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.
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!
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.
I was reading this morning in Acts chapter 4, where Peter and John are called in to see the top Jewish religious leaders—the ones who had their master put to death—to explain themselves for preaching in Jesus’ name. Two things stood out to me.
First, it says in verse 8 that Peter responded while “filled with the Holy Spirit.” In the world today, it can be hard to know whether people are really speaking from God or from themselves, but here the Bible definitively says that these words were from God. My heart leaned forward to see just how the Holy Spirit would sound and what I noticed was how bold and confident Peter was. If it were me, I’d be trying to persuade and convince these—my spiritual supervisors—to agree with what I’m doing, or to at least not see it as something causing trouble that they should try to stop. Not Peter! He talks to them with the kind of authority my kids use when they’re delivering a message to each other that starts with “Dad says…” Peter makes no apologies or compromises. He’s following orders from higher up the chain of authority.
The other thing that stands out is that the rulers made note that Peter and John had spent time with Jesus. That, I believe, is what we each need to focus on for ourselves so that we can be used by God like they were.
Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. — Philippians 1:4-6
We mentioned last month how we’d been gearing up for an enormous gospel opportunity called The Send.
Lots of powerful things happened as over 60,000 believers gathered in Orlando to be thrust out into the mission field and to pray that God would keep sending more and more. 509 people put their faith in Jesus that day while thousands committed their lives as missionaries.
I got to help man a table for Cru and walk around the stadium praying for people and handing out resources to help them connect with missions opportunities around the world. One of my favorite encounters was with a young man named Joey. He said, “Are you a missions organization? I want to got to Nicaragua. Can I go with you guys?” I sent him information about our team in that country as well as the folks who lead mission trips there. Pray for Joey and for the many others God is touching through this event.
On top of the event itself, we are working with 300 volunteers to reach 30 new campuses around Florida. They will be walking on campuses in search of students whom God has called to lead a movement of the gospel at their school. My team will then coach them and plug them in with local churches who can propel them toward all God wants to do. Would you join us in prayer for these volunteers, churches and undiscovered student leaders (as well as the many thousands who will be impacted by their lives)?
Lupe, Victoria, and Julie are Hispanic students engaged with our Destino ministry in San Antonio. This month, they attended the Destino Winter Conference here in Orlando, which Karen and I were able to help by connecting local Spanish-speaking churches. They met with hundreds of fellow missionary-students to grow in Christ and learn how to better make Him known on their own campus. They were able to share the gospel here in the city and were inspired to do more.
Because of the training and the outreach at the conference, they came back with a new heart to reach the community around their church. They got permission from their pastor to have Destino come and train the church in evangelism. The training and outreach are now planned for March.
This is just the sort of unity Karen and I are working toward. These students are on fire for the Lord and they are gaining leadership and evangelism experiences that must be shared with the Church as a whole. Only together will God complete the task Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-21. Please pray for Lupe, Victoria, Julie, their campus, church and community. Pray also that more students and churches would bind together like this!