The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a damper on many of Montclair State University’s leading clubs and organizations. One group, however, has thrived during these unpredictable times.
Cru is a Christian organization based at Montclair State and other universities. Their motto, “a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ,” has carried them through the pandemic.
Aria Greendyk, a junior majoring in music therapy, is Cru’s current president and longtime member of the club.
“Especially now during this time, we have a prayer meeting each week with Cru and it’s been one of the most incredible and refreshing times for me and for all the other people who attend,” Greendyk said.
Greendyk, who was offered the presidential position last spring, accredits God for the club’s online presence. When people are stuck at home, stressed out and depressed, Cru offers spiritual support and refocuses on what is important.
“This is something that isn’t just a hobby,” Greendyk said. “This is something that is so relevant always but especially to our times right now. The trials that happen to us can help us grow closer to God and I think that’s something that’s been a huge theme.”
Cru meets on Zoom twice a week, once for a general body meeting and once for prayer. Prayer meetings have been especially important for Caroline Gutierrez, a psychology major on the leadership team.
“You get to hear these people’s requests, their prayer requests, week after week and you get to see what’s going on in their lives,” Gutierrez said. “Then you can pray for them… until the next week and then you can’t wait to see what God has done over the week… you can encourage them again next time.”
Gutierrez is one of three people who run the organization, a drastic change from previous years. Cru’s leadership team usually consists of eight members, two for each team. The teams, Evangelism, community, bible study and prayer, make up Cru’s unique structure.
The Evangelism team is in charge of outreach events and weekly Evangelism on campus, though the pandemic has put these activities on hold. The community team uses fun events and icebreakers to build a sense of community for Cru members. Bible study’s main focus is weekly Bible study, where members learn Biblical content.
The last team, prayer, holds weekly prayer meetings and prayer walks on campus, the latter of which is starting up again this spring.
Prayer walks are when Cru members walk around the campus praying over the entire campus community, including professors, students, the subjects being studied and praying that people will know God personally on campus. They also ask individual people if they would like to be prayed for.
Josh Mariscal, former president of the club and Montclair State graduate student, believes the pandemic has brought out a different side of Cru.
“In previous years, we definitely had people who were more on the engaging side… extroverted,” Mariscal said. “There’s only three people and all three of them are introverts. God knows exactly what he’s doing. If three introverts were in leadership last year when there was no pandemic, that would have been an interesting dynamic.”
Mariscal calls himself a raging extrovert and though his final months leading Cru were limited to Zoom calls, he understands the various uses God has for Christians.
“In the words of Esther, God put them in a time such as this, to grow the club in a different way,” Mariscal said.
Gutierrez, who oversees community outreach, reflected on her decision to join Cru amid a pandemic.
“I didn’t feel Biblically equipped enough to lead other people and so I prayed and prayed and trusted Christians in my life about what I should do,” Gutierrez said. “And something that my cousin told me is that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”
For Gutierrez, Cru has provided one of the most fruitful experiences of her life. Her job includes running game nights, icebreaker events and making the club resemble a camp where everyone gets to know each other.
Other aspects of the club include hosting guest speakers and meeting with leadership teams from neighboring universities, all of which have been transferred online.
Cru continues to build their community, strengthening their relationship with both God and each other. They plan to hold a socially distanced prayer walk in May and until then, continue to uplift one another via the Internet.
Cru holds general body meetings on Zoom on Thursday nights. Meeting times can be found on Cru’s Engage page, or on their Instagram page @montclairstatecru.