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  • Writer's pictureMelissa

Year in Review: 2021-2022

"My parents met in Yugoslavia and immigrated to America. My mom is a non-devout Muslim and my dad is a non-devout Catholic and I grew up in a Unitarian Universalist church. I'm the only Christian in my family...and I want to make Jesus known here on campus." -a Junior at Doane University said that to our co-worker, Caleb, last semester.

After doing a tabling outreach this fall, one of our staff, Allen, texted an international Muslim student from the Middle East, asking if he was coming to the weekly meeting. The student responded “Yes! Pursuit.. for the truth!”

Maddie, a senior at Hastings, prayed to surrender to Christ last year and, as a result, her friends left her. She felt lonely. This year, she found Cru and considers herself so blessed to be a part of the community as she grows in her faith alongside brothers and sisters. We went to a prayer meeting she organized at 7a.m. where 15 students showed up. (pictured left)

Allen, was a student at Central Community College in Columbus, then UNL, and the Cru staff began mentoring him and would take him along to share his faith. He said, “I was then inspired to join staff myself, so that I also could demonstrate the gospel for students and train and equip them to walk with Jesus for a lifetime like it was done for me.”

TD walked onto campus knowing he wanted friends and thought the party scene was the only place to find that at a college. By God’s grace, Cru students helped him move into his dorm. They asked him deep questions and he was hooked. He says it this way, “God used Cru my Freshman year of college to show me I didn't need to fake it to be loved but that He already loved me just as I was and had a bigger plan for my life than I could ever imagine."

For many of you these quotes resonate deeply because the college age years were an instrumental time in many of your lives, like they were in our’s. And the reality is, they are really hard times for many students who get sucked into the vortex. I saw a glass in a college knick-knack shop that says “This beverage fills my stomach, while my soul remains thirsty for true meaning.” and it broke my heart, seeing the blatant admittance of hopelessness. Walking through the UNL Student Union I saw a poster for a speaker and when I looked the person up, this was on their page. “Should you get sent to Hell for doing something that isn’t mean to someone, I’ll do your time in Hell for you. Kiss, kiss. Kate.” It’s dark out there and there are wolves seeking to destroy.

BUT... God is at work on the college campus and the darkness cannot overcome his plan. Here’s a look at how winning people to the faith has been going:

In March last year, Sarah was out sharing in the UNL union with a Cru student named Olivia. When, kind of out of nowhere, Olivia asked if she could leave Sarah to go by herself to talk to a student with a laptop covered in stickers and one sticker was a band Olivia also liked. Sarah sat watching and praying. Upon returning Olivia reported that she was able to share the gospel with this girl AND… she prayed to receive Christ right on the spot. Amazing!

I, Davy and my teammate Caleb went into the UNL student Union and sat down across from a young man I’ll call "Timothy." Timothy grew up with a semi-Buddhist mom, but no other spiritual background or current practice. Through a few questions, I asked if he knew the good news of Jesus. He didn’t. We shared with him the story of God’s plan of redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He said, “I have never heard it explained like that.” He knew Jesus was not a part of his life and when I asked if he wanted it right then, he said he needed to talk to people he trusted about it first. We will be reaching back out to him soon to have a second conversation to see where he’s at now. Please join us in praying.

And there’s the long game too, like in Chadron where a young man named TJ, who has never stepped foot in a church, keeps coming to their meetings, even helping with lights and sound… listening, watching, learning. Not ready to surrender, but still coming. Or Matt, at UNL, who comes to our meetings, and RUF’s. He’s an atheist, but he’s seeking to learn the truth and we are going to keep loving him.

Sarah, mentioned earlier, got a text in November from a Cru student, Clara, that a girl in the small group Bible study she is leading wants to learn to do evangelism with her, so Clara started taking her out and training her. Clara (pictured below, top row, far right) and her sister Olivia (pictured below, bottom row, far right) have been discipling the girls in their study.

The leaders Melissa coached this year with teammate, Nikki (top row, far left)

Michaela, a student at Doane runs into her freshman year roommate, Alexis, who Michaela indicated was “farthest from God” in her Network Map (a tool we use to help students see who God might be leading them to share with). Michaela would often invite Alexis to events, but Alexis would respond, “I’m not religious.” Well that day, Alexis asks Michaela what church she goes to. They chat for a while and run into each other the next day. They’ve met up several times since and Michaela has begun building into Alexis’ new interest in spiritual things.

Liz, UNL student, said before Cru she had never been around people her age passionate about Jesus. Cru has now equipped her to reach friends in other clubs on campus with the gospel and now two of her Meats Judging Teammates are going to church with her.

Elizabeth, joining us from Indiana for a one-year internship, says it this way, “Cru changed my life by introducing me to methods of sharing my faith, as well as avenues of discipleship which deepened my love for Jesus and his Church. I love being able to see a young woman grow from uncertain and timid in their walk with God, to sharing the gospel boldly with their classmates and friends! I also love walking alongside girls, training and supporting them to live out their faith on college campuses, and in the real world once they graduate.” She is pictured, on the left, with the student leaders that she helps coach from Hastings College.

Our teammate TD told us that Carter, a now former UNL student, got up at his grandpa’s funeral and shared Jesus with everyone there. He took what he learned and is using it outside of the college campus.

Becca, having been built up, is going to start a young adult Bible study at her church back home this summer.

Doane did an ice cream outreach and Jas, one of our leaders, attempted to invite every freshman in her dorm to the get-together. And at the outreach, Aztryd, another leader, greeted every person as they walked in the door. The students GET IT, they internalize the desire to see others experience what they have, and they live it out themselves.

We also see God transforming new families. Chet and Lexi came into college at Wayne not walking with Jesus. God got ahold of their hearts and they were discipled by upperclassmen. Chet ended up being the student president for Cru at Wayne and Lexi was on the leadership team. Sitting at their wedding I was in awe of God’s kindness as their bridal party was made up of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another amazing story is that in Fall 2020, our teammate, Polly, starts looking for students as a part-time Cru staff. As of this year there are 23 student leaders, leading 12 small groups, coached by 9 local volunteers... this all occurred during the pandemic, during all the virtual ministry. Praise God! Only he could do that!

Midland leaders praying at our recent leaders retreat

Friends, God is moving, he’s transforming the lives of people and equipping the saints to go out and minister to a world without him and without hope.

Here are a few other highlights from the year:

  • Dial a Donut outreach: Text in a Question, get a donut delivered by a Cru student answering your question. Doane did it last fall. 92 spiritual conversations happened.

  • Doane saw 9 students pray to receive Christ just in the spring semester last year.

  • In April, we hosted a women’s retreat, the emcee was a Doane student, the worship team was from Wayne state, and the panel was UNL/Midland/and Wayne girls.

  • SLT is our Student Leader Training every Spring. As new leaders come on, we take them to a camp, cast vision, do some training, then make a plan for the fall and send them into the summer prepped to hit the ground running.

Melissa sharing with the leaders ideas on how to engage their campus in God's global story.

  • Tabling at the beginning of the fall semester: 560 surveys at UNL. 81 students said yes to wanting to know more about following Jesus and joining a small group.

  • After the pandemic had canceled most of our in-person meetings, around 120 students showed up to Wayne State’s first meeting this fall. (meeting pictured below)

  • Fall Getaway (our retreat out near Central City): 12 Chadron students made the 5 ½ hour drive all the way to hang with us.

  • We headed to Winter Conference in Minneapolis this year… fun trip with around 60 Nebraska students going up with us. (pictured below)

  • Faculty and Graduate Students: This fall, Kent and Leanne Pierce took the opportunity to devote more time and energy to reaching out to faculty and graduate students on 11 campuses across the state. As we think about the whole campus, faculty and graduate students are a valuable key to helping make Christ known. Professors wield considerable influence on the students who show up in their classrooms. Kent and Leanne’s desire is to come alongside Christian faculty and staff members to encourage them in their faith, and to help them look for opportunities to be a light to the students in their classes, as well as their fellow faculty and the campus as a whole, leveraging their academic platform. At UNL, there is a group of faculty and staff who gather over the lunch hour twice a month. They seek to sharpen and encourage one another, and to reach out with the gospel to those in their discipline and beyond. A group of 4 faculty across three Metro Community College campuses in Omaha have begun meeting weekly over zoom for Bible study and prayer.

Here are some more pics of ministry this year! Top Left: UNL weekly meeting. Top Right: Senior Q&A at UNL meeting. Bottom Left: Several campus ministries joined together for a shared event to get to know one another. Bottom Right: Davy and Jett, a senior at UNL who Davy has discipled as Jett prepared to get married and now is heading into the workforce after graduation.

We love our job. It is an exciting work that we have loved getting to do for the past decade plus. I hope you are encouraged by the stories of what God is doing in the lives of people on college campuses. It moves us to keep pressing ahead even when we hit a string of hard evangelism conversations, or a student leaves the movement due to misunderstandings or being unaligned, or a pandemic causes you to totally alter your approach.

Thank YOU for being involved in these stories through prayer and financial support. We are grateful for you!

And now here is a little taste of our life lately. We're immensely thankful for these three energetic boys God has entrusted to us.

We've been loving spending time together outside. We installed an in ground basketball hoop (hence the big hole) and spend a lot of evenings outside playing basketball. `

These boys have a lot of personality and genuine love for each other!

Noah loves to roll around our living room and often gets stuck under furniture. We expect he will be crawling very soon. Marshal loves all things active and being outside. He gets to attend preschool two days a week. Aiden is thriving in kindergarten and has really gotten into art. He was given a scholarship by his art teacher at school and has been taking classes at a local art center.

We'll celebrate 8 years of marriage on May 18th. We are so thankful for this life we have together.


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