Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union
Christian Union: The Magazine
March 28, 2024

Sharing Christ with an "Unreached People Group" at Cornell and Beyond

By Erin conner, writer and communications associate

While students and faculty were protesting in Ithaca's public spaces and headlines were raging with anger and allegations about attacks on freedom in The Cornell's Daily Sun , Christian Union (CU) Vita students were fixing their eyes on the Author and Finisher of their faith. These students recently surrendered their week of spring break to serve the Lord. They are not looking to the right or to the left; instead, they are gazing upon the beauty of the Lord, knowing He is the One who sustains them and keeps them from sinking into the surrounding culture of despair, as they share the Hope that they have in Jesus Christ with anyone who will listen.  

IMG 1758


In March, CU Vita at Cornell kicked off Christian Union's spring evangelism campaign by hosting a one-week event entitled "CU Proclaim," inviting students from Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia to join them. At the beginning of the week, one student shared with Marcus Buckley, the ministry director of CU Vita, that he wondered how he was ever going to be bold enough to share Jesus with complete strangers by just walking up to them. By the end of the week, this same student could not be stopped, asking for more opportunities to go out and share with strangers. Christian Union students, by the grace and power of God, are taking the demonstrative love of Christ into their spheres of influence at their respective schools for the next few weeks, regardless of the darkness of the spiritual climate around them.  

The week of evangelism at Cornell included a worship event at Sage Chapel, during which students accepted salvation in Christ, found freedom from afflictions, and embodied freedom and joy as they worshiped the Lord.  At this open-door event, many students responded to an altar call given, coming forward to confess the need for God's help and healing through prayer for addictions, fear, anxiety, and other mental and physical issues that plagued them. True freedom through prayer and repentance was found that night in that beautiful chapel at the top of Ithaca.  

The juxtaposition of what happened that night in Sage Chapel compared to what is happening on the contentious campus at Cornell is strikingly didactic to any onlooker: the kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14: 17); true stability does not depend upon circumstances,(Psalm 18:2) for the kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21); and freedom does not come from following the ways of the world (Romans 12:2). Christ clearly disrupts the messages and culture of the world to give Truth and life. Christian Union is praying that their efforts this spring will help all who have eyes to see Him at the nine highly secular schools where they minister. 

Despite some of the rejection that students of Christian Union faced during CU Proclaim, they continued to boldly proclaim Truth–Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Lord, and He wants to give all people the gift of salvation, hope, and life. One student shared that he "never experienced so much rejection in his life," during this week of contact evangelism; however, he shared this news with a smile and with a heart of peace, as he had conquered fear of what others might think of him to serve the God he loves.  

In this campaign, students are not just sharing the gospel through contact evangelism, but through other in-person and online means as well. Whether they are distributing literature, posting social media ads on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram, or hosting highly visible, large group events, student leaders and faculty are devoted to sharing the life-saving and life-giving message of Jesus Christ. 

Online resources that serve as part of this eight-week outreach campaign can be found at curise.org. One such powerful resource from week one,  a Desiring God article written by John Piper, presents nine ways to know the gospel is true.  

Week two of the online campaign covers questions related to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, including Tim Keller's powerful two-minute meditation on how Jesus' death is an act of friendship. 

In the third week of the campaign, following Easter, Christian Union plans to have "student-on-the-street" video interviews, as CU students and faculty ask questions related to Jesus on their respective campuses. 

The entire campaign, both online and in person, works to expose every single one of the 73,774 undergraduate students at the universities where CU ministers to the power of the gospel. 

In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Matt Bennett, Founder and President of Christian Union, shared that students at some of America's most influential educational institutions constitute an "unreached people group" with such a low percentage of the student body and faculty identifying as Christians. CBN's article about the interview stated, "Bennett made a sobering statement that underscores the dire state of spiritual affairs and intense lostness at many of these colleges, when he said, 'What's shocking is that, in this audience, you have fewer practicing Christians than you do, say...in mainland China or a lot of other places that we consider unreached.'"

In this interview, Bennett also shared that, in his experience over the last twenty plus years of providing ministry in some of the most spiritually dark places in our country, personal connection, not a campaign is ultimately what inspires an individual to accept the gospel. However, it seems people need to encounter several touchpoints with the gospel before going to a trustworthy Christian in their life with their questions. Consequently, each and every Christian's role is to have the courage to be known as a Christian in their sphere of influence, so that when someone is seeking Truth, they know to whom to turn for direction to find and follow Him. 

Christian Union's boldness reminds all Christians that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of all the world and that followers of God are privileged and duty-bound to proclaim it far and wide in the power of the Holy Spirit. No other message on earth is more important to communicate than the opportunity of reconciliation with God by grace through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. 

Christianity’s mission to the world is love, and nothing is more loving than letting people know how eager God is to wipe away all their sins and to replace death with life, ashes with beauty, and captivity with freedom through faith in Christ.  

Watch the related 12-minute CBN News interview here