A TEXTBOOK PREGNANCY
Kirsten’s doctor appointments have been encouraging. She will report, “He said I am doing great and on track like a healthy momma.” Health-wise, we couldn’t be happier with the pregnancy.
Our second bedroom has been transformed into a nursery. The solid-core door that we use as a desk is now half changing table, half computer station. On the wall, a paper vine with three smiling monkeys hangs above the crib. Beside that is a glider and a nightstand. Kirsten’s nesting instinct is satisfied and we have made a welcoming space for our little boy!
In January, we took birthing and infant care classes at the hospital. Over four weeks we learned about packing a hospital bag to various swaddling techniques to car seat safety. It’s been an anxious time too, with the reality of becoming parents right around the corner, yet we are really excited as well.
READING THE BIBLE TOGETHER
A couple at our church recommended that we use our mornings to read the Bible aloud together and discuss the content. We knew it would be hard to adjust our routine, yet we gave it a try at the beginning of January, as a sort of New Year’s Resolution. Even though our job allows us to spend time in the Bible with students, it’s still easy to personally neglect. Nonetheless, we have kept it a priority each week and it has added a wonderful depth to our daily lives. Our closeness as a couple and with God has increased as a result.
Over Christmas break our region asked us to share the Operations Director role for the 2013 Lake Tahoe Summer Project. We prayed and discussed the position with other Cru Staff and felt like it would be a great fit for us.
After Cru Conference we flew to Denver for training. We spent six days with 300 others who will be leading Summer Projects around the world. Our role involves setting and managing the budget, arranging housing, coordinating project activities and local partnerships, and much more. As part of the leadership, we help to ensure that students and staff are able to realize the project’s vision and goals. We’re excited to be heading to Tahoe again this summer!
Baby Bucher is due March 16th, yet the doctor has commented that Kirsten’s labor will probably begin either right on time or sooner, despite new moms typically going longer. Pray for a smooth delivery and that we all adjust well!
Ivan and Kirsten
“I was encouraged to take steps of faith to go to East Asia this spring break and to really consider going on a year-long mission trip after I graduate.”
This was Adam’s reply when I asked how he had experienced Cru Conference, our annual gathering of students from the Northwest Region of Cru. As Cru Staff, this is the response we hope to hear. We trust that God will speak to students in life-changing ways.
I started working with Adam this fall and I’ve been impressed with how he responds to our time reading the Bible and to challenges I’ve given him. He’s been a believer for nearly two years and is trusting God to use him not only at UM, but in another part of the world.
Adam moved back into the residence halls this fall as a junior, responding to our invitation to become an ‘insider’. He is using this time to learn about his influence in helping other men encounter Jesus. When we meet, we always try to initiate spiritual conversations with his peers on campus, which helps him become more confident engaging others.
At the same time, he is planning to go half way around the world to East Asia for spring break to share about Jesus with those who have little opportunity to hear the Gospel. Last year this same trip saw five women receive Christ, all of whom are now connected to local believers.
Thank you for helping students like Adam respond to God in ways that truly change lives and communities, both here and around the world.
That Adam would find opportunities to share his faith in his residence hall, and for those who experienced Cru Conference to follow through with steps of faith to do what God is asking of them.
Ministry Partners make it possible for us to bring the Gospel to the college campus. Their prayers and financial gifts are helping change lives at The University of Montana, turning lost students into Christ-centered laborers.
We are seeking to invite more people to join our team of Ministry Partners who give on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Would you join our team for $100 per month, or some other amount?
We also have upcoming special needs.
As this year comes to a close, would you consider giving a year-end gift of $100, $500, or some other amount?
We appreciate your heart to tell lost students about the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Your support gives young people an opportunity to respond to God’s love at a critical time when their decisions will set the course for the rest of their lives.
Ivan and Kirsten
I hit ‘record’ on my camera and Schuyler began to share his story of how he came to know Christ. I listened intently and realized that our lives have had a lot in common. We both grew up in safe, healthy homes with loving parents, we both thought we were Christians because we had attended church, and we both chased blindly after the overwhelming freedoms we encountered in college. We each experienced spiritual emptiness in our lives until personally encountering Jesus through Cru.
UM’s annual Forester’s Ball was a rough night for Schuyler. Having just moved in with guys from Cru, and not being a Christian himself, he lied about his plans to go out and drink. He assumed they would judge him for his choices.
However, the next day he felt guilty for lying and decided to apologize. Expecting disapproval, their response caught him off guard. They knew he went to the party and got wasted, but they didn’t think less of him. They valued his friendship and wanted him to realize that being Christians didn’t mean they were above him. They wanted Schuyler to experience the unmerited favor and acceptance that God had offered them.
This was the first time Schuyler had experienced God’s grace in a tangible way. Today, he has become a follower of Christ because God has used students in Cru to show their roommate God’s love. He received God’s gift of salvation out of joy, rather than obligation, because Jesus died for Schuyler even when he was living for himself (Romans 5:8). We’re grateful for your support and prayers for young men like him.
SCHUYLER’S VIDEO: Watch it here
KIRSTEN’S HEALTH: Thanks for your prayers! She is no longer feeling sick and fatigued like she did from weeks 6 to 16.
"A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world and might even be more difficult to save." - C.S. Lewis
Klaire is a freshman who filled out a survey from the first week of school. I knocked on her door in Turner Hall to talk about how she could begin a relationship with God. She soon told me about her life and shared how she had been bullied in high school because of her speech impediment. Today, her highest values are to stand up for others and to always try to do the right thing.
As we talked about Christianity, she had some big concerns. She believes sins are in fact good because they can contribute to developing people into well-rounded individuals. She couldn’t accept that this imperfection separates us from God, or believe that Jesus’ death provides the way to have a relationship with God, because we don’t need to be rescued from sin. She thinks Jesus’ sacrifice only demonstrated his commitment to the cause of loving others and being kind, and that God should accept her because she tries to do the right thing.
Melissa is another freshman I talked to who lives in Jesse Hall. She ran cross-country in high school and is studying pre-med, so we had some things in common. She was very interested in learning about Christianity and I shared the Gospel with her. She had a hard time accepting that people can’t work for God’s favor, despite acknowledging that we all sin, which she agreed probably separates us from God. Regarding the Gospel, she said, “This is not the way the world works. If I put effort into studying, I can be guaranteed a certain grade, but the message you’re sharing with me isn’t the same. I can’t earn it. I need to think more about this.”
Klaire and Melissa represent the kinds of conversations we have on campus every week. The common belief among students we meet is that they can earn their way to God by being good. They hold to a moralistic deism; the idea that an impersonal God wants all people to be good and nice, which is how one gets into heaven, as taught by most world religions (Almost Christian, Dean). Sadly, students like Klaire and Melissa have missed the true message about Jesus Christ, that God desires a personal relationship with them, which can only be received as a gift by trusting in God’s Son, and not by merits through their own achievement (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This reality causes us to spend time on our knees in heartfelt prayer for students who are spiritually lost. Only God can open their eyes to His work of salvation. You can join us by asking Jesus to revealed.
Our biggest outreach of the year is here! We’re giving away UM Griz gear to new students whose names get drawn from our campus questionnaires.
Yet, that’s not the “big” part. We’ll then spend these coming weeks meeting the hundreds of freshmen who have said they’re interested in learning more about God.
This year, 70% (almost 600 students) indicated that they wanted to be contacted about how to know God personally or get connected to our Cru community!
My own introduction to Cru was through this same outreach nearly ten years ago. It provides a platform to begin having spiritual conversations with those who have already indicated that they want to talk about God.
We’re already bringing our returning students with us to share the Good News with this year’s incoming class. Join us in praying that God will meet them and that many will place their faith in Jesus!
WE’RE HAVING A BABY!
Kirsten is happily pregnant and will be due in mid-March. We’re overjoyed and are really looking forward to becoming parents!
Health-wise, she has been dealing with a lot of morning sickness, but it’s been manageable. She plans to continue fully engaging with students on campus.
And, there are ways you can help support the growth of our family. We’ll be sure to let you know more soon!
That God would provide multiple opportunities to present the Gospel to each freshmen, not only through questionnaires, but also through the older students who moved back into the dorms to minister to their peers.
Christina is one of the students I worked with the past six weeks in Lake Tahoe. While there, she befriended a teenaged girl named Tori. Here is what Christina wrote about their time together.
“When I first met Tori, we talked for a while and made plans to meet again. A few days later, we sat at Pope Beach and she told me she hadn't heard from her real dad in two years, and that her mom physically abuses her, which was why she was staying with her grandparents in Lake Tahoe for the summer.
This is one of many encouraging stories from our Summer Project in Lake Tahoe. I’m so proud of Christina’s courage to engage in a spiritual conversation with a new friend. She just finished her freshman year of college and is already learning to share the Gospel and equip a new believer. She can now bring this passion to her campus at Eastern Washington, and anywhere she goes in the future.
For Tori’s new faith, that she would grow into a mature Christ-follower and that Christina would continue to guide and encourage her. Pray also that many freshmen at UM will hear the Gospel this August and September.