A Letter in 3 Photos

Posted on September 10th, 2017

1. The Lord blessed us with a precious girl: Genevieve Kay Ellis. She was born on July 12, 2017 and weighed 10 pounds! Malisa and I love seeing her smiling face in the morning, and her two older sisters, Sydney and Eliza are doing a great job caring for her – even as they experience their own Copernican revolutions.

2. The Lord blessed us with a house for ministry. This means that for the long run, we get to stay close to college students in Boston. You know what an influence students in Boston will have after they Graduate. And you know that they need the Lord. We moved into 87 Stowecroft Rd. almost 3 weeks ago. The house is just 1.5 miles from our old apartment and we’re excited to see how God uses it.

3. This Lord cares about Lost students. That’s why we’re getting our team ready to reach out to all the freshmen in this city in the coming weeks. Here’s a picture of me with a bunch of student leaders on my family’s schooner. Will you pray for divine appointments on campus this week?

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be helping my friend Darin and some great student leaders on the Lacrosse Team as they meet to share their testimonies with the whole team. I’m excited for opportunities to share with them and other new students about Jesus. Would you pray for us and for these conversations?

We can’t do it alone. Malisa, I, and the whole team we help lead are depending on the Lord. Your prayers and support are needed as we raise Genevieve and her sisters Sydney and Eliza. Your prayers and support are needed to continue to live in this amazing ministry house and to stay close to college students. And your prayers are absolutely essential as we reach out to students and help them start following Jesus. We can’t change lives. Only God can. But your prayers are effective.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

Getting the Big Picture

Posted on August 15th, 2017

Getting the Big Picture

Perhaps it’s having a great teacher who tells amazing stories (like Dan Carlin in his Hardcore History podcast). Perhaps it’s learning about individual people so that you can imagine yourself going to that time and place (the way they do in Adventures in Odyssey). Perhaps it’s when you travel to a place where amazing things happened in the past (like a battlefield). Or perhaps history comes alive for you when it’s your history (learning the history of your town, or ancestors).

This summer, all of that collided for Malisa and me when we took a church history survey class as part of our ongoing spiritual development with Cru. It was so helpful to get a big picture overview of the high (and low) points of the history of the church over the last 20 centuries.

If you’d like a book recommendation, can we commend to you: Church History in Plain Language. It’s amazing to watch how God’s kingdom has advanced over the last 20 centuries and it gives us great hope that His Kingdom will continue to advance. And what fun that you and I get to be a part of it.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

Sending Spotlight

Posted on August 1st, 2017

Sending Spotlight

My friend Monica just graduated from Northeastern University. Over the last several years, it’s been a joy to watch Monica move from choosing what she desires to trusting God for what He desires. This has been especially true as she trusted him this year with her job search.

Last week, we met up just before her dad arrived from Guatemala to help her make the 21-hour trek to St. Paul, Minnesota where she will be working as a communications director for the Girl Scouts. She’s excited to be working for an organization that develops young women.

Thank you for helping send women like Monica to have an impact after graduation. She is a woman who loves Jesus, loves others, and is going to live out the gospel in a new place. Would you pray for her?

Here’s Monica holding the newest addition to our family.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

Win, Build, Send

Posted on June 10th, 2017

Win people to Christ

I stood on a chair 31-weeks-pregnant to snap the picture below. It’s a small sampling of seniors in college that we have journeyed with over the last few years. One of those guys is Danny. Danny was standing in the cluster of other seniors proud to say He had been connected with Cru during college. Danny has heard the Gospel over and over and over. He has found a safe place to explore what he believes within the Cru community on his campus. He has been around for four years at BU and continues to consider and ponder the truth of Jesus but the penny hasn’t dropped yet. Would you pray with us that Danny does start following Jesus

One of the things that has been so powerful to see over my past 9 years is Boston is that people like Danny tend to continue to explore Jesus beyond graduation because of the deep relational connection that have been made with those students who do follow Jesus.


A bunch of our seniors, including Danny

Build disciples for a lifetime

One of those followers of Jesus is Grace. How do I even begin to help you celebrate with Brian and I all that God has done in and through Grace over these past four years? If I had to describe Grace I would say she is tender, insightful, and loves people really well and I would say she continues to be BOLD with sharing the Gospel alongside of her friends – including Danny

I am saying goodbye to Grace as a student leader but she is staying in Boston for a job in marketing and graphic design. She has a strong vision and purpose of helping to create the world that ought to be by being a great designer who cares about her co-workers because of the change Jesus has made in her own life.

Grace (right front) at one of our final discipleship times

Send graduates into the world

Grace is one of those women who we are SENDING joyfully into this next stage of her life. Grace has a heart for others and a vision for her calling. She is going to help change the world for Jesus. Sending Grace and seniors like her is one of the main reasons Brian and I do what we do in Boston. A bonus is that Grace is going to live just about 10 minutes away from me next year, so although I’m saying goodbye to her as a student she will continue to be a bold witness for Jesus in Boston

This is what you pray for and invest in: winning students to Christ, building disciples for a lifetime, and sending students into the world.

Thank you so much for being part of getting the Gospel to the thousands of students in Boston but also helping to send college graduates into the world to be missional for Him.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

How to pray:

  • For Danny – that the penny would drop: that the gospel would make sense and that he would start following Jesus
  • For Grace – that she would continue to befriend people like Danny in her new job in marketing and graphic design
  • For all of our seniors across the city – that they would be sent out into the world to walk with Jesus and point others to him
  • For Brian and me as we joyfully await baby girl #3

Win, Build, Send at a BBQ

Posted on May 16th, 2017

Win, Build, Send at a BBQ

A highlight for Brian and me continues to be having students into our home and yard. That is no exception even in the pouring down rain. A few weeks ago, Brian had invited a group of guys over for a BBQ in our back yard to celebrate the end of the semester. And then the heavens opened so He grilled in the pouring rain. I came home with my kiddos to a dining room table full of graduating seniors and our all-star sophomore, Sam, who Brian has been discipling this year. They were all smiles as the salmon, chicken, and steak tips rolled off the grill. It was sweet to hear little bits and pieces of the conversation at the table as I was giving my little girls a bath and getting them into bed.

Around the table from left to right: Nick, Sam, Brian, Asaph, Ja-Hon, Ethan and Guy – I wanted to take a picture of all the food, but as you can see by the empty plates… I was too late.

I heard one of the seniors, Nick (who accepted Christ just a few years ago after his freshman year), share that he was going to come back to Boston and look for an engineering job here because he knew that the best chance of him continuing to grow and develop spiritually was with a community of believers that he had made deep and lasting relationships with over the past three years (many who are also graduating and staying in Boston for jobs).

I heard the seniors get excited as they learned of Sam’s summer plans to be in the Middle East in with his ROTC program and then hoping to spend next summer on a summer mission with Cru in that same part of the world. So at that table was a group of guys that we are SENDING into the next things that God has for them but also was a great man like Sam who will prayerfully continue to grow and develop into a leader of other men who help to build the Kingdom of God.

This is what you pray for and invest in: winning students to Christ, building disciples for a lifetime, and sending students into the world.

Thank you so much for being part of getting the Gospel to the thousands of students in Boston but also helping to send college graduates into the world to be missional for Him.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

How do you talk to people about Jesus?

Posted on March 18th, 2017

“How do you talk to students about Jesus?” That’s the question a friend of mine from church asked Malisa and me last weekend. As I told her some stories of God at work, she was in awe. But really, I told my friend, there’s nothing awesome about what I do when I talk with students about Jesus. All the awe goes to God that changes people’s lives.

But maybe it would help you if I walk through briefly how I talk to students about Jesus.

Where are you at in your thinking about Jesus?

A couple weeks ago, I asked you to pray for our “Luo Pad” event where we cut fabric for women’s personal hygiene products to be sent to refugees and others in North Africa and the Middle East. One of the students who came to help was named “Jim”.

Above: “Jim” traces fabric patterns for the Luo Pads

I sat down next to him and asked him his name, where he goes to school, and how he found out about our service project. That gave me enough information to learn that Jim had been coming to our friend Ying and James’ small group bible study at Boston University all year.

“Where are you at in your thinking about Jesus?” I asked Jim.

Jim told me he still wasn’t quite sure he believed the gospel.

So we spent the next hour talking about the gospel. Jim shared his story. I shared mine. I shared about Jesus story in Luke 15. I told stories about skiing. I talked about the Lord of the Rings. But at the end, I did my best to sum up the gospel and how we need to respond. I used a little outline called Two Ways to Live www.twowaystolive.com.

Above: Here I am sharing the gospel with “Jim” using an app on my phone.

Jim wasn’t ready to put God in control during our conversation. But he left with real clarity: he knows how to start following Jesus if he wants to.

Thankfully, Jim is very involved with a small group bible study that meets in his dorm. And he just joined that group on a spring break service project in Lewiston Maine to serve refugees. That project, like our “Luo Pad” event, is designed not just to serve others with the love of Christ but also to give us a spot to come alongside like-minded friends who don’t yet know Christ.

So last week, Jim had more opportunities to start following Jesus. Would you pray for “Jim”? He’s so close.

There’s two things I’d like you to take from this story today:

  1.  I want you to know that your prayers and financial support make a huge difference.
  2. What I’m doing to share about Jesus isn’t super complicated. You don’t need to be a “professional Christian” to do it. In fact, I think you can have fun conversations just like this one. If you’d like more info about how to do it, e-mail me. If there’s a good amount of interest, I’ll share a series of e-mails that explain how we do it.

Above: some girls that Malisa helped train last night on campus in how to use the story of God currently working in their lives to get into great spiritual conversations with their friends. If you just ask one open-eded question at the end of a short conversation it can make all the difference.

We love each one of you and are so grateful for your partnership.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

“Jim” sees God’s light break through

Posted on March 17th, 2017

While visiting Hope House during a spring break service project, “Jim” shared about his experience that week.

Jim looked up at the stained glass window bringing light into a dark room. “God is at work in my life. Shining in.”

He sketched this picture to illustrate that his heart has been dark, but now God’s light is shining in. He held up his drawing to the stained glass window and then snapped this photo.

Would you pray that Jim does experience the light of Christ and start following Jesus?

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

Luo Pad Prayer

Posted on February 18th, 2017


Here’s a short video of our students at work at the LuoPad event

Would you help us on Friday?

This Friday, as a part of Cru’s Justice Week, we’re going to help make re-useable feminine pads to distribute to refugees in the Middle East and beyond. If you’re in Boston on Friday, we’d love to have you join us. If not, we’d love you to pray for this outreach.

On Friday from 3-9pm, we’re hosting a drop-in service project at Park Street Church where students (and you if you’re interested) can come and cut out the pieces of “LuoPads.”

LuoPads are washable feminine pads that are part of a “LuoPack” of women’s hygiene items (6 LuoPads, 2 pair of underwear, a washcloth, washing instructions, a waterproof bag, all in a privacy bag).

These meet a huge need for women and girls in refugee camps and remote areas who, because they lack access to hygiene items, must stay home from work or school for up to 20% of each month, significantly limiting their opportunities.

You can read more here: https://www.facebook.com/LuoPadConnection/

Or watch this quick video:

The outreach is an opportunity for Cru students to invite their friends who might not share our love for Jesus, but who do share a love for the vulnerable across the world. Serving together in a tangible way can build relationships and provide bridges for the gospel.

3 Ways to help:

  1. Join us on Friday at Park Street Church – If you’re in the Boston area and free anytime between 3 and 9 for a half hour, come say hi. Send me a text 978-828-8024 to confirm that you’re coming so I know to be looking for you.
  2. Donate used terrycloth towels or flannel. If you’re in the Boston area, it can be dropped off this week anytime to Park Street Church. If you’re outside the Boston area, and think this is something you’d like to participate in, let me know and I can connect you with our friends at Gain, Cru’s humanitarian arm.
  3. Pray. Would you pray that we would be able to have some great conversations around God’s heart for justice this week.

Thank you all so much for your partnership with us in ministry.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

What are we trying to do in Cru?

Posted on February 12th, 2017

What are we trying to do in Cru? “Oh, not very much…we’re only trying to change a person’s whole reason for existing.” That’s what my friend Bob Francis used to say.

In all the years Malisa and I have been working with Cru reaching college students, we’ve realized that there is a critical moment when a student or staff person gets to share the gospel and when we get to see students’ lives changed for all eternity across the table from us.

Everything we’re trying to do in Cru here in Boston revolves around helping our staff and students have more conversations that can change their whole reason for existing. We call these “Gospel Conversations,” and we want to have lots more of them.

As you may know one of the strategies we have used for a number of years to increase the chances of “gospel conversations” with freshmen is to have upperclassmen move back into freshmen dorms. It’s not a “cool” thing to do, but it’s so effective.

Above: Malisa – in the hat on the left – gathered with some of our key student leaders for an Insider Recruiting Dinner last week.
Last week, Malisa gathered a bunch of our students for an “Insider Recruiting Dinner.” We want them to consider living in community close to freshmen so that they can have opportunities to demonstrate God’s love and share the gospel with students.

A few years ago, my friend Nick was a freshman and lived down the hall from our “Insiders.” There were dozens of gospel conversations over the course of the year. The summer after his freshman year, Nick started following Jesus.

Now Nick is a senior and he told the group, “If you think this doesn’t work, you’re wrong. Look at me.”

At the dinner, we also got to see students like Grace who lived near the insider floor of her dorm her freshman year, became an insider her sophomore year, and has been an RA the last two years to stay close to freshmen and share with them the love of Christ. Last year she began to have gospel conversations with Briony (an international student from Asia) who lived on her floor. Briony is now living as an insider herself and helping introduce others to Christ.

We’re motivated to have dinners like this for one reason: We want to change students’ whole reason for being. We want students to know Jesus.

We love having gospel conversations and helping others have gospel conversations. How about you? Have you had any fun gospel conversations lately? Shoot us an e-mail malisa.ellis@cru.org, brian.ellis@cru.org. We’d love to hear your stories and pray for you.

Loving our adventurous Lord,

Bonus News: A bigger family…

Just a couple weeks ago, we got some donuts from a fun local donut shop to share some fun news with our staff team: we’re having a 3rd baby girl this summer (due on the 4th of July). Malisa and I are surprised, excited, and a little overwhelmed!

Would you pray with us:

  • For Sam, Christian, Hannah, Melyna, Briony, and the couple dozen students who are considering moving back into freshman dorms as insiders next fall
  • For our involved students to have gospel conversations with floormates, classmates, and friends this semester
  • For Malisa and me as we continue to lead our team here in Boston
  • For Malisa and me as we get ready to welcome baby #3 this summer


Posted on October 21st, 2016

grace |ɡrās| noun 1. An unmerited gift.

Well…this fall, a girl named Grace has been an unmerited gift to a so many, including me. I first heard of Grace from her older sister, Caitlyn, who was a student leader at Boston University. Grace quickly followed suit and found God leading her to Boston University to study advertising. Grace is tender, is warm, is vulnerable, and is a bold evangelist.


Grace (in the green dress) with me this summer

A few weeks ago, during our discipleship time, Grace shared this beautiful story with me. She had invited one of her fellow RA’s, Ryan, to come to a gathering we hold on Tuesday nights called LIVE. At LIVE, Ryan heard another student share about the purpose of life and so on the way home he opened up to Grace about what He thought the purpose of life might be. She listened, she responded with more questions, she prayed silently while they made the walk back to their dorm.

As they entered the dorm, a group of five other RA friends were standing in the office and quickly invited Grace and Ryan into the conversation. When asked where they were coming from, Ryan shared that they had just come from this great event that Cru put on called LIVE, where they get to talk about how spiritual things impact their lives. The conversation turned and the group of 5 RA’s started also talking about what they thought the purpose of life was.

Ryan turned to the group and said, “I think Grace has a great understanding of what the purpose of life is.” So, with her normal gentleness surrounded with clarity, Grace begin to share the Gospel with Ryan and the 5 other RA’s. That night, Grace was a gift to that group. She loved them by sharing the gift of the Gospel with them.

Grace told me today, “I just got a message from Ryan. He said ‘I have a big life question to discuss the next time we meet.’ He’s still open to talking and I can’t wait.”

I’m so grateful for the ways that YOU are an unmerited gift to Brian and me as we seek to trust Jesus with the Gospel being spread to students from all over America and all over the world as they come to Boston to study.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,


Would you pray:

  • For continued depth of relationships with the RA’s at Boston University so that they may come to understand the “unmerited gift” that Jesus is to us.
  • For Christian, Sam, Zach, Jason, Jake all guys that Brian is building a discipleship relationship with who live in the same dorm at Grace. That they would learn to be bold with the Gospel. Also for Grace to continue to be a bold witness for the Gospel.
  • For Brian and I to lean into the gift God has given of power, love and self-disciple rather than fear as we step foot on campuses daily across Boston.