By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When 2009 Delano High School graduate Ashlinn Thommes started her freshman year at Southwest Minnesota State University, she hadn’t planned to join Campus Crusade for Christ.
“I didn’t even know that the organization existed on campus,” Thommes recalled. “I thought I’d be reading my Bible on my own.”
At that time, Thommes’ ambition was to be a news anchor, so she became involved in the SMSU radio and TV station.
“I was a very active freshman, in all different clubs and organizations,” said Thommes, the daughter of Anne Thommes-Hammerlund of Delano and granddaughter of Bill and Linn Hammerlund of Maple Plain.
Then, a friend invited her to Campus Crusade for Christ, also known as Cru, one of the largest interdenominational, student Christian organizations in the world.
“It was an entirely different feeling,” Thommes said. “I felt like I was home.”
Now, Thommes is secretary of her school’s organization, and “through a series of long and wonderful events,” plans to work for Cru when she graduates.
A deeper understanding
Although Thommes grew up in a Christian household and attended Delano Evangelical Free Church, it wasn’t until Cru that she pursued a personal relationship with Christ.
“This was very different from anything I had experienced,” she said.
Through Cru, Thommes’ walk with God took on a deeper significance.
“I knew that Jesus came to save the world, and I was part of the world, but now I know that he came to save me,” she said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about Cru because of the effect it had on me. It was a whole new understanding.”
According to Thommes, Cru isn’t like a stereotypical youth group or religion class.
“At some places, people can feel intimidated talking to Christians, if they feel like they are trying to force their faith on you,” she said. “Cru encourages dialog in a non-judgmental setting. People can feel free to ask questions. No one was sitting there telling me what to believe.”
Midway through her freshman year, Thommes was asked to emcee some of the group’s weekly meetings. She became even more dedicated as a sophomore, helping to plan the meetings.
This year, Thommes was named to the position of secretary, which involves coordinating Cru’s worship, community, outreach, and prayer teams.
“It’s not a typical secretary position,” she said.
For Thommes, Cru has been a fulfilling way to glorify God with her abilities. After college, she will most likely be working at either the Upper Midwest regional location in Minneapolis, or the international headquarters in Orlando, FL.
Even though Cru is now her primary focus, Thommes hasn’t lost her passion for TV and radio news, and is double majoring in professional writing and speech communication, radio, and television production.
She is also the news director of SMSU’s TV and radio station, overseeing weekly newscasts that center on sports and other events on campus.
In high school, Thommes had been a horse enthusiast, showing in equitation and pleasure divisions in Minnesota and on a national level.
Learn more about Campus Crusade for Christ at http://www.ccci.org/