COVID 19 Response

For many of us we are experiencing intense emotions and feelings that can easily lead to panic, fear, and so much more. Each of us have a different reality, in terms of how your life is being impacted. It goes without saying that you and I are living in unprecedented times!

We are praying for you during this difficult time. Will you please let us know how we can specifically pray for you during this season? Are there any needs that we can help meet? Anything that we can practically help you with? Please don’t hesitate to ask us. We love you and are with you during this. We are so grateful for you. Your partnership makes a huge difference in our personal lives and for the advancement of the gospel.

Like you, life looks different these days. Thankfully, each of us is healthy! Jessi is now a teacher for Cooper (8th), Nora (4th), and Zeke (1st). We’re navigating the online learning platform, balancing video calls with classmates and so much more. Prayers for our sanity 🙂

They earned a study break and Starbucks!

From my home office, I’m continuing to equip and resource Cru missionaries through virtual online meetings. Even during this quarantine, I have onboarded 7 new missionaries who’re scattering around the country from Ohio to Oregon, reaching businessman, the art community, to those incarcerated in prisons.

Recently I’ve been encouraged by Psalm 27:13-14:

“I remain confident in this;
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

“I remain confident in this;
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

Sold Insurance biz/now missionaries

Meet Mark Wilson! When Mark was a freshman in high school he connected with Cru staff who desired to open Spring High School in Texas. Mark not only became a Christian, but also helped begin a Bible study for the football team. Mark became a student leader for the new movement that influenced a lot of his friends for Christ. Mark’s life has never been the same!

Mark and Jessica

Fast forward 3 decades to last fall. Mark Wilson is now a husband to Jessica, father of two adult children with special needs, and owns an insurance agency. Having previously served as a youth pastor, God began to tug at his heart to consider once again impacting teenagers for Christ. By God’s grace, he applied and was accepted for Part-Time Status with Cru. Beginning with reaching out to the football team they partnered with a local Christian hip hop artist. Auston Lanier shared part of his story with the football guys, and provided a mini-concert right in the football locker room.

At the end of the time, students were invited to an optional pizza party the next week where they could find out more about Cru and what it looks like to begin a personal relationship with God. 70 young men returned the following week for the evangelistic outreach. After walking through a “Connecting with God” booklet, they looked over the response cards. They discovered that 37 young men indicated decisions for Christ! Over the next three weeks 50 football players returned for follow-ups on discovering how they can have assurance of salvation, keeping short accounts with God, and more! Pray for what God is doing at Spring High School.

MARK AND JESSICA ARE SELLING THEIR INSURANCE AGENCY

You are reading that correctly!! In the spring of 2019 Mark and Jessica joined Cru to be full-time missionaries in the Houston area. They are an incredible couple, who’re full of courageous faith to do such a counter-cultural endeavor. Now, Scott is training Mark and Jessica as new missionaries with Cru. What a privilege!

Please pray for Mark – recently he told me how a former student who’s now a youth pastor nearby wants to partner with Cru to open up a campus and volunteer, like his mentor, Mark, once did. One month later, Mark mentions to me there’s another school in town that heard and wants Mark’s help to open up their campus. God is doing a lot through Mark and Jessica!

Currently, Mark and Jessica are raising their financial support so they can move forward with new initiatives. Please pray for God to provide all the support they need to support their special-needs family and ministry. And pray for Mark and Jessica to continue to draw on the power of God’s Spirit as they parent Bethany and Landen.

You are incredibly important to this work. It is an honor for us to serve on your behalf. With your financial support Scott devotes his best hours toward training missionaries, like Mark and Jessica.

5 Behaviors to share your faith

Within the City ministry of Cru, we often use a word picture to talk about our context being like a wild field versus a greenhouse. In a greenhouse, a gardener has control; control over the temperature, the type of crop produced, the amount of light, soil composition, etc. But in the wild field, you lose control of those factors and are, in fact, subjected to other elements that make growth difficult like predators, weeds, and unpredictable weather patterns. 

A wild field is what ministry in the city often feels like.

 Over the last few years, Cru has partnered with an outside research company, Cyrano, to help give us greater insight into how to effectively share the gospel in today’s context that look a lot like wild fields. The summary results of this research have been incredibly helpful as we posture ourselves to be impactful and effective in the city. 

Often, especially when talking about missions and evangelism, there is a thought that culture is growing increasingly antagonistic to having spiritual conversations with Christians. One of the biggest insights of the research was that, when 5 behaviors were present over 80% of non-Christians were willing to have a spiritual conversation about Jesus. 

The 5 behaviors are:

  1. Be present and listen – follow the conversation, not your agenda 
  2. Find common ground – build a relationship
  3. Walk in their shoes – take time to ask questions and understand their story.
  4. Talk like a real person – use language they understand, not language that is just used in Christian contexts
  5. Tell a better story than the one they’ve heard – how is Jesus “Good News” instead of just a ticket out of hell?

We pray that as we share this info with more Christians, it will change the way we view and approach sharing our faith! To read more about the research and view the in depth report, click the button below:

Discipleship-Evangelism-by-Mail Jail Ministry

James”, a Christian worker in a Central Asian country, was contacted by mail from a jail inmate named, “Paul.” Through the grapevine “Paul” heard that this Christian worker had Bibles. [strongly prohibited in this country] 

Can you send me a Bible to read?This simple unsolicited request led to a pivotal moment in “Paul’s” life because after receiving, he met Jesus on the pages of the Bible. Behind bars, life change in Jesus is happening and “Paul” wants fellow inmates to know Jesus! The Christian worker, “James” has an evangelism-and-discipleship-by-mail jail ministry with “Paul” and others. The behind bars ministry “Paul” is having is booming! There are now 75 followers of Jesus spread out over fifteen prisons. Letters are flying in and out of prison and from prison to prison. Behind bars, in a country that is harsh to the Gospel and believers, freedom in Christ is in season; new life is blooming and growing! 

Our network — both in the US and in Central Asia — is resourcing and walking alongside the Christian worker, “James,” as he continues discipling “Paul” and learns how to equip and help care for this growing–and unique–family of new, imprisoned, believers. Would you pray with us for him? This new ministry brings added scrutiny in a country that is already harsh with Christians.

Here is a letter from a recent convert: 

From V____,

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ be with you. I came to believe in the Lord after I met brother “Paul.” I know Paul for 5 months. About 3 months ago, while we were discussing our beliefs, I suggested that we pray to God so that “if your God is the one true God, may He make me a Christian, but if my god is the true one, may he make you a Muslim.”

It turned out that Jesus had heard our initial prayer and showed me that He was the one and only true God, there was no one else but Him. So that now Jesus led me to Himself and saved me from His wrath to come. The Lord chose me for His Kingdom and my heart throbs with the love of Jesus, thanks to God the Father. I also applied to have my official religion registry changed to Christianity to be a witness.

And would you pray for “Paul”, for brother V, and for the other 74 new brothers in Christ? In addition, some of these new believers are from even more oppressive countries, and will be returning home upon their release. Will you remember them in prayer as they face new challenges and opportunities?

“Scott, what do you do?”

Through YOU, God has generously supplied all our needs through your monthly financial support! Thank YOU for being part of enabling us to do the work of helping the global church partner to fulfill the Great Commission, and creating pathways for everyday followers of Jesus to make meaningful contributions to the global mission of Jesus. 

Curious what a week may look like for Scott? Each week looks different – it’s fulfilling work yet not always easy to quantify. 

For example this week: 

  • Our Mission Capacity team (pictured) made incredible progress during our two day Orlando meetings by creating non-existing on-boarding processes to hire, train and develop new missionaries and volunteers.
  • In the morning I meet with Kyle over coffee. He and his wife are doctors in Missouri with a deep desire to live missionally in their profession. We will explore how City could serve, resource and equip them multiply disciples in the medical field and community. 
  • In a couple days, I am having a conversation with a Cru missionary who’s formed relational equity with Christian universities. What if we can serve, connect to others, resources, etc. graduates who’re looking multiply their lives for Jesus? This has potential to be a big labor force for the Jesus

Why is this work important? What is the result of this work?

Because of the Jeff’s – a former pastor in Illinois. This month he reported, focusing on mobilizing the Church around the globe. Global Mobilization.

  • Last week Jeff talked with Madan, born into the lowest caste in India, who does evangelism and discipleship among executives of some of America’s best known companies…and he also does evangelistic crusades back in India that draw thousands from the caste he was born into. He uses these crusades to build coalitions of churches, denominations, and organizations that become more unified and equipped to make disciples of Jesus in their communities. He asked Madan, “Where do you think God is taking this work? How can we help make that happen?”
  • Tomorrow he has similar calls covering medical mission work in Uganda, prison ministry in a muslim country, and a neighborhood Bible study resource spreading from Atlanta to every hemisphere of the world.

Life-changing Greek stories

Are you greek!? It’s unlikely!  Why?Because just 2% of university students are involved in the Greek system. I was shocked to learn that in 2014 80 percent of Fortune 500 executives, 76 percent of U.S. senators and congressmen, 85 percent of Supreme Court justices and all but two presidents since 1825 have been Greek (Cornell website)

Praise God for these life-changing stories of involved Greek students growing in Christ!

Ray and his wife“I want my girlfriend and fraternity brothers to hear this too,” Kyle, the fraternity president said to Ray as he got up to leave to go to class. “Can you help me share this story with them?

You helped Scott mobilize, Ray, a Cru missionary at Ball State University who’s passionate about students in the Greek system know and grow in Jesus. During their conversation in the Student Center, Kyle mentioned, “I used to have a relationship with God, but I think I’ve kept it on the back burner since being in college.”

As they got to know one another Ray was able to share about Jesus with Kyle. The simple yet profound gospel gripped him and Kyle re-dedicated his life to Christ and has been meeting with Ray since to grow.“That’s Megan, my sorority sister, over there! Let’s go see if she would want to talk about spiritual things!” Excitedly, Cara and Katy walked over to say hi to her sorority sister as they began a life-changing conversation.

Eventually Cara asked Megan if she would want to do a picture based survey about life and spiritual things. After dialoguing about Megan’s thoughts, beliefs and past experiences with Christianity Cara shared a clear explanation of the gospel. Sitting in the University of Toledo’s Student Center with the commotion of students all around Megan made a life-changing decision to trust in Jesus!Pray those in the university greek system would come to Jesus.

Church Planting in East Asia

One of Cru’s global strategies around the world is a focus on church planting. Over the past several years we in the US have launched a global initiative focused on church planting among unreached people groups in a number of cities in East Asia. Below is an update from one of our key leaders who has been developing and giving leadership to this initiative.There are currently over 11,000 people groups in the world.  It’s estimated that 6,700 are considered unreached with the gospel. 3,000 of these are completely unengaged with no church planting strategy and little-to-no available Christian resources.  East Asia is home to over 280 Unreached People Groups (UPGs) with 130 of these being both Unreached and Unengaged. One of the most powerful movements of God in history is taking place in East Asia, and yet most of that growth has been among the majority people group and has left most of the minority ethnic groups untouched.

Our mission has been to facilitate church planting movements among these remaining UPGs in East Asia. We send long-term church planting teams to live among these precious people, learn their language and culture, and stay long enough to ensure healthy long-term growth. In this area, there are currently 28 adults from the US, Canada and East Asia (5 families with 10 children) in 5 cities engaging 5 different UPGs. There are also 4 more families and 5 singles in the process of being sent to work among these UPGs. We are beginning to initiate and explore partnering with the East Asian churches in the US to facilitate mission sending from these communities. We believe that those from East Asia will be some of the the primary players in this emerging era of missions in East Asia and the world.

 One of our current teams is working among the “Hill Tribe” people. A young East Asian woman named “Mary” became a believer and was so moved by God’s love for her that she started reaching out to a village of lepers in the mountains.  (That’s right – a village of lepers!)  These precious people are totally cut off from society and Mary is risking her own health to touch them with Christ’s compassion. She started providing education for the children and blankets and clothes for them in the winter.

Our team has been helping Mary share the love of Christ with these people. On a recent trip our team shared the gospel with a group in the village. An old woman who is missing half of her foot from leprosy listened intently and begged them to tell the story again. She became our sister in Christ that day. She took our team back to her house where she had written on her wall (below) with chalk in her own language, “God. Jesus. Happy.”

Together with Mary our team will continue going back to the village to share more of God’s story with them and to begin to disciple these people in their new faith. We’re praying not only for the gospel to transform lives in this village, but to also transform the culture so that outcasts are welcomed, the poor and marginalized are cared for and the sick healed. Please join with us in praying that “God. Jesus. Happy” would be on every wall.

Christians no allowed here!!

We are laboring each day to mobilize everyday gospel citizens for Jesus for the well-being of the city, even global cities!

Scott helped get an American family of 5 to a location overseas where few Christian live and an American would likely never think about visiting!

Last month, May, my friend shared this with me:

Standing in line for lunch Adam excitedly approached us. He remembered a past conversation we’d with him and his friend. We didn’t initially remembered Adam because his friend had dominated the conversation and not given Adam much opportunity to share his story. He wanted to talk further about the spiritual things. In the past Adam heard the gospel from a Cru leader (that we know well) and the concepts had persisted in his mind. We met with him several times over the course of a few weeks and each time he wanted to know more about Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him. While Adam believes the gospel and would like to follow Jesus, he shared with us that his entire family lives in a city where card carrying Christians are not allowed to enter. Choosing to follow Jesus would mean never seeing his family again. When he counts the cost, the stakes are significant.

Fast forward to this month, June, my friend shared this with me:

“Days before our family left for the U.S. for a summer furlough I shared with one of my coworkers about my last conversation with Adam. My coworker’s heart was not at peace until he met with Adam one last time. When they talked, Adam had already read much of book “More Than a Carpenter” and looked at the online home church streaming website (made especially for Arabs in closed countries).

Below is a prayer to Jesus that Adam shared via text:

“Oh Lord. I love you. Help me, strengthen me, be with me. Open my eyes so I see the next step. Open my eyes to the way of news and helping people. Let me see you beside me and see your outstretched hands to aid and help. Amen”

Using the Digital Age for Good

“You’re probably wondering what led me to ask Jesus into my life recently…Reading your website set me free…Jesus set me free!”     – Middle Eastern man said online

In May, Barna published a study, called Evangelism in a Digital Age, discovering technology’s role in Christian evangelism (social media, email, texting, chats, etc.) is on the rise. 31% of self-identified Christians use digital communications to share theirfaith with a non-Christian. Even in secure locations where Christians are not welcomed, like in East Asia and the Middle East, great success is being seen by utilizing technology to make the Good News of Jesus accessible to people otherwise without.

Stories, like the Middle Eastern man quoted above, illustrate God using digital tools in people’s lives and the importance for us to keep pioneering this new and exciting ministry frontier.

But a personal favorite are stories like Shreyas and Vikram’s (not their real names). These two young men first heard Jesus and then placed their faith in Jesus with a local Cru volunteer using a Cru developed app called GodTools(in the Google and Apple App Store). Shreyas and Vikram are only the second and third known Christians our local Cru staff are aware of from the Yadav people of South Asia, an unreached people group of 60 million!

Does that not expand our vision of what God is doing around the world through Cru, other incredible ministries and churches?

September

Alone, NOT ONE church, person, or ministry will penetrate today’s major cities with the gospel so that gospel citizens are mobilized for Jesus and the well-being of the city?”

It will take a diverse gospel movement of churches, people and ministries partnering together!

Notable author and the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Tim Keller, calls this a “Gospel Ecosystem” where there are healthy churches, church planting and specialized para-church ministries, like Cru, work together to penetrate the city with the gospel. [read more HERE]

I, Scott, attending a training called Cru City Core held in Portland a few weeks ago. My time was phenomenal and demonstrated the challenges of the ever-changing city landscape…filled with different people, cultures, worldview, social issues, immigrants and churches. Cities are complex, ministry is challenging, and Cru is always refining how we mobilize others to follow Jesus. Cru City Core was meant to provide a space for learning that will help us stay fresh and proactive about how we engage ministry. Ministry in the city space hinges on knowing the context/history of your city and where you want to go as a minister of the gospel in the city.

This learning time was impactful through experiential learning and broadened view ministry in the city. A theme stood out to me: The Church must partner together effectively (inside and outside the Church walls) to see the gospel penetrate our cities like described above in the picture of the Gospel Ecosystem.

Now, for the next 6 months, myself and other participants will engage each week in critical topics like partnership, evangelism, understanding urban contexts, multi-cultural ministry, and mobilizing believers that will make us more effective in partnering for the gospel. We will walk through a multi-faceted development approach that employs a variety of learning styles that’ll feature hands-on learning experiences, cohort community process time, live webinars, and choices for input like reading and podcasts.

Additionally, I am taking 2 upcoming seminary courses. Christ/Humanity/Salvation (that’s fancy for Theology) is begins at the end of October. Christian Worldview & Ethics begins in February 2019. I am thankful and excited to continue learning and growing in my love and knowledge of God.

Jessi continues to lead the ministry and volunteers in the 5th/6th grade called Cru @Riverside Intermediate. Without publicity there’s been an average of 85 students attending for the every other week gathering at 6:30am. God is at work!