Two guys walk into a coffee shop … It’s Thursday, and the barista at Joe’s Coffee has gotten used to these two regulars - a NYU freshman, Isa, fresh from a small island in the Persian Gulf, and David, from a rural Pennsylvania town, now newly planted in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
As the two wedge themselves into a booth, they pick up where they left off the week before, Isa astounded as David unveils a new episode of God’s story and how we each fit into it ...
The origins of this weekly rendezvous can be traced in part to a sign for CRU in New York University’s Kimmel Student Center. Isa had no intention of heading toward the beckoning smiles of Cru’s NYU leaders - yet that’s exactly what he did.
Then, in a scenario played out multiple times on campuses across the nation and the world, each with its unique storyline and characters, a Cru leader - in this case David - read Isa’s survey, texted the freshman, and suggested they meet up at Joe’s Coffee.
Isa’s back story? Though from a non-religious family in Bahrain, Isa had been educated at a local Christian school, a school founded by missionaries of long ago. Isa could clearly articulate the outline of the gospel, turning the tables on David, but then declared, “I don’t know what to do with this information. I wish someone would tell me!”
David considers his reply … but before moving on, how about David’s back story? How did this Pennsylvania boy end up in Manhattan?
NYC home to a million collegians
For too long a tiny group of six bore the weight of NYC’s Cru campus presence, too sparse to engage with the many “Isas” on their doorstep. With 1.3 million collegians spread across the five boroughs, many of them gaining influential world platforms (including a high concentration of internationals), Cru leaders worked and prayed to right this imbalance. And - laborers are showing up for the harvest!
Now, with growing teams serving both Brooklyn and Queens, the Manhattan team (having grown from six to sixteen) can begin to focus on the dozens of universities a mere subway ride away. They can also better tailor their strategy to conform to a particular campus.
“Some campuses gather students around sports, or residence halls. At NYU, students identify more with their particular college, like Stearns School of Business or Tisch School of the Arts,” David says. “Having more staff enables us to do a better job decoding each campus,” one of the many skills David, Ashley (his wife), and the other twenty-some new Cru staff transplants* have sharpened as they acclimate to the “city that never sleeps” - many of them from mid-west, “one-elevator” towns.
So, picking up where we left off, David asked Isa to consider the “information” he knew so well as an invitation to a Person instead of an ideology. Isa kept pace every step of the way: “This prayer describes how I feel … Now what do I do? .... I feel like my whole life has been leading up to this moment!”
* Hundreds of ministry partners just like you are the unseen characters in this story. Imagine how much additional support these twenty-some staff had to raise in order to live and minister in a city whose cost of living exceeds nearly anywhere else in the world. The direct link between students like Isa and folks who support the NYC Cru staff is incontestable.
Recent stories of God's handiwork on campuses throughout the Northeast and the world.