The Disney College Program can be a dark place, with pleasure-seeking that leaves many dealing with the consequences of sin. Yet, in the midst of that, God is raising up multiplying disciples to shine a light for Christ amongst a lost generation! They are taking steps of faith to bring hope to the hopeless despite possible rejection and persecution by their peers. Our team is working to share Christ alongside these interns by coaching them in evangelism, resourcing them with relevant new tools and techniques, and spurring them on to boldly be the hands and feet of Christ wherever they go.
One student, Abby, talked about how she had been wanting opportunities to be a light to people while she was in Florida, and that she wanted more from her time in Disney. She said Cru was an “answer to prayer,” and now she is one of Alex and Joel’s student leaders.
One of my favorite partnerships over the years has been with my best friend, Derrick, who created a ministry called Shattered Studios, which seeks to combat teen depression by creating fun content about their favorite movies, video games, and “geeky” stuff. Derrick and I (along with another dear friend named John) were invited to host a seminar at the upcoming convention LoveThyNerdCon, and chose to speak about why and how people can reach their gamer friends for Jesus. I’m hoping we’ll be able to post the presentation online for you all, but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what we’ll be teaching…
We also were able to share with them a strategy called the “Sometime” Question. In the future, we hope to develop and share even more resources for helping young people explore their faith in the field of entertainment.
Zach’s drinking had started to become more of a “Monday through Sunday” thing. Sobbing in his bed, feeling unfulfilled and without a future, Zach texted Trevor, his older brother, “I’m so sick of this lifestyle.” Trevor’s reply? “Go to Cru.” Trevor had encountered God through Cru a few years earlier. At the time, 16-year-old Zach couldn’t understand how Trevor had been able to change from the angry brother he’d known his whole life.
Feeling empty, doubtful, conspicuous on that unseasonably warm Minnesota night, Zach walked into a church where students had gathered to experience Cru’s virtual Winter Conference. He heard the band playing a song tailored just for him, and the weight fell away.
“Like a toddler in a new world,” is how Zach sums up his spring semester experience of salvation, discipleship, Bible study, church … “ups with a few downs,” the downs dwindling when he moved out and away from his party friends mid-May, opting instead for gym workouts and basketball. “You can’t have one foot in and the other out.” He even spent four weeks of intensive evangelism and discipleship at North Myrtle Beach Summer Mission, and came back ready to reach others.
Back on campus, Zach met up with some of his old buddies, enduring their taunts of “Preacher Boy,” and agreeing with them, “You’re right. I’m not better than you. We all need help.” Zach’s been asked to leverage some of his newly discovered gifting, helping Cru reach out to other students, initiating Christian community in the dorms, and emceeing Cru’s weekly meeting. Pray for Zach to grow steadily from “spiritual toddlerhood” to a leader, firm in his faith.
One of our goals with church partnership is to go where the gospel is not. With at least 18 registered Christian clubs, University of Washington is not one of those places. However, in the same metro area, there are twenty-one campuses that have NO KNOWN ministry presence! What an opportunity to do something new, and to work together as Jesus said the Church should (John 17:20-23).
This September, as part of a training, we are arranging for Cru leaders from all over the country to meet with churches that are in close proximity to several of those “unreached campuses.”
We’ll also host a lunch panel for college and young adult pastors in the area so our Cru staff can learn more about how the local churches are ministering to young people, and to build a network for these pastors to lift each other up and reach the city together.
After the event, it’ll be my honor to follow up with each church and guide them toward efforts of evangelism and discipleship with the college students in their own back yard. Please pray that the Lord uses this as only He can, and that we are able to bring similar united efforts to many other locations.
One of my friends has been deeply studying the Jewish roots of the Bible. I applaud this while also recognizing potential danger, just as there is a danger in heavily engaging with any non-Christian community without remaining strongly connected to believers. Non-messianic Jews today believe a lot of the same things that the Pharisees believed in Jesus’ time, the ones who rejected Him as God’s Messiah and handed Him to the Romans. Studying the case for why we can believe that Jesus is the Messiah is an awesome and fascinating journey (this book is a good place to start).
Lest they should say that these passages were corruptly added later, I point to the sheer volume of passages that would have to be changed, the fact that we have manuscripts that date back to less than 100 years after the authors, and a fact on which Christians, Jews, and Muslims agree: God would not allow corruption into His Word.
You can go deeper into proofs of the resurrection with Dr. Gary Habermas. As Tim Keller says, exploring your doubts is a great way to grow your faith and relationship with God. Be sure to do it alongside trusted friends in the Church, though. Don’t go it alone.
Some of you already know that Karen has been struggling with chronic pain for many years. We have been to so many doctors, and been prayed for and over by so many people. We’ve heard from both medical and spiritual experts that something more seemed to be going on than could be detected. We confessed sin, believed in God’s healing and love, rested in His peace, allowed his grace to be sufficient, and set our eyes on eternity ahead, but it still didn’t change the fact that Karen’s pain stood in the way of a lot of the life and ministry we wanted to pursue here on earth.
Over the summer, at another seemingly dead-end doctor’s visit, our attention was drawn to a book on the display that promised a “cure for chronic pain without surgery or drugs,” which struck us as odd in an urgent care facility. We were encouraged to learn that the author, Dr. Brady, is a hospital MD, is a Christian, and had done rigorous research on how the body, mind, and spirit are connected (largely to pursue his own healing for years of mysterious chronic pain). Cautiously hopeful, we saw the book was only $2 on kindle, so we gave it a try.
The author quoted Sir William Osler who said, “the great physician treats the patient [not just the disease].” He also cites THE Great Physician, and refers to King David’s heavenly doctor appointment in Psalm 38, where he links his physical ailments (back ache, heart palpitations, weakness, and vision problems) to his emotions (his guilt had overwhelmed him). David’s solution is to dig out and express those buried feelings to the Lord and then entrust his life firmly into God’s hands: “Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.”
The life stories and advice in this book resonate with us. Please pray for Karen, as she follows Dr Brady’s and others’ advice by diligently digging out the buried emotional sources of her physical pain and laying them out on the altar.
Those of you who have followed us a long time may remember Eric from our mission to reach students in Los Angeles back in 2014. Even after he graduated from college, Eric and his family were a great blessing to the ministry, and to us personally when they hosted me on several trips to CA.
During the pandemic, we lost touch. When we finally did get back in contact, Eric told me that his life had drifted far from the Lord. It started with spending more and more time with non-Christian friends and less and less with his church community. He gave me permission to share that a series of bad choices led to sin and eventually being arrested. All kinds of feelings flooded my heart, and lies of the enemy tried to steal the joy from all the good God had done through us together. But, God is not done with Eric (will never give up on Eric), and neither will I.
When I spoke with him, Eric wasn’t sad but happy! He said that this was the wakeup call he needed. He was shocked to realize how dark his own heart is apart from the Holy Spirit’s lordship, and he wants to use this clarity to rebuild a path of walking with God and His community. Pray for Eric’s future!
Everyone in Estonia knows the name Tiidrek Nurme because Tiidrek is fast… really fast. He was just awarded Estonia’s athlete of the year and is competing in the Olympics. Tiidrek loves to run but he also loves Jesus and represents his Savior to those around him. For him to get where he is today, he needed people around him to inspire him and help him train. One of our ministries, called Athletes in Action, focuses on pouring into athletes like Tiidrek, who in turn influence entire nations. Here’s what Tiidrek said about the impact Cru has on him:
“My career as an athlete has not been some sort of individual project, but a team effort. A sports chaplain with Cru, named Nick, is a key team member. Nick’s presence in my training camps and competitions is one of the secrets to success. In the sports world we have lots of attention on results, records and achievements. It is easy to get lost in those things. Thanks to Nick, I am more focused on Jesus. He has a very sensitive heart to the Holy Spirit. That makes his faith in Jesus attractive! I am very thankful to Jesus to know Nick. I believe God brought our ways together!”
We have been so proud of our son’s involvement with Cru Middle School this year. Not only has he been motivated to attend—even giving up other fun activities so he wouldn’t miss it—but he’s been asked to emcee, lead the game, and even teach on occasion.
For the final meeting of the year, Arthur teamed up with 3 other students to teach on “how to thrive in your walk with God over the summer.” They worked from this Cru Bible Study, and took turns teaching the different sections. Their premise was that “we start to grow in our faith as we learn more of Jesus and his love for us. This study explores some of the ways that growth happens in our lives.”
They studied Acts 2:42-47, which describes the first days of the Church (and which Karen and I have used to teach college students about what a Christian fellowship should be like). They learned that the first Christians grew by listening to teachings about God and spending time eating and praying together. They saw evidence of growth as the believers shared their faith and more and more people came to a saving faith in Jesus.
They also taught the group how to study the Bible on your own, by sandwiching their reading with prayer, and journaling about the passage with 3 questions:
1.) What does this say about God?
2.) What does this say about me (or people in general)?
3.) What can I do to apply what I’ve learned to my life?
Would you pray for Arthur (and students at every level) to stay strong with the Lord over the summer?
For the last 9 months, I’ve had the honor of pouring some of the best training Cru has to offer into an energetic young intern named Jon. It has been an incredible time of getting to know this gifted warrior for the Kingdom, and I have learned at least as much from the process as he has.
Jon has served with Focus on the Family, Josh McDowell, and now is the personal assistant to the president of FamilyLife. He’s open, kind, and passionate. Like Karen, he’s never met a stranger, and people are quickly blessed by an encounter with him. I myself have been blessed to help him grow deeper in how to share his faith, build up leaders for the gospel, and understand the journey on which God is guiding him.
Jon has never been shy about sharing how God delivered him from a life of pornography, and has used that to help rescue many others. We discussed his dream of working full time to fight for purity. Now, God is blessing him with an opportunity to work for Pure Desire Ministries, the folks whose resources God used to transform his life. He’s had an unbelievable journey serving with powerful ministries in Colorado Springs, Dallas, and Orlando; now he’s packing to cross the country again for Portland. Please pray for Jon and those he’ll reach!