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Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 22, 2018
Iowa Wesleyan

‘We want to see revival’

IW students launch campus chapel ministry, Cru chapter
Jan 30, 2018
Photo by: Grace King IW students are taking ownership of their Campus Ministry, launching a Cru chapter at the university and organizing monthly chapel services for students. The first chapel of the semester took place Sunday, Jan. 28.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Students at Iowa Wesleyan University are taking campus ministry into their own hands, with about a little over a dozen students showing up to their first chapel service of the semester on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the university’s campus chapel.

After experimenting with different Bible studies that never really took off, senior Christian Henriksen wanted to start something bigger on campus. So he helped launch an Iowa Wesleyan University (IW) chapter of Cru, which is the international Campus Crusade for Christ in the U.S. Starting off small in the fall semester with weekly Bible studies, Cru at IW is developing a vision for the majority of students on campus to be involved in one form or another and using the already established Campus Ministry to reach out to students.

“We want to see a revival on campus,” said Lena Henriksen, freshman IW student.

A few weeks ago, Cru leaders got together and began talking about what more they could do, starting with a monthly Sunday chapel service. Although the first few rows of seats in the chapel on Sunday were sparsely filled, Christian was not discouraged.

“There were more students than I thought,” he said after both leading worship and giving the message. “The people here are the people God intended to be here.”

It wasn’t Christian’s first experience in front of an audience. He’s preached three times to his congregation at Mt. Pleasant Open Bible Church. Christian also has a natural tendency to be a leader — a character trait he attributes to his football career.

As the clock struck 3 p.m. on Sunday, Lena boldly launched into a worship song, inviting students to stand and worship together. Transitioning to the message, IW junior Nick Fenel broke the ice as he took the microphone. “Why did they give me a mic stand taller than me?” he said with a laugh.

Fenel became a Campus Ministry leader after getting to know Christian better during summer football practices. He said they didn’t connect at first, but in between long, hot practices, lifting weights and everything in between, they began to discuss their faith.

“It got me excited about teaching other people,” Fenel said. “That’s the number one reason I’m doing this.”

The service itself was intimate, with Christian telling stories and anecdotes between reading passages from the Bible. “Whenever someone tells you God has a wonderful plan for your life, that doesn’t mean it will be easy,” he began.

Christian shared that the summer after his sophomore year of college, he had the opportunity to be a research assistant to a doctor in Iowa City. As a pre-med student, that was a pretty big deal. However, in contemplative prayer, which is talking to and listening to God, Christian said he heard a “still small voice” telling him to stay in Mt. Pleasant for the summer.

“I’ve got you covered,” the voice told him.

It was a difficult decision to give up the position in Iowa City, Christian admitted. Not only did it leave him without a summer job, but he had to humble himself to give up a prestigious opportunity.

Two days later after turning down the research assistant job, Christian said another opportunity presented itself at Insight Partnership Group working with mental health services in Mt. Pleasant. “This is where God really starts to come through,” he said.

Working mostly nights that summer gave Christian time away from his roommates during the day to read the Bible, pray and deepen his relationship with God. He believes that experience is what brought him to help lead Cru. “To keep it short, if I hadn’t stayed in Mt. Pleasant that summer, I don’t think I would be speaking with you today or doing Campus Ministry,” Christian told the students.

Inviting the band back to the stage, Christian reminded students that with God as a presence in their life, “they could not be defeated,” he said.

Matt Klundt, Coordinator of Student Engagement at IW, said that he hopes this is a start to getting back to the tradition of regular chapel services. As a recent graduate himself, Klundt spent a lot of time trying to build up a Campus Ministry. As an employee of the university now, he looks forward to coming alongside current students and helping them launch the Cru program.

“We’re going to run with it,” he said, adding he hopes the chapel service serves as a kickoff event for something bigger.

Christian hopes to bring more speakers into future services and playing some more upbeat music. Of the Mt. Pleasant community, he asked for prayer for what God is doing on IW’s campus.

“We’re here to serve students on campus,” Christian said. “The greatest vision we have is Jesus Christ. He transforms your life, changes your life. That’s why we’re here.”

Fenel said that because IW is a Christian university, people think a lot of students would already be intimately involved with Jesus, but that isn’t always the case. Life still gets in the way and people get busy. Through Cru, Fenel hopes to create space and show people that this ministry extends way beyond IW.

Lena believes in Cru’s ability to not only help students create space for their spiritual life, but be a safe place to bring their problems, come as they are and find love.

“With what we encounter on a daily basis, you can take the path that leads you to God or away from God,” Fenel said. “It’s about choices.”

For IW students, weekly Bible study takes place every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the basement of ST.

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