Leaving Cru for a New Adventure

We sent this announcement out in July via email and snail mail, but I just realized that I never posted it here.  Apologies to anyone who is subscribed to the blog but not our email list!

We feel like we served people well in Colorado at Cru17, the conference for all Cru staff in the U.S.  The theme of the conference was WITH: a time to connect with God, one another and the greater body of Christ.

There’s so much we could say about the conference, but …

We have big news!

For the past year or so, God has been building a sense of restlessness in me (Karl).  After much prayer, career assessments, and counsel, we have decided that it’s time to move on from Cru and try something new.

This is a huge step for us – this summer we celebrated 26 (Karl) and 24 (Liesl) years with Cru.  Both of us joined Cru right out of college, and we met at Cru’s headquarters.  The idea of moving on is full of sadness and anxiety, but also excitement and anticipation.

Thank you so much your partnership WITH us in the gospel!  Your prayers and gifts have yielded much fruit as we have built and maintained systems that keep Cru’s ministries going and help our field staff share the gospel more effectively.  We continue to be humbled by the dedication that you have shown us, and look forward to keeping in touch.

If you are giving through direct deposit or an automated credit card gift, please consider transferring that to another Cru missionary.  Let us know if you’d like some suggestions.  You can contact the Cru donation team at (888) 278-7233.

Regarding our next steps, my original plan was to start looking for a job in August after we got back from Colorado.  But an amazing series of events has led to me accepting a job offer at Liberty Mutual Insurance about 20 minutes from our home.  I’m really enjoying the work and my new team.

If you have any questions, please call, email, or use our contact form.  And once again, thank you for your involvement in our decades of ministry with Cru!

Serving at Cru17

Tech Team: Mike, me, David, and Jason

Thank you for praying for our time in Colorado! We are enjoying friends that we haven’t seen for a long time, and our calendars are full of opportunities to serve our fellow Cru staff.

Liesl has been coordinating the worship for our staff meetings, and has received very encouraging feedback. Worshiping our great God together keeps us focused on why we’re here – to equip our staff to take the gospel to the world!

Many of our staff have just completed two weeks of Bible and/or leadership classes, and others have just arrived for the final 2 weeks of classes. My team is now beginning to plan how we’ll get Internet connections to all the places that will be set up for the all-staff conference at the end of the summer: coffee house tent, staff help tent, partnership tents, and the Moby arena for large group meetings.

We will also be welcoming 3 more members to the team to help us with everyone’s tech needs. Please pray that we stay healthy and serve well!

Liesl, Nate, and Glen leading worship

Tech support

Heading to Colorado

It’s time again for our biannual Cru trip to Fort Collins, Colorado. We will be part of training and equipping 200 new Cru missionaries, preparing another 150 through cross-cultural training for global assignments, and helping another 1,000+ expand their knowledge of the Bible and develop leadership and ministry skills.

The training tracks begin June 12, but the conference team shows up early, and a few more of us show up first to begin the setup. I (Karl) will start driving on Memorial Day so that I can start work on June 1. Liesl and Anja will fly out the following weekend, since Anja will still have finals after I leave.

Once again, I’ll be leading a small tech team that helps keep everything running smoothly. Liesl will help out with my team and coordinate worship for the conference team meetings, and Anja is going to work in the Cru-run coffee house.

From July 16 to 24, all the Cru staff in the US will gather for “Cru17”, our time for training, connection, and encouragement. This is also a time when many staff who don’t have a technology person near them bring their broken equipment and tech questions to my team.

Please pray that our team serves them well. And pray that everyone leaves Colorado better equipped to serve God and to be used by Him to draw many to Himself.

Engaging Friends and Family

Students from all over the US traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida for Big Break, a week of growing in their relationship with God and learning to share their faith. They spent time engaging with people on the beach, and also by sending the Falling Plates video (www.fallingplates.com) to friends and family and listening to their experiences of Jesus so far in their lives. One student, Allison, experienced something incredible…

“My best friend from home came from a Christian family so I thought, I don’t know if I need to text her or not and so I texted her the link to the video. She texted me back and said ‘I literally just cried. I’ve been feeling really hopeless and horrible lately. And last night I prayed for a sign that I’m still worth it, that I’m still meant to live, and that God still cares for me and today you sent that to me.’ This is insane. I’m literally in tears.”

 

We can praise God for how He is constantly at work in the lives of people, no matter what they’re going through.

We got this story from one of Keynote’s former Interns, Erica, who now works on digital strategies globally.  Feel free to share the Falling Plates video with your friends, too!

Here is the official update from the whole 3 weeks of Big Break Conferences from our staff who were there:

Big Break was filled with God moments. Some we had the sweet experience of watching unfold before our eyes and others we only heard about, but we know that lives were changed for eternity. The students were reminded that meeting with the Father is essential. They were given time to sit and listen to Jesus. They heard that ministry is pointless if it doesn’t overflow from our moments with the Father; those moments lead to an outpouring of the gospel as our relationship with Him overcomes our distractions and fears. Lives were forever changed.

Then there were the afternoons of outreach. Outreach opportunities happened both on the beach and over many social media platforms. In our three weeks, students and staff initiated 11,170 spiritual conversations digitally. 3,024 of them turned into gospel conversations, with 104 making a decision to follow Christ. And that’s not all! 601 future appointments were set up with a friend or family member. Dream and pray with us about what God can do in those 601 appointments!

Don’t forget the beach conversations! 3,338 conversations were initiated on the beach this year and 1,470 turned into gospel conversations, with 222 making a decision to follow Christ!

One last highlight was prayer. From a night of prayer and speakers emphasizing the importance of prayer, to a large prayer room that facilitated learning and praying every day from morning until night, prayer was a significant and integrated part of the conference. Students loved it and many communicated they are returning to campus with a vision and heart to pray!  (A bunch of our Indy staff worked these conferences and designed the prayer room! It looked fantastic and clearly made a difference in how the students connected with God.)

Thanks for praising God with us for all He’s doing!

Many around us are struggling

This is one of those months where I feel burdened to share with you all something very hard. Please bear with me as my thoughts are still processing what’s happened. In the last two months we have had two believers we know take their own lives. One was a complete shock to just about everyone and the other, which happened yesterday, was less so.

I want to talk about this because we, the church, need to understand that this happens to believers. We need to understand that it can happen to any of us given enough difficult circumstances. We are all capable of doing the unthinkable.

Secondly, I want us to be ready to be helpful to each other, to be a safe place to help each other so that this happens less.

In light of that I wanted to talk about some of the causes of suicide, chiefly mental illness. I think mental illness is hard for all of us to understand and so we can shy away from helping out of fear of doing it wrong, or just lack of understanding what’s happening. I know I feel this way.

However, we can add pain to people who are suffering through our beliefs and choices. We need to understand that much mental illness is not stemming from sin, it’s more a condition of our fallen world and broken bodies.

I had a coworker who loved the Lord whole heartedly, yet was bi-polar. He was a great role model for me to understand, because I watched how he handled his condition and I knew how he loved the Lord even when his mind and body chemistry betrayed him. For example, one time when he was manic he stared into the sun looking for Jesus to come, burning spots into his retinas. Since he knew he at times would not be able to reason properly, he had a network of friends and coworkers who had his permission to intervene if his meds got imbalanced. They had learned what to look for and he cooperated as best he could. We can learn a lot from his and their example.
In other cases, such as the man who ended his life yesterday, sin is involved. Here’s an excerpt of the email he sent out yesterday to his friends. After doing something really bad that became public he said,

“In the months that followed, I felt myself slipping emotionally and spiritually. I tried to reach out to a few close friends and I never heard from two of them again. Having friends turn their back on me probably hurt the most and I went into a shell. I didn’t want any of my other friends to hurt me, so I didn’t tell anyone else. Perhaps this wasn’t smart on my part, but it’s what happened.
I just don’t have any more fight in me. The thought of finding a new career, interviewing for new jobs, and having to explain why certain things were on my record was just too much for me to handle. Don’t feel bad for me. My story is one of self-inflicted wounds, both figuratively and here at the end, literally. I’m so sorry for the pain this action will cause others, especially those closest to me.

What is heartbreaking is seeing how many responded instantly to this email with love and pleas for him not to follow through, but it was too late.

We, as believers, will sin. And we’ll watch friends back away from the Lord. Or we’ll back away from them because they do something abhorrent. But Christ came to save sinners. We are recipients of this and we are his body to reach out to sinners with truth and grace covered in love. Oh that we wouldn’t weary of doing what is good and right! I’m preaching to myself.

He gave up because of shame and isolation. We need to create environments personally and in our church communities that counteract that. I think it’s especially hard for men, since opening up emotionally and being vulnerable is even harder for them. We won’t catch everyone who chooses the path of hiding sin and isolating, but if we consciously try to make safe connections with each other, it will help.

Lastly, we need to know when to call for help. The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. We also can have our churches research local resources and well trained Christian counselors so that we are ready to help fully swiftly. Thank you all for bearing with me and trusting God to work in and through us.