The Best Laid Plans…

Click here to view the pdf version of The Lowedown.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” 

This oft-quoted line comes from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1785 after he inadvertently plowed through a field mouse nest. The words, penned with sadness, communicate the universal truth that one cannot plan for the unexpected. This line aptly describes our week in Nashville.

For months, Jen and I had been preparing for a week in Nashville, where we would have the opportunity to meet up with fellow Cru City Millennial workers for the first time. In addition, we were looking forward to challenging our thinking on Christianity and Culture by attending the Q Conference later in the week.

We thought we had worked out all the details. We were blessed by Jen’s parents, who visited for Easter and stayed through the week to watch our boys.

I even worked feverishly through Spring Break to renovate our guest bathroom in preparation for my in-laws’ arrival. That whole process in itself is probably illustrated by the above quote given the number of unexpected situations encountered that threatened to keep me from completing the project on time. I’m happy to report though that the renovation was officially completed in the afternoon on Easter Sunday mere hours before our departure.

We arrived in Nashville as scheduled on Monday where we had the opportunity to meet our new colleagues for dinner for the first time.

We were treated to some great live music from a few Nashville Millennials
We were treated to some great live music from a few Nashville Millennials

The next day was a full day of meetings and connecting. For me, it was invigorating to increase my vision for what we will be doing here in Orange County to reach Millennials. That night, we were treated to some live music at the home of one of our Cru colleagues who lives in Nashville.

Q-quoteThe next day was the start of the Q conference. The Q conference was started 8 years ago by Gabe Lyons as an opportunity for Christians to hear from numerous leaders and experts who share thoughts and insights on 7 major segments of culture: Media, Business, Government, Social Sector, Education, Arts & Entertainment, and Church.

The first day was packed with speakers who talked on a wide range of topics. We were even treated by a surprise appearance from Carrie Underwood and her husband Mike Fisher who shared about the challenges and their commitment to marriage. Though a little like drinking from a firehose, we were eating up all of the great content.

Q Founder Gabe Lyons interviews country star Carrie Underwood and her NHL Hockey player husband Mike Fisher.

That’s when our plans got derailed. Jen shared that she was experiencing some chest pain and wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. We were supposed to meet up for dinner with some friends from our University of Arizona days who were now living in Nashville. But Jen’s chest pain got worse, making it harder to breathe. We decided to go to the ER.

As many of you know from experience, the ER is rarely a brief experience. For Jen, she was subjected to just about every test imaginable to determine if there was something wrong with her heart. Thankfully, every test came back clear. It was determined that the source of the chest pain was likely caused from having a case of walking pneumonia.

Jen was eventually released with antibiotics and she’s doing much better. We weren’t able to make our dinner appointment, and we missed the rest of the Q conference. But we made our flight home, thankful that it wasn’t something more serious and also grateful for the time we were able to spend with our new co-workers.

Though the week didn’t go exactly according to plan, we still left Nashville with an increased vision and excitement to reach Millennials. It was great being with others like us who are venturing into this new arena.

We are grateful too for your partnership. Please pray for us as we continue to prepare for this new ministry to which the Lord has called us. Pray for our plans to be the Lord’s plans and that we would be able to trust Him when things don’t go “according to plan!”

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.


Senior Leadership Initiative


Jen, with her coach Judy, after graduating from her 2 year leadership program

How do you describe something that literally transforms your life? How can words be put to an experience that helps you to grow in your confidence to lead, and which helps you grow closer to the Lord in the process? That is what I (Jen) am tasked to do in this month’s edition of The Lowedown.

Back in July of 2011 I became a part of the Senior Leadership Initiative (SLI). This is a program within all of Cru that invites 25-30 leaders to build into them to learn how to lead “at 10 times their scope.” This past July when we were in Colorado I graduated from the program. Click here to read the latest Lowedown where I share a few of the highlights from the past two years.


Multiplication Revisited

It was 15 years ago and it was our very first day on campus at UC Davis. We were eager but new to the campus and nervous about how we would get a new group started. Armed with only a vision and a stack of questionnaires, we anxiously began approaching students who were there for various orientation activities.

We must have approached a couple of thousand students that first week and we spent most of the rest of the fall following up and meeting with students who expressed literally any kind of interest. It was both draining and rewarding at the same time.

The very first student Jen approached to fill out a spiritual interest questionnaire was a freshman named Tricia. Amazingly, Tricia was interested in getting involved in a campus ministry and after meeting with Jen and getting information about Cru, she ended up getting involved as one of our founding members.

Tricia was involved for 4 years and gave leadership not only to our Cru ministry, but helped us start Epic as well. Upon graduating, Tricia took the principles we had been talking about and became one of the first students from our ministry to go on STINT, a one year international mission. After returning from STINT in Central Asia, Tricia served as an intern with us at UC Davis and then joined the full-time staff of Cru, where she was assigned to give leadership to our ministry in Hawaii.

Jen (left), Tricia (center), and Skyy (right)

Tricia served several years in Hawaii, building into students and giving them a vision for the world, just as she had been taught. One of the students whom Tricia mentored was Skyy. After graduating, Skyy spent last year as an intern with Cru, just as Tricia had. This fall, Skyy is leading a team of recent grads to the Middle East on STINT, just as Tricia had done.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul gave this charge to Timothy:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

From the beginning of our ministry, it’s been our desire to see students won to Christ, built up in their faith to follow Christ whole-heartedly so that they could be sent out all over the world to Win, Build and Send others.

Thank you for your partnership which has allowed us to do just that with countless students like Tricia and Skyy and now many others.

For a pdf version of our newsletter to print out, click here. Please feel free to pass our newsletter along and share our site with others.

Reflecting on 20 Years of Ministry

It’s hard for me to believe, but this summer marks 20 years that I (Jen) have been on staff with Cru. Wow! Am I really that old? As I reflect back, there are so many memories but for me, my job is all about people.

My first campus assignment was The University of Arizona. It was a challenging time at first. I was a new staff person trying to learn my job. I was also far away from home. Things weren’t familiar. But then I started a bible study and I had the chance to influence so many women to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Erin now lives in Vermont with her husband Charlie and their 2 daughters
Erin was a student leader in Jen’s Bible Study at the University of Arizona. Erin now lives in Vermont with her husband Charlie and 2 daughters

Erin was one of those women in my study. I saw her take new steps of faith to go on summer missions projects. I loved watching her grow in her faith, and her maturity. Erin is now married to a great guy named Charlie whom Dave discipled. Together, they have two beautiful girls and pastor a church in Vermont. Erin is one of the reasons I keep pressing on, doing my job. It’s all about people, and their lives being transformed.

A few years later, when Dave and I moved to Davis, I was pretty fearful about starting a new ministry. Dave has always been the pioneer while I’m more of a shepherd who loves spending personal time with others and helping them grow in their faith.

My first day on campus we were doing some spiritual interest questionnaires, and the first student I approached was a freshman named Tricia. She filled out the questionnaire, we connected, and she got involved with Cru.

As I look back, I am so grateful for those handful of students who got involved in our little group that started meeting initially in our apartment! Those students must have thought we were a little sketchy…but they stuck around and we saw God do amazing things at Davis. Now, Tricia is married and on staff with Cru, leading our Epic ministry in the South Los Angeles Basin. She is a new mom, and I have loved to see her grow.

Tricia was one of the first students to get involved in Cru when we started it at UC Davis
Tricia was one of the first students to get involved in Cru when we started at UC Davis

Lately I’ve been thinking about what a privilege it’s been to raise Jacob and Joshua while working with Cru. They’ve been surrounded by Godly young men and women who’ve modeled walking with God to them.

And I love getting the opportunity to work with Dave. It is fun and rewarding to work through new challenges in ministry with Dave. Together we are tackling some pretty significant challenges in the campus ministry. With our different skill-sets it has been exciting to work together to complement each other and to see progress in our mission of reaching every student with the message of the gospel.

I’m now a part of a leadership program that has been challenging and stretching for me. I get the chance to be around global leaders of Cru who are building into me to help me be a better leader and follower of Christ.

The research project I’m working on is helping to launch a brand new ministry to 18-29 year olds in the cities. This is been very eye-opening, and has helped me to see the need to be relevant and approachable to this generation. They are the most technologically connected, but also the most lonely. What an incredible opportunity we have to share God’s love to this generation that is looking for deep and meaningful connection.

Thank you to all of you who have partnered with us over the past 20 years. It is truly a privilege to be able to serve God and partner with people who want to see students reached with God’s love. After 20 years with Cru, there still is no other job that I’d rather be doing.

I love getting the chance to help people look at life from at eternal perspective, to help them meet God, begin a relationship with Him, and grow in that relationship. The work is challenging, but incredibly rewarding, all at the same time.

Praise the Lord for what He has done! I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me in the next 20 years!

To read the pdf version of the letter, click here!

An Epic Fall Semester!

Preparing for the Epic Ministry Day at Cal State Fullerton

One of the exciting parts of our jobs is helping our staff step out in faith to start new ministries in ethnic contexts. This fall, we’ve seen new Destino ministries started at San Jose State and the University of Arizona.

We’ve seen a new Impact ministry (African American students) started at UC Santa Barbara as well as a Bridges Ministry (International students) at Chico State. But two of the most exciting ministry launches both include Epic (our ministry to Asian American students).

Find out more in the latest Lowedown!

Baby Steps!

Jen and Dave as Emcees for CCC's regional staff retreat
Jen and Dave as Emcees for CCC’s regional staff retreat

One of the things that has been fun about our job is that we have had more opportunities to speak and teach and influence our staff. Not only have we spoken on many campuses this year but Dave flew to Daytona Beach in January to address all of Campus Crusade’s new staff.

We had fun serving as Emcees for a portion of our staff regional retreat and in addition, Jen and I were able to lead a training seminar in “Building movements” with 25 new leaders of ethnic movements.

One of the points we shared with these new leaders is that building anything significant takes time. To help illuminate the principle, Jen showed a clip from the movie “What About Bob?”

In the movie, Bill Murray plays Bob, a neurotic patient who drives his psychiatrist nuts (pun intended)!

Bob finds a new doctor, Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who recommends to Bob a ground-breaking new book (his own) entitled Baby Steps.

The idea, Dr. Marvin explains, is to take small steps to achieve a larger goal. By taking small steps, the stress that sometimes comes with the enormity of a task can be eliminated.

Bob takes the advice to heart and as a result, develops an unhealthy attachment to his new doctor, which ultimately drives Dreyfuss to the loony bin.

It’s easy to sometimes feel overwhelmed with the stuff of life like Bob. When I think about the enormity of our job, I can sometimes begin to relate to Bob’s neuroses. We’ve been given the leadership task of reaching over 2 million students who do not culturally relate to our traditional ministries. It’s no small task and be quite overwhelming at times.

We’re trying to heed the advice of that wise sage, Dr. Leo Marvin, who encouraged Bob to take “baby steps.”

As we look back on this past academic year, I can say that we’ve definitely taken “baby steps.”

Though there’s still much to do, we’ve seen new Destino ministries started at Chico State, San Jose State, and UC Irvine, along with a new Destino team that is focusing ministry efforts at Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.

We’ve seen new Bridges volunteers raised up at San Jose State, Berkeley and Hawaii.

Most importantly, we’re seeing more and more of our staff and students step out in faith to reach into these different cultural communities with the message of the gospel.

We’re reminded that change is often slow and incremental rather than fast and instantaneous. As Bob quipped to Dr. Leo Marvin, “we’re doing the work, we’re not slackers!”

Thanks for your partnership with us in taking “baby steps” to seeing every student of every culture have the opportunity to hear and respond to the message of Christ.

Click here to download the pdf version of “The Lowedown”…

Passionate for People

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year since we moved from Davis. Moving to Southern California has definitely had its challenges, but as I look back on the year I’m extremely grateful for what God has done in our ministry, in our lives individually, and as a family… Read the rest of “The Lowedown”