Just the other day, Karen and I were blessed to participate in a Global Day of Prayer alongside Cru missionaries and partners from around the world. While previous iterations have centered a lot around what God is doing and what we’d like Him to do across the various ministries, this time was much more intimate and relational-focused. We prayed through Larry Crabb’s PAPA Prayer journey, which consists of Presenting yourself to God (as you are, not as you’d like to be), Attending to how you have been viewing God wrongly (ex. as a vending machine or a tyrant), Purging yourself of the things you’ve placed as higher priorities than God, and Approaching the throne of your loving Father in silent contemplation and relationship.
As we explored each of those steps in depth, I uncovered and really invited God to deal with some of the issues in my heart. One issue is the pride with which I can gauge people against myself as the standard. Too often I apply a version of “anyone driving faster than me is a maniac and anybody driving slower is a space cadet” to all kinds of issues. As I seek to partner with people from many different cultures and denominations, I need to check my heart for the humility to look for how I can learn from others (Phil 2:3).
I also explored how quickly I rush past the hard feelings of a situation to find solutions. Karen and I spent a long time just acknowledging the difficult feelings and experiences we’ve had, without trying to solve or mitigate them (Romans 12:15). It was a refreshing time of unity and growth!
One Cru summer mission trip took 14 high school students and two college students to Manta, a city on the coast of Ecuador, helping our national staff there expand to this new part of the country.
In just ten days, they gave 160 classroom presentations and saw 1,722 students (as well as several teachers) put their faith in Christ!
One new believer, Justin, came to church that Sunday with the team. On Monday, he asked to come to the next gospel presentation. By the end of the day, he was sharing his testimony with his peers and leading them through a prayer to invite Jesus into their own hearts! Please pray for Justin to continue to grow in Christ and impact others with his newfound faith. Pray also for the ripple effects of all our 200+ mission trips from this summer.
No doubt about it, the first weeks of school are the most important for reaching new students. Watch this video from the perspective of our Rutgers student leaders (pictured right): https://youtu.be/FFjtWqlkiQw.
Micah (pictured below) was a new student last year. He met a Cru student, Kevin, the first week of school during a freshman outreach. Micah told Kevin he grew up as a pastor’s kid and knew “all that church stuff,” but wasn’t sure he believed it all…
Kevin discipled Micah almost weekly that whole semester, but was discouraged that he hadn’t seen any “improvement” in Micah knowing Jesus. It was humbling, realizing his own efforts alone were not enough. Micah came back from Christmas break hungry for what the Bible said and desiring to be in community with other Christians, but shared that his girlfriend was making decisions that were putting Micah at a crossroads to either follow her or follow Christ.
Two weeks later, Micah said that after church he was sobbing on his knees and asking Jesus to be Lord of his life. He broke up with his girlfriend and decided to go on a Cru Summer Mission at Walt Disney World here in Orlando! Here, he got to witness to coworkers from around the world. Micah is back on campus now and God has been revealing a gifting for evangelism. Pray for Micah and for this year’s freshmen!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.