“This past year has been a whirlwind. I’ve lived in London, Nashville, Mumbai, and New York. I’ve had moments of pure happiness and desperate heartbreak. Through the highs and lows I’m learning to trust God and grow in my faith.
If you had asked me a year ago what I wanted to do with my life I would’ve confidently told you that I planned to work in the NYC music industry. But honestly, I have been running away from God.
I grew up in the heart of the Bible belt. At home, at church, and at school I was taught the Christian faith. I never questioned it because nothing contradicted. I didn’t understand the significance of the gospel because I had no reason to doubt it. Then my summer capped off a year of challenges.
While sharing my faith on NYC campuses I was quickly frustrated. I met Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, and more! After one week I was spent. I didn’t know how to back up what I believed. I couldn’t answer when people asked, ‘Why do you believe Jesus is God?’ I didn’t know why I believed beyond the truth that Jesus loved me.
I immediately began questioning my beliefs. I felt like the father in Mark 9. He asks Jesus to heal his son and Jesus says, ‘All things are possible for one who believes.’ The father responds, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ THAT WAS ME! I wanted so desperately to fully believe. But had to say to God, ‘I need your help!’
God acted quickly clearing up my serious doubts within a few days! My questions drove me back to Him. Because of my time with Cru, I’m no longer someone who isn’t capable of explaining what they believe or why they believe it. I still don’t know all the answers to all the questions. Yet, today, I am purposefully joining in life with Him. God is the only thing I desire to chase.”
David was running out of time. He needed to gain access to a Manhattan campus within the hour. His spring break visitors from the South would arrive any minute. David was trusting God to literally open doors for them to share their faith at a college we hadn’t seen success at in years.
No one in David’s network had responded. The outlook was bleak. Then, while en route on the subway, he received a text from a friend of a friend who had the credentials to pass security. This person would be available to meet his group and ensure they wouldn’t be turned away.
Most Manhattan buildings don’t allow people to walk in off the street. You need a special ID, a host, or an appointment. Once on campus, you must be ready to explain to anyone why you’re there. We tell them Cru is a Christian ministry serving the campus as a spiritual resource for students and faculty.
This brings up an important question. What is a good way to tell people you’ve just met about Jesus? Answer: embrace the awkwardness. Moving through it is the main friction holding us back from meaningful conversations. So we challenge our students, “Are you willing to feel awkward for Jesus?”
Next, they need to know what to talk about. We’ve created all kinds of tools ranging from conversation pieces, to questionnaires, to interviews, and gospel tracts. People love being asked what they think. They also respond well when we listen well.
David’s group spent their day striking up conversations in a cafeteria. Many had never heard the gospel and two students prayed to receive Christ on the spot. Over three weeks with 180 spring break visitors we witnessed 32 NYC students put their trust in Jesus at 17 different campuses!
What does an average day look like for the Buchers? Well, it varies! Here are me and Kirsten’s weekly Position Focuses:
Continue raising personal funds. We’re entirely funded by individuals and churches who want to give the gospel to college students. With NYC’s considerable cost of living, we still dedicate 20% of our time to growing and cultivating this support. We have 140 financial partners and over 500 praying!
Lead the NYC Summer Mission. Every summer Cru hosts over 200 mission trips around the world! Students will grow as much in a summer as they would in a whole school year. We train them to share their faith, deepen their walk with God and Christian community, and develop a personal ministry for when they return to their campuses. Preparations began in December.
Program Director for Cru’s city-wide fundraising dinner. We’ll fill over 20 tables at the Yale Club in Midtown Manhattan. We’re helping tell our ministry’s story by coordinating content from the main speakers, the videos produced, and the overall flow of the evening. It’s coming up May 2nd.
Minister at NYU. We share our faith, teach basic doctrine, lead Bible studies, host explorers groups, and do discipleship. Then we pass it on through training and coaching with the students who we challenge to lead.
Pioneer new Manhattan campuses. Cru is only ministering at nine campuses of over 100 in the five boroughs. Each is unique, so we “decode” them before starting. We speak with the administration and faculty and students, we talk with other ministries if they exist, and we ask God to show us how to proceed.
Add in meetings, commutes, and prayer gatherings and each week is brimming. Of course, making time to “be” rather than “do” is at the heart of the gospel, so we spend most evenings at home with our kids and friends!
We hope your holiday season is going well!
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"I feel like my whole life has been building up to this one moment!" Exclaimed NYU freshman, Isa. My teammate David was shocked by the conversation he was having. They were meeting to discuss a spiritual interest survey Isa had completed earlier in the week. The result was a divine appointment.
David opened with normal get-to-know-you questions, then Isa redirected, "What do you believe about Jesus?" Caught a bit off guard, David answered succinctly and returned the question. Despite coming from a nonreligious household Isa attended a Christian high school in the Middle East. He’d learned that God had become a man and died on a cross. "I just don’t know what to do with this information… I figured you might be able to answer my questions."
David affirmed what Isa had learned; it was all true. But, inviting people to an ideology wasn’t God’s endgame. We’re invited to know a person. David shared John 1:12, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Isa had always trusted in his own goodness, ability, and knowledge to be right with God, but it never felt like enough. No one had explained that placing our trust in the person God had sent, the one who was perfectly good, right, and true, was the only way to satisfy God’s holy standard. Isa’s trust was in his own best efforts, rather than God’s work on Isa’s behalf through Jesus Christ.
While he had known about Jesus for a long time, Isa was now finally bowing his head, turning to Jesus as the object of his faith, and receiving forgiveness. David had never seen someone so excited to become a Christian!
When our team heard this we were all in awe. The nations have come to us to hear this Good News. Pray for Isa to grow deeply in his relationship with God and the church and that we will send him home as an ambassador for Christ!
Before President Obama addressed the United Nations a few weeks ago on East 42nd Street, Cru gathered students on West 42nd to enjoy a “lobster boat” ride. We invited them to spend a Friday night taking in the Manhattan skyline, meeting new friends, striking up conversations, and eating great food!
Disparate as they seem, these events are connected in the heart of our vision for New York City. Many of today’s global leaders first met while attending college together in NYC, President Obama among them (Intl. Relations - Columbia ’83). The students we’re meeting and getting to know this fall are those same leaders, only 20 years removed; they are tomorrow’s decision makers and key influencers.
Listening to their stories of why they came to (or have stayed in) the city was encouraging. They have dreams of success and achievement, intense feelings of delight and anxiousness about urban life, and purposeful plans to become lawyers, designers, engineers, and doctors.
They represent a promising future for our world!
Nevertheless, these noble pursuits can easily become ends in themselves.
Like all people, students default to seeking their own glory and building their own kingdoms. They chase wealth, fame, prestige, and comfort. And that’s why you’ve sent us here: to reach them with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This message repurposes their lives, transforming them into builders of God’s Kingdom. It carries power to win their allegiance because it’s freely offered by the King himself, who gave his own life to purchase their short-lived kingdoms.
Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” We’re here to deposit this treasure* of wisdom and meaning that few will offer them. It’s a transaction that will redefine their lives and work forever.
Please, pray with us for our current and future leaders (1 Timothy 2).
* Download audio file. Listen to a comedic and compelling 16-minute monologue adapted from Jesus' parable of treasure in a field (Matthew 13). I like to share it with students in small groups. It generates great conversations and personal reflections.
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