Last May, Cru staff member Chris Comstock stood with the pastor of Isla Vista Church and his wife and more than 300 college students on the concrete patio outside Embarcadero Hall during “Hope for Isla Vista.”
They were holding a prayer and worship gathering on the University of California Santa Barbara campus just 4 days after a shooting in which the gunman killed 6 people before killing himself.
Cru offered the message of comfort and hope by identifying with their pain just as God identifies with their pain. On display were the words “Jesus Wept” scribbled in large cursive letters on the concrete, they sung worship songs like “God of This City” and its lyrics of “Hope for the hopeless,” and Chris and his pastor friend continued to speak about comfort and hope. And the people gathered and prayed. “We wanted to be a sign of comfort and hope,” he says. “And really give people a sense that God is near and present in the midst of this.”
When fall classes commence this week, the Isla Vista community will again be home to 22,000 students in an area approximately 2 square miles.
Chris’ desire is to see Cru tightly connected to the campus and the community.
“One of the things that has been on our hearts and minds is really focusing on being a good neighbor,” he says.
Cru students and staff members want to continue to offer hope to the community.
Mid-October, they join with a few other clubs on campus to help host an event called, “Isla Vista Meet Your Neighbor.” The gathering will have food and activities that encourage knowing people in the community and treating them like your neighbor. Chris is planning for Cru to take this theme a step further; they are planning on printing hats and shirts with the message “Isla Vista Love Your Neighbor.”
“We want to become a part of the fabric of the campus so that if you pull one part you are going to see another part move almost like if you are pulling on a thread of a sweater,” says Chris. “It’s connected to everything and so we want be that kind of people.”
People who are compassionately connected to the community of UC-Santa Barbara and Isla Vista. And people who follow Jesus’ commands of loving God and loving their neighbors.
Pray for the Isla Vista community this week and for the “Meet Your Neighbor” event coming up.