Empowering the Missionaries

5,000 missionaries at the last Cru staff conference

What if you had the chance to impact the spread of the gospel by engaging with 5,000 missionaries in one week?  What would you want them to know that would cascade down through all their ministries around the nation and the generations of people they will disciple and lead to Jesus?  This is a very real opportunity as Jeff prepares for our upcoming staff conference in Colorado.  With your help, we believe God will use us to shape the future of the world through these influential men and women!  When we think of this opportunity, we think of folks like Brian and Christina. 

Brian & Christina w the kids

     For the last 9 years, God has used them to reach students at University of Southern California with the love of Jesus, but last year God opened their eyes to the 83 other campuses in their city, a scope way beyond their imagination, and certainly beyond their reach.  Jeff helped Brian and Christina meet churches around many of those campuses that God had placed perfectly to make an impact on students.  Brian and Christina have the heart and skills while local churches, like that of Pastor Kevyn’s here, have members willing to invest their time in discipling young people.  Some of these churches are now sharing the gospel on campus every week, and Jeff was invited to train Brian and Christina’s entire team.  Now, they are trusting for student leaders on all 84 campuses by the end of next year!

Steve Douglass, president of Cru

Jeff is already thrilled to worship alongside missionaries like Brian and Christina at our staff conference, learn about what God is doing throughout the ministry, be challenged by Bible teachers as they take us into God’s Word and hear from our leadership as they share where God is taking us in the next few years (see videos/audio from last time).  But, we’re also charged up with the opportunity to awaken more fellow missionaries to the importance of partnering.

Our family!

In order for Jeff to attend this conference (including travel, meals and a place to stay as well as some medical bills we’ve incurred—Praise God that Karen’s headaches have improved) we need your help! Would you give toward this need with a SPECIAL GIFT of any amount?  We can’t wait to tell some of the life-changing stories we’ll have from this summer at Cru19! Pray with us and follow along at Cru.org/Cru19.

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What God’s Been Teaching Us

Doesn’t it make sense that God’s Word and Science would say the same thing?  Karen and I have recently had the great blessing of learning from Caroline Leaf, a Neuroscientist who loves Jesus.  She has heaps of test results to support what the Bible teaches about our brain, mainly that how we choose to think can actually rewire our brain’s structure.  This renewing of your mind, she says, has incredible impact on our mental health, but other areas of our body as well!

Dr. Leaf claims that people grow stronger when they make a daily habit of dedicating 5-15 minutes to meditating on God’s word (memorizing Scripture, praying and bringing thoughts into captivity—Psalm 46:10).  “The brain is more active, growing more branches and integrating and linking thoughts, which translates as increased intelligence and wisdom and that wonderful feeling of peace.  God also throws in some additional benefits such as increased immune system and cardiovascular health.”

I don’t know about you, but Karen and I both have a lot of need for this kind of restoration.  Life is busy and stressful and it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the problems and tasks grabbing for our attention.  In the midst of this, the Message’s translation of Proverbs 4:20-23 is so encouraging: “Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health. Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”

See Dr. Leaf on YouTube or read her book, “Switch On Your Brain

Students Near You

As incredible as those mission trips are in the lives of the almost 3,000 students who attend and those they reach, 95% of our Cru students aren’t able to participate.  Most of them head home for the summer, get jobs and maybe show up at your church. 

We have just the thing to help you walk with them in the Bible through the summer.  A free program called Cru.org/SummerConnect.  Our students will be looking for a location near them to join thousands of their classmates and take bold steps of faith.  Hear what they have to say…

“It really encouraged me to find a home church. It also helped me stay on track when it came to reading my bible and spending time with God. If I didn’t have summer connect I would have fallen into my old habits.”

“At my summer job I was able to bring up the connect series with coworkers and have spiritual conversations.”

Summer Missions

Summer Mission Trip Team in San Diego

Imagine taking 70 of the most spiritually mature, excited college students from around the country and putting them all in one cheap beach motel (6 to a room on old army cots). All the normal distractions of life are replaced with opportunities for spiritual growth and training in outreach. every moment from waking up until late at night is structured to draw you closer to Jesus and to others.

The changes that take place in these students’ lives over 10 weeks will affect their faith, family, career and impact for the gospel for the rest of their lives!  You can imagine why a Summer Mission is BY FAR the best thing Cru has to offer!!

Zach will never be the same!

One student, a sophomore named Zach, had just given his life to Jesus back in December and is the only Christian in his family.  He had a conversation with his mom during the “Killing the Giants” week (a week dedicated to taking monster steps of faith, with an emphasis on bringing up spiritual conversations with the closest or most difficult people in our lives).  He broke down in tears as he shared that his mom basically told him how she’d seen his life change so much recently and that she wanted to learn more about Jesus and this new part of Zach’s life!  

Last year, Zach and 2,881 of his classmates shared the gospel with 63,733 people across at least 40 different countries.  They saw 5,373 new brothers and sisters saved from destruction and added to the family of God!  Please pray for our students and missionaries all over the world this Summer and for the generations in each nation that will be reached because of their faithfulness.

Time With God

Every 4 years, missionaries with Cru are encouraged to take a 30-day “Sabbatical” break from their routine.  I confess that in the 12 years we’ve been on staff, I have not taken this gift, this vital responsibility, seriously.  Until now.

Sabbatical comes from the word “sabbath,” the day of rest commanded by God in the Old Testament and clarified by Jesus.  It is meant to be a check in the rush rush rush of our busy lives to focus on the Lord and revitalize our hearts, bodies and minds.

I’ve made a list of things to focus on (including physical exercise, time in the Word and prayer, creativity and pursuing relationships).  I write this message one week in, and God has blessed everything I’ve attempted and met with me in it!  I have taken long prayer walks, written stories, sat with friends, listened to teachings that have sat on my shelf for years and poured over God’s beautiful Scripture.

Please pray for my heart to stay focused on Him and trusting that God will take care of the rest of life that can easily steal my attention.

Spring Break in New Orleans

     While on a Spring Break mission trip in New Orleans, Cru students Danielle and Abby were engaging people in conversations when they bumped into Ashley. She had been researching and comparing religions for months by now and was unsure about what is true and what is a fairy tale.  She told Danielle and Abby, “The list of things it seems like I need to do to become God’s child just keeps getting longer.”

Danielle replied, “You know, what Jesus is inviting us to is not rules but a relationship. You could become His child right now by putting your faith in the work Jesus did for you.”  She went on to explain how Jesus’ death on the cross and raising from the dead not only pays for our sins but also lays on us the very righteousness of Jesus, and that this is what makes us his children. She modeled for Ashley what it might sound like in prayer for someone to place their faith in Jesus and become his child.

“Does this express what your heart is wanting?” Danielle asked.

“YES!” Ashley said through a huge smile!

It’s because of conversations like this that we love Cru’s New Orleans Spring Break! Pray for Ashley as we connect her with a local church and campus ministry in town. Pray also for the communities the students served with their ongoing Katrina relief and for the many other students who heard about Jesus’ love that week!

Reaching NJ together!

   The semester in NJ began with a leadership Summit at Camp Tecumseh in Pittstown.  More than 50 leaders from across the state gathered together to catch renewed vision and make plans to further God’s Kingdom on campus! Jess and Orland (from Raritan Valley Community College) walked away with a lot of great ideas to impact their campus for the Lord. When asked what their dreams were for the semester, Jess replied, “I’d like to see someone come to know Jesus. We need to do more evangelism on campus!” This is exactly what we love to hear from our students—when they catch the vision and own for themselves what it looks like to reach their campus!  You can hear more about how God is working among students in NJ through this video.

State wide NJ Cru leadership gathering