A Divine Appointment in a Grocery Store Parking Lot

I pulled into the parking lot at Stater Bros., a Southern California grocery store near our house. I needed to pick up just a few items and though I had intended to swing by much earlier in the day to avoid the after-work crowds, I had been delayed for reasons I can’t even remember.

As I got out of the car, I heard someone address me with the question, “Dave Lowe?”

Michael Acuna is a former Cal Poly, Pomona student and current assistant basketball coach at Bethesda University.

I looked to see a guy standing in front of my car wearing a mask, glasses and a hat. I didn’t recognize him immediately with all of his facial features covered. He had recognized me though before I parked because I wasn’t wearing a mask or hat until I got out of the car.

He realized I didn’t recognize him so he re-introduced himself.

“Michael Acuna….from Cal Poly, Pomona Destino.”

Michael is a guy I had connected with a number of years ago when Jen and I were in our Regional positions with the Cru campus ministry.

Michael was a student involved in Destino, our Latino focused campus ministry.

I hadn’t seen Michael in several years but we were friends on Facebook and Instagram and I would occasionally see posts from him online. As Michael updated me on his life, I learned that we live very close to each other.

I gave Michael an update on us, including our transition a few years from ministering to college students to focusing on Young Professionals. As I shared about some of the resources we provide, such as Leadership Development Groups and coaching, Michael’s eyes lit up.

“I could really use some coaching”, he responded.

Michael and I were able to exchange contact information and we’ve connected virtually a few times now to talk about how we can move forward in a coaching relationship.

My encounter with Michael is just another example of how God is always working behind the scenes to orchestrate events and work out His divine plans and purposes.

Michael and I taking a selfie in the Stater Bros. parking lot.

A few days ago I was reading in Mark 1, which starts off with these words: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.”

What’s interesting though is that Mark doesn’t really talk about Jesus for another 8 verses. If the gospel is about Jesus and Mark is going to talk about the beginning of the gospel, why does he delay mentioning Jesus and instead spend 8 verses talking about an obscure verse in Isaiah, followed by a description of John the Baptist preaching and baptizing out in the wilderness?

It’s true that Jesus is the central figure of the gospel, but the story of the good news incorporates so much more.

This passage is a reminder that even before Jesus arrives on the scene, God the Father is working behind the scenes preparing people for the arrival of the king.

Henry Blackaby said it well in his popular book and workbook “Experiencing God” when he said, “God is always at work around us…”

It’s true. God is ALWAYS working, often in ways I’m not aware of. He’s orchestrating events and arranging circumstances to accomplish his purposes and ultimate plans.

This is why I don’t believe my chance encounter with Michael was accidental or coincidental. It was providential.

How about you? Who are the people and what are the circumstances God arranged to prepare you for the arrival of Jesus in your life?

If God can arrange circumstances to help you encounter Jesus, how might he be using your current situation and circumstances to  prepare you for something greater that you might not even be able to imagine at the moment?

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said that, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Before Jesus ever arrived on the scene of your life, God was working to prepare you. And now that you know Jesus, God is still working in you to bring growth and development and perhaps opportunities that you never dreamed of!

You can read more of my thoughts on Mark 1 on my January 13th entry of my DailyDevo blog. 

The Power of Multiplication

Connecting with students at CSU San Bernardino about Destino

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown.

For years, Jen and I have been talking to students about the power of multiplication. It’s the old adage, “give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

A book that has highly influenced our thinking is “Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman. In the book, Coleman outlines Jesus’ strategy to reach the world, which ironically was not through his own direct efforts, at least not ultimately. Jesus’ approach was to invest in 12 men who would be able to carry on His work long after He had gone. These men in turn invested in others who did the same. It was a multiplication effect that led to exponential growth of the church. It makes sense, and it works.

For the last few years, Jen and I have been trying to apply this principle to movement start-ups. Jen and I have been planting ethnic movements for several years and at the same time have been inviting and equipping others to do the same. We’re beginning to see the fruit of that borne out as new ethnic movements are beginning to take root in various locations throughout our region.

Now, instead of just Jen and I launching these new ministries, we are beginning to see established ministries branch out to start new works. And ministries that were started just in the last few years are beginning to expand as well.

Just a few years ago, we recruited a new team to reach Latino students at Long Beach State. After quickly establishing a ministry there, they branched out and started a group at Cal State Fullerton. And just this last month, students from those ministries spent several days of their spring break out in San Bernardino working to establish a new Destino ministry at Cal State San Bernardino.

After spending two days engaging students on campus in many different ways, students were invited to a free lunch to hear more about the vision for Destino. Over 20 students showed up and after the meeting was over, eight students stuck around to hear how they could play a part in helping to establish Destino on campus.

In the weeks that have transpired, those students have continued to meet and we are well on our way to seeing Destino established as an official organization at Cal State San Bernardino.

Praise God for what He’s doing and pray with us that Destino would be established and begin to grow and flourish at Cal State San Bernardino!

Destino Students converge at CSU San Bernardino

Experiencing the Power of Prayer

Joel Silva
Joel, a first year intern, is our ONLY Latino staff person in Los Angeles. Please pray for him and our entire Destino team.

Over the summer, I had the chance to coach Joel as he raised funds to join our Long Beach Destino team as an intern. It was fun to see Joel take steps of faith to see God provide in huge ways. Joel finished his fund-raising and reported in time to start the fall. It’s exciting to see the impact Joel is having as the ONLY Latino guy who is on the team.

A few weeks ago, before heading to campus for the day, Joel prayed, “Lord, save someone today. Let me see and guide someone from death to life.”

Later that morning, Joel found himself talking to Jamie, a student he had met and talked with briefly just a few days before. Moments into the conversation, Joel decided to bring up God. In what turned out to be a 2 hour conversation, Joel was able to engage Jamie regarding his past and his current beliefs in God. Joel was able to share the gospel and though Jamie thought he knew God, it turns out that he never really heard and understood the message of Christ before.

Jamie opened up about his desire to know God and trust in something greater than himself to satisfy his emptiness. As Joel shared about the great love God has for him, tears welled up in Jamie’s eyes and he could not speak. Obviously God was working in Jamie’s heart.

In that moment, as he saw Jamie move from death to life, Joel remembered the prayer he had prayed that morning.

Thank you for your prayers for us. Because of your prayers and partnership, many lives, like Joel’s and Jamie’s are being changed for Christ’s sake!

Click here to download a pdf version of our newsletter!

Destino Trek Transformation

Last summer, a student named Elda attended our “Destino Trek” project in San Antonio. Through that experience, Elda received vision and training to start Destino on her own campus at Chico State.

Elda is our Destino student leader at Chico State.
Elda is our Destino student leader at Chico State.

A few weeks ago, I received an email about Samira, another Chico State student whose life has been impacted by being involved in Destino. Here is Samira’s story, as told by one of the Destino Trek staff:

It was midnight. I got the short straw at our staff meeting and so my job was to drive to the Austin airport and pick up a student arriving a day early for “Destino Trek,” an intensive leadership training week we do each year in central Texas.

Samira (Sahmeer-ah) from Chico State was waiting for her luggage when I met her at the carousel in baggage claim. As we made the one hour ride back to where we were hosting the training, I found out Samira was like most of our students—her parents are immigrants, she is the first in her family to go to college, Spanish is spoken at home but her English is really good, and she was a new Christian who wanted to grow and become more of a leader for Christ.

I hit the pillow hard that night and got up the next day to help Samira and sixteen other students (pictured below) from around the U.S. to pursue their goal of growing as spiritual leaders.

Samira is a Chico State student who attended the Destino Trek!
Samira is a Chico State student who attended the Destino Trek!

Each day we did some sort of physical challenge, a high ropes course or kayaking down the Brazos River. But we’d also train them in how to spend time with God, how to share their faith, how to grow in character, how to launch and build a Destino movement, etc.

After one morning of training on how to share your faith, we had an afternoon of outreach in the community. We all paired up to talk with people, and Samira shared her faith for the first time.

That night we came back to the ranch and had a time of telling each other what God did. Samira spoke up. She began to say that she was able to share with somebody. But then she stopped midway through the story and said, “Can I tell you in Spanish?” And the whole group spontaneously said things like, “Of course!” “This is Destino!” “We’re your familia!”

Samira then really lit up and, in Spanish, passionately told us how she led somebody to pray and receive Christ that afternoon. It was the 1000th moment I’ve had in the last two years with Destino, that I saw how much we need a ministry like this to win, build and send students like Samira.

Through your partnership, Destino movements are starting on campuses like Chico State through students like Elda. As a result, students like Samira are being reached and trained to influence others for Christ. Thank you for your partnership in reaching students and faculty from every culture on every campus for Christ! We are extremely grateful for you!

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown!

“Destino is Like Family”

One of the most frequent questions we get in our role is “why do you have separate ministries to reach out to ethnic minority students?”

Dina Martinez’s story provides an answer to that question.

Dina Martinez (left) and Lidia
Dina Martinez (left) and Lidia

Dina is an intern with Campus Crusade and Destino at UC Santa Barbara. Dina grew up in South Central Los Angeles where most of her friends were either Latino or African American. When she arrived as a student at UC Santa Barbara she experienced culture shock because she wasn’t accustomed to being in the minority.

Being a Christian, Dina decided to check out Real Life, Campus Crusade’s weekly meeting. Even though she loved the mission and vision of Campus Crusade, and how bold they were in sharing the gospel with students on campus, it was very difficult for her to attend the weekly meeting and get involved because of how radically different it was culturally.

“There was only one other ethnic person at the weekly meeting besides me”, Dina recalls. “I felt very alone and self-conscious.”

Dina prayed that God would give her the strength to keep attending, even though it was draining for her.

When Dina’s bible study leader wanted to start Destino, Campus Crusade’s ministry to Latino students, Dina asked if she could help. She wanted to start Destino to minimize some of the barriers that ethnic students face in getting involved and coming to Christ by sharing Christ with fellow Latinos in a way that was culturally relevant to them.

This year UCSB took 11 students to the Destino Winter Conference in San Antonio, Texas. One student who attended the Conference was named Lidia, who considered herself to be agnostic. Lidia had a spiritual encounter with the Lord at the Conference, and two weeks later, she put her faith in Christ. Dina says, “Destino is so important because it is like a tight knit family, and I want Latino students to experience the love of Christ in a safe environment.”

Thanks for partnering with us so that students like Dina and Lidia can experience Christ in the context of “familia”!

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown!

An Unplanned Diversion

I was awakened to the smell of something burning. Moments later, I noticed flight attendants quickly running up and down the center aisle of the plane with fire extinguishers.

Smelling a burning smell and seeing flight attendants scrambling with fire extinguishers is usually not a good thing when you’re cruising at 30,000 feet above the ground.

An airport fireman, wearing a hazmat suit, checks things out on our plane in El Paso
An airport fireman, wearing a hazmat suit, checks things out on our plane in El Paso

Moments later, an announcement was made that our flight to Houston was being diverted to El Paso.

After being on the ground for an hour, we were told that the source of the burning had still not been identified (later, in a letter from Continental, I learned that it was a faulty circuit board that had burned). As a result, we were all re-booked on other airlines.

I found myself now heading to Dallas for a connecting flight that would ultimately get me to Orlando where I would rent a car to drive to Daytona, where 75 people were attending our New Staff Training conference.

Unfortunately for me, when I got to Dallas, I saw that my connecting flight was delayed by 4 and half hours.

By the time I finally arrived in Orlando, got my car and drove to Daytona, it was after 5:00 in the


I was scheduled to speak in just a few hours. Little did these staff know but I was going to ask them to take

an unplanned diversion of their own. Instead of heading to Houston, or some other location they had their hearts set on, I was sharing about the tremendous needs to reach the growing Latino student population. I invited those in the group to join us in Los Angeles to help us reach Latino students.

I was incredibly tired, and I don’t drink coffee either, so I was functioning on pure adrenaline.

I was able to make an impassioned plea that resulted in 3 New Staff making an “unplanned diversion.”

Left-Right: Stephen Brown, Tyler Helfers, Christina Helfers
Left-Right: Stephen Brown, Tyler Helfers, Christina Helfers

Stephen is a single guy from North Carolina who had never traveled east of Tennessee and Tyler and Christina are a married couple from Minnesota who were thinking of going to Miami.

Instead, the Lord has diverted them to Los Angeles, where they’ll be serving with Destino.

Two weeks ago, all three of them were in Los Angeles to check out the campuses and get an increased vision for what they’ll be doing with Destino. It was a fun time to see the fruition of my crazy flight from January.

Thanks for your partnership with us. Because of your commitment, we are able to recruit people like Stephen and Tyler and Christina to take unplanned diversions to see people from every culture reached for Christ!

Click here to view the pdf version of The Lowedown.

Destino Winter Conference Highlights

Check out this highlight video of the Destino conference, which includes excerpts of Jose Luis’s story. He was the student highlighted in our latest newsletter, Soccer and Salvation in San Antonio.

Soccer and Salvation in San Antonio

160 Latino students and dozens of Campus Crusade staff were packed in the meeting room, listening as students, one by one, stepped to the microphone to share their story of what the Lord had done earlier in the day.

It was the day of outreach for the conference and many students told stories of sharing their faith and the people who had responded to their message of hope.

Jose Luis (left) and Sara Ramirez, a student at Arizona State
Jose Luis (left) and Sara Ramirez, a student at Arizona State

Jose Luis, a Destino student at Texas A&M stepped up to share his experience. He nervously began to share how God had worked that day.

Many of the students went to neighborhoods in San Antonio to pass out “Bags of Blessing”, gift bags of food and toiletries we assembled with the help of a local ministry that are designed to give hope and spark spiritual conversations with those who receive them.

Other students, however, were assigned to go to an orphanage of older youth to give hope and encouragement to them.

Jose was in the group that was assigned to go to the orphanage. He was nervous because 10 years ago, he was an orphan who was temporarily housed in a shelter in San Antonio after arriving to this country from Honduras.

Jose nervously shared about his fear and anxiety as they approached this location that he had never heard of.

Jacob prepares for the rush of students!
Jacob prepares for the rush of students!

When they arrived, Jose stepped out to look around. In the distance he saw a bunch of kids playing on a soccer field. That’s when it hit him. He had been here before. Jose realized that this was the place he had been housed 10 years earlier.
Jose told us how he was able to share a message of hope with 20 teenage boys at that shelter. He told them how they could make it because he made it. He explained how he was in college now and they could go to college too. He then shared about the hope he has through his relationship with Christ.

10 boys trusted Christ that day with Jose. There was nary a dry eye in the room as he shared his story.

As Jose finished his story, Jose Diaz, the student MC from New York City, approached Jose and handed him a soccer ball that was signed by all the teenagers from the shelter.

They signed the ball as a thank you to Jose and to Destino for coming to them and sharing his message of hope and encouragement.

It was a powerful moment to see how the hope of the gospel is spreading to many open hearts within the Latino community.

Joshua fills the bag of one of our staff members
Joshua fills the bag of one of our staff members!

Jennifer, I and the boys were privileged to be there at the conference to serve and help Destino minister and train their students. It was so exciting to see that the conference doubled in size from last year to this year.

We had the opportunity to interact with many of the nearly 40 students who were there from our region and it was fun for our kids to help us put together the “Bags of Blessing” that were used on the Day of Outreach.

Thank you for your partnership in reaching students for Christ and for giving every student an opportunity to experience Christ in a way that culturally relevant to them!

Click here to view the pdf version of The Lowedown!