Month: September 2013

Nancy never expected community like this

Nancy and her friends

Above – Nancy and some of her Northeastern friends at last year’s fall retreat

I (Malisa) sat across the table from a timid looking student. She was sharing with me the talk she was giving that night at Northeastern University’s weekly large group meeting. I am in awe of the work God has done in her life during the last nine months.
When “Nancy” (name changed) came to college, she had never experienced a truly Christian community. But that’s not true anymore. The students involved with Cru at Northeastern (they call it agape) enveloped Nancy.

Their community was a lot like the one we see in Acts 2:42-47:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Nancy’s experience with Cru had been very positive, but when her family life began to unravel last spring, she experienced community at a whole new level.
During her teenage years, Nancy’s dad had been pretty absent due to divorce and his job. But what Nancy discovered is that he also had a drinking problem and was picked up last spring for a DUI. He was later sentenced to several years in prison.

At that point in his life, he was not walking with the Lord. He was divorced from Nancy’s mom.

While in prison, Nancy’s dad turned back to the Lord. Although it’s hard, Nancy is working to restore her relationship with her father. She knows that the community she has experienced as part of Cru is a key part of how she’s able to extend love and grace to her father.

In Cru, Nancy has found a group of people who love and care for her in the midst of hard family situations. She found a place where it was safe to share about the hard things going on in her life.

Nancy and I worked through her talk for the large group meeting (about 75 students). Nancy was going to be sharing about her family background at that weekly meeting. Nancy has experienced authentic community – a place where it’s safe to share. That’s also the sort of community she wants to create, so that’s why she’s sharing really hard things in front of a group of people.

Nancy may look timid, but the Gospel is at work in and through her. She is multiplying her life into the lives of peers and younger freshmen as well.

Brian and I are so thankful for you and for your prayers and support of our ministry to college students.

Would you pray:

  •  Would you pray for Nancy – that as she has experienced authentic transformational community, she would be able to help create it at Northeastern?
  •  Would you pray for Northeastern, as they bring 40 students to our Fall Retreat this weekend (we’ve got 320 students registered so far – an all time high). Pray that many students would start or restart following Jesus this weekend, and that many would form life-long friendships.
  • Would you pray as we welcome Eliza Grace Ellis (born 10/2/13) into the world! We’ll send more of an update with more pictures soon.


Does God Want Us to be Happy?


We’ve been meeting thousands of freshmen this week at activities fairs around the city like this one called “Splash” at Boston University

Matt struggles with parents who demand performance and a brother who experiences Joy

“Someone told me once that if you live a wild and crazy life, don’t care for others, live for yourself, and get rich and party a lot, as long as you ask Jesus into your life 5 minutes before you die, you can go to heaven. So now I’ve got that idea floating around in my head.”

What would you say to Matt?

I met Matt this morning at the school of management at Boston university. He’s originally from India, but spent the last 3 years in New York. Now he’s a freshman at bu. he filled out a survey to win an ipad and said he’d be interested in talking to someone about how to have a relationship with Jesus.

Largely because of his family background, Matt believes that following Jesus wholeheartedly will mean a life of no fun and poverty. But he also looks at his brother, who came alive in his relationship with god in college and knows he wants that.

“I want to have a personal relationship with Jesus,” Matt said. “I know he is the ruler, the king. But I don’t experience him as a friend. My brother has something different than my parents.”



Thanks to your prayers, this week, hundreds of students at campuses across Boston are learning about a God who brings us joy when we follow him.

And that’s what I told Matt when he asked about living a crazy life until the last moment: why do that when you could experience joy now? Why wait?

I could ask myself the same question. Too often, we choose to follow lesser gods – success, money, power, affirmation from others, partying. But instead, when we live with Jesus as our ruler, we can experience joy.

Matt wasn’t quite ready to make that decision today. But our hope is that he would become part of a community of guys at Boston University who get together and look at the Bible and see how it applies to their life. Over time, it’s our prayer that the gospel would seep in to Matt’s life.

I hope that someday soon he will be surprised by joy.

We’ll keep you in the loop about Matt and the others we’re meeting with.

Would you pray:

Would you pray with us for Matt? That the performance and parent pleasing religious background he comes from would break down and a gospel of grace would break through? That he would stick around our community for long enough to see that happen?

Would you pray for the freshman in Boston? Over 3,000 of them have told us they want to talk to someone about how to have a relationship with Jesus. Would you pray that each one of them would get to talk to one of our students or staff in the next couple weeks? Would you pray that many of them would come to follow Jesus?

Would you pray for Malisa, Sydney, and me as we prepare to welcome baby girl #2 into our world? Malisa’s due date is 9/26. Stay tuned! Pray for our team too as they pick up some of our responsibilities for a couple weeks

Malisa and I count it an incredible privilege to know you are praying for us. Thank you so much!



Sydney is excited to welcome her new sister into the world –