Cru is a ministry that gives Taylor University students the opportunity to share the gospel with their peers locally and internationally.
This organization has partnered with Taylor to focus on winning people to Christ, building them up in their faith and discipling them, Chris Kellum, working in strategic partnering, said.
He said most people become familiar with Cru during their time on a college campus because it is where the ministry is most visible. Purdue University and Ball State University are two other locations where Cru currently has movements in Indiana.
“We want people to get to the place in their faith where they can actually go win people to Christ and build them up in their faith — in a sense, be spiritual multipliers,” Kellum said.
Shinkle and his friend Colton Baroni had been leading a group called Heartbeat at Taylor that encouraged spiritual conversations. Baroni had a heart for sharing the gospel specifically on Ball State’s campus, so he reached out to the Cru ministry and eventually got in touch with Chris Kellum.
After receiving evangelism training during that spring with Bill Heth, a Taylor professor who retired at the end of last Spring, Shinkle said they went on a trip to Ball State to practice the skills they had learned.
“It just felt very God ordained — not really sought out or brought about by Colton or I, but the Lord has like, transformed our hearts, put a desire in our hearts, provided connections — so very encouraging to me,” Shinkle said.
That fall, Baroni stepped down from leading the group because of senior responsibilities, and Shinkle lost interest for some time. He began to think about it again after having conversations with people who were interested in doing ministry at Ball State. His friend Hannah Caruana, a current Taylor senior and presidential fellow, contacted him about it and further communication led to the resurgence of Ball State trips.
Kellum asked Caruana to gather students from a worship and prayer group she co-led for an opportunity to share the gospel. The group invited others to join them in driving down for the evening instead of meeting for their regular time of worship.
She was surprised during a time of testimony-sharing with students who participated in Cru at Ball State. The crowd was eclectic, with a mixture of Christian student leaders and Ball State students attending for the first time.
Students were encouraged to walk in pairs instead of large groups to not overwhelm those they were sharing the gospel with, Caruana said. She was paired with current Taylor junior Brenda Antigua. They had an unexpected encounter with a group of students in one of the food courts.
“We kind of walked by, and I was talking to Brenda and said, ‘You know what? I feel like we should go back,’” she said. “‘I just feel like the Holy Spirit's telling us to start a conversation here.’”
They sat down at a table, and the 30-minute conversation that followed turned into a girl giving her life to Jesus. She had been back and forth between religions because she didn’t have a personal connection. Caruana said that she and her friend were able to walk the girl through a prayer using some of the Cru tools that help communicate the gospel in a simple way.
Caruana said the student leaders of Cru at Ball State were encouraged by Taylor students coming to their university and supporting efforts to evangelize on campus.
The organization has resources for those who are interested in witnessing all over the world, as they have people on the ground in 190 countries, Kellum said.
“In my conversations with Chip Bii at Taylor World Outreach, I think he was interested in this idea of giving students an opportunity to go overseas and do personal outreach with other college students,” Kellum said.
Cru came up with the idea to lead a mission trip to the Middle East. Kellum noted that this particular area had no known Christian ministry on the Eastern Mediterranean University campus. Although all the classes are taught in English, the institution attracts students from many different areas of the Middle East and North Africa.
The two-and-a-half-week trip to the Middle East took place last May, with six Taylor students and two faculty members attending.
MacKenzie Bedor, English hall director, helped lead a missions training class for students before the trip. The class training sessions focused on cultural education and learning to lead conversations about spiritual topics, she said.
Cru provided students with practical ministry training on how to communicate with people from the Middle East, Kellum said. The class had a couple of video sessions with a guest speaker who gave insight into the mindset of those who had grown up in a different religious setting.
Bedor reflected on a conversation she and two Taylor students had with a friend they met who was from Afghanistan. He had been searching for truth and assurance for a long time but was trying to find hope in science, religion and psychology. She and two other students discussed and answered his questions for three hours, but she said that they realized he wasn’t going to believe them upon first hearing.
“One of the students ran back to our hotel and gave our new friend his very own study Bible,” Bedor said. “Now, the student and our friend are still in contact and continuing conversations about the gospel.”
Bedor noticed the growth in confidence in students' conversations with people during the trip. While it was intimidating to witness to a complete stranger, the students showed deep confidence and conviction in following the Spirit by the end of the trip, she said.
Shinkle put out a notice on student announcements and got several responses from students saying they were interested in evangelism. He said newcomers will need to be equipped because several of the original members have graduated or are involved in other duties, and he would like to pass his connections on to a new student leader.