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

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

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.
Faith Life, October 2015

Live2Serve: Students Working as the Hands and Feet of Christ in Our Community

by Susan Brown

DSCN5316-2Every day, LSU student Jacob Allen Nichols stopped by a convenience store for his favorite coffee. And every day, a little boy named Tyler asked him for change. “What do you want today?” Jacob asked. One day, the answer surprised him – not a cold drink or snack. He was an Astros fan. He wanted to play baseball.

A casual game of catch came next. Tyler caught the ball. Jacob caught the vision. Setting foot in the neighborhood just north of LSU opened his eyes to poverty, the hunger for opportunity, and the need for positive relationships and role models. Live2Serve was born. He saw it as a chance to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Live2Serve is a Christian nonprofit organization ministering to some 300 kids per month in the neighborhoods between the north gates of LSU and downtown. The organization is gearing up for the Dec. 20 Christmas in the Coliseum where kids receive gifts, play games, eat jambalaya and hear the story of Jesus’ birth.

Corporate sponsors may participate by contributing $50-10,000 and family sponsors by contributing $50-500. Major donors include Parkview Baptist School, St. Luke’s Episcopal Day School and LSU. The deadline for LSU organization sponsorships is Oct. 30 and for corporations, Nov. 16. Families may enlist as sponsors through Dec. 11. The fundraiser supports all of the ministry’s work, including baseball and soccer camps.

Every week, Nichols, who serves as full-time executive director, and lifelong friends Bradley Downs and Erin Kilpatrick host soccer, games, art lessons and Bible study at the Baranco-Clark branch of the YMCA on Thomas Delpit Drive. Kilpatrick leads younger children’s Bible study and – with Claire Hilse and Erin Jewell – recruits LSU Greek life volunteers. Both Nichols and Downs have coached championship soccer teams, and place their players in YMCA leagues.

“We switched from coaching football and basketball to coaching soccer because soccer’s a perfect inner city sport,” Nichols says. “The main reason is that they can be aggressive, but they have to learn how to control that aggression.”

“I want our community center to not be a place of anger but to be strictly a place of love, nothing else,” says Nichols, a member of Christ the King Catholic Church. He describes his work as the modern-day complement to inner city pastors who desire a ministry for children and youth but struggle to balance full time work and ministry.

11252352_940094572722940_2609692668652082104_n-2That means his door – and his heart – are always open. And kids come wandering in. Far too often, it’s a grieving teen whose family member or friend has been shot. Or, a girl who has experienced rape. Or, recently, a teen with a knife wound in his hand, surrounded by members of the youth group.

“None of them had a car, none of them knew what to do, so they came to the YMCA. I gave them a proper bandage to start off with and we went to the free clinic on Florida Blvd.” Nichols remembers. “And I thought to myself, ‘If we weren’t there, those other boys wouldn’t have been there to come to his aid and just scare off the guy who did it. And if we weren’t there and they still had that kind of brotherhood, where would they go?”

At a time when organizations typically struggle to involve Gen Z in nonprofit work, Nichols has successfully tapped into the fluid nature of young volunteers. They can come alone or in groups and serve whenever they want. Anyone may volunteer and no one is pressured to do more than they like. Sororities and fraternities often bring volunteers. Some 1,300 have participated.

“And I get LSU students who come and ask all the time, ‘Hey I’m not a Christian but can I still come out and serve?’ Absolutely,” Nichols responds. “If God can use a sinner like me, then who am I to say you can’t come?” Nichols has seen volunteers renew their own commitment to God and become active in local churches because of their Live2Serve experience.

Like all ministry endeavors, working with inner city kids is a challenge, Nicholas says. But he compares it to a thunderstorm. “Everything could be going totally going 100 percent wrong and you just get, like, a tiny little ounce of just God, of just Jesus, a tiny little bit of just doing good and you want to dance in the rain,” he says. “Like a kid who’s just had trouble and does something great.” Or the night that a kid turns his life over to Christ. “That outweighs everything.”

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