Cru17 Highlights

Almost everything was different about our summer conference at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

For starters, we skipped the usual two day drive with the family that would take us through the deserts of California and Nevada, the amazing rock formations of Utah and the majestic Rocky Mountains. We opted to fly instead.

It’s been four years since Jen and I attended this conference so of course we noticed how much the town of Fort Collins and the campus have changed with recent construction. Some of our favorite places to eat have closed and new eateries have opened up.

When we entered Moby arena for the first session, I could tell this conference was going to be different.

The stage was set right in the middle of the arena, instead of at one end, as has been typical in the past. Somehow, it gave the sense of drawing people in.

The worship was inspiring and of course, the speakers were diverse and challenging. It’s hard to encapsulate all that happened in a short newsletter so we’ll share a few of our favorite moments.

HONORING THE NATIVE COMMUNITY

Cru President Steve Douglass presents a local Native elder with a traditional gift blanket.

During one of the opening sessions of our partnership weekend, Donnie and Renee Begay, the diretors of our Native ministry (Nations) led us through a time of honoring local Native elders. There was an exchange of gifts between leaders and one of the elders who addressed our conference mentioned that this was the first time anyone had approached them and included them in this way before. It was incredibly moving and redemptive.

 

PARTNERING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Aruna Project seeks to help woman in India who are in bondage as sex slaves

For the first time, Cru partnered with the Aruna Project to host a 5K run on campus to raise funds and awareness for women in India who are enslaved in the sex trafficking industry. Jacob and Joshua ran the race and did quite well, but that’s not the highlight.

What was different about this race is that every runner ran with the name of a woman taped to their body who is still enslaved. As the runners started the race, they were encouraged to shout the name of the woman taped to their body.

The hope is that each woman represented will soon be able to experience true freedom.

Additionally, each participant received an Aruna drawstring bag that was made by women who were once enslaved but are now free and employed with jobs making usable clothing and gear. For more information on the Aruna Project, go to arunaproject.com. To see more photos from the race, see my Flickr album at: http://bit.ly/2vVBlVf.

 

FAST FOOD DISCIPLESHIP?

Jennie Allen shared her story of growing as a believer in the context of Cru when she was a new believer in college. She mentioned how the staff person who was following up with her initial contact invited her to Sonic in order to connect with her personally. She remarked, “Don’t underestimate the power of a Sonic run.”

It was a funny comment but it reminded me that what we do is valuable. We often meet people in various places all over Orange County and we have no idea the impact we are having. Jennie’s story was a great example of why it’s important to meet with and connect with Young adults.

 

FUN IN BOULDER

Joshua, left, and Jacob take a photo with Jerry, the founder and president of Newton Running Shoes!

We had a half day off during the conference and we decided to spend that time in Boulder, which is about an hour away. Jen had arranged for us to visit the small office of Newton Running Shoes.

Earlier in the year, the Cross Country coach had recommended Newtons for Jacob and Joshua as a way to help correct their heal-striking tendencies, which we think was contributing to some of the knee and shin issues Jacob had been experiencing off and on for the past year.

Newton is a small company that has appealed to a lot of triathletes. They make good shoes but they’re not easy to find. Basically, you have to order directly online.

It was fun going to their office because everyone was super friendly and asked a lot of questions. They showed us samples of the new models that haven’t even come out yet and the founder and president took several minutes out of his time to personally greet us and ask questions about Jacob and Joshua’s running.

They even hooked us up with some free stuff, which was a nice bonus!

 

THE NATURE OF PARTNERSHIP

Andy Crouch speaks on the topic of true partnership.

Andy Crouch, author, speaker and former executive editor of Christianity Today, spoke on partnering. I’ve always found Andy to be very thoughtful and insightful as it relates to how Christianity intersects with current culture. Andy challenged our thinking on partnership. In particular, he said that, “Partnership is not a trade. You can’t walk away after getting what you want.”

He stressed the importance of relationships and engaging with one another in our struggles and our suffering.

Andy’s talk reminded me of you, our PARTNERS. We missed the Cru conference two years ago because of Jen’s health. During that trying time in our lives, you truly demonstrated the kind of partnership that Andy talked about. You encouraged us, prayed for us and suffered with us through our struggles. Your generosity and compassion sustained us and we are truly grateful! Thank you for your prayers and partnership!

Expanding Our Influence Through the Internet

I recently saw a post on my twitter feed that showed how Amazon has become so big, that it’s beginning to dwarf older traditional brick and mortar stores. Amazingly, 30% of ALL online shopping in December was through Amazon. Best Buy was a distant 2nd with less than 4% of the online holiday shopping market share. (Click here for an article on Amazon’s December dominance)

It’s no wonder that retail giants such as Sears and Macy’s are shutting down stores at alarming rates.

The internet has completely transformed how we shop. It’s also changed how we think and gather information. Traditional news sources such as newspapers and magazines are becoming a thing of the past as most people now utilize the internet as their primary source of information.

The EveryStudent.com and EveryPerson.com websites are reaching literally thousands of people each day in every country of the world. The blue areas represent locations where people have connected with the site.

A few years ago, Cru recognized the potential of the internet for world evangelization, especially in countries traditionally closed to the gospel. EveryStudent.com was born and has now been supplemented with the sidekick site EveryPerson.comIn every year since it’s existence, it’s reach and influence have increased.

Last year, for example, 24.2 million people visited the site, with 343,000 people indicating decisions for Christ. That’s an average of 940 people per day, many of whom live in countries where it is difficult to even send a missionary, much less produce a genuine decision for Christ.

StartingWithGod.com is a website that helps new believers continue in their growth journey with Jesus.

With the rapid growth of the site, Cru realized the need to provide resources for the growing number of converts, so they created the site StartingWithGod.com, where new believers can sign up to receive a spiritual starter kit that’s designed to provide basic follow-up and discipleship.

After receiving an update a few weeks ago detailing the performance of the EveryStudent / EveryPerson sites, I sent a quick note of encouragement to the director of the site expressing my gratitude for her leadership and vision to expand the reach of the gospel in non-traditional ways.

Though I wasn’t expecting a response, I got a reply where I was reminded that I had contributed an article that is being used on the StartingWithGod.com follow-up site.

I don’t quite recall all of the circumstances, but I had given a talk many years ago on “The nature of faith”. I took the concepts of that message and created a short article, which I submitted for use in this follow-up site.

I was surprised to learn that last year, over 6,000 people read my article on the English site alone. Considering there are alternate versions of the site in Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish, the number of people around the world who read the article was potentially in the 10’s of thousands.

A snapshot of Dave’s article, “The Nature of Faith.” Click image to go directly to the article.

I was amazed, as I had no idea that many people were reading an article that I wrote several years ago. To tell you the truth, I had entirely forgotten about the article being a part of the spiritual starter kit. It was a reminder to me how God can take something seemingly insignificant in our eyes and multiply it many times over for His kingdom purposes.

Here’s what’s really exciting. YOU can begin to reach others outside of your normal social circles by utilizing the resources that EveryStudent.com provides.

EveryStudent.info/videos is a site that offers a number of short training videos to help you learn how to utilize the articles on the site within your Facebook feed to potentially reach thousands of people with the message of Christ.

In particular, the 4th Section, titled “Impact Thousands” gives some practical input on how to post links to your Facebook and other social media feeds that will direct people to the EveryStudent.com website.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

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!

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.

 

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

DSC_0527
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)