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October 17, 2012

Yale Basketball Players Launch TeamSober

Freshmen Javier Duren and Brandon Sherrod are each earning some playing time and averaging a couple points a game for the Yale Bulldogs on the basketball court. On campus, however, the two young men have already emerged as "game changers."

Javier and Brandon are members of Yale Faith and Action: An Undergraduate Organization, Christian Union's leadership development ministry on campus. Their involvement with Yale Faith and Action (YFA) inspired them to launch a grassroots initiative that encourages classmates to abstain from alcohol or drink in a responsible manner. With so much emphasis on partying, especially for freshmen, Javier and Brandon wanted to provide a way to let students know that it's cool not to drink.

Members of TeamSober, officially launched at Yale in November 2011, pledge either not to drink during the academic year (students under 21) or to drink responsibly (students 21 and over).

Both Javier and Brandon are comfortable going against the flow when it comes to underage and binge drinking, and see it as an extension of their Christian faith. They credit the biblical teaching and mentorship they've received through YFA as a source of strength.

"YFA has taught us to be a light and witness in everything we do, to not be ashamed of the Gospel. It has also taught us to speak out against things we believe should change," said Javier. "The undying support of [Ministry Fellow] Chad Warren has helped us greatly as well."

In the fall semester of 2011, both attended a Christian Union Bible Course on the book of Colossians that helped them put their faith into action. Topics included: The Gospel—Transformational Truth; Living a Life Worthy of the God Who Has Rescued Us; The Supremacy of Christ as Creator and Redeemer; Motivation to Share the Gospel; and Christian Ethics for the Home and Marketplace.

The charisma and leadership qualities of Javier and Brandon have been an asset in launching the TeamSober initiative, says Ministry Fellow Chad Warren. Both are looked up to and have the ability to influence their peers. Additionally, the students seek to witness to their teammates and answer questions regarding faith in Christ.

"To have guys like Javier and Brandon say, 'No it doesn't have to be this way'— that's a game changer for the culture at Yale," said Warren, a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary. He sees the basketball teammates as the right student leaders for the right time on campus.

It's this kind of radical impact that captures the essence of Christian Union's mission statement: "Developing Christian Leaders to Transform Culture." The TeamSober initiative, which began with the steadfastness of only two, has the potential to dramatically affect the Yale campus culture and beyond.

The positive response to TeamSober has surprised the organization's founders. Even before it was officially launched, students were interested in fulfilling the pledge. Within a week of having an official document, more than 25 students signed their names to it. And the number of students interested in committing to the pledge increases daily.

Additionally, through Christian Union's leadership development ministries at Harvard and Princeton, word has spread to those campuses where students are interested in offering their communities an alternative to an anything goes, overindulgent lifestyle.

As Javier put it, "We believe that if God allows TeamSober to continue its success, there will be more supporters and people's lives will change. They will be able to spread the message of TeamSober to other campuses, immediate family, and, God willing, the world."
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