Shamrock, UFC and LinkedIn

The Greatest FightLast summer I received an e-mail regarding a film that was soon to be released online entitled “The Greatest Fight”. Intrigued, I clicked on the link (www.thegreatestfight.com) and soon learned that it was a documentary on Ken Shamrock, considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the modern UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

Immediately, my mind was flooded with images and memories of a guy named Jerry Perez, whom I had met nearly 20 years ago while I served with Cru at Fresno State. What made me think about Jerry is that he was really into the UFC. Those were the early days of the sport, actually, and it really hadn’t achieved mainstream status yet. But Jerry and his family watched every UFC pay-per-view event as they were broadcast, and had recorded every one of them onto VHS tapes.

Jerry was a student I met on campus while sharing my faith. Our paths crossed and I had the privilege of leading Jerry to Christ and helping him with his initial growth in the faith. I wrote about my experience with Jerry in a newsletter, which you can read about at: goo.gl/inuVkr. Jerry and I connected because we had both been wrestlers in high school and it was Jerry who introduced me to the UFC world.

One weekend when Jen was out of town, Jerry came over early in the day carrying a stack of VHS video tapes that included every UFC pay-per-view broadcast since its inception just a few years prior. We spent hours that weekend watching the entire history of UFC fights and it was there that I became acquainted with early UFC legends such as Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock.

The website for “The Greatest Fight” explained that the film is a window into the struggle Ken Shamrock experienced as he came to the end of his fighting career. But more than that, the film shows a larger story emerge, “one where a man’s total identity is being changed.” I realized that the movie was really about the spiritual changes that Ken Shamrock experienced.

Watch Ken Shamrock’s testimony on the 700 Club

I thought back to Jerry Perez. The last 6 months that Jen and I were in Fresno before moving to Davis to start Cru, I began to see less and less of Jerry. He was working to make some extra cash and didn’t seem to have as much time for Bible studies and on campus meetings. One of the last times I talked to Jerry I remember him saying something to the effect that while he appreciated the time I had invested in him over the last year, he had decided that the Christian life just didn’t work for him. To say I was bummed would be an understatement. Over the years, I would think about Jerry from time to time, but I had no real way to connect with him.

But when Jerry came to my mind last summer, I thought, “maybe he’s on Facebook.” A quick search revealed that he WAS on Facebook but his profile was configured in such a way that I wasn’t able to initiate with him. I then wondered if he might be on LinkedIn, which is sort of a Facebook forum for business professionals. I quickly located Jerry on LinkedIn and was able to send him a message. To my surprise, Jerry responded within an hour or so. We exchanged several messages back and forth which led me to think that perhaps Jerry had not given up on God as I had thought all these years.

Jerry and I meet for the first time in nearly 19 years!
Jerry and I meet for the first time in nearly 19 years!

 

Over the Christmas break, our family was able to travel together outside of the SoCal area for the first time in 2 years. We spent several days in Fresno visiting Jen’s family and the first day we were there, I arranged to have breakfast with Jerry.

It was amazing to connect with Jerry after almost 18 years and see that he’s married, with kids, involved in church and seeking to follow the Lord as he looks to get involved in the local Gideons chapter where he lives. It was a very nice Christmas gift from the Lord.

Thanks so much for your prayers and partnership with us, which have allowed us to help people like Jerry make life-impacting decisions that lead to true spiritual transformation!

A Month of Milestones

This last month has been full of milestones and new steps forward for us.

You might remember that a few months ago, Jen had cataract surgery on her right eye. One of the side effects to being on Prednisone for an extended period of time is that it can cause cataracts to develop. Jen’s vision in her right eye was so obscured by an enlarging cataract that her ophthalmologist recommended that she get the surgery.

The surgery was a success but at a follow up appointment about 6 weeks later, her doctor recommended that she get cataract surgery in her left eye because that cataract had continued to grow. So in mid-November, Jen had cataract surgery on her left eye as well.

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Jen and Dave celebrated with dessert at the Cheesecake Factory when Jen took her last Prednisone pill.

Not long after that, on November 19th to be exact, Jen took her last Prednisone pill. Jen has been slowly tapering down on her Prednisone dosage since February and finally, she had reached the point where she could eliminate this medication from her daily pharmaceutical regimen. It was an exciting moment for sure.

Last week we experienced another milestone in our continuing recovery. For the first time in 20 months, Jen and I traveled together for a conference related to our work. It’s not often that we get excited about traveling out of town for a bunch of meetings, but I admit that I was looking forward to a change of pace and connecting with our colleagues from other cities.

Our meetings in Austin were an opportunity for us to rub shoulders with about 20 other Cru staff around the country who are ministering to Millennials in their respective city locations. it was great to be with like-minded people who have a passion for the Lord and are trying innovative approaches to connecting with and ministering to the 20-somethings in their cities. We came away inspired and full of new ideas.

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Jen provides some training on coaching others to about 20 Cru staff who are ministering to Millennials.

And in a strange twist of irony, Jen was asked to do some training on coaching that she has learned because the original presenter, a Cru staff mentor of Jen’s, had to back out due to some personal health issues.

About a week before our trip, Jen was asked if she could step in and provide the coaching training to our group since she has received extensive training through the Leadership Development program of which she’s been a part for the last 4 years. It was not an ideal situation, given that Jen’s only prep time was during Thanksgiving week, which we had already planned to take off, but Jen did a fantastic job helping us to learn coaching techniques that will help us immensely as we coach Millennials and train others to be mentors to Millennials.

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Jen demonstrates the training in a live coaching situation with one of our staff who works with Millennials in Chicago.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support as we continue to move forward in this crazy journey we’ve been on. We are amazed at the Lord’s goodness towards us and we’re extremely grateful for you!

Cru15 Highlights

Hundreds of Cru Staff outside of Colorado State's Moby Gym after one of the main sessions of Cru15.
Hundreds of Cru Staff outside of Colorado State’s Moby Gym after one of the main sessions of Cru15.

Every other summer, over 5000 Cru Staff members from across the United States convene at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado for 2 weeks of vision, training, worship and spiritual refreshment.

Over the years, this has been a highlight of our summer and a family tradition as we make the trek across the Southwest to connect with friends, and be challenged and motivated from God’s Word by Cru leaders and Christian leaders from around the world.

This year, Jen and I were not able to attend the conference due to Jen’s recent health issues. Back in February, the outlook for Jen’s health looked very uncertain. We were anticipating another round of chemo-therapy that would have lowered Jen’s immune system and put it in its most compromising state right at the time we would be surrounded by 5000 other people in varying states of physical wellness.

As a result of the questions we were facing, our leadership granted us an exemption from attending this year’s conference. It seemed like the wisest course of action.

Jacob & Joshua had a blast attending the Cru15 high school Getaway program and being challenged in their faith.
Jacob & Joshua had a blast attending the Cru15 high school Getaway program and being challenged in their faith.

Though Jen and I weren’t able to be there, we made the decision to send Jacob and Joshua so they could participate in the Cru high school Getaway program and connect with some of their friends. They had a blast flying on a plane for the first time by themselves and were definitely challenged by speakers like Josh McDowell. In addition, their faith was stretched as they had the opportunity to share their faith in the local community.

Jen and I were disappointed that we weren’t able to attend the Cru15 conference in person. You may be wondering why we would be sad to miss out on a 2 week-long conference of meetings and training sessions. After all, getting exempted from a work conference is normally like a receiving a “Get out of Jail Free” card.

Though it’s a conference, with many meetings and sessions, there are a lot of fun activities with a definite family atmosphere. We’ve found it to be a great time to connect with our friends, co-workers and even many of our former students who are now working with Cru. It’s amazing how road trips and living out of your suitcase for a few weeks can create a lot of family bonding opportunities and many lifetime memories.

Over 5000 Cru Staff from all over the U.S. inside Moby Gym for a main meeting session of Cru15.
Over 5000 Cru Staff from all over the U.S. inside Moby Gym for a main meeting session of Cru15.

Though we weren’t there in person, through the marvel of modern technology, Jen and I were able to live-stream many of the main sessions and interact with our co-workers on social media. It wasn’t the same as being there in person of course, but it was great to hear the speakers and see the direction and vision of Cru for the next few years.

A couple of exciting themes emerged from this year’s conference. One was a continued commitment to reach the ethnic scope around us and to create an atmosphere in our organization that would welcome and foster ethnic diversity.

Jen and I have a passion for ethnic diversity in ministry because of our many years of giving leadership to Ethnic Student Ministries in the campus ministry. It has been a long road of learning and growing as an organization, but we’re confident that we’re on the right path as an organization and that our leaders are leading us through the necessary changes to make sure we are relevant as an organization for many years to come to those whom we seek to reach.

Francis Chan uses a Lego to illustrate the need to humbly partner with others for the sake of the gospel. Each one of us is a brick but together, we can create something special.
Francis Chan uses a Lego to illustrate the need to humbly partner with others for the sake of the gospel. Each one of us is a brick but together, we can create something special.

A second theme that emerged was the need to humbly partner with others. If we’re committed to reaching every person, we must be willing to come alongside churches, volunteers and lay people and work together synergistically to accomplish the Lord’s work.

Partnering is one of the core values Jen and I have as we seek to reach Millennials, who have a strong desire to be mentored. Our desire is to raise up and train dozens if not hundreds of volunteers throughout Orange County who could impact Millennials by leading community groups and providing mentoring both spiritually and professionally to this unreached generation.

We couldn’t be more excited about the vision and direction the Lord has given us. Would you please pray for us and with us as we seek to take the next steps in developing our ministry to Millennials?

Thank you for your partnership with us and your ministry to us. You are a blessing from the Lord to us and our family!

Click here to access the pdf version of The Lowedown.

Story of a Changed Life

Jennifer and I were on staff with Cru at the University of Arizona for our first couple of years of marriage, so we have an affection for the ministry there. In addition, one of our former UC Davis students and his wife are the directors of the ministry there now. So it’s always fun to see what the Lord is doing on the campus there through some of our former leaders.

Here is a short video, highlighting a student who came to Christ through the Cru ministry at the University of Arizona.

Stripped

Last month we learned that our insurance company had been victims of a massive data breach and that the personal information of everyone in our family has been compromised. Of course our worst fear is that someone might use that information to commit identity theft.

In this age of technology and social media our identity is more important than ever. We go to great lengths to ensure we’re protected financially from those who would steal our vital information for their own personal gain. We also want to protect our reputation. I have a doctor friend who has a very low profile on Facebook simply because he doesn’t want anyone else creating a false identity of him online that might negatively affect his reputation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. I’m not talking about the ethnic and age demographic information that seemingly everyone wants to know these days. I’m talking about where we get our value – where we get our identity and sense of worth from.

For most men, value, worth, identity often come from our jobs or our achievements. It might be a diploma from a prestigious school that is proudly displayed so that everyone can see it. Or it might be a car that represents a certain financial and social status. Or maybe it’s a house in a certain neighborhood that projects a certain status to others. Regardless of what it is, many people gain their sense of worth and value from external things such as our family or our job or some other material things.

I think this last year has been a refining period where the Lord has been slowly stripping me of the things that have tended to give me value and self-worth. I don’t have a fancy car or house and that chiseled physique seems to continually elude me, but for the last 25 years I’ve had a ministry that has enabled me to feel productive and fruitful and therefore valued. There was never a shortage of stories of someone who had trusted in Christ or who had experienced some radical life transformation.

This last year, with the challenges we’ve faced in our family and struggling to get a new ministry off the ground, I’ve found those stories harder to come by. It’s forced me to reflect more deeply than ever and ask myself where my identity lies.

I’ve been reading through the New Testament and in Mark chapter 1, Jesus goes out to the desert to be baptized by John. When He comes up out of the water, the Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove and the Lord speaks, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”

I find it comforting to realize that the Father spoke these words before Jesus had performed any miracles, or healed any sick people. Jesus hadn’t cast out any demons yet, taught to any large crowds or paid for the sins of the world. Jesus had done NOTHING. And yet, the Father affirms His identity (You are my Son), affirms security through unconditional love (whom I love) and also affirms value (with You I am well pleased).

As it turns out, the best story of transformation we have to offer these days are examples from our own lives.

Thank you for the part you have played and are playing in our own transformation. Please pray that as the Lord continues to strip and refine and prune our character, that it would result in lives that are more fruitful and glorifying to Him!

Jen’s Health Update

Jen is tapering down on her dosage of Prednisone and so far it appears that this new immunosuppressant she has been taking is working. Please pray that there would be no complications and that many of the negative side effects of Prednisone (blurred vision, bursitis, muscular atrophy, water retention, etc.) would begin to subside.

We have appointments the next two weeks with doctors at UCLA. Pray for wisdom and clarity and that the treatment plan would help stabilize Jen’s condition and help her get back to feeling normal again.

Other Family News

It’s hard to believe that Jacob and Joshua are in the midst of registering for high school. They are filling out their schedules now and requesting their classes and electives. Wow! It’s gone by too fast and is almost surreal.

Jacob and Joshua after receiving their certificates for California Junior Scholastic Foundation (CJSF) for 8th grade.
Jacob and Joshua tie for first place in the Los Alisos 2 mile run.
Jacob and Joshua tie for first place in the Los Alisos 2 mile run.

Jacob and Joshua are doing quite well in school and are involved in various activities. They are involve in a running club at school where they tied for first in a 2 mile race that took place yesterday. They are also enjoying their last season of flag football.

Please pray for wisdom as they choose their classes, apply for sports teams and prepare themselves for life as high schoolers!

Derecognized!

This morning I went to the first Bible Study gathering of the New Year for the men at our church. We’ve been traversing through the book of Daniel in a series our pastor has entitled “Under Pressure.” We’ve been looking at Daniel as an example of someone who met the challenge to respond in a godly way to the personal and cultural challenges which he faced.

In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel’s enemies are looking for a way to find a charge against him because they were jealous of him. Because he was a person of great integrity, they could find nothing. So they went to the king and convinced the king to issue a decree that for the next 30 days, the people in his kingdom would not be allowed to pray to any god but the king himself. The plan was to cause Daniel to compromise his standards or face the consequences. Of course, we know that Daniel was unwilling to pray to the king and kept his practice of praying 3 times a day to the God of Israel, the God of the universe.

That act of integrity got Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Fortunately, the Lord honored Daniel’s faith and saved him from harm. In the end, those who brought an accusation against Daniel were themselves thrown into the lion’s den and their fate was not as positive as Daniel’s. The king was so impacted by Daniel’s faith and deliverance that he issued a decree that only the God of Daniel could be worshiped, “for he is the living God and he endures forever.”

As we were reflecting on this passage around our table, we were discussing the tendency we have as frail humans to compromise our standards in order to gain favor with men and avoid unpleasant circumstances. I began to think about many of our campus ministries, especially those on our Cal State campuses.

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Paul & Jaimie Nunez were students involved in our ministry at UC Davis. They now lead the Cru ministry at San Jose State University, which has recently been derecognized by the campus administration. Click their photo to read their letter about being derecognized.

If you weren’t aware, about a year ago the Chancellor of the Cal State University system made a decision that dramatically impacts religious groups on Cal State campuses, particularly Christian groups. The Chancellor decreed that all groups need to allow open access for any student to become a leader within that group. So Christian groups such as Cru or InterVarsity that have enacted biblical requirements and standards for potential leaders are being derecognized for imposing leadership standards and thus, not adhering to the new policy. Click here for an article relating to this.

Being a recognized group on campus has many advantages. For one, recognized groups can secure meeting rooms for free. Additionally, official groups are able to publicize their activities on campus more freely and may even have access to funds to help their group promote an activity or scholarship students to leadership retreats.

Despite the many advantages of being a recognized group on campus, none of our local chapters has adjusted their constitution in a way that would satisfy this new decree. In short, we believe that while anyone can be involved in the group as a whole, the leadership of the group must be selected among those who hold to biblical convictions and have demonstrated a biblical lifestyle. For that reason, nearly all of our chapters within the Cal State system have been derecognized as official campus organizations. Our campus groups will continue to exist and will continue to reach out to students on campus but the task will become more difficult and more costly. Please pray for our campus groups to persevere in the midst of opposition and adversity and pray that their faith would lead to revival!

In 2 Corinthians 4.2, Paul says that “it is required for those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Dave and Jen - Christmas 2014
Dave and Jen – Christmas 2014

I’m not quite sure what the Lord has in store for any of us in 2015, but my prayer is that like Daniel, we would be people of extreme integrity when faced with personal and cultural challenges where we might be tempted to compromise our faith. As our culture continues to shift our prayer for you is that you would
remain faithful. Would you please pray that for us?

We are grateful for you and pray that you experience the Lord’s richest blessings in this New Year!

We’re No Longer On Campus, But We’re Still Reaching Students

The role of a missionary is to establish ministries and raise up leaders who can take over, allowing the missionary to move on to establish new ministries.

For more than 20 years, Jen and I worked on university campuses to establish ministries and raise up leaders and laborers. Though we’re no longer serving on campus, we’re still involved in reaching students. By God’s grace, many of our former students are now leading the charge to reach this year’s freshmen on campuses throughout California, Arizona and around the world.

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Jon Roper (left), was a student involved with Cru at UC Davis and now leads the Cru ministry at UC Irvine.

This past week, I had the opportunity to spend the day at UC Irvine helping one of our former students, Jon Roper, who is now leading the Cru ministry there. Jon and his team are in the middle of Welcome Week, seeking to reach out to more than 20,000 students on the campus.

As I approached the table where Jon and 30+ students were already setting up for the day, I thought about all the hard work and effort that was expended just to get ready for that week.

Preparing for the first week of school was a gargantuan task when Jen and I were ministering on campus. Promotional materials had to be created and printed weeks ahead of time. Students had to be mobilized to show up early. Rooms and tables had to be reserved. Small groups had to be organized. Students needed to be trained in setting up appointments and sharing their faith.

Jon and I interacting with some international students from India.
Jon and I interacting with some international students from India.

A variety of events had to be planned and implemented during that first week. Everything we did was aimed at reaching as many students as possible, in the hopes of introducing them to Christ and plugging them into a community of Christ-followers that would aid them in growing into mature disciples of Jesus.

While the pace was harrowing, the reward was great. Often we would have thousands of new students to contact during the fall quarter. Some were already Christians who were looking for community, but many were non-believers with whom we had the privilege of sharing Christ.

I certainly don’t miss the long hours and hard work that went into the Fall outreach but the excitement and energy that occurs when mobilizing students is infectious.

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Beth (middle), was a student at UC Davis. She now ministers with Cru at Cal Poly, Pomona.
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Cal Poly, Pomona Epic students hand out snow cones to new students on campus

At UCI, it was fun to see Jon leading and directing his students to places around the campus to engage and interact with new students. Time will tell how the Lord will use those efforts but after just one day of engaging students, Jon’s team has over 1300 new contacts to follow up in the coming weeks.

Another former student, Beth Sekishiro, helped the Cal Poly Pomona Cru team initiate and collect over 700 surveys during their first few days and through those contacts, Beth was able to lead a freshman girl named Focus to Christ!

Because of your prayers and partnership, we are helping to reach students not only at UCI and Cal Poly, but also at Arizona State, San Jose State, University of Arizona, Chico State and numerous other locations in the U.S. and overseas.

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Cru students pass out campus maps with info for Cru activities printed on the back.

Thank you for your partnership, which has allowed us to raise up leaders who continue to carry on the work of reaching students long after we’ve tapped out! Please pray for these ministries as they endure long hours to reach out to thousands of students. And pray for us too as we continue to establish a new ministry among Millennials!

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown!

NO GROUP FOR YOU!

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown.

Fans of the iconic Seinfeld sitcom series no doubt recall the famous “Soup Nazi” episode, in which a brilliant soup chef requires strict adherence to ordering protocol if patrons expect to get a sampling of his liquid gold creations. Those who violate the terms of ordering are curtly met with the phrase “No soup for you”, while given the proverbial boot and shown the door. (For a funny clip of this episode, go to: http:// youtu.be/MVm1KcrHM6s). It’s a funny made for TV moment that is hard to imagine happening in real life.

But imagine being a young single professional, just a few years removed from college, and being told by your church that there’s “No group for you.” Sadly, that is the case in many of our churches, where young Millennials find it difficult to connect with others who are in their same life stage.

David Richmond
David typifies many Millennials. Though he was involved in a Christian group in college, he found himself disconnected from the Lord after college.

David’s story typifies what is true for many Millennials. David grew up in what he described as an “off and on Christian home.” His parents divorced at a young age. He went to church when he was with his mom but didn’t go to church when he was with his dad.

In high school, David decided that he wanted God to lead his life but that decision didn’t translate into much meaningful change. Christianity was always in the background, never at the forefront.

When David transferred to UC San Diego, he started looking at various clubs on campus because he wanted to meet people. He got involved in Cru because he thought it would be a good idea and a great place to meet people.

David was a Bible study leader for Cru his senior year but for the most part, David was a worldly Christian. He did bible studies and other “Christian” stuff but he also partied and did all the “fun” stuff that he knew wasn’t helping him spiritually.

After graduation, David came back home, had a series of odd jobs and drifted away from the Lord. David became what we call a nomad. He still believed in the Bible and in Jesus but found himself increasingly disconnected from church.

Last year, David’s girlfriend began “dragging him to church.” He really didn’t want to go but did, just to appease his girlfriend. By the early fall, David started to feel like he wanted to make a change. As David looked around to find a place to connect with others like him who could help him navigate the circumstances he was experiencing in his life stage, he came up empty. He noticed a lot of different kinds of groups – groups for high schoolers, groups for marrieds, etc. But he didn’t find any group for a young single like himself who was dealing with a very transitory season of life.

David told me that he came to the conclusion that in order to find a group, “I either need to figure out how to get younger or I need to figure out how to get married.”

I met David back in November when I spoke at a church function. When Jen and I started our home group for Millennials at the end of February, I contacted David and invited him to come. I was delighted when he and a few others showed up for our first meeting.

David shared with me that “if it weren’t for the group we have on Tuesday nights where I can connect with others in my situation, I don’t think I would have made some of the steps I’ve taken to move closer to God.”

Pray for David as he moves to San Francisco this fall to attend Pharmacy school. And pray for us as we seek to ensure that Millennials in Orange County won’t be told “No Group for You!” when they seek to connect with other Millennials in their churches and in the area where they live.

Thanks for your partnership that is enabling us to make a difference in the lives of people just like David!

The End of an Era

Reflecting on the Impact of the San Jose State Crusade House

To read the pdf version of this letter, click here.

 

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail with some sad news. The Crusade House that I lived in my first 3 years on staff with Cru, would no longer exist after this school year.

It seems that the house has changed ownership and the new owners decided not to renew the lease to the students who are living there. Hence, the house that has served as a hub of ministry activity for San Jose State Cru will no longer serve in that capacity.

The Cru house was the brain child of Don Wilcox, who was the director of the San Jose State ministry when I arrived in 1989. As far back as the early 1980’s, Don envisioned a house close to campus that could serve as a beachhead for ministry on campus. Don saw the advantage of challenging young men to live together and sharpen one another as disciples for Christ, being raised up as leaders for the campus movement.

The Crusade House in 2010. The house was a hub for campus ministry for nearly 30 years.
The Crusade House in 2010. The house was a hub for campus ministry for nearly 30 years.

In 1984, Don was able to secure a house within a block of campus that would serve as the Crusade house for nearly 30 years. During that span, dozens of men have lived in that house and hundreds of lives have been impacted through the ministry of the house.

For me, the house was an incredible part of my own spiritual journey. It was the first place I lived on my own after moving away from home. Living with 12 other guys who all loved the Lord and were committed to following Him was incredibly challenging and motivating to me.

The house provided an opportunity for me to grow up and develop healthy relationships with others.

Joshua 24.15 - "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24.15 – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

It was a great place for ministry as well. I led Bible studies, prayer meetings and training times. I hosted parties and discipled guys right there in the house.

One of my fondest memories of the house happened within weeks of my arrival on campus. We held a prayer meeting at the house on a Friday night and somewhere during that meeting, there was a knock at the door and then a young man walked in.

Eric Oxford looked like a “deer in the headlights” as he stumbled into our prayer meeting that night. Clearly, he didn’t realize what he was walking into, but to our surprise, he acted as if he intended to be there and he decided to join us.

Afterwards, I introduced myself to Eric and found out a little bit about him. I learned that Eric was a transfer student and one of his friends from back home was living in the house and was involved with Cru. Being a Friday night, he decided to come over and hang out with his friend. That’s when Eric mistakenly stumbled into our prayer meeting.

Eric Oxford came to Christ when he inadvertently walked into a prayer meeting at the Crusade House.
Eric Oxford came to Christ when he inadvertently walked into a prayer meeting at the Crusade House.

Eric admitted that he was too embarrassed to turn around and leave so he decided to stick around. I asked Eric if we could meet up on campus the next week and he agreed.

The next week I shared the gospel with Eric. God had prepared his heart and to my excitement, he trusted the Lord with his life right there in the student union.

Eric joined a Bible study I was leading and for the next four years, I had the privilege of building a relationship with Eric and discipling him.

The next year, Eric moved into the house and lived there for several years, experiencing exceptional spiritual growth as a newer believer. He was not only my disciple, but he was my housemate, and he became one of my dear friends.

Today, Eric and his wife live in the Sacramento area and they both are walking with the Lord, desiring to serve Him as teachers.

I believe that God’s primary instrument for impacting lives is people. But the Crusade House reminds me that God can also use resources like a house to influence others towards His purposes. Though I’m sad to see the legacy of the house come to an end, I praise God for the role the house played in my own spiritual development and in the lives of guys like Eric.

I praise God too for the role you have played and are playing in helping to reach people for Christ! We are so grateful for you.

If you have a resource, like a house, that could be used for ministry purposes such as a team retreat or special meeting, please let us know. The Lord could use your resource to dramatically impact a life for Him.

The Thanksgiving Tree

A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter
A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter

This November, Jen initiated a new tradition in our house. We call it the thanksgiving
tree. It’s a pretty simple idea. A handful of long, slim branches placed in a vase with dozens of cutout paper leaves attached with ribbons. Every night at dinner, one of us would pull a paper leaf off the tree and read a Bible verse that was printed on it related to giving thanks. We would then go around the table and share something we were thankful for.

Since we agreed not to repeat thoughts from previous days, it was a great opportunity to
expand our hearts and think about blessings beyond the biggies like my home, my family
and the food on the table.

Last week, Jen and I attended our staff conference to say goodbye to the friends and colleagues we have worked with for the past 25 years. It was a bittersweet moment to share our vision with them concerning our new direction and also brought a moment of finality to our 25 years of ministering to college students. We were truly thankful.

In the midst of saying goodbye, we received an enormous amount of encouragement and words of thanks and gratitude for our years of service and the impact we’ve been blessed to make in the lives of students and staff in our region.

Below are a few notes that encouraged us, and hopefully will encourage you as well.
As we read through all the notes that were given to us, we were particularly encouraged to hear about the indirect impact we have made in the lives of people we have never met.

Like us, you may not directly know all of the people whose lives have been impacted
through your partnership, but your impact is real nonetheless.

As November ends and the Thanksgiving season is officially
behind us, we are incredibly thankful for you, our ministry partners.
Because of your prayers and generous giving, we are able to
influence many lives for the sake of Christ!

Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen,

I want to thank you two so much as you’ve both significantly influenced me. Your faithfulness has led us to where we are today. So thank you!”

– Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen – You guys rock! It’s a privilege to labor alongside such faithful people and to see you continue following Jesus wherever He takes you. As someone who found Jesus and grew up in faith at Davis when you were leading there, I can never repay you for the change in my life (Jesus can, though, so stay tuned for that). You make such a difference in our world!”

– Beth Sekishiro is a UC Davis graduate and now serves on staff with Cru at Cal Poly, Pomona.

Lucas Mathews“Dave & Jen – I’ve never met you but I am a UC Davis grad. I understand that you started the movement at Davis. I wanted to thank you because through that movement I came to know Jesus and now I am interning with Cru at UC Davis. None of that would have happened without your vision and passion to reach my campus. God Bless!”

– Lucas Mathews came to know Christ at UC Davis through Cru and is now serving as an intern with Cru.

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown.