As parents, we all remember our children’s “firsts:” first tooth, first word, first step, and first day of school. For many of us, there were feelings of fear or anxiety, sadness or loneliness, as we waved goodbye and left them in the hands of a teacher for the first time. Then, that first day of college arrives… We find ourselves leaving our child to try living on their own, often in a new city— even a different state. My husband and I have experienced this transition twice. Our daughter, now a college graduate in full-time Christian ministry, attended a secular college in a small town in our state, while our son, now a sophomore, attends a Christian university about nine hours away from home.
It is important to know the facts when sending our children into college life, even when the statistics aren’t very reassuring. In 2015, 23% of college-age female students reported some form of unwanted sexual contact. Alcohol was usually a factor with 4 of every 5 students using alcohol. One half of those who drink alcohol will engage in binge drinking, which leads to the death of 1,825 students (aged 18-24) each year. Suicide is a very real issue among this young age group as well, considering all the pressure they feel to belong, decide their futures, and simply deal with the stress of life outside their parent’s home. This is proven by the fact that 1 in 10 students will make some form of a suicide plan, resulting in 1,000 suicides carried out each year on campuses. What can we, as parents, do to help direct our young, newly independent children in the right direction when so many voices beckon with empty promises of acceptance, fun, or peace?
There is a presence on many college and university campuses across America that wants to help direct college students towards Christ. CRU, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, was founded in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright on the campus of UCLA. Fellow students, as well as young leaders, are among the voices seeking to draw new college students in when they arrive on campus for the first time.
What is different about CRU? This Christian organization seeks to help young people turn to faith in Christ through their outreach, as well as helping them to build on their personal faith in Him, and ultimately to help others turn towards the Lord. They offer safe spring break alternatives in Florida and California as well as summer mission trips both stateside and abroad. Today, CRU is involved with 2400 campus ministries. There are 82,000 college students involved in CRU in the U.S., as well as athletic outreach in 85 nations. The Jesus Project is also part of CRU’s ministry, with 6.5 billion exposures to the Gospel of salvation since 1979, and 230,000,000 decisions for Christ throughout the world!
My husband and I have seen firsthand the impact CRU has on young people. Our own daughter became connected with CRU as a college freshman and is now a full-time staff member working on two college campuses. She has spent summers ministering with CRU in both the U.S. and Europe, and she has led a group of students in CRU on a spring break trip to Germany where many have never heard the Gospel once. We have seen her grow in her own faith and develop a passion for reaching out to those who need to hear the Gospel message. She has developed life-long friendships with other Christian young people and has helped in leading other students to faith in Christ. And she was able to have a positive college experience.
In Proverbs, wisdom is portrayed as a person with a voice, calling in the streets to any who will listen. There are many other voices calling out, often in deception and even destruction, beckoning those who will listen to their empty promises…We must make the choice for ourselves, and take responsibility to encourage our children in the choices they must make:
Can’t you hear the voice of wisdom? She is standing at the city gates and at every fork in the road, and at the door of every house. Listen to what she says: “Listen, men!” she calls. “How foolish and naive you are! Let me give you understanding. O foolish ones, let me show you common sense! Listen to me! For I have important information for you. Everything I say is right and true, for I hate lies and every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome and good. There is nothing of evil in it. Proverbs 8: 1-8
Not every voice that calls to us can say that it is true, that the advice it gives is wholesome and good. Only the Word of God can truly say that every time. Our young people need the Lord. They need to know that He loves them, that there is hope, and that He has a plan for their lives. Perhaps that is best relayed by other young college students who have experienced it for themselves…that is what CRU offers.
Do you have a college-aged child who could benefit from being part of a great Christian organization? Will you visit CRU’s website with your student and encourage them as they enter campus life to consider connecting with CRU? Can we pray for your children at The Bottom Line?