Anthem City Christmas Outreach

anthemcity

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! It’s been a crazy, but good month so far, with so much to be thankful for in the midst of a very messy, sin-filled world. We see God providing for people in the midst of their brokenness.

In light of this, we wanted to highlight the latest band being sent out of the Indy Cru office. It’s a brand new team with new content, called Anthem City. Their goal is to bring hope to those who are marginalized by others or by their own choices by introducing them to the one who chose to join them in this messy life in order to save us all from our sin and ourselves. We got to witness the dress rehearsal and it brought me to tears, it was so good. Their performance breathed new life and meaning into songs we already know well and the testimony sprinkled throughout was powerful. Here are a couple of excerpts from their updates:

Nov. 17th– Last night we had a wonderful show down in Bloomington, IN. We teamed up with Wheeler Mission Men’s addiction recovery program at Camp Hunt. These guys are taking 6 months to start their journey of being drug or alcohol free and at the same time learning how to walk with God. It is an amazing atmosphere and program.

The little chapel made for a great intimate atmosphere as we rocked out Transiberian Orchestra’s version of Carol of the Bells. Roughly 70 people were in attendance. The common theme we heard after the concert was “I have heard these christmas songs all of my life and this is the first time I understood them and why they are so important”. We did do comment cards and there were 5 first time decisions for Christ and a bunch of recommitments. Praise the Lord for his love and grace upon those men!…

Nov. 28th—One show recently was on Nov. 22nd at Westville Correctional Facility. We were blessed to perform in an auditorium that had its nuances and unique odor, but it was a great huge room that allowed us to be loud! 110 men were in attendance and they were into the whole show! 17 new brothers in Christ and 60 recommitted to a life with Jesus!!! Praise God! The band was blessed to have post concert conversations with the guys and story after story of hardship and desperation. Scanning the room I saw smiles and prayers being lifted, God worked hard in that room that night and chaplain Brian was impressed… He wants us back to help expand his ministry.

Keep praying as our schedule is ramping up big time starting tomorrow Nov. 29th. 8 concerts in 9 days. As well, crazy equipment issues keep showing up. And they are different ones at different venues. So, I am slightly suspicious the enemy is trying to thwart our efforts. Pray to keep him at bay and that those distractions are not evident to the audience.

As for us, Karl’s been busy doing more international email migrations. This time it was Latin America, and it’s amazing how many unexpected issues can come up. We also housed more students for MC training, only 4 this time so my laundry pile was modest by comparison to some of the other training weekends ☺. It’s always fun to interact with them. Lastly, since Karl works for a team in Orlando, they occasionally would like us to show up face to face, so we will be heading to FL for a few days next week. We’re thankful for a couple of people who will be able to be the adult presence in Anja’s life while we’re gone. Wishing you eyes to see and ears to hear what God’s up to in your messy world this Christmas season,

Hacking for Jesus

makedisciplesWhat does the word “hacking” mean to you? In the popular press, it often refers to the act of breaking into computer systems. To me, it usually means “creative programming”, which is the meaning that we’re referring to below.

Cru founded a project called “Indigitous”. The names comes from a combination of “Indigenous” + “Digital”.

  • Indigenous because it reflects our desire for locally-generated strategies that work in each generation, language and culture.
  • Digital because we believe digital tools, resources, platforms and strategies can accelerate God’s mission.

Indigitous is a partnership between several missions organizations and aims to “Connect you with people on a common mission, strategies that are effective and projects that are on the cutting edge of missional innovation.”

November 4 – 6, Indigitous is sponsoring a worldwide hackathon that will bring people together in 28 different cities to work on 14 global challenges. People can also participate virtually from wherever they are. This will involve people with talents in coding, problem solving, business planning, social network savvy, graphic design, understanding people, storytelling, and more. Since one of the cities is Orlando, many of my friends at Cru’s headquarters will be helping to facilitate the event or work on a challenge.

Mike Novak, President and CEO of Educational Media Foundation, says “The goal of K-LOVE & Air1 has always been to expand the reach of our faith-based messages, with an ongoing emphasis on the younger generation. We use music, short-form educational ministry features and on-air personalities who tie it all together. K-LOVE is extremely honored and excited to be part of Indigitous #Hack. This is the place to be, for anyone wanting to impact the world in a powerful way.”

Please pray that significant progress is made on these technical challenges, so that God’s kingdom is advanced. Also, even though time is short, please forward this opportunity on to those who have digital talents and a heart for the gospel. If they can’t help with this one, perhaps they can connect with Indigitous and get involved in the future.

Read more about Indigitous and the hackathon at Indigitous.org/hack.

Current Projects

We have some big projects happening in Cru’s Digital Products and Services office right now, and I’m involved in two of them:

Going Google
google-logoIn 2013, Cru in the US started using Google for mail, calendar, contacts, document sharing, and video conferencing. I love how Google’s tools allow us to work together across great distances.

Now we’re encouraging our ministries around the world to join us in the Cru Google system. Last weekend we migrated our Czech Republic staff, and we’re making plans for Latin America, South Africa, and other areas. Please pray that we plan carefully and communicate clearly as we work with teams around the globe to make this happen.

Redesigned Online Giving Site
new-give-siteAn increasing amount donations to Cru come through our online giving site at give.cru.org. The site works well on a full-sized computer, but doesn’t resize well for use on mobile devices.

As more and more people interact with the web on phones and tablets, we need to make sure that all of our web sites are “responsive” – that is, they respond to the screen size. It’s never good when you have to scroll left and right to view an entire web page or fill out a form online.

Here’s a fun experiment: browse to www.cru.org on a laptop or desktop, then gradually shrink the width of your web browser. Images that were beside each other will shrink, then stack on top of each other or disappear.

We would love to have this project done before the peak end-of-year giving season. Please pray that we can build all of the features and get rid of all of the bugs quickly!

Reaching the World

August is a big sending month for Cru. As I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of friends’ children heading off to college (and Anja turns 15 tomorrow!) Cru staff and students gear up to welcome them. Pray for students to come to Christ and learn to love walking with the Lord this year.

Our family has been involved this month in sending teams internationally! Karl went to Chicago to work on the staff and STINTers’ (1 year interns) computers that needed to be configured to work securely from within closed countries. We had a total of 697 participants of various types go through the doors of the Global STINT Briefing! This includes 98 STINT Team Leaders and 311 STINTers who are being sent to 43 countries, plus 14 International Campus Staff (ICS) who attended.

Stone Australia 2016Even Anja got to help by babysitting for the keytarist of the band “Stone” so that she could get in practice time before a month-long tour in Australia. They are able to do outreach in the schools, which is an incredible opportunity. As you’ll see below, they’re having amazing results and heartbreaking challenges on this tour and would be grateful for your prayers.

 

August 24
Show #1: 88 students attended and 12 indicated decisions to trust Christ!!!! Three wanted more info and the rest just rocked out with us like rockstars. Halfway through our set, this one kid started yelling, “One more song!”, which was good since we had about 7 more songs. Glad we were prepared for that. Whew!

Show #2: 201 students were in attendance and 34 accepted Christ!!!!!! Go God!!!! This was a seriously truncated set since we had only 30 minutes from bell to bell. I was quite amazed that we had so little time to build rapport and share the gospel, yet still got such a great response from the students.

-Continue to pray for favor with all those we play for
-Pray that we will love one another well, even as the days get busier
-Pray for our van situation. It’s still not operational and we’ve been having to arrange different rides, which separate us as a team.

August 28
Hey everyone. Well, while ministry is going great here, we’ve hit some snags and hiccups along the way that have the potential to be very discouraging.

While our van finally made it to the shop, it will not be ready in time for the next leg of our journey to the Outback. Thanks to some amazing people, we’ve worked out rides so we’re grateful for that.

We received news yesterday morning that our host for today’s four shows has died suddenly. We were all in shock and very saddened by this news. It turns out that he was the lone person at this school who was reaching these kids, so this is quite a loss for them. Please pray for this school as they hold a memorial service today to celebrate his life and mourn his loss. Pray that God will use this situation to draw students and teachers to himself in a way that our concerts never could have.

Multiplying Disciples on Campus

Dr. Bright would often say, “Win the campus today; win the world tomorrow”.

Here is an encouraging story of the fruit of our work and your gifts and prayers…

Troy-and-RyanRyan and Troy were best friends in high school, and naturally became roommates when they arrived at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.

A believer coming from a solid youth group, Ryan was eager to get involved with Cru. He enjoyed having the Cru community and Christ-centered direction in his life.

Troy had a different experience. Finding friends was hard. College-level academics were hard. The final straw was when Troy’s long-time girlfriend broke up with him. One night in October, each lying in his dorm room bed and talking across the darkened room, Troy finally told Ryan, “Sure, I’ll go to one of those Cru meetings with you.”

After a few weeks, Ryan came up to staff member Dennis Leskowski. “Hey, Dennis! Troy has been joining us at Cru and he loves it. He’s learning a lot about Jesus. He wants to know how to accept Christ in his life. Would you meet with him and share the gospel?”

As a Cru staff missionary, Dennis was excited. Immediately, he looked Ryan in the eyes and said, “No, I won’t.” Ryan looked stunned. “How about you and I get together?” Dennis asked. “I’ll teach you how to share the gospel, and you can introduce Troy to Jesus yourself.”

A few days afterwards, Ryan stood next to Dennis after a Cru Thursday night meeting. They faced a crowd of people where Troy, talking lively, was in the middle. Both men smiled as Ryan commented, “I’ve seen Troy happy over the years. But I’ve never seen him have joy like this. He is a completely different person, because of Jesus.”

Ryan and Troy grew and developed over their years as students. Ryan became an instrumental leader as Grand Valley State University’s Cru movement grew from 35 students during his freshman year, to 650 students during his senior year. He led people to Christ, taught others about sharing their faith, led small groups and led in other ways.

As a track athlete, Troy helped to form and lead the Grand Valley Athletes in Action movement that eventually saw more than 40 student athletes involved on a regular basis. He too learned how to share his faith and led others to Christ.

“Today,” Dennis said, “They have graduated, love Jesus, and are making an impact in their companies, communities, and churches.”