Hopefully you read our entire letter last month and are up to date with all the changes we’ve been experiencing these past few weeks. We have settled into our new home in Wisconsin and are enjoying all the wonderful things that suburban living offers: kids running through the sprinkler in the grass, not having to leave our house to wash laundry, and driving a car! Life sure is different here!
Having a few weeks now to reflect on our years in NYC, the thing I appreciate most (and often had the hardest time with) was the diversity and density of people. My sense of understanding the world and the people in it, along with my empathy for those who are different from me has grown exponentially.
I was confronted with my envy of those who had “made it,” my self-importance and ability to look at people but not really see them, my disdain for certain people and behaviors...things that had always been lurking inside me but had never been given the environment to be exposed. My view of the Gospel has expanded because as Paul says in Romans 5:20 “as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” I am so thankful for our time in Manhattan and know that the lessons learned there will continue to be important for the rest of my life.
I am looking ahead to the upcoming season of ministry. There is an existing Cru staff team of five that I will be joining, and I will be the only full-time woman. Thank you for continuing your support through our many transitions. I am so thankful to be able to serve the Lord alongside you.
There are 4 main campuses here:
The University of Wisconsin
Winona State University.
Among these schools there are 83 student leaders who are planning to help reach their peers with the message of Jesus this upcoming school year, and almost 400 students who attend bible studies, prayer meetings, and/or worship.
Your partnership in prayer and financial gifts has a direct impact on students hearing the Gospel and growing in their faith. I am excited to share with you all the things the Lord will do this year!
Please pray that our family would find a great new church home and friends.
Also, pray that we would be able to find and purchase a reliable second vehicle in the upcoming month.
This February marked two years of living in Midtown Manhattan. Times Square, the Theater District, Lincoln Center, and Hudson Yards have been our actual backyards. It’s been a life-changing experience, probably more than we realize! Our journey to the Big Apple actually began four years ago while preparing to lead the Alaska Summer Mission. That’s a sharp contrast to reflect upon! This missionary calling is an incredible adventure.
For six months an unexpected change has been developing. Though our energies have been focused on life in the city, God, in his wisdom, was orchestrating something new. It not only involves relocating, but also includes a new vocation for me.
In June we’ll be moving our family to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Kirsten will remain with Cru full-time and transfer to the La Crosse Area team. I will be leaving Cru staff to start a media company that provides strategic and creative services for small businesses.
Saying farewell to NYC feels bittersweet. At a recent city-wide prayer gathering it was particularly evident that God is moving here. I witnessed 60 Cru staff stop from their activities to do the work of praying all day. This group is wholehearted in this mission. Nevertheless, Kirsten and I are excited about this transition to a different, familiar lifestyle and new team. For me, after ten years of devoted ministry to college students, it feels surreal to be writing this.
I planned to serve the Lord with Cru my entire career. It’s an incredible job and outstanding organization. This community has cared for me well and taught me so much. I’m thrilled to soon stand on the other side of this partnership, as you do, to help send missionaries with the gospel.
Vocation is the main driver for this change. From capturing photos in South Korea and Venezuela (album 1, album 2, album 3, bull fights, men's retreat, national conference) to designing and deploying digital and print materials for ministry and marketing in the Northwest, to balancing operating budgets for staff, students, and Cru properties on mission trips, I have always relished behind-the-scenes work. It receives the most positive feedback as well.
The next reason is that we’ve found it difficult to reach full financial support in NYC. Cru holds a wise stance on its missionaries being at 100% of their funding. This ensures staff can focus their energies on the field long-term. It also honors the Lord because his workers are worthy of their wages (1 Ti. 5:18). We’ve hovered around 80% and this has made it challenging for our family to fully engage with the opportunities here.
Here is how you can help: First, pray for rest. We expect a sort of reverse culture shock and imagine “coming down” from urban life will be both relieving and oddly unsettling. Second, Kirsten will continue with Cru full-time, yet this will only be possible with your ongoing financial support. We ask that you maintain your gifts these coming 12 months as you’re able.
We would love to talk with you personally about these changes and answer any questions you may have. Please, feel free to reach out by letter, phone, or email. We love hearing from you. Yes, all 516 of our ministry partners!
Of course, our ministry updates will carry on with Kirsten at the helm. Friends, we hold such a deep gratefulness for your partnership. You are helping to bring Jesus to spiritually lost young people every day. Your investment is changing lives for eternity. Thanks be to God!
We wrapped up our 3rd annual Vision Dinner and God provided for our ministries in some incredible ways! This event combines our five NYC campus teams to raise general funds and grow our local partnerships.
With 1/3 less attendance than the previous two years, we worried about breaking even on the event. However, the result was astonishing. Our gifts tripled!
We’re excited to utilize these to provide all sorts of new opportunities for students around the city. We’re also excited for all the pastors and organizations who attended for the first time and learned more about Cru.
We’ve begun an exciting partnership with an organization that creates a reflective space for faculty to have cross-disciplinary conversations around science and religion.
Our first dinner and discussion at Columbia University was a great success. We had 42 professors attend! They listened to Ian Hutchinson, a nuclear engineer and physicist at MIT, present about science and scientism.
A Q & A followed where he was able to share his faith, talking about first believing in Christ while a student at Cambridge.
Pray that God would open doors for us to have favor and influence in the lives of faculty. These men and women are some of the most significant voices in the lives of students. They also carry great international influence in their fields.
Our teams hosted two weeks of spring break students, totaling 90 visitors. They came to NYC to help us launch campuses and learn about cross-cultural ministry.
My group explored three schools representing 20k students: Fordham Manhattan, Juilliard, and John Jay. These sit next to each other at Columbus Circle on the corner of Central Park.
The week was a success because we surfaced potential leaders at John Jay and the visiting students all took first-time steps of faith crossing cultures with the gospel.
Overall, there were 640 spiritual conversations, 259 gospel conversations, and 26 students prayed to receive Christ!
Our semester began at City College, the nation’s first urban, public university. Located in Harlem at the north end of Manhattan, CCNY is a part of the City University of New York (CUNY), which incredibly enrolls 245,000 undergrads at eleven colleges across the metro area.
We were tabling at their student club fair next to groups ranging from South Asian fraternities to robotics teams to Democratic Socialists. With surveys in hand and smiles on our faces we initiated individually with over 100 students!
Through just 89 surveys we met a myriad of religious and cultural backgrounds: Muslim, Pakistani, Jewish, Bengali, Catholic, Indian, Nigerian, Dominican, Buddhist, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Ghanaian, Christian, Greek Orthodox, Senegalese, Filipino, Atheist, Malaysian, Jamaican, Hindu, West Indian, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Haitian, and Indonesian. Whew! That’s a lot!
We asked them to rate their desire to know God on a scale from 1 being lowest up to 10. Can you believe 34 students chose a 10?! In fact, 60% of the responses were 7 or higher! Ethnicity plays a big role here, however, no one approached us knowing we were a religious club. We simply advertised a prize drawing for an Amazon gift card.
The thirst for God on the urban college campus is profound. The majority of students care deeply about faith. That said, the university setting is incredibly competitive for their hearts and minds.
We’re here as campus missionaries. We step into their world… we cross cultures… and we offer Jesus Christ. At City College the world is already gathered together! Please, pray with us for the day salvation arrives for a multitude such as this!
SALVATION FOR ALL NATIONS
Thank you for following our ministry this year!
Your prayers have meant the world to us.
We're grateful for you.
We braved Times Square for our family photo!
It was a cold morning, yet we beat the crowds and got this great shot.
Here's a behind the scenes vlog of our little adventure!
Betty (NYU) — “When the speaker talked about multiplying discipleship it reminded me of my friend who’s not a believer. I want to take what I heard this weekend back to her. I haven’t known how to talk to her, but I took good notes and I’ll ask God for wisdom on how to share with her.
I’ve also been struggling academically. I’m still getting As, but I’ve been trying to impress my professor and totally failing. It’s kind of embarrassing. It’s made me bitter too. Coming here this weekend has reminded me that God is saying, ‘Don’t try to impress people or strive to be hard working. Just come to Me.’
Looking at my priorities this semester, it seems like I’ve only given God barely five minutes! Now I want God to be my main priority. I’ll still work hard, but do it for Him and trust Him for success.”
Jack (NYU) — “I recently became a Christian. The transition from China to America has been overwhelming, but it’s honestly so nice to be here today. I can wholeheartedly live devoted to God. I can sink myself into worship and the messages.
It’s been so nice to open myself up. At school, you want to avoid opening up about your values because you don’t want to sound judgmental, but here I can be known.”
Sarah (NYU) — “I’m from Singapore. I’m a sophomore. I’ve felt alone. I haven’t known a lot of people. I wasn’t going to come. But being here I’ve found so many people who are ready to talk to me!
I just recovered from having cancer. I feel like cancer was my fault, that I must’ve done something really bad to make God angry enough to give me it. But, listening to the talk during our women’s time healed some of my wounds. I’m so glad that I came!”
As you can see, we had a great weekend away! Pray for these students as they jump back into the fast-paced city life they know and love.
Ask God to help them walk closely with Him each day and to show them how they can share their faith with others.
And... let us know how we can be praying for you! We'd love to hear what's going on in your life lately.
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