Saad Taj ’10, left, and Nafia Khan ’10, right, discuss thoughts and ideas with speaker Kevin Barrett, center, before his 9/11 presentation in Neumiller Hall. The Muslim Student Association brings in lecturers throughout the year to discuss issues related to Islam.
Up to five times a day, students in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) gather at their house on Main Street to pray in the mosque. Like several of the other religious organizations, they are renovating the house with new carpet and furnishings to make it more conducive to praying and meeting. The organization holds some meetings in the house, but the central point is the lower-level mosque. One of the organization’s projects has been to clean and renovate the basement.
MSA president Saad Taj ’10 believes having a place to pray is an important element of his time at Bradley. “When you’re at home, you have your family support, but when you leave home, you no longer have that support, so you look to other outlets for spiritual support. I was really happy to have a mosque located so close to campus.”
The group’s main objectives are to serve the Muslims on campus and promote a greater awareness of Islam at Bradley. Their Web site states a desire to sustain faith in a college environment and to convey the true meaning of Islam.
Because the group has found that many students are curious to learn more about Islam, they are creating an evening lecture about Islam that will be open to all Bradley students. Additionally, they’ve brought several speakers to campus to talk about a variety of topics related to Islam and of interest to other religions, including a recent presentation on the 9/11 attacks.
Taj said one of his goals for the organization this year is to reach out to the larger Bradley community through philanthropy.
“In the past we’ve held a fast-a-thon during the month of Ramadan where we got students to fast with us for a day. Money they were going to spend that day on food, we donate to a charity. At the end of the day, we eat breakfast with all who participated.” Over $400 was raised through this event last year. They are currently planning philanthropy with a local hospital to send students to read to hospitalized children.
Visit bradley.edu/campusorg/msa/ for more information.
Amanda Graves ’08, left, and Becca Waldo ’07 express themselves to music during praise and worship at the Chi Alpha house. Members planned a weekend themed “Ignite the Fire” to help spark a 24/7 house of prayer in Peoria.
Though only in its third year of existence, the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship has grown to a base of about 60 to 80 students. The group is affiliated with Assemblies of God but is open to students of all denominations. Students meet at the Chi Alpha house on Main Street, and gather for a variety of events, including weekly Bible study, prayer meetings, Christmas parties, back-to-school events, trips to St. Louis, and a yearly conference with other regional Chi Alpha organizations.
“We’ve had a lot of growth,” Chi Alpha President Jaime Nash ’07 said, “and as more people join, we’ve been able to have more events.”
Chi Alpha received coverage in the local newspaper last May for its efforts to create and maintain a house of worship operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The idea is that at least one person is praying in the chapel at all times, and student volunteers sign up for shifts to ensure coverage even during the wee hours of the morning. In May, Chi Alpha ran a weekend program called “Ignite the Fire” in which members from a 24-hour house of prayer in Kansas came to help set up a similar room in the Chi Alpha house.
Student leader Derek Kistner ’06 told the Journal Star Chi Alpha was hoping to spiritually revive the community. “We pray continually that revival comes, that Peoria will be transformed,” Kistner said. “Jesus said, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’ We took that literally.”
Nash says Chi Alpha is a place for students who want to maintain their relationship with Jesus while at college. “It also is a place for Christians to connect with other Christians on campus. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost on a college campus; this is a group where students can feel a part of something and not be forgotten or overlooked.”
Visit chialphapeoria.com for more information.
Jake Lessen ’08, Amanda Knussman ’08, and Stephanie Ross ’10 play ultimate Frisbee as part of year-end Campus Crusade festivities that also included a trip to the Ice Cream Shack and midnight prayer in front of the Lydia Moss Bradley statue.
Since the 1960s, Campus Crusade (Cru) has been helping students to better understand the Bible through student-led Bible studies each week, in addition to many social outreaches throughout the year. Until 2004, Cru was completely run by students; today it is led by a council of students under the direction of Peoria resident Ben Davidson.
Davidson said the group tries to emphasize personal development. “We like to think about everyone’s lives as a pie, and they have different slices of the pie. The emotional slice, the academic slice, the spiritual slice, and so forth. The spiritual slice is just another slice, one that helps to dictate how you live with the other slices of the pie.”
As Cru has grown, several local Bradley alums have continued to help out with the group’s weekly studies and events. Christine Bachmann Wallinger ’05 and her husband Sean Wallinger ’05 have returned each year to help out because they felt there was something different about Cru and the way it helped its members grow in their own faith. Christine Wallinger said she has a desire to give back to others. “If there’s something that important in your life, you don’t just want to keep it to yourself.”
The organization has grown from the weekly Bible studies to include many more social outings. Jaclyn Taylor ’07 leads a weekly study and says they all benefit from the fun gatherings, scavenger hunts, trips to a corn maze, and annual Christmas party that help build closer relationships. Recently they have also become more active in campus-wide events such as Homecoming and the Shack-a-Thon. A handful of members took advantage of a Spring Break trip to Florida for a conference, and the group has also organized several relief mission trips in recent years, including a clean-up after Hurricane Katrina.
Cru finds a weekly meeting home in the Student Center’s alumni dining room on Thursday nights. Davidson said they always welcome newcomers to their meetings and believes “we’re all on a journey, whether we recognize it or not. Hopefully, we can come alongside people to aid them in their journey, if they’re open to it.”
Visit crupeoria.com for more information.