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.”

Celebrating 25 years of ministry with Cru!

Friends at New Staff Training with Dr. and Mrs. Bright, 1991

Friends at New Staff Training with Dr. and Mrs. Bright, 1991

caught mid-sentence while shutting down the mainframe, 1999

caught mid-sentence while shutting down the mainframe, 1999

On July 25, I will celebrate 25 years with Cru! In July of 1991, I was in Colorado for Campus Crusade for Christ’s New Staff Training. In August I started to find my team of ministry partners, and by December I was in Orlando. It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed since I packed my things into a U-Haul truck and embarked on this wonderful adventure.

Some of my favorite memories include:

  • working with an amazing group of talented and committed missionaries
  • a guys’ Bible study group that encouraged each other and had amazing adventures backpacking together
  • many other wonderful friends in Florida and later in Indiana
  • experiencing grace from my coworkers when I messed up or things didn’t go according to plan
  • helping to install the first Internet connection at CCC’s headquarters (the first Orlando headquarters, “Sunport”)
  • retiring the mainframe
  • building the infrastructure and moving into our current headquarters, Lake Hart
  • meeting Liesl, marrying, and having Anja!
  • moving to Indiana to work with Keynote
  • tech-missionary trips to Hungary, Turkey, Thailand (and Xenia, Ohio)

All of this was made possible by you, our faithful team of ministry partners! Thank you so much for standing with us financially and with your prayers – some of you for 25 years. We have each been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others, and God is using us together to extend His kingdom throughout the earth!