Chi Alpha celebrates 40 years

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Story by Da’Sha TuckStaff writer

On Sept. 25, 2014 Chi Alpha lost their campus ministry director, Mark Randall, to extenuating health issues he had struggled with for years. As the one-year anniversary nears, the Christian organization reflects on Randall’s legacy and the un-branding of the ministry as a whole.

“I was there when he took his last breathe,” said John Shehan, former Chi Alpha president. “I gave him CPR.”

Since early 2004, the group was known as Christ Ambassadors, but beginning this fall they went back to the nationally known name, Chi Alpha.

Ryan Brooks became the campus minister after Randall died.

“When Mark Randall died, it was our 9/11,” Brooks said.

He said they were broken and had to rebuild from the ground up. Brooks and Randall worked closely together, which students and alumni said helped with the transition.

During the Homecoming weekend, Chi Alpha celebrated 40 years of being on Murray State’s campus, the first time the group was able to invite alumni back.

On Saturday, the group participated in Tent City and went to the football game together. After the game the group joined together at the Chi Alpha house for a bonfire.

Sunday after their church service, Darrell Ramsey, co-founder of Murray State’s Chi Alpha, joined the group. He discussed what it meant to him to see the organization he founded with Randall in the 1970s be what it is today.

Tyler Covington, freshman from Murray, said Chi Alpha was a huge influence when he decided to attend Murray State.

Covington said he has been a part of the Hope Harbor Church, where Chi Alpha attends, for years. He said growing up he saw the members coming and going from his church and wanted to be a part of the organization. He said he liked the result he saw in those who were involved.

The entire weekend was filled with students and alumni swarming the now renovated Chi Alpha house. Laughter and shrieks of excitement filled the rooms. This was the first time alumni had been back to the house since the funeral for Randall.

Alumna Allison Crump described being back with her Chi Alpha family as the moment when winter ends and all the cold harshness of season melt away and so many things start to grow, revive and flourish.

After graduating, Crump went on to become a doctor. She is currently researching character development while completing her pediatric residency.

Crump attributes her success to Chi Alpha and Randall. She said he taught her that love is a verb and that life is not about her but about Jesus. 

“A lot of what I know about Chi Alpha moving forward was done over the phone,” said Katie Gagel, alumnus from South Korea.

Gagel said Randall taught her the practical aspects of being a Christian. She said he told her if she wanted to know who Jesus was then she better open the Bible.

Pastor Brooks now leading the group into what he describes as an un-branding said they are doing well. Brooks said as a group they are still finding their way.

Brooks said when he graduated he could not see a better path for his life than to come back and give to the organization that made him who he is today. He said he knew no matter what he did his life would fall short if he was not involved with Chi Alpha.