A Big Bang Theory Tribute to my Mom

L-R: Howard, Raj, Sheldon, Leonard and Penny

One of my favorite sitcoms is The Big Bang Theory, which follows a group of brainy, socially awkward nerds who work at Cal Tech and struggle to figure out how to navigate life both professionally and socially. 

One of the main characters is a Jewish engineer named Howard Wolowitz (far left in the picture), who, in many ways typifies the stereotypical nerdy Millennial. He lives at home with his mother, who does his laundry, cooks for him and generally treats him like he’s still a child.

In the show, Howard’s mother is never seen but her voice is always heard yelling from another room. It’s actually quite comical. Unfortunately, the real life actress who played Mrs. Wolowitz died unexpectedly in the middle of season 8. As a result, the writers of the show decided that her character would also be written out of the show via an unexpected passing.

In the season 8 episode “The Leftover Thermalization”, there is a power outage and Howard realizes that the food his mom had cooked and stored in the freezer would soon spoil and be gone forever, and so too would one of the last sensory connections to his mother’s memory.

You may know that on Sunday, September 11th, my mother finally succumbed to her weeks long battle with pneumonia. She is now at peace in the presence of her savior, Jesus Christ.

A few days after my mom’s passing, I drove out to spend a few days with my dad, mostly so he wouldn’t have to be alone so soon after my mom’s death.

We found the last of my mom’s spaghetti in the freezer.

One of the first things I wanted to do was survey the food situation. Did we need to go to the grocery store? What was in the house to eat? Truthfully, the food was always my mom’s department, so I wanted to make sure that while I was there, we weren’t eating snacks and junk food for dinner.

As we were charting a plan for meals for the next few days, I had a Big Bang Theory moment when my dad produced a container of my mom’s spaghetti sauce from the freezer. I thought, “this is the last time I will ever eat anything my mom has made.” It was a surreal moment but it reminded me of the one quality that I think most typified my mom, and that was her selflessness.

My mom and dad with Jacob (right) and Joshua (left) – Thanksgiving 2013

One of the ways my mom demonstrated selflessness was through her cooking. Growing up, my mom always made sure everyone was fed and she was pretty good at it.

When I was in 2nd grade, my mom went back to work to help add to the family income. Still, she always found a way to make sure dinner was on the table. 

In high school, my mom went back to school to get her AA degree. Even then, despite the busyness of work AND school, she always had dinner prepared for us to heat up and serve, even when she wasn’t present to eat with us.

My mom with granddaughters Shaina (right) and Charissa – Thanksgiving 2009.

When I was in college, I would often come home very late from studying or working. There was always a plate in the refrigerator for me to heat up.

My mom typified kindness and service to others. She rarely complained even though she worked long hours meeting the needs of others before attending to herself.

She was the glue that held our family together. She stayed connected to me and my siblings even when we weren’t connected to each other.

In the Big Bang Theory episode, Howard decides to invite all his friends over for one last feast of enjoying the cooking of his mom, allowing each person to fondly reflect on how Mrs. Wolowitz had impacted them.

The last photo I took with my mom – Mother’s Day 2022

While my dad and I enjoyed the last of my mom’s spaghetti sauce, we reflected on her kindness and her sacrificial love demonstrated in so many ways, including her cooking.

Though my mom’s presence will be dearly missed, I thank God that she knew and loved Jesus and that she is in God’s presence, free from the health issues that increasingly affected her in her later years.

I thank God that in Christ, we have hope beyond this life, and that through Jesus, we have the assurance that being separated from our loved ones is but a temporary arrangement.  

Rest in Peace Mom!

Cru22 and Covid19

Cru22 was held in downtown Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center

Jen and I were cautiously anticipating our trip to Milwaukee for Cru22 as it’s been 3 long years since the staff of Cru have convened together for a large staff gathering.

About a week before the conference, we started getting text messages and emails from friends telling us they were sorry that they wouldn’t be able to see us in Milwaukee and sharing their hopes and prayers that we would get better.

We were a bit confused until we realized that another Dave Lowe who is on staff with Cru (FamilyLife) had posted on a work forum that he was going to have to miss the conference due to having Covid. Our friends who saw that post had mistaken the other Dave Lowe for me.

I assured our friends and colleagues that the news of my demise had been greatly exaggerated and that we were indeed planning on attending this much-awaited event.

The “Bronze Fonz” is a popular Milwaukee tourist photo opp that was just minutes from our hotel. Are we dating ourselves by saying we grew up watching “Happy Days” before re-runs?

The mood and the atmosphere of the conference was much different than years past. 

Not only has it been several years since being together, but our location, which was the same for nearly 50 years, was completely different.

There have also been quite a number of leadership changes in the past two years. Cru has a new Global president (only the 3rd in our 70+ year history), a new U.S. Ministries Director, a new Campus Ministry Executive Director and a new City Executive Director (the division we work in).

Still, it was great to be together with friends and co-workers, many whom we haven’t seen either in person or even virtually for at least 3 years.

The emphasis was on revisiting our roots and reaffirming our calling, which is to help fulfill the Great Commission by Wining others to Christ, Building them up in their faith and then Sending them out to do likewise.

Jen shares a personal ministry story to our Cru Embark colleagues

We spent the first few days with our specific ministry where our leaders crystallized our unique calling and mission to 20-Somethings: to transition, holistically form and launch 20-Somethings to find their place in God’s story.

Jen had the opportunity to share a story about her friend Grace (whom we highlighted in last month’s letter) and how Jen has helped Grace to uncover some of her unique gifts and discover her passion and calling for ministry within the art community.

Our large group sessions took place at the nearby UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, adjacent to the Wisconsin Center.

As our conference shifted from smaller gatherings among the different Cru ministries to the large group sessions with all of our staff together, we started to get reports that people whom we had been in close contact with early in the conference had gotten sick and tested positive for Covid.

Sure enough, I (Dave) started feeling some mild cold-like symptoms after the first full day of large group sessions. As a precaution, we stayed in our hotel room the next day and watched the sessions online. 

We were able to watch many of the Cru22 sessions online from our hotel room.

We were able to secure a Covid test that next day and I tested negative. I assumed I just had a cold. Still, not wanting to get others sick, we isolated ourselves and finished out the conference by watching online in our hotel room.

While we were encouraged by the speakers and the different reports about how Cru ministries are reaching people around the world with the good news of Jesus, we were a bit bummed that we weren’t able to connect with as many of our friends and fellow Cru staff as we had expected.

After returning home, I suspected I might be developing a sinus infection, so I went to an Urgent Care where I took another Covid test. This time I tested positive. Jen then tested positive as well. 

Fortunately, our Covid symptoms were mild and never too serious. We’re glad to share that we’ve both recovered from our Covid experience, though perhaps I should’ve taken the work forum post from my namesake (Dave Lowe) more seriously!

As our summer winds down and we transition to the Fall, we would appreciate your continued prayers as we seek to transition, holistically form and launch 20-Somethings to find their place in God’s story!

Unearthing Hidden Treasures

Have you heard about this person who bought a bust of a man at a thrift store for $35 and it turned out to be a 2000 year-old ancient Roman artifact? (see bit.ly/ThriftFind)

It got me thinking about whether we have unknown valuables stashed somewhere in our house.

Last fall we had a slab leak at our house and part of the repair process involved replacing the carpet in our house. Tucked in the deep crevices of our closet was a large Arrowhead water bottle I’ve been throwing all my spare change in for years.

This bottle was filled about 35-40% with silver coins and probably weighed at least 75 pounds.

It was about 35% full but when I had to move it to replace the carpet, it was so heavy I thought there was no way I’d be able to move it when it gets full (not to mention at the rate I was going, it might not get filled in my life-time).

The smart person would have taken all the coins to one of those coin counting machines you see at your local grocery store. But I’m not the smart person; I’m the cheap person, unwilling to forfeit 20% of the total value to someone else. 

So I got a wad of coin wrappers from my bank and proceeded to count and wrap all the coins myself (there were no pennies; only silver).

As I counted and wrapped, I paid attention to the dates on the coins. I hoped I might find an old coin or two or maybe even some real silver coins hidden in the pile. Perhaps a surprise find that might make me the subject of a sensational headline: “Mission Viejo Man Finds Rare Coin in Closet – Currently Shopping for a Tesla or Range Rover.”

It turned out that most of the coins were fairly recent, less than 30 years old. But I did find a number of nickels and dimes from the 1960’s and 70’s. 

While counting dimes I found two coins that at first glance looked like metal slugs you might find on the ground at a construction site. I came very close to throwing them away.

However, upon further examination, I realized these two coins weren’t slugs at all, but dimes that were older than the typical Roosevelt dimes that have been in circulation since the 1940’s.

One of the dimes is an 1877 Liberty dime and the other coin is so worn that it’s hard to determine the exact date but I’m reasonably certain it’s a Liberty dime from the early 1800’s.

Before you cry “Eureka”, know that I learned that these coins are much too worn to have any substantial value, but they are still interesting finds, nonetheless. It simply confirms to me that you never know what hidden treasures are buried within the landscape of our stuff.

Part of our ministry to Young Professionals is helping them to find their unique place of ministry in God’s Kingdom. Often this involves helping them unearth the hidden treasures of unique talents with which God has blessed them.

Grace and Jen pose together in front of two of Grace’s paintings on display at an AAPI Art Exhibit. Click the photo to go to Grace’s Etsy store.

I think about Grace, a Young Professional Jen has been coaching and mentoring. Grace studied to be an engineer and worked as an Environmental Engineer for several years before getting laid off.

It turns out that Grace is incredibly creative and artistic and she now had the space to explore these talents. 

As part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Jen and I attended an Art Exhibit at Saddleback Church, highlighting artists of Asian American/Pacific Islander descent. Grace was one of the highlighted artists.

Imagine the power and freedom when you discover your passions and learn to express your talents in a way that glorifies God and brings joy and blessing to others!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT GRACE’S ETSY STORE

Thank you for your partnership that enables us to minister to Young Professionals, helping them to unleash their incredibly unique talents in new and creative ways.

LinkedIn, CBMC and Helping Young Adults Embark

I was recently invited to attend a quarterly breakfast for the Orange County Chapter of CBMC (Christian Businessman’s Connection). 

Marc Ottestad, the coordinator of the group, had connected with me via LinkedIn, thinking that our similar interests and passion for coaching, mentoring and seeing men make an impact for Jesus in their jobs might make for some natural opportunities to collaborate.

When I showed up at the breakfast, I noticed that most of the men were my age or even older. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how this breakfast might directly help me.

At one point, we were asked to shuffle tables to meet some new people and discuss what we heard from the speaker.

I found another table and ended up sitting next to the only guy in the room who was younger than 30.

I introduced myself to Alec and learned that he had recently graduated from Biola and was working at expanding a website business.

When Alec asked what I do, I shared that I help Young Professionals thrive spiritually and live with purpose.

Alec is a recent graduate of Biola University who is seeking biblical community while working to build and expand his website business.

I explained that my wife and I had spent many years ministering to college students but we made a shift in our ministry focus a few years ago because we had seen a void in Christian circles in serving the needs of Young adults, who are often struggling to find the kind of community and support that they need when they are undergoing the biggest changes and most stressful transitions of their life.

Alec’s response was both sad and affirming at the same time. He said, “you pretty much just summed up my current life situation.”

It’s sad that there seems to be so few resources and support for young professionals like Alec. I’ve spent many hours thinking through this issue, trying to determine why this is the case. 

My conclusions are not researched…they are just opinions, yet it makes sense to me.

If you think about it, most churches are built around a family model. Nearly every church serves the needs of families – from kids programs to youth events as well as support for parents and marriages.

This is an extremely good thing because, if you haven’t noticed, the traditional family unit, with biblical family values is under attack in our culture. The church may be the last bastion of hope to salvage a biblical understanding of the family unit.

But that same model works against Young Professionals, who are in a season where they have often left their family of origin and are yet to start a family of their own. They are in an in-between season of life – living on their own, learning to live as an adult with real-life responsibilities.

In this in-between phase, which is lasting longer for current 20-Somethings than it has for previous generations, they are looking for others like them with whom they can experience the struggles and transitions of becoming an adult.

Jen and I regularly connect with Young Adults who share their frustrations with attending churches where they struggle to find other Young Adults.

I have heard a number of church leaders tell me that a specific ministry meeting the needs of Young Adults is unnecessary. Citing the benefits of inter-generational worship and community, they contend that Young Adults should simply get involved in the life of the church,.

I believe this view is short-sighted. Research demonstrates that Young Professionals DO want mentors and they DO want to be involved in the life of the church. So in one sense, the idea of inter-generational worship and involvement makes sense. But a weekly men’s group cannot fill the void that’s lacking for many Young Adults – the need for a family-like experience with peers while they are in the season of single-ness.

We don’t have all the answers and we’re still learning best practices as we seek to minister to this audience. But we are seeking to fill the gap in various ways. 

After meeting Alec for lunch, I was able to connect him to a Leadership Development group that I recently launched. One of the guys in the group is also a Biola grad with whom Alec was acquainted. 

We’re also exploring the benefits of coaching. It may not meet all of Alec’s needs, but our hope is that it will provide a few missing elements that will help Alec, and others like him, to thrive spiritually and live with purpose during this season of life!

 

The Power of Gratitude

GRATITUDE. It’s a word that can be hard to come by these days as the past few years have been challenging for a variety of reasons. Yet, I’ve been reflecting on the power of gratitude recently after an experience I had last month.

I had to write an essay for a program that I’m thinking about doing in the fall. The essay seemed simple enough – I had to share how I came to know Christ.

As I started writing the essay I began to think about the person who led me to that personal relationship with Christ. 

I became a Christian right after I turned 15 at a Christian summer camp called Hume Lake. I was sitting in the chapel with my church high school group and the speaker, Dewey Bertonlini, was sharing with all of us squirrelly high schoolers what it means to know Christ personally. He said that many of us were probably “on the fence” about making that decision.

My ears kind of perked up at that point. He then shared that if that was the case, we needed to get off the fence and actually make a conscious decision to follow Christ, to make Him the Lord of our lives. Once that happened, all of our sins would be forgiven – past, present and future.

I still have the Hume Lake Decision Bookmark that commemorates the day I made the commitment to follow Christ!

It was at that point, on August 13, 1985, that I asked Christ to be the Lord of my life. I knew I was on the fence and needed to start a relationship with Him. How amazing! 

I started to wonder whatever happened to Dewey. He was so animated and was able to keep my attention at 15. He humbly took the initiative to share Christ with all of us, which is a step of faith. 

I googled his name, found his email and decided to send him a message to express my gratitude. Here’s what I wrote:

“Hello, you don’t know me but I just wanted to thank you for your ministry! I became a Christian back in 1985 between my freshman and sophomore year in high school at Hume Lake. I’m now 51 and have been married for 28 years to my husband Dave. We work for Cru and have been working with young people for the last 30 years. I’ve got twin boys who are in college now. I’m in the process of applying to take some classes in spiritual formation and soul care and am writing my testimony. I’ve never forgotten the impact your talks at Hume Lake made in my life. I distinctly remember you asking the crowd if we were still on the fence in making a decision to follow Christ and I realized I was on the fence and needed to make a decision to follow Him. Thanks for your ministry! I thought I’d look you up online to see what you’ve been up to and I saw your email. I realized I needed to send you a quick email just to thank you for introducing me to Jesus! Here’s a photo of me and my family! Blessings to you and your family. Thanks again for the eternal investment you’re making in people’s lives.”

About a week later, I received this message back from Dewey:

“Jennifer, you Made My Day! I cannot put into words the refreshment your note brought to my parched soul!!! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!”

I hesitated a bit before I sent the email to him because it was 37 years ago that this event happened! But when I saw his reply, it reminded me that it’s never too late to express gratitude to someone. Gratitude is so powerful, and God’s timing is perfect.

During this season of Lent I’ve been reflecting on how much God has done for me in sending His Son to die for me. When I sit and think of what my life has become through Christ and how He has changed me and continues to change me to become more like Him, my heart is filled with overflowing gratitude.

So….is there someone who comes to mind for whom you are grateful? It’s never too late to share that gratitude. It could be life changing! In what ways are you grateful for God’s presence in your life?

Thank you for your partnership and ministry to us. We are grateful for you!

NOTE: You can check out Dewey’s blog and podcast at: deweybertolini.com or by clicking the image below.

Super Results!

The Super Bowl is perhaps the biggest sporting event each year in America and each year, the day before the Super Bowl, Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Cru, hosts a Super Bowl breakfast in the host city.

The Super Bowl Breakfast program

This year, the Super Bowl and Super Bowl breakfast was in Los Angeles for the first time since 1993.

This event is not a casual affair. 1500 attendees experience a top-notched, NFL-sanctioned event featuring some of the biggest names in the NFL.

The program honors a recipient of the Bart Starr Award, which is given to an NFL player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.”

Past recipients of the award include Peyton & Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Mike Singletary & Reggie White. 

This year’s recipient was Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

The program highlights the recipient of the annual Bart Starr award and also features a keynote speaker.

In addition to presenting the Bart Starr Award, the program includes a keynote speaker who shares a testimony or a message of faith. This year’s speaker was Frank Reich, the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Pulling off an event as big as this is not easy, and the fact that the event is in a different location each year makes it challenging to secure the manpower to pull it off.

Being on staff with Cru, I was made aware of the need for volunteers and so I made myself available while also recruiting my high school friend and NFL fan Mike to help.

Part of the pre-event prep was setting up 1500 place settings for the breakfast attendees.

Mike and I were assigned security detail, no doubt due to my massive physique and imposing stature.  

It was quite a long day, which involved arriving at the hotel by 5:00 a.m. to help set up tables and then prepare for 1500 guests to arrive.

In addition to helping to ensure that attendees didn’t bother the special guests during the breakfast, Mike and I helped to secure the Guest VIP room that was located off of the lobby area. Our job was to keep eager fans from entering a special room reserved for special guests like Russell Wilson, Anthony Munoz and Ronnie Lott.

My friend Mike poses with Coach O (Ed Orgeron)

While we were waiting for the program to end, we saw Coach Ed Orgeron in the lobby. Coach O, as he’s called, was most recently the head coach of the LSU Tigers and led them to the National championship 3 years ago. His quarterback was Joe Burrow, who is now the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals who happened to be playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

Coach O makes a personal phone call to a HUGE fan!

My friend Mike approached Coach O and told him that his dad is from Baton Rouge and is a HUGE LSU fan.

Coach O, in his typical gravelly, Cajun voice asked, “Your daddy, is he alive?”

Mike responded “yes”, to which Coach O replied, “well call him up.”

Mike quickly dialed the number of his dad and handed the phone to Coach O. The exchange went like this:

“Hello Jim….this is Coach O!”

“No it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is. I’m in a hotel lobby and your son Mike tells me you’re a huge LSU fan and so I just called to say ‘Go Tigers.’” 

He then handed the phone back to my friend Mike. 

Dave with Coach O. I’m a Coach O fan as well but for different reasons. He was a coach for the USC Trojans during the success of the Pete Carroll years.

Our job was actually not very glamourous. Other than Coach O, who was not actually there for the Super Bowl breakfast, we didn’t talk to or rub shoulders with any sports celebrities. I had to get my suit altered, I got up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to L.A., paid a small fortune for parking and didn’t eat breakfast or even see most of the program. 

I certainly wasn’t making friends when I had to tell a number of people that the lobby restrooms were not available while being used by certain VIPs.

So why did we do it? What was the benefit? 

The benefit was that because of our help and the generous support of hundreds of other volunteers, 18 people indicated a new commitment to Jesus in response to Coach Reich’s message. And that number is likely much higher due to an online component to the event that is harder to accurately evaluate.

Our job was very much behind the scenes and under the radar, and yet, we rejoice in knowing that people entered the kingdom as a result of the events of that day. When people come to know Jesus, it is rarely a one-person effort but often the result of hundreds, if not thousands of people who each play a small part in the journey. 

We are grateful for the part you play in helping us as we minister to Young Professionals and volunteer at Super Bowl events!

And as a long-time Los Angeles Rams fan, I personally rejoice in a narrow Super Bowl 56 victory!

Who is Jesus?

I have to admit that this past Christmas season was interesting. With all of the travel we had scheduled and with our house being in such disarray due to repairs from our slab leak damage, it was difficult to get in the Christmas spirit.

Normal Christmas reminders were absent as we weren’t able to put up any decorations until just a few days before Christmas.

When life is crazy and chaotic, as it has been for us, it’s easy to lose sight of Jesus.

A few days ago, the Cru Facebook page that I help to monitor received a message from a user in Africa named Mathias.

The message was a simple question: Who is Jesus?

The question “who is Jesus?” is perhaps the most important question that anyone can answer.

Jesus himself asked this question of his followers. In the book of Mark, Jesus recruits 12 men to follow him. Through his teaching, ministry, and many miracles Jesus slowly reveals his identity to his disciples. At the midpoint of the book, Jesus asks his disciples, “who do people say that I am?”

The disciples respond with the popular views of the culture at that time: some say you’re John the Baptist or Elijah; others say you’re a prophet.

Our society has a lot of answers to the question, “who is Jesus?”

Some people believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher – an example for us to follow. Others believe he was a prophet. A few people believe Jesus was a political revolutionary.

Jesus follows with a more pointed question, “who do YOU say that I am?”

Peter answers with the only valid response that hits the mark: Jesus is the Messiah; he is God!

In our fast-paced, materialistic culture, we can sometimes forget who Jesus really is and what he offers. For those of us who have known Jesus for a long-time, the Christmas season can seem rote or routine.

But I’m reminded that there are millions of people who don’t know Jesus, and the idea that God is real and personal is incredibly new and exciting.

People like John, also from Africa, message us every day, wanting to know who God is and how they can know Him.

Though this is a very minimal part of our job, it’s a privilege to be able to tell people all over the world who Jesus is and how they can know Him.

It really is amazing that the God of the universe stepped into humanity in the person of Jesus. He alone offers hope and peace to a world that is desperate and hopeless!


For more information on the Biblical evidence for Jesus’ deity, see my short article “Is Jesus God?”

Some related blog posts you might find helpful:

Does Your Understanding of the Nature of Jesus Really Matter?

Is Your View of Jesus Really that Important? (Part 2)

Further Proof That Jesus is God

 

Hidden Barriers to Experiencing Change

Jen and I had just parked the car and were heading over to the restaurant, where we were scheduled to meet long-time friends on the first day of our East Coast trip. I glanced at my phone and noticed a new text from our dog sitter. My heart beat instantly elevated as I read the text and learned that there was a water leak in our house.

A quick phone call and some remote sleuthing led me to determine that we likely had a slab leak. Why do these things always seem to happen when we’re out of town? This was the first day of our trip in which we were planning to see our sons at West Point during Parent weekend. I was now wondering if we would have to cut our trip short and head home.

Carpet damage extended beyond the hallway, into the neighboring living room as well as the downstairs bedroom.

The good news was that we had caught it early. Our dog sitter was able to get the water shut off and clean up the water, which was mostly contained in the laundry area and surrounding hallway. It seemed as if we had dodged a bullet and avoided a huge crisis.

However, when we returned from our trip, it quickly became apparent that the damage was more extensive than we had thought. The carpet stains revealed water had gone throughout the downstairs, not just in a small area in front of our laundry closet.

We called a restoration company and learned that there was moisture in a number of walls surrounding the affected areas.

A system of water-filled coolers and thermoses allowed us to use our toilets for a few days.

Our hope was to get the walls dried up and then repipe our house. We figured we could live without running water for a few days so I devised a plan to fill a couple of large coolers with water from my neighbor’s hose. This water would be used to fill our toilet tanks so we could use them.

My plans were dashed as I learned that the restoration company wouldn’t be able to begin work immediately because our house is older and the walls needed to be tested first for lead and asbestos.

Our vinyl tile was “toxic” so it had to be treated by specially qualified professionals.

That took a few days and though our walls ultimately came back negative, the vinyl tile in the laundry area, which was damaged and needed to be removed, did come back positive for asbestos.

That meant we had to get a special abatement crew to remove the vinyl tile.

Two and a half weeks later, we are finally back in our home with actual running water. But there is still much that needs to happen to get back to normal. It will take weeks, if not months, for things to be fully restored.

Unfortunately, the process of repairing what’s broken & getting back to “normal” often takes longer than we hope or expect. The rebuilding process can uncover hidden issues that must be addressed. Sometimes, we even need experts to help us deal with the issues that may be toxic.

I’ve found that in my spiritual life, change is often like the repairs on my house. Spiritually, the things I struggle with are often caused by deeper, hidden issues that are ignored or not properly addressed.

Walls and ceilings had to be opened up throughout our home in order to “fix” the problem and repipe our house.

Real change often means opening up walls and getting inside before things can really be fixed. And sometimes, we can benefit greatly from the help of others who can help us deal with the highly sensitive and toxic issues in our lives that my be holding us back from experiencing the growth and change Jesus wants for us.

Thank you for your partnership with us and your encouragement to us as we navigate the slab leaks of our home and our spiritual lives.

Please pray for us as we deal with insurance, repairs and the costs related to this latest leak.

Making Jesus “Findable” to the World!

Did you know that one of the most frequented internet sites for people wanting to know more about God and Jesus is hosted by Cru?

Since 2002, more than 4 million people have indicated a decision to trust Jesus as a result of visiting one of our evangelistic sites.

Back in February I wrote about how Cru is reaching millions of people through our digital websites everystudent.com and everyperson.com. By utilizing strategic google advertising, literally millions of people from around the world are visiting our sites to learn what it means to trust Jesus for salvation and experience His peace through the adversities of life.

I got involved earlier this year in helping to monitor our Facebook page, which has seen increased interaction as we’ve begun to utilize more advertising on that platform to attract seekers to our site.

A few months ago, Marilyn Adamson, the director of our everystudent.com site sent out a quick e-mail update to let people know how effective the site has been in recent months. I thought you might be encouraged to hear some of the results.

In July, nearly 6 million people visited one of our sites with over 80,000 people indicating a decision for Christ. That’s nearly 2600 people every day making a commitment to Jesus!

Everystudent.com has been translated into more than 40 different languages, giving people from nearly every country in the world an opportunity to access the information on the site in their own language.

Marilyn says, “Many of these people are in India, UK, Egypt, South Africa, Pakistan, China, Australia…all over the world, actually. Some come via a VPN because they live in difficult countries, under threats to them. Yet, in private, God is leading them to EveryStudent.com, then to himself, and revealing himself to them as they grow.”

It’s exciting to see so many lives being changed and it’s especially encouraging to hear from those whose lives have been impacted.

People like Adarkwah, who says, “I appreciate what you are doing for me and am very grateful. I hope by the end of this lesson, I will be the one to tell people how wonderful God is.”

Nikitha says simply, “Thank you so much…my new life has begun.”

Anne wrote, “Thank you for sharing your sites. I read everything you send and more on your sites. Finding this has opened my understanding of faith, grace, etc. It’s amazing! I mean amazing!! I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”

Many of those whose lives have changed by coming to the site and hearing the truth about God and Jesus, are in turn, sharing with others and becoming multiplying disciples.

It’s amazing to me how God uses every avenue at his disposal to reach those who are earnestly seeking him.

The great news is that you can use the site to reach those in your community and sphere of influence as well. To find out how you can make Jesus findable to those around you by utilizing the resources of these websites, go to http://www.everystudent.info. There, you’ll find a wealth of resources that will help you to see the various ways you can actively and passively point people to the site.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership as we seek to make Jesus Findable to Young Adults and the world!

Investing in the Next Generation of Leaders

This last week was somewhat of a milestone in our ministry.

The Senior Leadership Initiative (SLI) Cohort, to which Jen helps to give oversight, met in person for the first time since October of 2019.

This group of nearly 30 leaders represents the breadth of Cru ministries, from Campus to Family Life, Jesus Film to Athletes in Action. City, Josh McDowell and Global Headquarters are also represented as well as participants from Cru ministries serving in a number of overseas locations.

Participants of the Senior Leadership Initiative Cohort 8 graduate from their 2 year development program.

Potential leaders are nominated by their division leadership and encouraged to apply to participate in this unique 2 year development program.

The cohort is divided into 4 modules, lasting 6 months each. Each module has a live one-week conference that delivers content relevant to the theme of that particular module. These in-person conferences are critical to providing a relational component that encourages connection and collaboration among these rising leaders who serve in different Cru divisions.

The cohort was scheduled to meet in person in April 2020 in San Antonio to kick off the 2nd module, but as you know, all in person meetings and gatherings were suspended due to Covid.

The SLI Design team is responsible for developing the next generation of rising leaders who are serving across the multiple divisions and many ministries of Cru world-wide.

The design team on which Jen serves had to pivot and re-imagine how to deliver content and a leadership development experience in a strictly virtual environment.

We are fortunate to have technology platforms like Zoom for connecting virtually, but duplicating a week-long in-person conference into an online platform is particularly challenging.

For starters, nobody really wants to be in a Zoom meeting for 8 straight hours, much less for a full week!

Secondly, if you’ve ever been to a live conference or retreat, you know that there is so much that happens in the margins that just can’t be duplicated virtually. Side conversations happen at your table during the breaks and over meals that magnify the conference experience.

If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that there is no replacement for live, physical interactions with other humans.

Jen and SLI Director Alan Tung recognize cohort participants at the closing “graduation” ceremony.

This last week gave the participants an opportunity to experience those interactions first-hand, as their SLI experience came to a conclusion in San Diego. Because of the proximity of this module to our home, I was able to join Jen for the week and work remotely.

The SLI Design team did an amazing job keeping things together during this challenging season and helping this cohort to finish strong!

In addition, because of how Covid impacted large gatherings and conferences, we were blessed to be able to experience this module in a prime location that normally would be out of reach to us financially. It was certainly nice to be able to experience the week in such an amazing location.

View of North San Diego Bay and Coronado Island from our hotel.

Please pray for these leaders as they seek to implement what they’ve learned into their own leadership situation. Many of these leaders are moving into significant positions of responsibility within the organization. Pray that the leadership lessons they’ve learned will multiply their impact and influence, resulting in many more changed lives.

Thank you for your partnership with us that enables us to influence the next generation of leaders amongst Cru staff as well as Young Professionals in our community and around the world!