Cartoons for Christ?

Talk about a “team effort!” God had us link arms with two local churches, a city art ministry (Evoke), and the school’s Christian Filmmakers group to bring Columbian animator Jonathan Hernandez to speak on campus about faith and art.

Jonathan got them laughing as we all shared our favorite cartoons growing up and why we liked them.  He went on to talk about how coming to Christ brought a new purpose to his own art and career.  Students engaged throughout (some, like William below, even stepping outside with Pastor Red to talk more deeply) and hung around afterward with questions.  This has led to several new members (like Daniel on the bottom left) growing in their faith at our weekly bible study as well as plugging in at church!

Please pray that we are able to continue to build bridges with other ministries around the country, and that our college students see that and are drawn to Jesus because of it!

Reaching Professors

Last semester, our student ministry teamed up with Faculty Commons (our ministry to and through professors) to host a Thank-A-Prof outreach. We set up a table and encouraged passing students to write a thank you note to a favorite professor. As word spread that we were starting a “Movement of Gratitude” on campus, students quickly warmed up to the idea of blessing their professors, who are usually only critiqued and evaluated.

The response was GREAT! We collected 162 cards which we’re delivering this semester, giving us the opportunity to meet new faculty and engage them in relationship and gauge their spiritual interest.

Sally, a professor at UF, was asked to rate her interest in knowing God personally from 0 to 10. After some silence, she said “I can’t answer this now but I reckon I’ll need to answer it sometime.” After assuring her of God’s love for her and His desire for her to know Him personally, Sally gladly accepted C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” (my favorite book) and an offer to grab coffee and talk more.  Please pray for Professor Sally and the Faculty Commons missionaries working to reach influential educators like her who open doors for us all over the world.

BROOKLYN UPDATE

Diana Edwards (2nd from the left) helping run a Cru Inner-City food packing event

Remember what God was doing last month in Brooklyn?  Check out this text from Diana: Jeff just came out of a meeting with Pastor Paul, Sasha [new Cru missionary in NYC] and a couple of others. God is about to set Brooklyn on FIRE.  And ur name was the one who connected it together!! The elbow [I called myself an elbow in the body of Christ, connecting heart to hands]!  Pastor Paul invited me to his church plant gathering Friday.  I invited Samantha [another evangelist friend] and her children. Its in her neighborhood!  Look at God!!!! Keep doing what u do!

Pastor Paul and his wife helping to reach students in Brooklyn

Email from Pastor Paul: It was a great meeting. Sam [Jews for Jesus] shared his experiences doing outreach and evangelism on campus and provided a lot of helpful information in terms of decoding the campus. He is also going to work with Cru in providing training to reach out to Jewish students. In terms of next steps, Sasha and Josh are going to set up evangelism training for members from our [church] launch team and then we will go out together on campus. They are also going to work through [a Brooklyn College student] to get a club on campus that will facilitate greater access to students and for follow up. We are also going to create a prayer group that meets at least monthly to pray for the work and the community.  I’m excited!!! I can’t wait to see where God takes this. I was blown a

Sarah and Sasha, part of the new Cru staff team in Brooklyn.

way how God brought all of us together, and you, sir, were the instrument that the Lord used. Jeff, I truly thank God for you and your heart to see His kingdom grow. Keep praying for more like them!

Spring Break Mission Trip ’17

This week our Spring Break Outreaches begin in Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. For 3 weeks, nearly 2,000 college students will be trained in ministry and evangelism, and tens of thousands more will be hearing the Gospel on the beaches.

This is such a strategic time, and YOU can play an easy/awesome part! We will have real-time results and names of people who accept Christ on a daily basis and I would love to be able to get people praying for these individuals by name. Will you sign up here to pray for these new believers in the Lord? I am looking for as many people as possible to be praying with us.
At the end of each day, between March 4th and March 25th, you will receive a list of first names of people who gave their lives to the Lord that very day at Big Break. Last year, 3,858 people heard the entire gospel and 504 precious folks declared a new and saving faith in Jesus Christ! I can’t wait to see what He’ll do this year! Click here to hear about lasting impact from last year.

Reaching Students in Brooklyn

One of my favorite aspects about the Kingdom of God is encountering more of our brothers and sisters who are dedicated to God’s rescue mission.  Pastor Paul contacted me recently about helping to launch a Cru movement at Brooklyn College, and I’ve been so blessed to work with him!

Starting any ministry in the city is no simple task, but it becomes much more natural when p

artnering with God’s children who are invested in that community.  Pastor Paul has a heart for prayer and a powerful vision to reach the young people near his church, which is just blocks away from the college.  He sees it as an opportunity to stretch his church in the area of evangelism as well.  I have been coaching Pastor Paul through the first steps of building a campus ministry, as the NYC Cru team had not yet had capacity to expand to that campus or to work with additional volunteers.  Now that Cru is launching a new staff team in Brooklyn, I am excited to see how Paul’s church can be a home base for them to reach multiple schools for Christ!  Pray for Pastor Paul and the students of NYC!

Campus Ministries Unite

Cru is certainly not the only college ministry operating in the US, and it would be arrogant for us to think we have a monopoly on how to reach students with the gospel.  To the contrary, Jesus said that it is when believers become ONE that the
world will accept our message (John 17:20-21).  The desire to grow and connect is why we were so excited to be invited to the Campus Ministry gathering hosted by Campus Renewal, whose mission is to
bring all the campus ministries together in prayer.

Erik from Episcopal Student Ministries prays with Jeff

Karen and I got to spend 4 days with 50 other pastors and campus ministry leaders at Chic-Fil-A’s beautiful WinShape Retreat in northern Georgia, building deep bonds and soaking in a ton of ideas for ministry. We were overwhelmed (in a good way!) by what God is doing through other ministries, and others were thrilled to hear about our own experiences as well 🙂  It was such a rich time of mutual encouragement and sharpening (see my notes here).

One great connection was with Angel, a recent graduate from University of Florida (UF).  Still processing the difficult emotions from his college friends graduating and going their separate ways, he is facing yet another major transition as he finishes an internship with his UF campus church.  Angel came to Christ from a very tough past, and wants to see the Lord use his gift for preaching to bless others.  He was so grateful for our prayers and pouring into him.  Please pray that we can continue to bless him.

Angel talking with Jeff while Karen talks with Jaleesa

NJ Students Share their Faith

One of the first chances we have to meet new students each year is at a college’s Club Fair.  Many student groups try to draw students in, but few offer the hope of Jesus and a fun/safe community that will walk with them through college and beyond.

In NJ, students (like Ben here from Kean) and staff on about 20 campuses gave out 15,000 items to students.  Bibles, water bottles, bags, and books (like “The Case for Christ”) help connect students to the Gospel through the Scriptures or EveryStudent.com which answers questions about God and spiritual things. Think of that, up to 15,000 students each with the opportunity to hear about the hope they can have in Christ, and to experience meaningful conversations and relationship!

At Rutgers alone, over 150 students connected with Cru through the summer orientation and the club fair.  Some of them were looking for us, including Ray who was involved in Cru at his High School (yes, we have a high school ministry too, and you can help bring it to your town)!  We’re looking forward to the experience that he has to offer to the ministry this year.  Some students had never heard of Cru and were curious to learn more about Christ, including Karina who came out with a friend!  Please be praying for NJ staff and students who are following up with the many contacts we’ve received on campuses all over the state.  Pray especially for our staff team there which only has 4 full-time missionaries representing over 20 campuses!  More than ever, we need you as believers from the local church to step in and help us reach the young people in your communities.  Contact me to explore what this could look like for you personally!

Christian Illusionist?

Magic isn’t necessarily a word that makes Christians comfortable, but once you’ve seen The MAZE you’ll be blown away by how this performance opens doors for sharing the gospel!

Jim Munroe and his team are Cru missionaries that tour the
country, using a unique form of entertainment to draw people into a conversation that breaks down barriers to faith.

At Kean University, the MAZE team performed tricks in crowded picture3areas on campus all afternoon, inviting them to the show. Later that night, there was a line out the door and nearly 300 students attended the event. Jim used math and science to create illusions that not only captivated the audience, but got them to doubt their own eyes and even their life choices. He then blew their minds with his testimony and nearly 40 students indicated decisions for Christ! Praise God! Please pray as we continue to follow up with students.

Cru Summer Missions Around the World

What does Cru do while students are out of school?  Mission Trips!  About 3,000 students participate in over 200 mission trips around the world that focus on deepening their faith through evangelism and discipleship.

On one such trip to Slovenia, our Summer Missions team of 36 students and 8 Cru staff broke new ground by spending time not only in the capital city of Ljubljana, but also in the cities of Maribor and Koper, which house the next-largest universities in Slovenia, respectively.

Picture1During the trip, 9 Slovene students put their faith in Jesus including a girl named Klara who had strong doubts about God’s goodness at first.  The Holy Spirit seemed to be giving her so much understanding, though, and our students got to watch as God transformed her perception of Him through reading His word. Once she was confident in God’s character she could hardly wait to know how to invite Him into her life!

Picture4On top of that, they spoke with 6,751 people and challenged 36 local Christian students to join Cru leadership on their campuses there, including David, a student in Maribor. Before his involvement with Vsak Študent (Cru), he wasn’t sure how to live out his faith in a meaningful way.  After hearing about God’s desire for all nations to know Him and our vision for Slovenia, he thought, “That could happen here?” Now, he is passionate to reach his campus for Jesus!

Picture5Only about 5% of Cru students get to go on a physical mission trip.  1,800 more took part in a digital program called Summer Connect.  Here’s what one participant, Nate, had to say: “Summer is usually a time for me to tend to take a break from evangelism but the faith steps and the outreach have pushed me to take steps of faith in this season and I am so grateful!” Praise the Lord with us!

Reaching Disney World for Christ!?!

Cru Disney Team

Every year over 12,000 college students intern at Walt Disney World. After 4-12 months, they return home to influence over 500 campuses across the US and over 60 countries around the world. These are some of the top students of the world’s next generation of leaders. Some of the greatest issues the world faces will soon be in their hands. Our region of Cru has a ministry at WDW, in hopes that the gospel of Jesus Christ will forever change their lives, communities, and countries around the world!

Chad Willard, is a Cru Intern at WDW this year. One of his many disciples is Cody Fagaragan from Maui, Hawaii. Below is the impact Chad has had in Cody’s life (in Cody’s words)…

Cody from Hawaii discipled by Chad
Cody from Hawaii discipled by Chad

“Before starting my Disney College Program, I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Most of my life I was only told to pray and believe in Jesus without knowing or understanding the purpose of this. It wasn’t until I met Chad that I understood what having a relationship with Jesus is. He taught me so much about Jesus, the Bible, and myself through discipleship with him. What I learned from Chad throughout my College Program was invaluable. Although I had my struggles, it meant so much to me that Chad never gave up on me. I am so blessed and thankful to have met Chad and to have him as a friend.”

Cody's impact for Jesus through WDW
Cody’s impact for Jesus through WDW

Praise God for how he is transforming people, like Cody, with the Gospel of Christ at Walt Disney World!! His story is one of many (this map represents the homes of people Chad has influenced this past year). Thank you for helping us send laborers like Chad to expand God’s kingdom around the world.