her walk with the Lord and her ability to remain in Christian community to keep her grounded in the Lord- to be in the world, but not of it.

Qwynn Gross, women's ministry fellow at CU Nova, said, "Cynthia reflects what it means to serve others as unto the Lord. I not only expect great things from Cynthia when it comes to her future career, but I expect her to exemplify the love of Jesus all her days because she demonstrates humility and sincerity for God and His people now.  Case in point, her decision to serve children in Mexico this summer, instead of pursuing a career launching internship, shows her sense of purpose and priority and even more, it exemplifies her heart."

Reflecting on the modern-day idols of people, money, success, and comfort, Cynthia said, “the Lord showed me that these idols cannot compare, not even close, to the life-giving relationship we can have with God when we keep Him at the center.”


Cynthia is writing her thesis on youth homelessness in the U.S. and France, as she has a passion to address and serve the needs of others. Her heart is to see the Lord working in the lives of others, as well as to see prodigal sons and daughters coming home. She is currently waiting on the Lord to hear his direction for her post graduate plans, including the possibility of attending Law School. 


Cynthia is an advocate for human rights, namely for youth in emergency situations. She is an ambassador for the Kingdom of God, and is on a mission to follow the voice of God wherever He leads.