“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …’ Evangelical leaders call these verses from Matthew 28 “The Great Commission.” This states the mission of the Christian organization Cru.
Established in 1951 at UCLA, the club was formally known as the “Campus Crusade For Christ” until its name changed in the mid-1980s.
As James Ward, a local staff member of the organization and UTSA alum, said, “the word Crusade stopped being cool.” The younger members had started to refer to themselves as “Cru” pronounced like the word “crew.”
The UTSA chapter of Cru seeks to arm its members by “Winning, Building, and Sending.” According to Ward, “winning” refers to informing incoming freshmen about the Gospel and helping them to “build” a relationship with God.
What separates Cru from other Christian organizations on campus is the, “sending” part of the mission. Cru seeks to give students with faith the intellectual equipment they need to engage non-Christians in what are deemed “missional activities.” Ward describes “sending” as a way to prevent what he calls a “Christian country club” mentality – a term he uses to describe the tendency of Christians to surround themselves with only other Christians.
Cru has expanded onto 1,140 college campuses worldwide, including UTSA, which started its chapter in 1989. The chapter was student-led until last year when Cru began hiring former students, such as Ward, as staff members to shepherd the organization. As Ward mentions, student-led organizations tend to ebb and flow in involvement, which leads to times of decreased membership.
With staff members like Ward in place, Cru has the tools necessary to continue growing beyond its 60-odd membership without fear of the organization disappearing from UTSA. There is particular emphasis on reaching freshmen.
Ward said that freshmen have “yet to be set in their views like juniors and seniors.” He points to a study by Lifeway Research that states over 70 percent of college students cease to attend Church or any regular religious functions by the end of their freshman year. This is why it’s important for the eight student leaders of Cru to encourage young students in their Christian walk.
Cru continues to grow with the diverse student body of UTSA. The club holds meetings at Chisholm Hall on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
Cru will host its annual fall retreat the first weekend of October. There are also various other conferences throughout the year. Ward shares the story of Vanessa who attended one of the weekly meetings and asked a Cru member about God. Together they read “More Than a Carpenter,” a book that argued in favor of the validity of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. Through this, Vanessa became more confident in her faith and went to the fall retreat where she accepted Christ. She is now a student leader for Cru, encouraging freshman just like her to do the same. For more information about Cru, email James Ward at [email protected]