Preparing our Youth

   One joy this spring has been training a new team member (Mark on the bottom right), who has been learning the ropes of equipping and partnering with churches. He has a big vision to see Cru students return to their home church youth groups to let the high schoolers know what to expect when they get to campus (some of the dangers as well as how God can use them). Our goal is to create a training package so Cru around the country can bless local churches.

     We’re starting with a few cases, and Ezer and Ryan are an awesome pair of Guinea pigs :).  Ezer tried to tell Ryan about Jesus when they were in high school.  When Ezer got to college, he discovered that Ryan (a year older) had put his faith in Jesus and gotten highly involved in Cru! Now the two of them are excited to share their story and experiences in churches to help high schoolers stay strong in running for Jesus now and when they get to college. Would you pray for Ezer, Ryan, and the others stepping up to be used by God, and for the next generation of upcoming students they are trying to reach?

A New Way of Ministry

     Around the world, thousands of our college missionaries are off balance with the COVID-19 crisis, separated from the students they’ve been discipling and from the campus mission field to which they’ve been called. It is an interesting time for our team, however, who is used to coaching students all over the world over the phone and internet.

     This month, I was part of a 4-person team that coached 93 of our ministry leaders in how to prepare and run digital discipleship calls, virtual bible study tips, and 3 tools for sharing the gospel online (with strangers, friends, and as a group).  The recording has been circulating through grateful staff who have never considered ministry in this format before, and God has been conspicuously involved–we had already recently been preparing a training page for our staff on distance coaching! 

     One tool I want to highlight with you is Voke.  Originally designed as an app to help teenagers share gospel videos with their non-Christian friends, they’ve now developed group video studies with a communal space for answering discussion questions.  This has been an awesome tool for youth groups, especially while they are unable to meet directly, and puts evangelism into the hearts of those who’ve never considered it before.

What God’s Been Teaching Us (Lockdown Grief)

     Our leaders in Cru have been working hard to make sure all of us college missionaries are cared for as we pour out to so many others.  While we’re keenly aware of how much we have to be thankful for—and we know it’s right to keep our eyes fixed on things above—we also recognize that life’s no picnic for anyone right now.  We need to process what we’re experiencing in order to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5).  They’ve talked a lot about paying attention to how we are feeling, and have been helping us walk with the Lord through this time.

     In an incredible article called “Lockdown Grief,” we’re encouraged to go through a process of acknowledging, welcoming and expressing our feelings that helps get them from silently influencing us and into a state where we can manage them and even use these experiences and feelings for God’s glory. The Psalms are a wonderful guide God gave us for how we can worship Him with not just our praises, but our petitions, our pleas, and our pain. If we feel it, God wants to hear it. The article encourages us not to minimize our loss by comparing ourselves to those who may have it worse. “Big” or “small,” you have lost something!

     This was my favorite paragraph: In grief and fear some are tempted to avoid, ignore, or numb the pain through binging Netflix, gaming, turning to alcohol, substance abuse, etc. Brené Brown reminds us, “when we numb the dark, we numb the light.” Grief invites an “evade-encounter” dance. You need some levity in these uncertain times (evade), yet you must also face the realities and impact of your losses (encounter).

     It goes on to encourage us to express our feelings through conversations, journaling, exercise, sport, and art. “Grief needs movement to heal…. Some studies show that moving the body actually helps move the mind and soul as well. These outward expressions help soften the immediate emotional intensity and provide glimmers of hope.” As we’ve taken daily walks, the natural world around us has reminded us that God is still in control, and we can rest in His care (Job 12:7-10)

3 Tools for Digital Evangelism

During a time when people are forced apart because of the COVID-19 virus, my team at Cru put together resources and training to help people do discipleship and evangelism from their computer. I was tasked with the evangelism piece and I interviewed the designers of these 3 awesome tools!

I. With friends/family: From Barry Warren of Perspective Cards

  • BEFORE:
    • Ask them the SOMETIME question.  Maybe script it like:
      • “I know it’s tough to be isolated but…
      • sometime I’d love to do like a video chat with you…
      • I wanna hear about your perspective on deep life stuff
    • Review the MyPerspectiveCardResults.com website and download the app
      • Read the backs of the Christian cards that have white arrows on them
      • Consider how your own story matches those Christian cards
  • DURING:
    • Set up a video chat and send the link.  Have them click “next” and say something like…
      • I’d love to get your thoughts on… (the current topic).  Which card best represents your view?
      • Tell me more about that?
      • What brought you to that belief?
    • BONUS: Follow along in the app and put stars on the cards they choose.  Then, you can send them their results afterward.
    • After you’ve heard and dialogued about each of their choices, go back to the Christian cards of each topic (click the white arrow in the top-right) and say something like…
      • I’d love to get your thoughts on my perspective too (or what the Bible says)
      • What do you find easy or difficult to believe about this view of… ?
    • As the Lord leads, invite them to consider one of the prayers.
  • AFTER:
    • Learn about the different roles you can take in your friend’s life as a CoJourner
    • BONUS: If you sent them their results from the app, click on it yourself and look for what articles there (or on EveryStudent.com) are relevant to share with them over time and continue to “get their thoughts.”

II. With new people: From Marilyn Adamson of EveryStudent.com

  • Browse https://www.everystudent.info/fb/twitter.html or EveryStudent.com (~800 people per day accept Jesus while on this website).  Make note of the various topics and read a few articles that seem relevant to you.
    • Consider sharing articles in your social media channels, saying something like “this encouraged me when I really needed it today!”
  • Reach out to people in your “friends” lists in Social Media or meet people in online communities you enjoy (sports teams, marvel movies, etc).  Ask them…
    • How are these circumstances affecting you personally and how I be praying for you?
    • What helps you cope with the stress? 
    • Did you grow up believing in God or part of a church?  What about now?
    • I’ve been learning some things about God that have really encouraged me through all this.  Would you mind if I shared (an article, or this website, or my story, etc)?

III. As a group: From Kyle Yates of Voke

  • Download the Voke App and Choose Your Adventure (video series)
  • Create a Group (maybe the Freshmen, or your small group), then share your 6-digit Adventure Code to add students to your Voke Group in seconds.
  • Pick a time you will all watch the first video and discuss.  Though you can all watch the video and answer the question at your own time, it can feel even warmer to see the responses coming in in real-time.  Try Doodle for scheduling availablility.  Rinse and repeat with the rest of the series at your chosen pace (weekly, daily, etc).
  • Challenge them to take a group of people through an adventure themselves (dorm floor, sports team, etc).

FURTHER READING

Our Digital Ministry experts have put together a great variety of training and resource options. Browse this page and find where you’d like them to engage with you and your community.

CHURCHES TO LAUNCH A CITY

Pastor Jesse and Sarah are
expecting their first baby!

   This month, I got a call that set me on a whole adventure with a city I had barely thought about before.  Pastor Jesse contacted me from Jacksonville saying that he and his church want to partner with Cru at the University of North Florida.  They are a passionate, discipleship-oriented church with a real heart to empower students to reach their schools. 

     I checked in with the local Cru team there, and found that in the whole city we were down to only one missionary, Robert, who is part-time and only about a year outside of college himself. He was thrilled to have local churches get involved!

Robert from Cru at UNF

     It was a perfect match and Robert has already begun taking Pastor Jesse and his team out sharing the gospel on campus. I’ve since been able to plug in 4 more churches around the city, with the potential for several more.  We sent an expedition team to surface student leaders at several other colleges in Jacksonville, and are going to coach them and these churches how to launch new gospel movements!

Doctrinal Affirmations

I recognize that there is only one true and living God Exodus 20:2-3 (who exists as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and that He is worthy of all honor, praise, and worship as the Creator, Sustainer, and the Beginning & End of all things.  Revelation 4:11,Revelation 5:9-10, Isaiah 43:1, 7, 21

I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us John 1:1, 14I believe He came to destroy the works of Satan 1 John 3:8,  that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them.  Colossians 2:15

I believe that God has proven His love for me, because when I was still a sinner Christ died for me.  Romans 5:8I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

I believe that I am now a child of God 1 John 3:1-3 and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies.  Ephesians 2:6I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift and not the result of any works on my part. Ephesians 2:8,

I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Ephesians 6:10I put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3The weapons of my warfare are not of the flesh.  2 Corinthians 10:4I put on the whole armor of God, and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one  Ephesians 6:10-17.

I believe that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, Matthew 28:18, and is the head over all rule and authority.  Colossians 2:10. I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ because I am a member of Christ’s body. Ephesians 1:19-23I therefore obey the command to resist the devil, James 4:7, and I command him in the name of Jesus to leave my presence.

I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing, John 15:5, so I declare my dependence on Him.  I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify the Lord.  John 15:8I announce that Jesus is my Lord, 1 Corinthians 12:3. and I reject all idols and counterfeit gifts of the enemy in my life.

I believe that the truth will set me free, John 8:23 and that walking in the light is the only path of fellowship. 1 John 1:7Therefore, I stand against all lies by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5. I declare that the Bible is the only authoritative standard 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and I choose to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15,

I choose to present my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living and holy sacrifice, and renew my mind by the Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect Romans 6:13Romans 12:1-2.

I ask my heavenly Father to fill me with His Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 to lead me in all truth John 16:13and to empower my life so that I may live above sin and not carry out the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16. I crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit.  Galatians 5:24.

I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love. 1 Timothy 1:5 With God’s help, I choose to obey the greatest commandment, to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself.  Matthew 22:37-39.

(excerpted and derived from “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil Anderson)

NJ Student Leaders’ Planning

     For each Cru missionary in NJ, there are about 42,000 college students they’re trying to reach!

     They can’t do it without the help of church partners, and one way they maximize their effort is bringing student leaders from around the state together to learn from each other and plan their semesters of ministry. This year, over 50 student leaders from at least 11 campuses came out.

     One student, John Delgado from NJIT has been discipled by a former student, Joel, whom I discipled myself a few years back!  John had this to say about his experience at the Summit:

     I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the work you Cru staff put into organizing. I thoroughly enjoyed the speakers and activities, took a ton of notes, and learned so many valuable things which I will take with me the rest of my life. Most importantly, I was inspired to become a more faithful and committed servant in the Kingdom of God to bring the good news of salvation to others!

Please pray for John, the other student leaders, and the Cru missionaries in NJ and around the world!

What God’s Been Teaching Us

  There was no particular reason, but I (Jeff) just didn’t make the turn right this time.  I pulled into the parking spot and heard a shocking “crunch” as my car smooshed itself on the next car’s tire.  Ugh!  After at least 20 years with no car incidents, I knew my plans for the day were taking a radical change.  All kinds of things went through my head as I saw only a minor scratch on the other car (is this really a big deal?), but calling the police was the only right choice (Titus 3:1-7).

     They responded quickly, and they were tough but fair, and the other car’s owner was polite as could be expected for the hassle she didn’t ask for or cause.  The officer even said, “I applaud you for doing this right.  So many people take off.”  It could have been a lot worse, and I know God’s hand was in it… but it still left me shaken.  I felt like a terrible driver, I felt guilt for the other person.  I felt overwhelmed by all the work and cost ahead on top of all the regular burdens of life.

     I definitely haven’t put a bow on this story (which as I write this happened yesterday), but I know the truth that none of this is a waste.  God is with us in every circumstance, whether green pastures or valleys of death (Psalm 23:4).  If He is with me and He is in control, then even the good things that are delayed because I mess up fit within His plan, and He will use even this to make me more like His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

     May we not be so busy with our own plans that we miss out on what God wants to do with us.

Elevate Conference

   “I had never worshipped in my own native language before!” That was one of the many exclamations reported by students who attended our Destino Winter Conference in Irvine, CA this month. Destino is a ministry of Cru working to help Latino students discover Jesus in the context of their own culture.

   One highlight for me was hearing from Joel Silva, who discovered Christ through Cru, launched ministries as a missionary with Destino and now serves as a local pastor at a bilingual church that continues to partner with us to bless college students. It was amazing to watch him encourage the local Hispanic churches who attended in order to learn how to reach the next generation. I had a great time connecting with students and pastors alike. This is Cru working at its best, walking with the bride of Christ, empowering for evangelism and discipleship in the area which we specialize.