Two Ways a New Freshman Reconnected With Her Faith

  • by Susie Richardson

Newly arrived on campus at Brandeis University, and sitting in church, Destiny felt more sad and lonely than she had ever felt in her life.

Destiny’s parents had searched out a nearby church and the 3 of them visited it together that first week. But now her folks were gone and the college freshman found herself in a pew alone – for the first time ever.

“I’d grown up with my friends at our church in Yonkers, NY, hanging out there together, and of course my family was always there. With 4 siblings there was always someone to sit with. I never even thought about it. Now I was 4 hours away in a new place, starting my new life, and I was not prepared for being unknown in an environment that had always been like family to me.”

Even though there weren’t many others her age at this church, what made the difference was the Martyr family that reached out to Destiny when she felt so very alone.

“They introduced themselves to me and right away their daughter reminded me of my sister – we went over and played piano together in one of the other rooms, and then her mom asked me home for lunch.”

Meals, fun and games with the Martyrs will forever be part of Destiny’s story. Yet there was still something missing.

“I’d pretty much compartmentalized my spiritual life as separate from school life,” said Destiny.

So while flitting around Brandeis’ Activities Fair the following fall, looking for clubs to join, Destiny quickly averted her eyes when she noticed a “Christian Fellowship” sign.

Though doing her best to dodge the whole scene, Destiny ended up catching the eye of Cru staff member, Andrew, who offered her a water bottle. 

She had no idea it was the beginning of a life change for her.

She took the water bottle and figured she might as well add her name to the Cru email list while she was at it. 

That spring, Destiny recognized the name on an email from Cru as being that of her Bio Lab T.A. The time had come to give Cru a try.

Destiny’s impressions? “Weird, but a good weird, like on this mainly Jewish campus, walking into a room filled with students playing and singing Christian music.” Destiny described the friendly feelings and warmth of that night as the most she had felt at college up to that point.

After meeting with a Cru leader who helped Destiny better articulate her faith through the Knowing God Personally booklet, Destiny returned to Cru again and again, deciding to participate in Cru’s Echo Project that summer.

"It was the best two weeks of my life,” she said.

Echo dug deep, churning up lots of personal, sensitive issues, yet the trust level among the group made it a safe place to do so. Coached in outreach and ministry skills, Destiny came to her junior year at Brandeis ready to make an impact for Christ.

“I wanted to ensure that everyone who interacted with Cru felt the same love and warmth that I had.”

Becoming part of Cru’s Servant Team, now Destiny follows up with those on the Cru email list. Planning events, and leading a small Bible Study group, Destiny also went to Fall Retreat where she shared how Andrew’s water bottle gift changed the course of her life.

She also participated in Cru’s Preview Weekend, considering God’s call on her life. Destiny plans to help lead at Boston’s Echo this summer, and may intern with Cru for a gap year or two, post-graduation.

“I’d like to go to medical school and become a doctor, but I also know how much God has used Cru in my life.”

From Yonkers, to Boston, to wherever God takes her, she'll continue to gather others into Christian community.

Take a look at how you can help others like Destiny make an easier transition to college.