Almost everything was different about our summer conference at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
For starters, we skipped the usual two day drive with the family that would take us through the deserts of California and Nevada, the amazing rock formations of Utah and the majestic Rocky Mountains. We opted to fly instead.
It’s been four years since Jen and I attended this conference so of course we noticed how much the town of Fort Collins and the campus have changed with recent construction. Some of our favorite places to eat have closed and new eateries have opened up.
When we entered Moby arena for the first session, I could tell this conference was going to be different.
The stage was set right in the middle of the arena, instead of at one end, as has been typical in the past. Somehow, it gave the sense of drawing people in.
The worship was inspiring and of course, the speakers were diverse and challenging. It’s hard to encapsulate all that happened in a short newsletter so we’ll share a few of our favorite moments.
HONORING THE NATIVE COMMUNITY
During one of the opening sessions of our partnership weekend, Donnie and Renee Begay, the diretors of our Native ministry (Nations) led us through a time of honoring local Native elders. There was an exchange of gifts between leaders and one of the elders who addressed our conference mentioned that this was the first time anyone had approached them and included them in this way before. It was incredibly moving and redemptive.
PARTNERING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
For the first time, Cru partnered with the Aruna Project to host a 5K run on campus to raise funds and awareness for women in India who are enslaved in the sex trafficking industry. Jacob and Joshua ran the race and did quite well, but that’s not the highlight.
What was different about this race is that every runner ran with the name of a woman taped to their body who is still enslaved. As the runners started the race, they were encouraged to shout the name of the woman taped to their body.
The hope is that each woman represented will soon be able to experience true freedom.
Additionally, each participant received an Aruna drawstring bag that was made by women who were once enslaved but are now free and employed with jobs making usable clothing and gear. For more information on the Aruna Project, go to arunaproject.com. To see more photos from the race, see my Flickr album at: http://bit.ly/2vVBlVf.
FAST FOOD DISCIPLESHIP?
Jennie Allen shared her story of growing as a believer in the context of Cru when she was a new believer in college. She mentioned how the staff person who was following up with her initial contact invited her to Sonic in order to connect with her personally. She remarked, “Don’t underestimate the power of a Sonic run.”
It was a funny comment but it reminded me that what we do is valuable. We often meet people in various places all over Orange County and we have no idea the impact we are having. Jennie’s story was a great example of why it’s important to meet with and connect with Young adults.
FUN IN BOULDER
We had a half day off during the conference and we decided to spend that time in Boulder, which is about an hour away. Jen had arranged for us to visit the small office of Newton Running Shoes.
Earlier in the year, the Cross Country coach had recommended Newtons for Jacob and Joshua as a way to help correct their heal-striking tendencies, which we think was contributing to some of the knee and shin issues Jacob had been experiencing off and on for the past year.
Newton is a small company that has appealed to a lot of triathletes. They make good shoes but they’re not easy to find. Basically, you have to order directly online.
It was fun going to their office because everyone was super friendly and asked a lot of questions. They showed us samples of the new models that haven’t even come out yet and the founder and president took several minutes out of his time to personally greet us and ask questions about Jacob and Joshua’s running.
They even hooked us up with some free stuff, which was a nice bonus!
THE NATURE OF PARTNERSHIP
Andy Crouch, author, speaker and former executive editor of Christianity Today, spoke on partnering. I’ve always found Andy to be very thoughtful and insightful as it relates to how Christianity intersects with current culture. Andy challenged our thinking on partnership. In particular, he said that, “Partnership is not a trade. You can’t walk away after getting what you want.”
He stressed the importance of relationships and engaging with one another in our struggles and our suffering.
Andy’s talk reminded me of you, our PARTNERS. We missed the Cru conference two years ago because of Jen’s health. During that trying time in our lives, you truly demonstrated the kind of partnership that Andy talked about. You encouraged us, prayed for us and suffered with us through our struggles. Your generosity and compassion sustained us and we are truly grateful! Thank you for your prayers and partnership!