A new academic year is underway on local college campuses and so is a new season of faith-based support for Christian students.
CRU, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, is an active and engaged community of area college students and program leaders.
The CRU chapter that serves students at Meredith College and N.C. State University in Raleigh has resumed its weekly group meetings as well as its small-group Bible studies. Preparation is underway for a fall retreat in Fayetteville this month, along with many social events and projects.
The CRU program began on the UCLA campus in 1970 and spread across the country. Michael Mehaffie, campus director for CRU at N.C. State and Meredith, took over locally in 1981.
“When I arrived there were about 30 students involved and four full-time staff, “ Mehaffie said. “Our original CRU campus ministry still exists at NCSU and Meredith, and we are active at Wake Tech, Shaw and now Campbell University. There are full-time staff teams at most major universities in North Carolina, including Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina and Appalachian State universities.”
The N.C. State group has grown to a staff of 30. About 1,200 students participate in Bible study groups. The weekly large gathering can draw more than 1,000 participants, and specialized groups cater to athletes, international students, and African-American, Asian and Hispanic students.
CRU has its own intramural sports program and opens up opportunities for students to participate in mission work. No matter which group a student adopts or chooses to explore, Mehaffie said, the message and the meaning are the same.
“We are a caring community passionate about connecting others to Jesus Christ,” Mehaffie said. “Our strategy is very simple. Win students to Christ by sharing the gospel in a relevant manner. Build them in their faith to live fulfilling and fruitful lives and send students out to win, build and send others, so the whole world has the opportunity to understand the love of Christ.”
The strength of CRU lies not just with the students who participate in the studies, events and programs, but in the older adults who devote themselves to sharing a message on college campuses.
Mehaffie said he became a Christ-follower by watching the Rev. Billy Graham on television as a teenager. He became involved with CRU as a college student in California. He and his wife felt called to join the organization in 1976.
“College students have their whole lives ahead of them,” Mehaffie said. “As they are anchored in Christ in college they can have a huge impact on the world and how they live by sharing a positive, life-changing message with others. I am 63 years old and have served full time with CRU for 39 years and just as committed now as when I began.”
The weekly meeting for the NCSU and Meredith chapter takes place on Thursday nights. For information about meetings, Bible studies, events, programs and mission opportunities, visit the group’s website at www.ncsucrusade.com.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.