BRCLM Lagniappe, May 2018

The Walk of a Lifetime

The Walk of a Lifetime

Helping Students Stay on the Path of Righteousness

For young adults, the college years are full of excitement. It’s a time for emotional growth, independence and new experiences. But it also presents a maze of challenges and temptations that is hard to navigate. One great irony in this unique time of life is that many non-religious students find themselves searching for spiritual fulfillment while many Christian students find themselves falling away from their faith.

At Louisiana State University, LSU Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) appeals to both mindsets. With a goal of connecting people to Christ, the organization empowers students to embrace their faith and share it with others. Joining LSU Cru ensures that every student will become part of a strong and welcoming faith community and will always know others who follow Christ.

Staff member Ali Enos says Campus Crusade changed her life when she was a student at LSU. She is grateful, she says, that in her 18 years working with students, she has been given so many opportunities to influence the decisions that will impact their lives forever. “My vision is to be used by God to win students to Christ, build them up to be disciples, and send them out to win and train others,” she said.

A unique approach
Cru focuses on three groups:

  • A catch-all group that is open to anyone who seeks to explore their faith, study the Bible or ask questions in a safe environment.
  • A Greek-wide group that brings together sorority and fraternity members to discuss how faith and Greek life intersect.
  • Impact, a group for African-American students and their unique needs and experiences.

Students in all three groups study the Bible together. (Cru hosts 12 Bible studies each week.) They also enjoy “swaps” or “socials with a purpose” such as game nights and parties held at university dorms. It’s here that current members have the chance to meet new students who might be interested in Cru.

Struggles old and new
Enos says students struggle with the usual temptations such as alcohol and premarital sex, but in recent years, she has noticed more anxiety and depression related to social media.

“In my generation, if a bunch of friends got together and didn’t invite you, you might never know about it. But today, everything in on social media, so if you’re left out, you know about it. It’s hurtful. And young people can’t seem to get a break from it. They’re always scrolling, looking to see how many ‘likes’ or views they got. It really affects their self-confidence.”

Brianne Gilbert is a recent graduate of LSU, and leads Impact, along with Joseph Holmes. “We want African American students to embrace who they are,” she said, “while they practice their faith.”

She works especially hard to help upper classmen who are gearing up to go out into the real world.” They are trying to make good decisions, and it’s a good time to get back to the basics of their faith,” she said. “So we help them with that. We talk about the things that worry them. We study the book A Purpose-Driven Life. We study the Scriptures for guidance on living a good life.”

Gilbert was also involved with Cru during her college years, and is happy for the chance to give back in her own college community. She says she enjoys seeing students grow in their faith. But fun is just as important.

“The men recently organized a cookout so they could fellowship with each other,” she said. “The women had a sleepover, which was a great way to strengthen our relationships with each other. We also do old-school game nights just for fun.”

Service is important, too. Impact members are partnering with a local middle school to help tutor students in math and reading next year. And they will also host a weekly Bible study for high school athletes.

Faith and identity
“Connecting young people with Christ is so important,” said Enos. “Now more than ever, they need to understand that their identity comes from their relationship with Christ, not from other people. And there are so many things they can do to keep their faith strong — spend time with God on a daily basis, read the Bible, pray and really listen to what God is saying, and seek out friends who encourage you in your faith and hold you accountable for your actions.”

“It is going to be a struggle sometimes. But if you know the truth and keep the faith, you will be steady and secure as a Christian. We all need to surround ourselves with those who help lead us in the right direction. It makes the journey so much easier.”

For more information, visit the website at LSUcru.com.

In our next issue, we will feature a student ministry group at Southern University. If you are involved with a college ministry, let us know at lisa.editor@yahoo.com.

On the Move
LSU CRU offers many travel and opportunities for students:

  • Winter conference: a week-long event that offers fellowship and learning during the winter break.
  • Summer mission: a 6- to 8-week mission trip with stateside and international destinations.
  • Summer trip to Italy: a special partnership that takes place in Bologna, Italy for 5 to 6 weeks.


Ali Enos has worked with LSU Cru for 18 years.

Bri Gilbert works with African American students through the impact program of LSU Cru.

Impact students hold completed ‘vision boards.’
Bri Gilbert works with African American students through the Impact program of LSU Cru.
Enos leads a study designed for Greek students. Here, her sorority group is pictured.
Enos, second from left, with a group of young women on a recent mission trip to Italy.
Learning For Life, March 2016

LSU Cru Helps Students Build a Relationship With Christ

by Lisa Tramontana

Young people are faced with big decisions regarding their careers, their relationships, and their education. But perhaps the most important decision is the one that often gets pushed to the background.

Faith.

What do I believe? What is my purpose? What is God’s plan for me?

cru.lsu team 2015These are the questions that LSU Cru staff members try to help young people answer — through prayer, reflection and reading God’s Word. Cru offers spiritual guidance, resources and programs tailored for people from all cultures and walks of life. Its ministries include athletic outreaches, church partnerships, family and marriage outreaches, and programs that address poverty and other social issues. Cru is also responsible for 6.5 billion exposures to the Gospel through “The Jesus Film,” which has been translated in more than 1,300 languages and shown all over the world.

Cru officially started as Campus Crusade for Christ, founded in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright on the campus of UCLA. It quickly became an international organization training thousands of young people in evangelism and discipleship. Today, the organization is comprised of 29 different ministries and projects in 173 nations around the world.

At the college level, Cru creates partnerships between U.S. campuses and those in other parts of the world. LSU’s “sister” college is the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy, and an LSU group makes the trip there each summer for four to six weeks. A Cru staff team of eight is based there year-round. “Our purpose is to help others build a relationship with Christ, engage with their Creator, hear God’s Word and grow spiritually,” said Ali Enos, a senior staff member who has worked with LSU Cru for 16 years.

In Bologna, young people are very open to the idea of hearing God’s Word, Enos said, and there are many opportunities for Cru members to connect with them. A daily lunch on campus creates a friendly atmosphere for the Italian students to talk about their culture and show off their city to their American visitors. But more important, Enos said, is that young Italians are very relational, eager to debate, discuss and share their opinions in a tolerant, respectful way.

cru..italian cafe“We have a movie night once a week,” Enos said, “and the film we choose always has some redemptive theme, giving us an opportunity to discuss the spiritual aspects of our lives and invite the Italian students to learn more. There is also a daily ‘aperitivo’ in the evenings when people enjoy appetizers. It’s another chance for us to make new friends and introduce them to our thoughts on having a personal relationship with Christ.”

Enos finds her work gratifying because she knows firsthand what it is like to be young and in search of a purpose in life. “I was the typical college student who liked to go out and party,” she said. “But I was looking for meaning in all the wrong places. I would come home, stare at the ceiling and ask myself, ‘Is this all there is?’”

Eventually, a friend introduced her to the Gospel and Enos became a Christian. “I fell in love with Jesus and what He did for me,” she said. “My life changed. My friend taught me the difference between religion and having a true relationship with Christ.”

cru.italian friendUntil then, she said, she had looked to other people for her identity. She cared too much about what others thought of her. “When I became a Christian, I found my identity through Christ. Other people’s opinions of me didn’t dominate my thinking and it was very freeing.”

Enos is proud of the relationships she has formed and the students she has influenced over the years. “You don’t need a degree in theology to bring people to Christ,” she said. “And you don’t have to go to Africa to be a missionary. You can do God’s work wherever you are. I am grateful that God has used me the way he has. Over the years I’ve had students (and their parents, too) come up and thank me for sharing God’s Word. I don’t have children of my own, but I have ‘spiritual’ children, which makes me really happy.”

Cru has been life-changing for many others as well. Vicky Benton says that during her college years at LSU, the Word of God came alive because of the training and opportunities provided by Cru.

cru.sorority bible study“I was blown away with the joy I experienced seeing God work through me to impact the lives of others,” she said. “I experienced the power of the Scriptures as I heard many outstanding speakers teach in a way that I’d not heard up to that point. I was able to rub shoulders with and be mentored by some of the most exceptional people I have ever known. Their impact lives inside me today.”

Benton later earned a degree in counseling — partly, she says, from the discovery that she loved investing in the lives of others. “Cru’s recruitment motto to join them full time after graduation was ‘Come help change the world!’ But really … I’m the one who was changed, and I will be forever grateful!”

For more information on Cru’s ministries, programs and activities, visit Cru.org.