What God’s Been Teaching Us

     It seems like everywhere we look lately, the story of Abraham leaving the land of Haran is presented to us, starting in Genesis chapter 12.  There’s a lot we can pull out of it.  God calling us to step out in faith without having all the information is probably the biggest.  In this fallen world of brokenness and unpredictability, we are rarely given assurance about how things will play out.  Instead, our heavenly Father asks us to hang our hopes in His trustworthiness.  He has a good plan, and He WILL accomplish it. 

     That doesn’t mean God expects us to always jump without flinching, though.  Genesis 15:6 does record that “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”  But just two verses later, Abraham voices his doubts: “Lord, how can I know….” The Lord does not get angry with him, but does swear a covenant on His own life to reassure Abraham.  Many times throughout the Bible people beg God to confirm and reassure them, and He responds with love and patience.  As the apostle says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

     PS: Our favorite part of this story though is Gen 18:16, when Sarah denies having laughed at the idea of having a baby.  We always chuckle at the Lord’s matter-of-fact reply: “No, you did laugh.”

Churches Reaching Students

     Each week a Cru team in North Carolina prayer walks two of the 85 colleges in their state, especially those with no known gospel activity. They also reach out to churches in the vicinity of those campuses. Recently, one of those meetings was a tremendous encouragement in our search for local churches who will reach out to the students in their back yard with the gospel.

Pastor Chris greeted us by saying that we were an answer to prayer. The church leadership had been praying for the local campus for over two years.  They’ve been trying to figure out how to have an influence there, but they were feeling stuck and lacking in expertise. As our team heard more about the church’s ministry philosophy and commitment to seeing people become disciples of Jesus, the discussion naturally evolved into partnership.

Pastor Chris is connecting us to a professor and a student in the church who love Jesus and want to have a personal ministry on campus. Our goal is to work together to launch a new campus movement in fall 2021.  Please pray for a successful launch this fall and that God would forge more partnerships like this around the country.

High School Graduates

   A number of people have asked us about resources related to the transition from high school to college, so we felt it would be good to send you this information immediately:

On Sunday, May 16, high school students from across the nation will join us virtually for the National Senior Sendoff called “Faith for the Journey.” This celebration will feature performances, spoken word, and inspirational testimonies from Christian artists and speakers of this generation. It’s a combined effort of Cru and the many other ministries that team up to form EveryCampus.  We’re encouraging high school graduates to seek the Lord and pursue gospel communities during their transition from high school to college.

If you know any graduating seniors (or their parents or youth leaders), please let them know about this event.  Please also pray for students to come and respond to this opportunity, which can make a difference between a path of light or darkness as these young people take a huge step toward independence and who they plan to be as they grow up.

Also, if you haven’t seen it already, the Every Student Sent site can tell you and your seniors if there is a ministry on the college campus that they’re headed to. Just type the name of the college/university into the search bar and it should tell you every active ministry on campus.

What God’s Been Teaching Us

     In an effort to minister better to some neighbors, as well as to grow in general, I (Jeff) have been reading a book called “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” about a man named Nabeel. It was very eye-opening to learn about growing up in a culture so different from my own, and yet see things we had in common as we were both boys growing up in the 80s.

     People tend to think that the major world religions are basically the same, teaching “be good” and “earn a better after-life.” They assume most religions have a similar amount of historical and practical support, so they should be considered, respected, or dismissed equally. It doesn’t take a lot of research, however, to discover out how incorrect that myth really is. For one thing, the Bible and the Quran disagree strongly and clearly about some pretty important historical facts (such as whether Jesus Christ ever claimed to be God and whether He rose from the dead). One book cannot be true if the other is. 

     “Muslims believe that Jesus is no more than a prophet, and to consider him God incarnate would be blasphemy and would cause one to be condemned to hell eternally… I had been repeatedly taught that Paul had corrupted Jesus’ message, misleading billions into worshiping the mortal Messiah.”

     Nabeel shows in his book how the Bible outshone the Quran in every category, but it took years for him to overcome the blind trust in human authorities who had taught him. He said, “I needed a friend, an intelligent, uncompromising, non-Muslim friend who would be willing to challenge me. Of course, not only would he have to be bold and stubborn enough to deal with the likes of me, but I would have to like and trust him enough to dialogue with him about the things that mattered to me most.”  Who trusts you enough to ask you about what matters?

Sent on Mission

   So much has changed in how we do ministry in the past year, but so much has stayed the same. I think of 2 Tim 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” That has stayed the same…individuals pouring into other individuals who pour into other individuals. God is moving in many young people to reach the world for Christ. Daniel and Jake are two examples, as both students have said “YES” to going overseas next year to share the hope they have in Christ in some of the most difficult places in the world. Here’s why:

Daniel

Daniel (going to the Gulf) – “God’s long since put a nudge in my heart to full time service.  In the past, I’ve been held back—how could I dream of serving Him elsewhere if I wasn’t at the moment?  I’ve also felt the fear of leaving a typical career behind and “wasting” all I’ve worked hard to build up.  God has done a lot of work in both of these areas, leading me to more willingly say “yes” to Him, and this year that “yes” has led me to do STINT [one or two year internship] with Cru.”

Jake

Jake (going to East Asia) – “I feel led to go overseas for a year because of the Great Commission. God wants us to make disciples of all nations. The need for people to go far outweighs the need for people to send. I am willing to go; why should I not? My hope is that in this year I will understand my gifts and gain an understanding of how I can best contribute to fulfilling the Great Commission with my life.”

     As Daniel, Jake and many other Cru students are sent from graduation into the world as missionaries (either vocationally or in the workplace), please pray for God’s protection and guidance.  Ask the Lord as well if He might be calling you to represent Him, whether that’s in another country or right across the street.

Demonstration & Proclomation

     “Why are you here?” Anastaci asked. “Most people show up, get a paycheck, and leave.” 

     During Spring Break in Dallas, one group of Cru students got to serve at Mercy Place, a home for teenage girls, many of whom have been sex trafficked, suffer from major psychological issues, and are now awaiting foster care.

            While some students built garden boxes for the teens one sunny day, many of our student women got to engage in spiritual conversations. Three of them sat in the grass outside the home and answered Anastaci’s question by saying, “we’re here because God has loved us so much that we want to share that same love with you.”

That started an incredible conversation and, even though every two minutes a girl would come up shouting that lunch was ready, they were able to share the whole gospel. Anastaci invited Jesus into her heart, experienced the forgiveness of her sins, and had her relationship with God restored! Students all over the world are being equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to share their faith, and we’re seeing students and others in the community come to know Jesus!

What God’s Been Teaching Us

     Have you ever felt kicked while you’re down, judged when you needed encouragement?  As brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our responsibility to lift each other up and point each other toward our Savior, but what that looks like isn’t always obvious.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 lays out an interesting guideline by saying to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” If we treat someone who is one way as if they are another, we can cause more harm than good (something Christians are accused of fairly regularly). Someone who is lazy or stirring up our trouble needs to be confronted in truth and love. Someone who is disheartened needs to be reminded of the strength they have in Christ, not have their burdens carried for them. Someone who is weak and hurting needs our comfort and help, not a warning, a “cheer up,” or any version of “have faith,” “toughen up,” or “someone has it worse.”

Of course, all of that is easier said than done, but how can we tell which to do when?  I believe we first need to remove the logs out of our own eyes to better see other peoples’ situations (Matt 7:3), we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and the right words and actions (John 16:13), and—as the passage says—not jump to conclusions but be patient and listen to our beloved brothers and sisters so we understand them and their situation.

Winter Conference 2021

   8,000 people attended our online Winter Conference, and here is how some said they were impacted.

“God has been showing me over this weekend how HE does the work! Its is our job to plant the seeds in people and tell them about Jesus, but the Holy Spirit convicts and puts in the work!”

“Guess who just shared the Gospel with someone, who also decided to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior!”

“Winter Conference allowed me to connect with other people and share my testimony! One person I connected with decided to dedicate their life to Christ and another has started leading a Bible study on their campus!”

“It was hard moving to a new town during a pandemic. Just when I was reaching my lowest and getting weary of trying to find a church, I visited one more. I met a Cru leader there and this week I went to their Zoom Bible study and they invited me to come to Winter Conference this weekend. I really feel like God reached me at the end of my rope and is bringing me back to His feet!”

You have access to all our talks and seminars at WinterConference.org.

Gospel through Art

     One group of Cru students partnered with 3 other ministries  in their city to host a virtual outreach. “Story of the Soul” looks at pieces of art (poetry, film, music, painting) and asks the question, “What longings do these tap into?” This event has been done by Cru missionaries all over the world, but this was the first time trying it virtually. At the end, we share how Jesus Christ fulfills the longings that these art pieces surface.

     That evening four students indicated that they had decided to put their faith in Jesus that night! Please pray for these four students as Cru staff follow up these decisions, and if you’d like to experience this for yourself, it is part of our “Changing Faces of Evangelism” training that is offered to churches and individuals throughout the year.  Find out more at ChurchMovements.com/develop/#CFE.

What God’s Been Teaching Us

     Do you ever struggle to connect with God during quiet times?  Karen and I have been discovering how simply have pen & paper ready, jotting out our prayers and reaction to Scripture, makes the encounter more real for us.  We’re not the first to do this, of course.  In fact, Augustine of Hippo is one of the first attributed with writing a prayer journal back in the early 400’s.  In the 1500’s, Ignatius Loyola refined the process with a neat 5-step pattern to follow called the “Daily Examen”:

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.

Today, author and pastor Paul Miller helped us incorporate prayer and Scripture even better in his book, A Praying Life.  He says:

“The key was being honest about what I was feeling and then letting Scripture speak to my heart.  By being honest, the real me was talking.  I wasn’t trying to be good.  When we look at our life through the lens of Scripture, we seldom lose our way.  We can be real, but we don’t get lost in our feelings… You don’t have to write well to keep a prayer journal, nor do you have to be consistent.  It is just a written version of childlike praying, except more organized.  Begin with what’s on your heart, what’s bugging you, what you are thankful for.  If you are real before God, then everything else flows.  The act of writing out your worries, joys, and prayers helps you focus and keeps your mind from wandering.  But the best part is that over time you will begin to see patterns of what God is doing, to pick up the threads of a story.”