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.
“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.”
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.
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!
The Bucher's are having another baby! The first trimester was a doozy dealing with morning sickness in Alaska, but Kirsten is feeling better now at week 18. The due date is February 5th. We'll let you know soon if Simon is getting a brother or a sister!
Visit Kirsten's Facebook profile to see her posts.
In other life-changing news, we'd like to ask you to pray intentionally for our future location with Cru. We have been invited to attend a vision conference in New York City October 6-9th. Our leadership has asked us to consider moving to the Big Apple to help pioneer and lead new campuses!
We'll give you a moment to pick your jaw off the floor...
So how did this come about? With our first few years on campus behind us, this spring we began discussing how our legacy with Cru might look. Would we move overseas? Would we move to another region of the country, or would we stay in Montana? Neither of us felt like a new location was on the radar, so it made sense to stay in Montana. We began surveying the housing market and envisioning our future in the Big Sky Country.
A month went by and life carried on when Kirsten mentions she had seen a house she really liked. It was the first time she told me something had caught her eye. The reality of this moment carried a new weight, as if a decision could be made. Would we move forward on our plans of planting our lives in Missoula? The lure of a bigger space and place to truly call home was palpable.
At the same time, our church had been preaching through Hebrews and a sermon in chapter eleven hit home regarding our life of faith. The idea of buying a house and settling down appealed to our desire for comfort and security. It seemed like our plan to remain in Montana was mostly motivated by this act of self-preservation. The very next day this process changed as God spoke through a phone call with our regional leadership director.
“We’re not trying to get rid of you. You have the freedom to say no to the NY trip entirely,” He said. But that wasn’t the feeling we were experiencing. What we mostly felt was fear. Who actually dreams of raising a family in the city? Regardless, the idea of new ministry possibilities excited us and the timing of the call was of no small coincidence. Is this what God sounds like?
Looking back at our lives, God has made big changes in our direction through local preaching and through the voices of our leadership. From my year in Venezuela, to Kirsten moving to Las Vegas for teaching, to us both joining staff with Cru, God has used influential people to speak his will into our lives. In many ways this is the voice I was waiting to hear regarding our future.
So the question becomes, will we stay or will we go? We don’t think staying is wrong, or that buying a house in Missoula would be selfish. We think God will use this process to purify our motives and solidify our longterm direction as a family. He could use this trip to change it up or he could use it to strengthen our resolve to invest more years at UM. This is why we are sharing this with you now. We want to invite you to begin praying for us. Ask God to give us wisdom and discernment about our direction. And, feel free to call or email us with your thoughts!
We expect to learn a lot more at the conference. At this point we are cautiously optimistic. What we do know is that other staff from around the country are looking into it too and there are more students within the five boroughs of NYC than the entire Northwest. The need is great, the laborers are few, and the Lord of the harvest has asked us to pray for more laborers (Mt. 9:37-38). Please join us in that prayer!
I met Levi in the dorms during the first week of school. He is a freshman who responded to our surveys and asked to be contacted. Since then, he has faithfully attended my weekly small group and become passionate about following Jesus.
“My faith has grown more this year than in all my time at my Christian high school. I think it’s because I had to own my faith when I got here. College life is pretty dark spiritually, so if I’m going to follow Christ I need to trust God to keep me on course.”
At our annual men’s retreat last month, Levi turned a corner. He says,
“I had been in the doldrums about my faith. I hit a serious rough spot when my family received difficult news about my brother’s health.”
During the retreat, we discussed Matthew 13:44, the parable of treasure hidden in a field. A man comes upon a buried treasure and determines to sell all he has in order to buy the field and gain the treasure.
“The parable was pretty challenging because I like to think that I’m the one in control of my life. Trusting God when you don’t understand why He’s doing things is really hard. After discussing the story, I began to realize that God was asking me to surrender everything. This included my plans for medical school and my fears with my brother’s health.
Levi is still working toward medical school, yet now he knows it’s God’s plan taking him there. In the meantime, Levi has developed a desire to help his peers know God.
“Cru has challenged me to not be ashamed of my faith, and to even learn how to share the gospel. This spring I’ve been able to talk with my roommate about God, and he’s interested in knowing what it means to trust Jesus. I’m not so afraid to get into spiritual conversations, and I’m learning how to actually articulate the gospel.”
This coming fall, Levi is moving back into the dorms. He and another student from Cru have responded to our Insider’s Challenge and want to make themselves available to minister to their peers during college.
For Levi to continue trusting God with his career plans and his brother’s health. Pray also that God would use Levi and his roommate to minister to others in the dorms this coming fall.
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