When I was a student in Cru one thing that impressed me was how the staff members would invite me into their lives. Our friendship went beyond our shared ministry activities. They would tell me how they were doing personally and ask for my thoughts about various situations they were navigating. They would let their guard down and trust me to be their friend.
These “behind the curtain” moments spoke volumes about the genuine affection they had for me and other students. I knew they cared about my life because they allowed me to care about theirs. This verse sums it up: “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too” (1 Thes. 2:8).
This aspect of ministry is something that cannot quite be taught. Yet, it’s the key piece that turns an involved student into a co-laborer in Christ. For example, when we challenge a student to become an Insider, to live in the residence halls to share Jesus with their peers, this is the major component of their investment. It’s something that Adam has figured out and makes saying goodbye to him really difficult.
At the end of the day, Adam cares about others with genuine affection. Of course, he wouldn't boast that statement himself. And maybe it’s not always true about him. Regardless, he has really impressed me with his faithfulness, availability, and teachability. He’s what us campus ministers call a “FAT” disciple.
Let me brag on this guy a moment. First, he’s a double major with a 3.9 GPA. This year he’s carried a full 21 credits each semester in political science and recreation management while living among freshmen in the residence halls and leading a Cru bible study. He made repeated attempts to speak with every guy on every floor of his dorm for the opportunity to get into spiritual conversations and talk about Jesus. This usually meant eating lunch daily with eighteen-year-olds in the all-you-can-eat dining hall.
After long days of classes, extra-curricular activities, and hours in the library studying, Adam would sit by the foot of his bed and spend time getting to know his roommate who struggled with all kinds of doubt about God. They didn’t share a love for video games nor late night television, but Adam became a listening ear to his friend who soon gave him permission to speak into his life about God’s love and purposes.
Adam has learned to spend his life well and has made the most of his university experience. I’m confident that his loving influence and ability to share Jesus with others will leave a wonderful legacy everywhere he goes.
ALASKA SUMMER PROJECT UPDATE
Plans are coming together for our time in Anchorage this June 10th - July 23rd. We currently have eleven Cru staff, three children, and fourteen students. Housing is moving slow and we could use your prayers.
Hannah is a bubbly nursing student I met my second day on campus when we reported to The University of Montana two years ago. We hit it off right away because we are both from Fargo-Moorhead and ran cross-country in high school. She is the first student I began a discipleship relationship with and this past weekend she graduated!
College is the time for students to consider what to do with their lives, and it’s an excellent opportunity to receive ministry training so they can be a spiritual resource for others. We want students like Hannah to consider how God would use them after graduation to influence people in their workplace, neighborhood, community, and across the world with the message of the Gospel.
I pray that Hannah would transition well from college into the “real” world and I have challenged her to invest her life for the sake of making Jesus known. It’s evident to me that she has an important role to play in God’s Kingdom. She is excited to share her faith with those around her and to begin investing her time and energy into people’s lives. The direction she’s heading holds a special place in my own life.
Hannah accepted a job on a Medical-Surgical floor in a hospital to gain experience; it’s a typical first job for a nurse. Even though it is not where she wants to be long-term, she is thankful to be able to pay off her student loans and knows that the Lord has placed her there for a reason. Yet, Hannah’s ultimate desire is to become a Hospice nurse.
When Ivan’s father passed away, our nurse had a great impact on our family and really blessed us as she provided care for Wes. She was able to not only ease his pain, but provided comfort and guidance to our entire family during a time when we really needed someone to come alongside us. I have great respect for Hospice nurses and I am so grateful that Hannah wants to invest her life in this way.
Hannah has been equipped to share with others about Christ, to teach a new believer basic Christian doctrine, and to lead others in Bible study. She will truly be an asset to any local church she joins, and will “shine the light of Christ” to those she rubs shoulders with every day. I’m confident that the Lord will provide her with many opportunities to pray and talk with her patients and coworkers. This is Cru’s vision of reaching the campus with the Gospel today in order to reach the world tomorrow.
We arrived in South Lake Tahoe once again for Summer Project. This time around we are the project’s operations directors. Check out our website for the latest! By the way, Simon did great traveling for two days in the car.
You may recall our January letter about Adam and how he has been taking steps of faith to go where God leads him. The latest part of his journey was traveling to East Asia this Spring Break. Here is what he shared about the process that led him to participate in our campus’ mission trip.
“I found myself in East Asia because that is where God called me to be. Three years ago I was a somewhat scared--somewhat cocky--high school senior in Wisconsin getting ready to begin college at the University of Montana. I arrived on campus with little thought about my spiritual life, let alone plans to join a campus ministry group. But God soon showed he had a plan for my time in college.
“Through an invitation to a Cru event at the beginning of the school year I slowly got involved in the ministry. When a Cru staff member asked me to explain my understanding of the Gospel--and I couldn't--I realized I didn't have a relationship with Christ. Shortly after that realization I gave my life to Jesus, but still wasn’t ready to go overseas for my faith.
“This past December, Ivan saw that my desire to share the true life I had found in Christ was growing. He knew I was seriously considering the Spring Break trip and asked me to give a verbal commitment about going to East Asia. At that point, I was ready. While there, we engaged university students in conversations about God asking if they had ever heard about Jesus. Their most common responses were either, ‘I believe in myself,’ or ‘we [East Asians] have no beliefs.’
“At the end of the trip we worried that because there are so few opportunities for East Asians to learn about Christ while living in East Asia, our interaction with the students we talked to would be their only exposure to His message. But, after reflecting on how God was able to bring me to East Asia, I am sure that our interaction with those students will not be the last time He speaks to them through a follower of Christ.
“This trip affirmed the possibility of me investing a year in East Asia after I graduate to share Jesus with students who have never heard. The Holy Spirit has been working in my life to transform me from an ordinary kid in Wisconsin to a missionary who is willing to go wherever God leads.”
Adam plans to continue being an “insider” at UM by moving back into the residence halls this fall as a senior. Pray that God would prepare his heart to minister to incoming freshmen and create space in his schedule to do it well.
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Last week I said goodbye to Chris. He graduated from UM in December and moved home to Los Angeles to pursue a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Early this fall semester we quickly became friends through our shared sense of humor. He took part in the small group Bible study I was leading, and offered the freshmen his wisdom and friendship.
Despite having already moved to L.A., Chris took the opportunity to attend Cru Conference, our region’s annual gathering of over 500 college students that focuses on evangelism and following Christ with your whole life. He flew to Portland for the five day event to join our students from UM.
Chris remarks, “I felt the need to go, even though money and time were holding me back. I realized that my money is God’s and so is my time, so going was really just giving it back to Him, to see what He had in store for me.”
The theme of this year’s conference was Crossing The Divide, referring to 2 Corinthians 5:18, “...all of this [new life] is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”
A portion of the conference focused on giving students training and opportunities to have spiritual conversations and talk to others about Jesus. For two afternoons students toured the city of Portland to engage with people. The result was 1132 conversations initiated, 700 spiritual conversations, 100 gospel presentations, and 5 people indicating a decision to receive Christ.
Chris learned, “There are so many people who don’t know Jesus. I now feel personally responsible to help them hear the Good News. If it’s truly good news to me, then I need to treat it like that and go tell people. I hope God will use me in L.A. to cross barriers and share this message.”
Graduates like Chris who are willing and able to share Christ with others play a significant role in helping to fulfill The Great Commission. Each semester we want college students to be sent with the purpose of making Christ known everywhere God takes them.
Chris concludes, “Now that I am moving on from Montana, I will need to trust God with my transition. I won’t have the Cru community around me, so depending on God to guide me is going to be vital. I’m excited to see how God uses me and I hope to make a difference in peoples’ lives on my new campus.”
For Chris’ transition to L.A. for more schooling, that he would become a laborer sent into the field of chiropractics to introduce people to Christ. Also pray for our students to seek opportunities to begin spiritual conversations with others.
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