Last week, I mentioned teaming up with a friend named Derrick who runs Shattered Studios, an Art & Faith ministry combatting teen depression/suicide. Derrick is one of my closest friends, and I’m thrilled that he’s moved nearby and we are able to serve the Lord together weekly on campus and in the arts.
We go waaay back to sophomore year of college, so it seemed fitting to show you some “then and now” photos. Above you can see Karen, Derrick and I from back during our college and camp days (we reached inner-city kids for Christ through a camp in rural NJ).
Derrick and I also led a college drama & dance outreach team called Spirit Force (yes, I danced). He’s brought that back to our students here at Full Sail, as well as a podcast and game design ministry. Please pray for Derrick!
We mentioned last month how our family enjoys board games and how God has used this as a platform to build relationships with those who don’t know Him. This month, that was taken to a new level!
At Dice Tower Con, a board game convention in town with over 3,000 people, Karen and I teamed up with our dear friend, Derrick, to host an event called “Faith in Gaming.” The goal was to help Christians in this hobby see how God could use them in His great rescue mission with their friends. Tons of prayer went into this event and we had no idea what God would do…
We were thrilled with the turnout and the conversations! As one person put it, “I approached this discussion thinking ‘how can faith be a subject matter in games?’ But hearing everyone’s perspectives opened me to seeing how games create a community, and how simply playing games (any games) can open up deeper conversation! That was something that didn’t really occur to me before but I now see how it can be a great opportunity to build relationships!” Read our notes here.
Please pray for these folks to live on mission through games, and maybe get their churches reaching out that way as well. Great articles on this here.
So, you see the heart we have to help students reach their campuses for Christ and our desire to put that in the hands of churches, but Karen and I can by no means do that alone! We are trying to shift the culture of Cru from doing everything on campus by ourselves to mobilizing and equipping local churches all over the country.
So, I’ve begun training staff teams on the importance and process of building those kinds of partnerships. Johnny and Abby Schuler are a perfect example. Faithfully serving in Miami, my team helped find key student leaders on 13 new campuses in their area this past Fall, way more than this couple could handle. I hosted an online training with them and their interns with delightful response. In addition to coaching pastors directly all over the US, I’ve gotten to host these trainings like this in NJ, NY and MO.
I’m even more excited to introduce you to Ross Olson, who is like me only young and single and traveling all over the country taking this church partnership training to teams in LA, NYC, Boston, AZ, etc. Please pray for our impact together, and the future of our ministry in partnership with the Church!
We believe that agreeing with Jesus’ last supper prayer that we would “be one” is key to seeing the world reached for Christ. We’ve been helping instigate and foster multi-church efforts wherever we can find them. One of my favorite examples of this has been right here in Orlando, called Saturate.
17 “anchor” churches received pallets full of JESUS Film DVDs, gospel booklets and door-hanger bags. Then, 120 partnering churches came and stuffed their own contact information into the bags with the DVDs and took neighborhood maps to make sure they were all reached by churches close to them who can actually be a part of their lives. All the Cru staff joined in yesterday, dropping off 25 bags each in one hour during our “Day of Prayer.” They told us (on average) that one person comes to Christ for every 10 homes reached. As of last night, 543,503 homes in Orlando received the package. Please pray as this spreads to other major cities too!
Karen and I are praying with students and coaching them to build a proliferating movement to saturate their entire school with the life-changing love of Jesus.
This was my role on
a campus a few weeks ago:
“Hey, we’re giving out free pizza in Building E today.”
“Yeah, we’re celebrating Easter with food, music, games, dance and videos. Go check it out!”
“Heck yeah, we will!”
Faculty and staff (like David to the right) help guide the students in navigating the complexities of student activity requirements, while reaching out to their fellow students boldly. Local pastors and volunteers (like Pastor Kortney on the left) are able to disciple the students and invite them into a larger multi-generational community where they can grow.
Pray with us that every Christian student would be made aware of peers on campus who are running with Jesus within days of their arrival on campus, before they have a chance to get sucked into different crowds, or even beforehand as prospective students with the help of parents and pastors from back home, and that they would be bold sharing with friends!
“Does that describe your heart or someone you know?”
I let the question hang awkwardly in the din of teenage horseplay and clacking dominos at this mostly Cuban campus of Miami Dade College. I told them we were “looking for students who love sharing about Jesus but aren’t jerks about it.”
We said something like this over and over during a mission trip my team took to the greater Miami area. We were using a strategy called the Key Volunteer Challenge to find just the right kind of students who could launch an evangelistic movement that would spread from campus to campus across their city. God has used this strategy overseas, but this is the first time we’ve tried it here in the US.
Guess what? God was moving everywhere we went! I heard all kinds of responses to that question (always polite, even if not always helpful), but we ultimately found what we were looking for! Sometimes in a pile of “that’s not me” head scratchers, a name would start to echo around of a friend who was bold in their faith while still loving those who didn’t agree. In those cases, I would get contact information and find that person later. Sometimes in the midst of a band of self-proclaimed atheists, one student would sheepishly raise their hand and say, “that’s me.”
Manny was a student like that. He graciously parted ways with his friends to sit down with me and hear what the Lord was doing in Miami. As Manny and I talked through God’s call on his life, I saw a spark grow into flame. He quickly listed 5 people he would share the gospel with that week and 5 more people with hearts like his that he would invite to join the wildfire movement with him. He even said his Spanish-speaking church would get behind his efforts on campus. Manny was one of more than 40 students on 13 campuses that week who said “yes” to this wildfire challenge. We also connected with 4 churches who want to help!
Cru is active on about a third of the college campuses in the US. In order to get to the other two thirds, we will be coaching missionary and church teams all over the country to do the same Key Volunteer Challenge on campuses near them.
To provide for future expeditions and maintain our ministry, Karen and I need to raise about $8,000 before January 2018 to stay on track as fully-funded missionaries for the upcoming semester. Can you be part of meeting this urgent need? Would you prayerfully consider giving a gift of any amount before the end of December? You can give online at give.cru.org/0589812.
Whether you are able to help meet this need or not, we want to express our deepest appreciation for your partnership. Through your generous giving and prayers, we and many young people have been truly blessed. Thank you for serving with us to bring the gospel to the whole world through college students!
Fall is always a crucial time in our ministry. When even Christian students get to college, 3 out of every 5 walk away from the faith they grew up with, largely because new friends make Christian life seem foolish and lonely.
That’s why we put out so much effort the first few weeks of each semester to welcome all the freshmen to school with lots of fun activities. This year, Karen and I brought the kids with us onto UCF, the largest school in the nation. In the heat and the crowds, we gave out music, videos, comic books and invites to the always popular Cru pancake party! No one could resist the children and we built bonds with students, staff and even other clubs. It was truly a family effort!
That same night, I went out to Full Sail University to team up with InterVarsity and Every Nation at the club fair. Together, we got over 40 contacts, 8 of which came afterward to our joint hangout at Chewy Boba (a bizarre smoothie shop across the street). Pray for more unity like this across churches and organizations!
There are few things as encouraging as spending time with people you have poured into and hearing how they have continued to faithfully follow the Lord’s leading. Mike “Butch” Bucceroni is one
of those stories for us.
I (Jeff) got to disciple Butch at Rowan University, teaching him how to walk with the Lord in college, how to lead, and how to share his faith. Butch became a student leader of the Cru movement at Rowan, pouring himself into younger men before graduating.
Now, Butch has joined staff as a full-time missionary with Cru, serving on our conference team (which puts on events like our Big Break mission trip in March that sees hundreds place their faith in Jesus).
Please pray for Butch, for the financial support team he needs to build, for his impact on others, and for his heart as he steps into this wild new chapter in the adventure God has lain out before him
Chad and Cindy greeted me with gumbo and jambalaya at the door of their beautiful house. They walked me back to their breezy screened-in pool area where other members of their church life group shared their lives and their food with me.
What a great opportunity to get to know other brothers and sisters as I was invited to share about what God is doing in the lives of students at University of Central Florida (UCF) and how they can help us reach and equip these students with the gospel. Their ages varied, but their hearts were ready to be used by Jesus, and they plan to bring “free cookie s and advice” to students with me!
This season has seen many partnerships spring up with churches around UCF.
Our goal is to help Cru everywhere to be even more effective at reaching every student by building a culture of partnership with local churches, but many of our staff around the country are hesitant to try this. What we’ve done with smaller schools may not be enough to convince them, so the work we’re doing at UCF (one of the largest schools in the nation) is vital in helping Cru folks to see how beneficial church partnerships can be for everyone involved. Please pray that what we do here will inspire big things all across Cru and the Church!
I was huffing and puffing, on my way back from the park with my kids. Chicago was calling, and I didn’t want to miss this chance to impact a team of missionaries running ministries on over 11 college campuses across the city.
Still puffing, I popped open my laptop just in time to greet a group of young, smiling faces on video chat. They contacted me because they’d worked real hard to get where they were and just didn’t have capacity to reach any more campuses without the help of local churches. “What do we do and how do we get started?” Over the next 90 minutes I told them about my experiences in NJ and other places, launching and building spiritual movements arm-in-arm with the bride of Christ…
“We are ALL IN!” they declared, excited to see God’s people activated toward reaching more young folks than they ever could on their own. Pray for the Chicago Metro team, and pray for more like them!