NEW YORK — When 20-year-old Kalu J. Ogbureke first started the Ivy League’s Columbia University in New York City three years ago, his conservative southern evangelical Christian sensibilities were left a little “shell-shocked.”
It wasn’t that the city or the college was hostile to his faith. They were far from it.
For Ogbureke and other Christian students like him who had come to the city from the South, it was mostly that Christianity isn’t seen as such a big deal. Indeed, for many New Yorkers, Christianity is like an artifact that is no longer relevant for life in the modern world.
And it shocked Ogbureke and his kind as they struggled to fit in.
Three years later, however, after overcoming a deep learning curve, a more confident and urbane Ogbureke, whose family is from Houston, Texas, has emerged as king in a space for Christians on campus.
The economics junior is now leading Columbia Faith and Action, a Christian leadership ministry serving all four undergraduate colleges of Columbia University that boasts nearly 200 members.
It’s an arm of a group called University Christian Union founded at Princeton University in New Jersey by Matt Bennett about 12 years ago. The group aims to disciple Christians at the nation’s eight Ivy League universities due to their undue influence on American culture.
“Christian Union focuses energy toward developing Christian leaders at eight universities and select cities because of their extraordinary influence on our culture and society. The universities are: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. Out of the 2,500 four-year colleges and universities in the country, these eight produce 50 percent of the most influential leaders in our nation. Graduates from these schools also have extraordinary influence on the international scene,” explains the organization’s website.