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!

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.

 

A Quick Update

Cru Staff Conference

A few days ago, we returned from our National Staff Conference at Colorado State University. It’s always nice to be back in your own home and own bed after more than 5 weeks of heavy travel.

In the next day or two, I’ll share some reflections from our staff conference. In the meantime, you may be interested to read this general newsletter that explains what happens when Cru staff spend the summer in Colorado. Though we were not there for the whole summer this time, you can get a picture of what we’ve experienced in previous summers as well as reading about the staff conference, which we did attend.

Click here to read the newsletter.

2012 Celebration Video

Each year, at our National Leadership Conference, we pause to acknowledge God’s faithfulness in bringing more students and faculty into his kingdom! Check out this video, which celebrates the good things He has done in 2011 through the campus ministry of Cru.

100% Sent in Hawaii

On a recent coaching visit to Hawaii, I met Jessica Choi, a music professor at a local community college. Jessica came to Christ through our KCCC ministry on the east coast several years ago and was involved for 4 years as a student. After graduating, she maintained a heart to reach those around her.

Listen to her share her story in her own words how she is continuing to have an impact on students today.

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

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The “Crusade House” has been a hub for ministry to San Jose State University for over 25 years!

I nervously held the envelope in my hand. After 4 weeks of New Staff Training, I was anxious to open it up and see where I was going to be assigned as a new missionary with Campus Crusade.

As I slowly began to open the envelope, many thoughts raced through my mind. Would they assign me to work in the office? After all, I had a computer science minor and there was always a need for people with computer skills in the office… (Read the rest of the Lowedown)