Worship and Prayer

worship-arts-weekend

Imagine hosting 11 college students! We had the privilege of hosting the Ball State University students who attended the Spring 2016 Worship Arts Weekend.

Some comments from the students:
“It is so helpful and transformed what worship looked like on our campus. It also helped to reorient my heart towards God in a powerful way this year and I am so thankful for that.”

“Just thank you. You guys challenged me this weekend, helped me grow and connect with God. You guys taught me so much this weekend and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Boehlke-Kranich

Tuesday was Cru’s semiannual Worldwide Day of prayer, and we were joined by Jeff and Jo Boehlke, our friends from southern Indiana.

Jeff and I both work remotely for the same team in Orlando, and spend a lot of time working together on Cru’s Google system.

Our team is also working on projects to improve Cru’s financial system, web hosting, and other systems. We appreciate your prayers for wisdom and the ability to make quick progress!

Operation Transit

Operation Transit-web

How would you react if you saw hundreds of cars backed up trying to get to a ferry port? I would probably just get stressed, but the founders of Operation Transit saw an opportunity for the gospel.

Each year, thousands of North Africans travel from their workplaces in Europe back home to visit family in places where the gospel is not easily shared. But as they wait in European ports, ministry teams with Operation Transit (a partnership that Cru is involved in) pass out gospel materials. Our friends Allen and Deedee Iobst help lead this ministry and report that teams distributed almost 220,000 items in 2015.

They’ve also been experimenting with different types of technology, which always gets me excited. They’re working on USB thumb drives that will contain gospel materials, and even portable wifi routers that create mini web sites from which passersby can download films and books.

They’re always looking for families and church teams to join them for 12-day sessions throughout the summer. If you’re interested, contact us and we’ll connect you with Allen and Deedee.

God produces a constant stream of encouraging stories from Operation Transit. In their latest newsletter, Allen and Deedee report:

“Recently, five ladies from a couple of churches in Madrid came down to help us with our outreach. One day they faced a day-long downpour. But something extraordinary happened: exactly when the cars drove off the ferry boat, the rain stopped just long enough for effective Bible distribution. Then the rain would start up again, until the next boat arrived! On another day, the same team met increasing opposition from the port police. Then one of the ladies explained: ‘What we are doing is helping you. We are sharing the love of Jesus, and if they accept it, it will change everything for the better.’ The official agreed, saying ‘I didn’t realize that.’ He went on to explain our outreach to his colleague. After that, the same port police who had been discouraging the work began actively encouraging travelers to accept the gospel packets!”

Because of the location of this work, they have also been wrestling with how to respond to the refugee crisis. “We can respond to the newcomers with fear, or we can respond with love. We can realize that the Lord may be sending people into Europe not just to find safety or jobs, but also to find God’s grace. We can choose to take the opportunity to share God’s love in truly helpful ways.” Please pray for these opportunities!

Digital Missionaries!

Jesus_Film_Media_App_250In the past few months, we’ve had the privilege of giving missions updates at Pine Grove Church in Bowmansville, PA, and at Christ United Methodist Church in Venice, FL. And this weekend is our annual Missions Conference at Christ Community Church in Carmel, IN. Liesl will be reading some scripture in German and helping the kids understand what it means to be a missionary wherever you are.

We’re excited about the tools that Cru has been developing to help Christians everywhere share the gospel. One that keeps getting better is the Jesus Film Media app. It contains:

  1. The Jesus Film (script completely from the book of Luke) in 1356 languages – and increasing all the time!
  2. Magdalena, the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, in 130 languages
  3. The Story of Jesus for Children in 158 languages
  4. Many other training and conversation-starting films

Here’s a story that was reported to us about God using this app to bring glory to Himself:

“On weekends, I drive to Washington, D.C., to see my mom, who is 93 and lives in a senior care facility,” says a private school teacher near the Capital. “[My mom] has an aide to help her whose name is Matilda—a woman from Sierra Leone who was raised a Muslim.”

“Recently, I shared my new JESUS Film Media app on my mobile phone with Matilda. She was excited to see her language as a choice to see the evangelistic film, so I sent the link to her.
Matilda insisted that Hannah, another facility aide, would want to see the film, too.

“I found Hannah, and she was thrilled to see her own language from Eritrea available. She is a Christian and couldn’t wait to send it to her daughter who doesn’t know the Lord. She felt that watching the movie in their native tongue might answer some of her daughter’s questions.

“Then I received a call that Hannah and Matilda were sharing the app with all the other aides from various countries; because of them, it has become the talk of the care center! This is how easy it is to be a digital missionary.”

Wherever we are, we’re representing Christ. Now you can share the gospel with those around you who don’t have English as their heart language – you can be a digital missionary! You’ll find this app and GodTools in the Apple and Google app stores.

Remembering Vonette

vonette-portrait-largeMrs Vonette Bright, cofounder of Cru, passed away right before Christmas. To me it felt more like graduation day, the reward for a life very long and very well lived following Jesus.  I’ve been poking around trying to figure out how to share a piece of her with you on this one side of paper and it’s not easy! I’m hoping you’ll see that she’s just like you and me. What made her life exceptional was God working in her and Bill, and all of us can live like that with God, too.  Here are a few excerpts from an article in Christianity Today.  You can access the article at tinyurl.com/vonettebright

One sticking point in their relationship: Although Vonette had grown up in church, she wasn’t serious about her faith. She felt Bill was too serious. “I decided Bill had become a religious fanatic and that somehow he must be rescued from this fanaticism,” Vonette later wrote. “At the same time, Bill was beginning to think that perhaps I was not a Christian. He knew he could not marry me until there was a change in my spiritual life.”

[Later on at a retreat] “It was there that Henrietta Mears led me to the Lord,” The Brights married in December of 1948. Soon after the wedding, the Brights began to set a list of goals and priorities. Among those goals was a pledge to live holy lives and to become witnesses for Christ. They eventually wrote up what they called a contract with the Lord, where they surrendered their hopes for material gain and pledged themselves to God’s kingdom. 

bill-and-vonetteThey launched Campus Crusade at UCLA in 1951, with the idea that they could help “win the campus today, win the world tomorrow.” Today the organization reports having more than 25,000 staff members and 300,000 volunteers working in 173 countries.

Vonette’s ministry focused especially on prayer. “The greatest contribution that I’ve made had to be this call to prayer when there were so few leaders mobilizing people to pray,” she told CT in 1997. “Your single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church,” Billy Graham told Vonette in a 2011 letter.

My personal memories of her are that she was a gracious, funny, kind woman who cared about the people of the world, loved Jesus, her husband and family, her staff family and she served us all, like when she’d dress up every Easter as Mother Goose to read to our children. Or when she got excited about going to a Harley Davidson store (really! The Christian Biker’s Association even led the procession at her funeral). You’re welcome to learn more about her life and ministry at vonettebright.cru.org.

Shifting gears here back to us, Karl and I will be in Venice attending the Christ United Methodist Missions Conference February 5-7.  We also invite you to join us at the Panera’s at 4179 Tamiami Trl S, Venice, FL 34293 between 2-4pm Saturday the 6th.  With time being short, we still want to see you if you can come!

Reasons to be Thankful!

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
– 1 Chronicles 16:8

In the spirit of the season, here are some of the many reasons we have to be thankful…

Liesl and I are thankful to have finished an online class in Apologetics (giving reasons for our faith).  We’ve learned so much about how to interact with and challenge the ideas that come against biblical Christianity.  We both enjoyed and recommend Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.  Keller deals with “defeater beliefs” that prevent people from believing in God and then provides positive reasons to believe.  The class also made us thankful for people who are gifted as philosophers – we are not!

I (Karl) am thankful for the challenge of starting a new job within Cru!  I have rejoined the headquarters Information Technology team (now called “Digital Products and Services”).  After a few reorganizations at headquarters, this is now the team that solves technology problems and creates tools for our ministries all around the world.

Cru is trusting God for 10 million Christ-centered, multiplying disciples by 2020.  If that’s going to happen, we also need to trust God for better systems to plan and keep track of what’s going on around the world.

We will remain in Indiana and continue to help out with the regional office here, but I will spend most of my time working remotely with an Orlando-based team.  The combination of working in a small office and supporting large, global systems really motivates me.

Of course, we are so thankful for you!  Your prayers and gifts keep us going.  It’s hard to believe that we have been in ministry for 24 and 22 years, and many of you have been with us the whole time.  Be encouraged!  God is building His kingdom and the gospel is changing lives.