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Christian Union: The Magazine
June 17, 2024

Christian Union Lumine's Ministry Shines Light in the Midst of Chaos

by Erin Conner, writer and communications associate  

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
-John 14:6

At times, Columbia University looked more like a military training zone than a university this past spring. On April 30, NYPD police wearing riot gear entered Hamilton Hall through a window to arrest students who barricaded themselves inside the building, prompting many people across the country to ask "what is going on at Columbia?" 

Christian Union Lumine, a student leadership development ministry at Columbia, has been working to share truth and life with others during a turbulent semester.  

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Viviana Hinojosa, a ministry fellow for CU Lumine, recently said, "During all the conflict on campus, we tried to create a safe environment for students to come to talk and to be fed, both physically and spiritually. During this spring semester, our ministry did not slow down our work. For example, CU Lumine's Outreach team undertook an evangelism initiative called "Message Me for Macaroons," through which any student could submit a question about Jesus, faith, and/or religion. In response, Christian Union students would provide an answer to their questions and, if requested, deliver them a macaroon to meet them in person. Christian Union received over one hundred student-submitted questions. Through this initiative, new friendships were formed and new students became involved in Christian Union." 

Hinojosa continued, "This semester, CU Lumine also formed a new student leadership team for community outreach through which students planned clothing and food drives. Students are looking to set up volunteer days next semester to serve the local community around us." It is clear that the students at CU Lumine desire to not just tell people about Jesus, but to show them Him through their loving actions. In addition to community outreach initiatives, CU Lumine held a winter retreat in 2024 for their students for the first time in several years. With 28 students in attendance, they spent a weekend together, away from campus, to focus on the Lord in fellowship. Research on mental health clearly shows that strong community participation is critical to the health and well-being of young adults. In this way, Christian Union is providing a much needed resource to students who can easily find themselves struggling with massive levels of stress and anxiety by providing a safe community in which to share vulnerabilities and find strength and support.  

In the last few months, CU Lumine students also initiated "Seek," a worship and prayer night held in a classroom on campus every Monday night. This weekly event was led by a graduating senior, Chantelle Tseng, and a rising senior, Johnelle Villalona. Students shared that they loved this night and would often go past the hour-long set time and worship God together late into the night. Because this worship was held in a campus classroom, its visibility increased awareness of God's heart for Columbia through the self-sacrificial offering of time and prayer. Time, a precious resource for students at such academically intense and rigorous institutions, is a gift that CU Lumine students are giving to God, to each other, and to serving their peers. A weekly worship and prayer event in a classroom on campus serves as a simple yet profound demonstration of trust in and reverance for God, as well as a demonstration of love for others in a way that could be seen and heard.

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By mid-June, most of CU Lumine's students have either gone home, traveled across the country for internships, or traveled abroad during the summer, but the power of how God moved behind the scenes of flashing lights this semester still lingers.  

Craig Holliday, the Ministry Director of CU Lumine at Columbia, said, "When I reflect on how God has shown Himself to the students here at Columbia, I think how proud I am of our new ministry fellow, Viviana Hinojosa, who started last August and really immersed herself in the lives of the students, especially the young women who are actively involved in our ministry. Her commitment to showing them the love of Christ has been nothing short of tremendous." 

Demonstrating Christ's love– showing it, not just telling others about it– is at the center of this student leadership development ministry in NYC.

May Christ's love be at the center of all of our actions in this crucial time in America's history; otherwise, we risk being a "noisy gong" to our Lord and to the precious people for whom He died to give life, instead of leaders who, like the students of CU Lumine, are showing the Way.

Support Christian students at Columbia this upcoming academic year by giving a gift of $25 or more here.