NU’s CRU Soars: ‘A community with a difference’

By Jheanelle Kerr

Since 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ International (CRU) has advocated for a Christ-centered college experience. Its mission is to win, build and send disciples. CRU is a community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ.

“Our purpose is helping to fulfill the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others.”

Niagara University’s chapter has adapted the name Soar and has led students to Christ by creating an environment conducive to spiritual and personal growth, leadership, meaningful relationships and stability. Soar is a student-led club; it has successfully provided fellow students with leadership positions, community, and career opportunities, making it the club to join.

In 2019, I became a member of CRU on the Niagara County Community College’s campus. After completing my studies, I transferred to Niagara University’s chapter known as Soar. I started as a student looking for direction. As an international student, I was often depressed and isolated; I did not have a community where I felt heard, loved or understood. I was constantly plagued with thoughts of regret and low self-esteem until I found Soar.

This community has taught me the true meaning of love and friendship. At the first encounter, I felt included and appreciated for my knowledge of Christ. It is the first place I have felt, as a Black woman, a part of a community that does not judge me based on my skin color.

Although the mission of Christ was never hidden and often the basis of every conversation, I was never bombarded or forced to join the mission. Since 2019, I have traveled to three different cities to spread the gospel. I have been to Florida to aid citizens affected by hurricanes and floods. I was a part of a mission to clean the neighborhoods and pray for people in desperate need of hope. I have also been a part of Buffalolove. In this event, a group of college students like myself from different campuses in the Buffalo Niagara Region gave monetary assistance, a little token to random people, and prayed for them.

Soar has changed my life; I am more passionate about using my body and voice in aiding, loving and guiding people who seek my assistance. This practice has created an atmosphere where I am happier and filled with purpose.

Many students have testified to the beneficial impact this community has had on their lives.

“Throughout everything, this was a community that was there for me,” said Nina Trank, the co-director of Soar. Her passion for leadership helped propel her from a regular member to a co-director who has helped many students with their Christian walk. “I want to reach as many people at NU as possible so that we can share the gospel with as many people as possible.”

Christian Grimes, a transfer student, now acts as the co-director alongside Trank. His community experiences cultivated his passion for Christ, and now he currently leads as the student leader of male meetings held on Thursdays.

“My goal as co-director for Soar is to be that light that shines through the darkness; I want to show the glory of Christ wherever I go by sharing the word,” he said.

As college students, it is essential to balance curricular activities and studies.

“The important thing about Soar is that it is mainly a community, and when the pressure of leadership gets too heavy to carry, someone is willing and able to assist,” the co-directors said.

Because of the helping hand of every member, it is easy to care for each other while balancing studies. The group is surrounded by other students who understand the pressure of the course load, thus willing to work together.

“We want people to belong to the community before they even believe or if they never believe, “said Thomas Rodrigues, a staff member at CRU and a Niagara University alum.

As a student, Rodrigues struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. He said he was saved by Jesus, who he claims gave him hope and a purpose for living. Because of his struggles and encounter with God that saved his life, he wanted to help others he knew were struggling with the same things.

According to Rodrigues, ” A lot of my growth came from mentors and believers who were in my life. My knowledge of the gospel came from being in and around Soar.” 

From 2014 until now, Rodrigues has been an active member of Soar. In 2016, he became a staff member on the board and has been mentoring students on different campuses to help them fulfill their dreams and mission through Soar.

“We give students a platform to lead,” he said.

Soar strives to be a caring community connecting people to Jesus. It is a student-led club that focuses on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and promoting love and acceptance through the word of God. This community focuses on helping college students become leaders in Christ and the world.

If you are a student looking for family and a community on campus, then this is the club to visit; whether it be for leadership opportunities or a grounded environment, Soar is accepting to all. This club, through fellowship, has successfully created an atmosphere conducive to the development of meaningful relationships and unions that celebrate college unity and encourage friendships.

CRU’s inspired doctrine is, “God admonishes His people to assemble regularly for worship, for participation in ordinances, for edification through the Scriptures, and for mutual encouragement.”

Soar meetings are held every Monday at 8 p.m. in the Glynn building, Room 301; and Thursdays at 9 p.m. in Dunleavy (212 for males and 228 for females). For more information about Soar, access its Instagram page through the links provided below.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1)

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