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!
"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!
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?
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.
I hit ‘record’ on my camera and Schuyler began to share his story of how he came to know Christ. I listened intently and realized that our lives have had a lot in common. We both grew up in safe, healthy homes with loving parents, we both thought we were Christians because we had attended church, and we both chased blindly after the overwhelming freedoms we encountered in college. We each experienced spiritual emptiness in our lives until personally encountering Jesus through Cru.
UM’s annual Forester’s Ball was a rough night for Schuyler. Having just moved in with guys from Cru, and not being a Christian himself, he lied about his plans to go out and drink. He assumed they would judge him for his choices.
However, the next day he felt guilty for lying and decided to apologize. Expecting disapproval, their response caught him off guard. They knew he went to the party and got wasted, but they didn’t think less of him. They valued his friendship and wanted him to realize that being Christians didn’t mean they were above him. They wanted Schuyler to experience the unmerited favor and acceptance that God had offered them.
This was the first time Schuyler had experienced God’s grace in a tangible way. Today, he has become a follower of Christ because God has used students in Cru to show their roommate God’s love. He received God’s gift of salvation out of joy, rather than obligation, because Jesus died for Schuyler even when he was living for himself (Romans 5:8). We’re grateful for your support and prayers for young men like him.
SCHUYLER’S VIDEO: Watch it here
KIRSTEN’S HEALTH: Thanks for your prayers! She is no longer feeling sick and fatigued like she did from weeks 6 to 16.
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