Christians on campus

Illustration by Shenuka Correa

Finding A Christian Community in Abu Dhabi

The leader of the Abu Dhabi Christian Fellowship explores the impact it has had on campus.

Sep 25, 2016

Finding a faith family away from home is a daunting challenge for those who are leaving their home country for the first time. For the Christian community at NYU Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi in general, it is no different. Fortunately, places of worship are easy to find both on and off campus thanks to the Office of Spiritual Life and Intercultural Education and the UAE government.
Religion-focused Student Interest Groups such as the Abu Dhabi Christian Fellowship can provide students with various avenues to explore and engage with topics of faith. The ADCF holds weekly Bible discussion gatherings as well as other events both on and off campus.
Having been involved with the Christian community through ADCF since my freshman fall semester in 2013, I am humbled to see how students have explored, grown and formed friendships that surpass the four years spent on campus.
For freshmen and visiting students who are new to NYUAD, the community has given them a place to start as they grow in their relationships with others and in their journey of faith, wherever that may be. Freshman Francisco Gonzalez has felt the difference a strong community can make. Gonzalez, from Mexico, has been in the country for little over a month and in that time has been able to get to know members of the Christian community through ADCF Bible studies and the broader community by attending church in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“I come from a small church, and it is truly wonderful to see that there are people that follow God all around the world,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez also expressed his excitement over everything that has happened in just a few weeks and what is to come.
“Seeing that there is this great community that has received me with open arms has been amazing, and I am very thankful. I am very excited for the time to come, as I learn, grow and develop my relationship with everyone in the ADCF and, primarily, my God.” In addition to freshmen, visiting students have also had an opportunity to engage in a faith community that is unlike what they were used to and have found that their involvement with the Christian community through ADCF has helped them settle into NYUAD. Steven Yu, a visiting junior, noted how his involvement with the Christian community in ADCF through Bible studies and events was not hindered by differences in belief. “They did not know whether or not I was a Christian, which leads me to believe that members in the ADCF would generously offer a home for anyone on campus,” said Yu.
Yu went on to add how such engagement helped his integration as a visiting student, saying “I think this experience was quite instrumental to my current sense of belonging at NYUAD.”
For Christian students, time on campus has been a valuable opportunity to grow and live out their faith together as a community.
Junior Cynthia Mulindi credits the Christian community with helping her grow from a timid, questioning freshman into someone more sure of her faith.
“Because of ADCF, I now have an identity and have an understanding and confidence of where I stand in terms of my Christian faith,” Mulindi said.
Sophomore Matilda Mahne described how her involvement with the Christian community through the ADCF Girls’ Bible Study encouraged her and helped her encourage others.
“Through delving deep into the Word [The Bible] with other girls and being able to meditate on and celebrate its significance today, it has been wonderful to know that there are people who are willing to share moments of my life, even the tough times,” Mahne said.
Even for students no longer in Abu Dhabi, either due to study abroad or graduation, what they got from their involvement with the ADCF is still with them today. This is true for Ikenna Anigbogu, a sophomore studying away in Shanghai, who says his involvement with the Christian community through ADCF shaped his life.
“Spending a year with the ADCF community on campus taught me a lot more about God than I've learnt all my life,” Anigbogu said. “One message that I've learnt this past year is the awesome and loving nature of God and his powerful gift of salvation.”
Our experience here at NYUAD is unique in the sense that we will never find everything to be completely familiar. But perhaps that’s the beauty of being in this place: there are always more things to learn and share. By no means is the Christian community or ADCF perfect, nor would we ever claim to be. Our motivation to gather and grow as a community comes only from a desire or curiosity to know more about the person of Jesus Christ and why his life was significant.
Abu Dhabi Christian Fellowship is one of the faith-based SIGs on campus. They meet regularly on Monday and Wednesday nights, and can be contacted at
Joseph Chu is a contributing writer. Email him at
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