They traded beaches for metro passes, bikinis for Bibles, and keg stands for faith-filled prayers. The past three weeks our team hosted a remarkable group of nearly 200 college students from across the East Coast. They chose to spend their vacations sharing the gospel on NYC's campuses.
Our visitors eagerly wore their legs out venturing to ten schools representing 200,000 of NYC’s 1.3 million students. This visit was the ideal win-win scenario. They offered us unparalleled availability and enthusiasm and initiated hundreds of meaningful conversations. We offered them an exciting itinerary exploring the most influential city in the world.
Because of their efforts we have four new believers, many follow-up appointments, and an array of new students who want to start ministries on their campuses!
One visitor shared:
“We were talking with a student named Ryan and when we started with the first point of the Knowing God Personally booklet (that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for us), he began to cry. We asked why and he said, ‘I always wanted to know if God loves me.’ Now he knows!”
In the coming weeks our team will be meeting with these new connections to answer questions and further explain the gospel. They’ll also be equipping new helpers to facilitate gatherings and outreaches.
Currently, Cru is only at a handful of the 140 campuses in the area, and there are more staff like us who are raising support to be able to report full-time. We are excited that these spring break visitors offered extra man-power and helped surface other students who want to help their peers know Jesus on their campuses.
Pray with us that...
They shared 278 Instagram posts during their visit!
Here we are, all packed up and ready to head East! We're traveling pretty light, as you can see!
We sold one car and plan to sell this one soon, so most of what we're carrying involves Simon's books and toys and Eliza's diapers and cute clothes. Craigslist served us well to clear things out!
Our first stop is Kirsten's hometown of Fargo, ND. Then we'll continue to La Crosse, WI for Thanksgiving where her parents live now. We hope to move into our Manhattan apartment around the second week of December!
Please, keep us in your prayers as we travel 2,424 miles this holiday season!
YOU CAN HELP SEND US!
One of our ministry partners is generously matching up to $5,000 in special gifts to help us with our move across the country!
Would you prayerfully consider a gift of $25, $50, or some other amount to help us report to our new ministry assignment? Because of this match your gift will be automatically doubled!
It’s easy to mistake Eric for a woman. With his hair down, his long, light-brown curls look much like his sister’s. Most days he wears it in a bun, which is a trending style these days. Yet, what isn’t popular is to trade the freedom of living off campus for 100 square feet of shared living space in the dorms. This fall Eric will do just that to effectively minister to college freshmen.
The two of us have had a good run together. He showed up as a freshman two years ago asking how he could best serve the ministry. His parents are on staff with Cru in Bozeman, MT and are the national directors of Nations, Cru’s Native American ministry. Eric has joined me for both “Would Jesus Eat Frybread?” conferences and has already been exploring his own ministry calling. He spent most of his summer in Nicaragua helping a missionary family with their plantation, where he was mistaken for a woman numerous times.
Eric’s desire to serve on campus has helped us develop a new role for student leaders. We have hired him as a Part-Time Field Staff serving as an Insider, a role I’ve mentioned in previous letters where we challenge students to return to the dorms to minister to their peers. It’s a tall order, and the financial and social benefits of living off campus usually win students away from such a sacrificial commitment. Plus, if a student like Eric is not taking out loans for school, they simply cannot afford to stay on campus.
And then came my pitch, “Eric, would you consider asking God to raise up a team of ministry partners who would pray for your work in the dorms and finance you to move back in?”
“I’ll think about it,” is all he said. A month went by and I figured my challenge was a lost cause. Then, Eric calls me up and says, “I feel like God wants me to move back into the dorms and reach freshmen.” I was shocked. It turned out that the prospect of having forty floor-mates to share life with and potentially lead to Christ was a vision he couldn’t pass up. Eric wanted his time in college to count for more than his own pursuits. He wants many others to know about the purpose and hope he’s found in Jesus.
Mobilizing Eric as a student laborer is a huge answer to prayer. His role will give him the training, preparation, and permission to do ministry in a way we have yet to see. If he can use these next two years to mobilize others, we will witness a successful season of ministry multiplication. This means there would be no telling just how many others would be touched by the Gospel at UM!
Eric is sure to turn heads with his flowing locks, but then again, an upperclassman living among freshmen might seem just as extraordinary. I pray that his presence would bless his floor-mates and stir up curiosity to know Jesus personally.
While I am on a chiropractic mission to heal the physical, my true purpose is to touch the spiritual...
Cap and gown season has passed once again and I’m excited to update you on a student I wrote about in January 2012. Chris Boman graduated from UM with a Health and Human Performance degree and went on to train at chiropractic school in Southern California where he grew up. He recently opened his own practice and will even be getting married this week!
Cru is about helping students like Chris come to know Jesus, grow in their faith, then go to their families, their communities and all over the world to tell others about God's love. To become effective, Christ-centered laborers in this Great Commission, we show them the importance of having a clear picture of where they're headed after graduation. We call this a Kingdom Vision.
Chris saw how God could use his passion for chiropractic to bless people both physically and spiritually, and this is what motivates his work. In fact, a prominent Christian website, TheGospelCoalition.org, just published a short interview with Chris about his job, which I think you'll enjoy.
Really though, the 2014 online readership of TGC was 12.5 million unique visitors! What a special way to highlight an answered prayer for God to send Chris into the workplace!
We began considering NYC a year ago this April. We have been thinking it over, talking to God, talking to friends, and both researching and visualizing what it will look like to raise a family in the “capital of the world”. We now feel that we are pursuing this new assignment with eyes open to the huge changes to come, both the exciting ones and the daunting ones.
While we visited, God impressed some verses on us from Matthew 21 and has continued to bring us back to them these past few months. First, NYC truly feels like a mountain to us! It’s the definition of urban and is far away from what we have experienced as West Coasters. Moving us there really seems like God’s idea because we never dreamed of attempting something this daunting.
Jesus teaches that by having faith it will be possible to tell a mountain to be thrown into the sea. Unbelievable, right? This resonates with us because becoming New Yorkers not only seems unlikely for us, but even looks fairly irrational. Yet, Jesus promises that we can receive what we ask in faith. We feel compelled to ask God to make this plan a reality because God can move mountains.
Just before those verses about the mountain, Jesus curses a green leaved fig tree because it failed to bear fruit. The second thing God impressed on us was that we want to have faith with action, not just the appearance of faith. The fig tree looked to be fruitful, but it failed to bear fruit. As vocational missionaries it might be easy to think we are immune to lacking big faith. We think God has asked us to move. Are we in fact willing? We want to yield fruit by being fully faithful to what he asks of us.
Third, God has asked us to work in his vineyard and be fruitful for His Kingdom! We are excited to say yes, but it doesn't come without fear or the reality of discomfort. Working for His Kingdom means we must trust Him even when we don't fully understand the big picture. Sometimes my own kingdom has a way of distracting me from the true kingdom. This is an opportunity to bear fruit for His Kingdom.
Our calling has remained the same. We will continue pursuing lost college students with the Gospel. Our commitment is to spend three years in the city, and hopefully many more!
We will soon share about the vision and strategy for the new teams Cru is placing in NYC. There are sixteen of us who said yes to going and more are in process! Please, keep us in your prayers as we begin this huge transition. We want to say goodbye well and prepare thoroughly for the changes ahead.
When do we move?
On paper we have been officially transferred to the Northeast region. We have also been released from our team in Missoula to pursue full-time Ministry Partner Development.
We expect that our team of Ministry Partners will double in size! We’ll live in Missoula until this team is complete, and expect to move by January 2016.
Catch up on prior posts about New York City right here : )
A commonly held belief on campus is that one should “live it up” in college before entering the real world. The promise of good times and freedom from stress are just a dorm room away. A resident drug dealer beckons his neighbors to “take a break” from their burdensome studies. Jacob was an easy client until God broke through.
Growing up in rural Montana Jacob’s graduating class was thirty-two. He put his energy into prep football and acquired the size and talent to play collegiate. He dreamed of becoming a Montana Grizzly, but the last week of his senior year proved fateful. A broken ankle erased his plans. He missed tryouts and his singular hope in life was snuffed out.
Studies were still a priority and he attended UM. However, by Christmas break he was in a dark place. Making good friends was difficult. He was angry about his life and his future seemed bleak. He was smoking marijuana every day and escaping reality through video games. For him, these had become the only reliable things in life, never to let him down.
One night, while sitting on his bed packing a pipe, he reflected on how it always felt like God was going to be the answer he needed. Then, out of nowhere, he heard what he described as a loud voice saying, “Jacob! Put it down!” This was all he needed. He threw away his bag of weed and was soon introduced to a Christian community through Cru.
Church had been a part of his background growing up, yet now he wanted to hear for himself what God had in mind for his life. It’s been a year since Jacob’s heart turned towards Jesus, and he is learning that God is more faithful than he ever imagined.
Send him to East Asia this summer!
Jacob has just been accepted to our East Asia Summer Mission partnership! He is thin on Christian community back home and is trusting the Lord to provide new ministry partners that would send him.
Would you prayerfully consider giving a special gift for his five week Summer Mission with Cru?
At the final session of our NYC Vision Conference, Kirsten and I listened to the leadership explain the difference between need and calling. "Need doesn't constitute a call. There's need everywhere! A great vision should motivate our heart. Our calling should be based on that. Jesus was motivated by compassion for the lost. In NYC we're motivated not just by the number of students, but by the influence they carry."
Kirsten and I applied with Cru in 2009 because we were captivated by the strategic possibilities of reaching influential college students with the gospel. While visiting Columbia University we discovered that one girl Cru has been meeting is on track to be South Korea’s Prime Minister. Imagine what her influence will be like if she continues to walk humbly with the Lord while leading and serving others!
We also visited NYU, the nation’s largest private university. They send 3,000 students overseas every semester, with many attending NYU’s global network. Influential students are hopping to NYU Shanghai, NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Singapore, NYU London and more. Imagine the opportunities to take the gospel to the leaders of these countries through this one university!
So, why do we feel called to move to NYC? In short, we are passionate about working with highly motivated students. It will be challenging, yet it inspires us to grow in our ministry abilities and rely on Christ. Students like this have crossed our paths at UM and we would be honored to invest our lives into these kinds of influencers on a regular basis.
We’ve surveyed the circumstances that brought us to consider this move, received feedback from others, weighed the pros and cons of city life and its effects on our family, and prayed for God to lead the way. We want to move forward with this process and are trusting God to show us how that will look!
Did You Know?
We expect to hear from the Northeast leadership in mid-December about our acceptance to NYC. They are reviewing us to ensure a good fit. From there, we believe it would be a year before we move. Ask God to lead our family through this process!
Flathead Lake can be simply stunning. It’s an ideal setting for students to get away from the stress of their academic schedules and hear from God. This is what our annual Fallapalooza offers. It challenges interested students to live out their school year with God at the center of their pursuits.
“What is a disciple of Jesus and will you become one?” Asked Pastor Marty. These were the questions posed to our group of thirty-five over the course of four talks. The answers were clear. A disciple is one who follows Jesus, is changed by Jesus, and goes on mission with Jesus. At the end of the retreat he displayed a gold track and field baton. “Who will carry this baton?” The question wasn’t rhetorical. He was waiting for someone to claim the baton.
As the silence drew out, a guy named Tyler finally stepped up and grasped the symbolic metal tube. The moment was personal. This whole weekend learning to follow Jesus was not just theoretical.
“The reason we are talking about Jesus today is because people like us have been following him for 2000 years. It’s a historic faith that people can’t stop talking about. You must be the ones who carry the baton for this generation” Marty declared! It was an empowering close to a crucial message.
If students don’t receive the baton, they can’t carry it. And, if they don’t carry the baton, they can’t pass it on. Would you take a moment and pray for these students? A handful who attended still identify as non-Christians and those who already follow Jesus are dealing with tremendous competition for their hearts and minds.
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