Cru Before and After at University of Illinois

What was your life like Before and After Jesus?

University of Illinois students Kaitlin, Brooke, and Mackenzie show off their "Before and After" shirts. Image courtesy of Chelsea Kirchhoefer

Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube views helped build momentum and curiosity on the University of Illinois campus during the Before and After outreach campaign in February. The social media blitz in conjunction with posters, stickers, buttons, green-T-shirts and chalking the sidewalk stirred up opportunities for 191 Cru students and staff members on campus to engage with those yet to know Jesus.

“It got quite a buzz on campus. It really did accomplish the goal of putting it everywhere,” says Doug Olexa, a Cru Staff Member. “Every student I asked said many of their classmates and many of their friends were coming up to them and asking them ‘what is this about?’”

The Before and After outreach idea started last summer when Cru staff member Scott Berkey heard about a church in Detroit having an outreach that featured wearing T-shirts with 2 words on the front that expressed what their life was like Before Christ and After Christ.

“I was really encouraged by our students not just talking about themselves,” says Scott. “But using their stories as a stage to explain the gospel.”

The training before the event featured having students and staff members summarize their transformed life in 2 words.

“I was really pleased how well the training did in helping students explain their story in the context of transformation so to explain the gospel not just being a story about themselves,” says Scott.

“I think the forcing of getting it down to two words about their transformation really helped a lot.”

Although it was not in the original plans, Doug suggested students make a few Before and After Christ videos and put them on YouTube to enhance their outreach campaign.

“I was thinking that maybe 5 to 10 people would do it tops,” says Doug.

Cru staff members coached the student-leaders who ran the campaign. Student-leader, Peter E. helped with the social media aspect by sending an e-mail out to everyone the weekend before the outreach. He explained how the other students could post their videos. Peter had created a Cru Before and After YouTube channel for them and suggested that each class post their videos on different days of the week to build momentum.

With Doug’s idea and Peter’s encouragement, 77 students posted their Before and After videos.

By noon on the 2nd day of the outreach, the Cru Before and After YouTube channel had 3,500 views and by the end of the week 9,700 views. That’s about 1/4 of the undergrad and grad students on the University of Illinois campus. At least 2 students indicated decisions for Christ.

You too can create your own Before and After outreach to stir up the curiosity of non-Christians so that you can tell them your Before and After story about how Jesus changed your life.