Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Name Change

You may have heard some recent criticism of Campus Crusade for Christ changing its name. We have not changed our corporate name. We have changed the way we introduce ourselves to an audience. We are going to call ourselves CRU.

This was done for reasons to make us more able to reach the lost.

A ministry that is reaching into the whole world, especially the Islamic world with the gospel is not helped by having Crusade in its name.

A ministry that has better than 40 ministries besides the campus ministry needs a name that isn’t confusing or limiting.

Our leaders shared research which showed what most of us have known for a while -- very powerful evidence that the name "Campus Crusade" induces negative responses from many diverse populations, while this research showed that CRU produces positive responses.

We are every bit as committed to Jesus as we have ever been. Our mission has not changed. We long to take the gospel of our precious Lord to as many people as we can.

We share this with you trusting you will understand the heart behind the change. Also we hope you will help correct the wrong information that is coming in the news.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

A former staff member at OSU, Brian Metzer, posted about his own thoughts about the name change. His words were so true of my heart. I agree and "Amen!" everything he says here:

Thanks, Brian, for being able to articulate so clearly what many of us were feeling.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tony's story

The following is from a guy in the small group I lead at OSU named Tony Plouck. This was his favorite story/memory from Venezuela. Enjoy!

"Perhaps not the bst story of my summer. insofar as I don't play that large of a part in it, but certainly my favorite story of the Gospel's effect in Valencia is that of Rafa. Rafael became a believer this spring, he's a younger student, but already is stepping up as a leader in Vida Estudiantil's movement at Universidad de Caribobo. Talking to this kid was a treat, he loves the lord a whole lot, but even greater that that is his understanding of God's love for the world, and the cross' evidence of that. Things that I saw Rafa do in my six weeks with him; trust the lord to raise support to go evangelize in a nearby state, translate for a friend and I as we shared with a whole class of his peers (he invited us), share with three students the Gospel and introduce them through prayer to a personal relationship with his father and Lord Jesus Christ who gives life, and lead a large group meeting of UC students at Vida's Friday meeting, and a whole lot more. This is an example of what the gospel is doing all over the world, changing the lives of people through the impacting of their hearts, the result being people who can't help but share that life change, that heart change with others. It is my prayer and heartfelt desire that stories like this would be found in all corners of the world, and it is the hope of Venezuela!"

Tony and Rafa

Friday, August 12, 2011

So, to wrap up our summer

Guys in my small group at OSU. Man I love these men.

This summer was tough for us. But honestly, it was that kind of tough that you often look back on fondly. That sort of tough time in which you know God was being especially good to you and teaching you significant things. I think that's the way we'll always look back on Venezuela.

I learned a lot about the way I like to do ministry and how our family thrives the most. The idea of being lone-ranger pioneers for Jesus sounds really good in my head, but I think this summer God taught me that I just love working on a team of people dedicated to the same mission. I think we've both been learning a lot about that this entire last year, really. We need you, friends. We need partners to motivate and help. We need friends to cry with us and be in our lives. We need family to remain dedicated to us no matter what. And we need people that are honest and care enough about us to tell us things that we wouldn't necessarily be excited to hear.

We are so grateful for our friends and family. We're learning to cherish and honor those that think differently quite a bit more. We learning to love working with people that aren't like us. In short, I think, we're learning to love the body of Christ more. Thank you, Father.

And thank you, partners, for your investment in our mission. Thank you that you will meet nearly a hundred Venezuelans around the throne of Heaven that you had an investment in. Thank you for your faithfulness and care for us and our family. We love you very much.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Venezuelan impact

I am very, and this is putting is rather mildly, very skeptical of statistics. Far to often, they are used to manipulate and coerce people into some sort of action. Consider this, from a book I'm reading, Upside by Bradley Wright.

"Some of the worst statistics are flat-out made up--as factual as fairy tales.... Joel Best nominate this one as one of the worst social statistics ever. Professor Best was reading a student's dissertation prospectus that started with this attention-grabbing line: 'Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down has doubled.' The student drew this statistic from a 1995 article published in an academic journal. What's the problem with this number? Doubling numbers adds up really fast. As best calculated, if only one American child was murdered in 1950, then it would be two in 1951, four in 1952, eight in 1953, and so on. By 1960, it would be 1,024 murders, and by 1970 it would be one million kids murdered. In 1980 there would be 1 billion children murdered in the United States, and in 1995, the time of the article, the estimate would be 35 trillion children murdered. Wow! Now that would be a problem."

That said, here are the statistics from our summer. As a group of 24 students and 5 staff we:

-Initiated spiritual conversations with 1,261 students.

-Shared the gospel with 860 students!

-Saw 90 people choose to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of their lives!

-Had a "How to walk in the Holy Spirit" conversation with 64 students!

-Went through follow-up materials with 75 students!

-And, as a bonus, we had 2 or 3 group presentations (to an entire class of 30 or so) in which the Christian student organization we are with was the focus, and we got to see first time Bible studies begin on parts of campus that we've never seen before!

It was crazy. Just crazy. God did some truly remarkable things. But, as the opening could lead one to think, statistics can be misleading. But, I think, what they are good indicators of, (if they are honest as least) in this realm, is effort and faithfulness to the mission. We really showed up this summer to see God do some great things, and He did. We pushed ourselves to the limit that the gospel would be proclaimed.

Would you join with me to pray for the continued faithfulness of the church in Venezuela? And would you pray for Vida Estudiantil (CCC in Valencia) with me?

Monday, August 08, 2011

We're back, part 6

The following is written by Justin Mayer. He is a guy that is in the small group I lead on campus, and was a student on project with us in Venezuela.

"A story that sticks out to me the most was when Bart and I went sharing together. Neither of us knew spanish so we just go up to students and ask them if they knew english. We walked up to this one student and asked if he knew english. He said yes and we sat down with him. This is the story about a Venezuelan student named David.
We started initiating conversations with David and we found it was very hard to communicate with him. Through his broken spanish he said he could read english, so he took a notebook out of his bad and started writing questions. Bart and I would answer them, then ask more questions. It was really cool. The spirit really gave us patience and next thing I know we were having a conversation about the gospel on paper.
Even though it was really cool communicating with David through a paper conversation it was really hard so I texted Adoniel for help with translating for us. Wherever he was he dropped everthing and literally ran to the medicine building. When he arrived he was sweating bullets. God really used Adoniel. He went on a rampage, allowing God to move through him. David's face started to light up. He started to smile and take every word spoken into his heart. At the end of our conversation we prayed with him and asked God that he would draw David near to him.
A couple days later Bart and I checked our facebooks and there in the inbox messages was a letter from David. In his broken english he said he wanted to follow our religion. I can't express the overwhelming joy that flooded my heart. God had answered our prayers.

Adoniel, Heath and I followed-up with David and told him about how he had just made the greatest decision he will ever make in his entire life. Throughout our time period in Venezuela David started to come out to Bible studies, both at medicine campus and FACES (humanities). Adoniel is going to take David under him and disciple him.
I will never forget this moment when I saw a kids face light up when he heard about the love of Christ. This is why the Gospel is worth it."

Saturday, August 06, 2011

We're back, part 5

Clay Acer, the other staff guy on project.

Sometimes in ministry it can be tough to believe that God is actually using you to accomplish anything at all. It can seem, at times, as though the forest is nowhere to be seen because of all the trees in the way. When people are working through real life issues we can often get bogged down with them and begin to believe that our job and our work is accomplishing very little.

I had one moment on project specifically blow that sort've thinking out of the water for me. It became impossible for me to entertain thoughts like that after Brian and I's encounter with Josue.

For a little backstory: Brian entered school at Ohio State very nominally religious. So he tried the party scene and whatever else he could find, but he found them lacking. At some point in his first quarter I (Bart) got lunch with him. We chatted for a while and then got down to the gospel. See, Brian grew up quasi-churched so he knew the right answers but things just never clicked for him. When I told him that he had a decision to make about Jesus Christ he was a bit taken aback.

He asked, "wait, so I have to choose one way or another? I have to choose to give my life to Jesus or to remain separated from God?"
"Yep, you sure do," I responded.
He looked frazzled. "I never knew that!" He paused, then, "so this is probably the biggest and most important decision people could make."
"Sure is."
Brian said, "I think I'd like to go home and think about this tonight."

Brian went home that night 3 years ago and prayed to give his life to Jesus. He has been in my small group bible study ever since.

So here Brian and I are in Venezuela and we approach a student at the Engineering school named Josue (pronounced Joe-sway). It turns out Josue's dad died in a car accident exactly one year ago and it really hurt him a lot. He had been reaching out to God with his mother quite a bit, trying to find meaning and purpose. He wanted something to make sense of life.

So, he knew all the right answers, and he said all the right things (just like Brian) but what he didn't quite get was the decision to accept Christ.

Josue said, "So, when someone makes a decision to give their life to Jesus they are given new lief and a new hope in life?"
"Yep, they sure are," we replied.

At this point I started to feel like I heard the twilight zone theme song in my head.

Josue continued, "So this is pretty much the most important decision in my life?"
Brian replied that it most certainly was and then proceeded to tell him his story of giving his life to Jesus.
Josue then said, "I think I'd like to go home and think about this decision." I smiled.

Josue went home that night and prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He immediately got involved in the small group bible study on campus.

I love Jesus. I love him because of who He is and what He has accomplished for the world. Unlike some, we are not on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru now, more on that later) because we are motivated by some fruit or happiness that comes from ministry but by a deep loyalty and passion for Christ alone. In other words, for us, fruit is awfully nice when it comes along, but we aren't demanding it or even expecting it in great amounts. But boy, it sure is nice to have moments like that to hang our hats on.

Thank you, Jesus, for using us to change lives.

Monday, August 01, 2011

We're back, part 4

And actually, finally, we're home for a couple weeks now. We've had weddings the last two weeks and been in hotels for both of them. Noah was not happy at all to be sleeping in a hotel and I sure don't blame him.

The truth is we love weddings. And we love being around people. Honestly, I think Melissa and I were both mostly introverts heading into the summer but found ourselves constantly rejuvenated and refreshed by the community. If anything, we realized that maybe we're more extroverts than we originally thought.

But we had many times (me far more) in which we felt like modeling Jesus and running away to some countryside to be alone. It wasn't the people we were around, because we love and enjoy them an awful lot, it was just that it was nonstop. The hardest part though, was pressure I (Bart, by the way) was putting on myself to always be "on." I felt like I had to constantly offer sage advice and be the rock of our team. I felt like I had to constantly be modeling everything perfectly: evangelism on campus, initiative relationally, service in the home, service on the team, complete family man, and lead and cast vision for others to do all those as well. I just felt like I never got a break.

I don't think I put the pressure on myself because of some high standard I was trying to live up to or some excellent model I was following, but really because I cared about our project and our team and my family so much that I just wanted to give them my best. I wanted to be perfect for them. I wanted Jesus to penetrate every single little aspect of our project and reclaim it for himself.

This is a heavy desire, and the weight of it became to much to handle halfway through the summer. I crashed and hit a major wall. I got sick and just withdrew for a couple days. I felt as though I had been trusting God to have his way with our project the first few weeks of project, afterall that was why I was trying so hard; but I think the last few weeks was when I truly surrounded it to him. It turned, in my heart, from Bart and Melissa and Claire's project into God's project. See, he didn't need me. He can do whatever he pleases with or without me. I think that was finally starting to hit the depths of my heart.

But that is a really hard thing to learn. Though at the same time, it's very freeing and life-giving. Our last two posts reviewing our summer will be some more life-giving moments.