What God’s Been Teaching Us

   This is all still very in-process, so I’m not sure I have a nice bow to tie at the end of this topic, but here goes:  As an introvert, I often feel a tension between God’s call to be His hands and feet in the world and my own limited capacity to be among people.  Do I need to change in order to be faithful?  I understand that we can’t always be in our comfort zone, but how do I know when/how to push myself and when/how to rest and recover?  This is a regular topic of my quiet time with the Lord.

     One thing I feel led by God to consider is, “what is draining me about being with people?”  I’ve heard there is healthy, natural weariness that just needs a break, but that burnout is a sign that we’re doing something wrong (kind of like lifting with your back instead of your legs).  I can be drained by people in an unhealthy way when I worry about other people’s opinions. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25). 

     I can also carry the weight of other people’s situations in my own heart.  That’s a boundaries issue–owning other people’s shame, pain, or responsibility rather than simply having compassion for them.  Either way, rest in this situation is to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and “cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

     Putting down those burdens can help, but knowing how to refuel is important, too.  I can idolize “alone-time” sometimes, but what truly refuels us is hoping in the Lord and being filled with His Spirit (Isaiah 40:31, John 7:38-39).  Let’s pray for each other, that we never lose sight of our first love in the midst of trying to care for ourselves and love others well!

HAVING FUN WITH JESUS

Our team of volunteers reaching gamers for Christ at the local convention

Ministry can happen ANYWHERE!  Karen and I had the pleasure and honor of leading this team of missionaries to spread the gospel in the gaming world at a local convention!  Just imagine a room full of people making new friends across gaming tables.  What an incredible opportunity to build relationships with those who don’t yet know Jesus!

Tables upon tables of board games, bringing strangers together as new friends and a chance to shine the light of Jesus!

God was so clearly present as we prayed for people, heard stories of Him at work during our morning devotionals, and actually shared the gospel (I’m so proud of Karen’s boldness and love).  With the community of mission-minded believers we pulled together, we were able to launch a new Facebook group aimed at equipping churches and individuals around the country to reach their neighborhoods for Jesus through a casual game night!  Please pray that this impact continues to multiply.

God Moved at our Staff Conference

I have to admit, I’m always a little intimidated to fly across the country and live in a college dorm again with 5 thousand of my fellow missionaries.  I always encounter the Lord at this staff conference, but the introverted part of me can be overwhelmed.

Steve Sellers, US Dir of Cru, links arms across the auditorium to demonstrate our need for each other.

     When I get there, though, it is like a family reunion.  So many people I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside in storming the gates of Hell on college campuses across the nation, and so many more stories of how Jesus transforms lives in even the darkest of places!

     This conference, I was looking for opportunities to make friends with more Cru staff who have not yet discovered the power of partnering with local churches.  It is amazing how God brought them to me, often when I wasn’t even looking.  One man named Jeff from San Diego found me during a break and was full of questions, saying God had been putting this on his heart.  Another couple was introduced to me in the dining hall when one of our national directors spotted me and dragged me over to the table saying, “this is the guy you’re looking for!”  I looked down to see they had already written my name in their journal :).

     My favorite moments, though, were meeting up with Will, Ryan and Joel.  All three of these guys were students with Cru at campuses I helped launch and are now full-time missionaries!

What God’s Been Teaching Us

     Last week we met with some friends who are witnessing to their community by hosting a weekly board game night.  People who claim they would “catch fire” if they ever entered a church building are opening up to them about real struggles in their lives, and one man recently put his trust in Jesus.  Our friends have been thrilled to see God use something they enjoy to reach people who would be out of reach otherwise.

     The encounter reminded us of when we first discovered the idea of doing ministry in the “stride of life.”  I think most of us tend to think that ministry is something we have to block time away from our daily life to do.  A few years ago, our supervisor gave a talk about living missionally.  We learned that most people who discover Jesus first become friends with a Christian whom they come to trust.  Building trust comes naturally when we spend time with people.  How can we build those kinds of trust relationships?  He pointed out that a common interest can be a great place to start.

     As followers of Christ, we are called to eat with the tax collectors and sinners just as He did.  Who are those people in your life?  Your family, coworkers, neighbors?  Ministry isn’t primarily an event we do with our church while we’re “on duty,” but in the stride of our life, sprinkling the light of the gospel on those we care about.

     Not close with any non-Christians right now?  What’s something you like to do?  Sports?  Gardening?  Books?  It may be intimidating to carve time out for “ministry,” but what about something you’ve been wanting to do anyway?  Try doing it hand in hand with our Lord for His glory.

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.

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.”