A few weeks ago, our boys had a rare weekday off of school so we decided to spend the day at the Happiest Place on earth, thinking it might be less crowded than normal.
Later in the day, we were waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, when a woman who was in line right behind us asked us if our boys were twins. We responded “yes”, to which she replied, “my daughters are twins too!” I looked down to see two cute twin girls who were probably about 9 or 10 years old.
The mom began chatting with Jen about twindom while the girls and their cousin began telling me about all the rides they had been on and their exploits of the day.
After a few moments, one of the twins fearlessly asked me, “how old are you?” My response was to answer her question with a question, “how old do you think I am?”
The reality is, I’m old. Many of my friends from high school and college have kids who are married, and some are grandparents. Many of the students we’ve discipled over the years are married with kids, some of whom are high school age and beyond.
What amazes me even more than the many lives we’ve been able to influence is the fact that the Lord has provided for every financial need for over 30 years. You probably know that one of the responsibilities of Cru staff members like us is that we raise all of the funds to cover our salaries, benefits and ministry expenses.
Last week, I received an e-mail from my employer (Cru) congratulating me on being on staff with Cru for 30 years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long, and yet, when I think about it, we’ve had the privilege of ministering to thousands of students and Young Professionals in many locations over the years.
Thirty years ago, when I joined Campus Crusade’s staff (now Cru), I received training in developing a Ministry Partnership team, a group of people who would commit to partnering with me financially to enable me to serve the Lord full-time. We are incredibly thankful for everyone who has partnered with us financially over the years, but as I reflect back on 30 years in full-time ministry, I’m especially grateful for the handful of ministry partners who have been supporting our ministry for the entire 30 years!
Thank you for your continued partnership. Please know that you are an incredible blessing to us and we are extremely grateful for how the Lord continues to use you to demonstrate His faithfulness!
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
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
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
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, 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!
Every other summer, over 5000 Cru Staff members from across the United States convene at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado for 2 weeks of vision, training, worship and spiritual refreshment.
Over the years, this has been a highlight of our summer and a family tradition as we make the trek across the Southwest to connect with friends, and be challenged and motivated from God’s Word by Cru leaders and Christian leaders from around the world.
This year, Jen and I were not able to attend the conference due to Jen’s recent health issues. Back in February, the outlook for Jen’s health looked very uncertain. We were anticipating another round of chemo-therapy that would have lowered Jen’s immune system and put it in its most compromising state right at the time we would be surrounded by 5000 other people in varying states of physical wellness.
As a result of the questions we were facing, our leadership granted us an exemption from attending this year’s conference. It seemed like the wisest course of action.
Though Jen and I weren’t able to be there, we made the decision to send Jacob and Joshua so they could participate in the Cru high school Getaway program and connect with some of their friends. They had a blast flying on a plane for the first time by themselves and were definitely challenged by speakers like Josh McDowell. In addition, their faith was stretched as they had the opportunity to share their faith in the local community.
Jen and I were disappointed that we weren’t able to attend the Cru15 conference in person. You may be wondering why we would be sad to miss out on a 2 week-long conference of meetings and training sessions. After all, getting exempted from a work conference is normally like a receiving a “Get out of Jail Free” card.
Though it’s a conference, with many meetings and sessions, there are a lot of fun activities with a definite family atmosphere. We’ve found it to be a great time to connect with our friends, co-workers and even many of our former students who are now working with Cru. It’s amazing how road trips and living out of your suitcase for a few weeks can create a lot of family bonding opportunities and many lifetime memories.
Though we weren’t there in person, through the marvel of modern technology, Jen and I were able to live-stream many of the main sessions and interact with our co-workers on social media. It wasn’t the same as being there in person of course, but it was great to hear the speakers and see the direction and vision of Cru for the next few years.
A couple of exciting themes emerged from this year’s conference. One was a continued commitment to reach the ethnic scope around us and to create an atmosphere in our organization that would welcome and foster ethnic diversity.
Jen and I have a passion for ethnic diversity in ministry because of our many years of giving leadership to Ethnic Student Ministries in the campus ministry. It has been a long road of learning and growing as an organization, but we’re confident that we’re on the right path as an organization and that our leaders are leading us through the necessary changes to make sure we are relevant as an organization for many years to come to those whom we seek to reach.
A second theme that emerged was the need to humbly partner with others. If we’re committed to reaching every person, we must be willing to come alongside churches, volunteers and lay people and work together synergistically to accomplish the Lord’s work.
Partnering is one of the core values Jen and I have as we seek to reach Millennials, who have a strong desire to be mentored. Our desire is to raise up and train dozens if not hundreds of volunteers throughout Orange County who could impact Millennials by leading community groups and providing mentoring both spiritually and professionally to this unreached generation.
We couldn’t be more excited about the vision and direction the Lord has given us. Would you please pray for us and with us as we seek to take the next steps in developing our ministry to Millennials?
Thank you for your partnership with us and your ministry to us. You are a blessing from the Lord to us and our family!
Click here to access the pdf version of The Lowedown.
Earlier this month, I spent perhaps my longest period of time on the road away from my family.
As you know, Jen and I are transitioning to a new ministry of Cru called Cru City, where we will be investing our time and energy into reaching out to Millennials in Orange County.
Before we officially launch this new endeavor, we’re taking time to raise some much needed funds that will enable us to continue ministering full-time for the Lord.
While I was on the road raising funds, I had the opportunity to meet with my friend Jim Gove. I first wrote about Jim in our May, 2005 newsletter, which you can read here.
I love meeting with Jim, first of all, because he has such a passion for the Lord and he’s one of the most encouraging guys I know.
But I also enjoy Jim because he is a reminder to me of the power and fruit of partnership in the gospel. Let me explain.
Years ago, Jim began supporting a young missionary named Andy Henry who had just graduated from Sacramento State University and was raising funds to join Cru’s full-time staff.
When Andy completed his team, he showed up at Cal Poly, Pomona, where I happened to be attending.
One of the students who was in a Bible study led by Andy was Dave Butts. Andy encouraged Dave to invest a summer of his life on a summer project, knowing that it would be critical to Dave’s spiritual development and ministry training. After much persistence from Andy, Dave decided to attend a summer missions project in Lake Tahoe, where he learned to share his faith.
After that summer, Dave returned to Cal Poly and his on-campus job. As the Lord would have it, I got a job on campus working with Dave. In addition, we became study partners for a class that we happened to have together (are you getting a picture of God’s providence?)
One night while studying together, Dave shared the gospel with me. Though I was already a believer, I wasn’t walking with the Lord at the time, and that conversation was the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to me making a recommitment to the Lord several months later.
I immediately got involved in Campus Crusade on campus and I ended up in a Bible study led by a guy named Mark Matzaganian. I had known Mark a few years before and I did NOT remember him being a Christian, much less a religious person at all.
It turns out that Mark had met Andy on campus a few years earlier and Andy led Mark to Christ after sharing the gospel with him. Mark was now a leader in Cru and became my Bible study leader and discipler during my 5th year.
Years later, I met Jim when he showed up for an outreach event we hosted at UC Davis with Hugh Ross. Jim was part of a local “Reasons To Believe” chapter and was there to man the resource table for Dr. Ross’s ministry.
A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to meet with Jim and hear more of his story. What amazed me was when I learned that he was a financial partner in Andy Henry’s ministry.
Imagine Jim’s surprise when I was able to share with him how he had directly influenced my life through his financial partnership with Andy!
We don’t often get the privilege of seeing the living results of the ministry investments we make. But my hope and prayer is that some day you might randomly meet a believer and through the course of your conversation learn that they had been impacted spiritually because you chose to financially partner with a missionary couple, Dave & Jennifer Lowe, who had influenced them to live for Christ.
How many people does God use to impact a life? Too many to count!
I thank God for Jim Gove and how his investment has impacted my life through people like Andy Henry, Dave Butts and Mark Matzaganian. And we thank the Lord for you and your partnership with us, which has impacted so many other lives for Christ!