A Wild Ride

Posted on October 7th, 2015

A Wild Ride

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In the video above, feel free to skip to the 1:30 mark for some intense whitewater 🙂

 

What a wild ride we had last weekend rafting on the Kennebec River with 25 students from Boston University, Northeastern University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. “When you hit these rapids, you need to make sure you breathe air, not water. You’re not going to go over the waves. You’re going to go right through them.” As I popped out of our raft, I didn’t realize I would need advice on how and when to breathe. But 20 seconds later, I was coughing up water and struggling for breath. What a wild ride!

Every fall, we take a group of men – usually about half Christians involved with Cru and half their non-Christian friends – up to Maine to go rafting. It is intrinsically fun to go white water rafting – particularly on a beautiful, warm fall afternoon. It’s stunningly beautiful, it’s a great adventure, and let’s men, particularly, experience intimacy. Just as you would never golf alone (what would happen if you got a hole in one and nobody saw it), a trip like this gives our students an incredible shared experience. It’s something best done in community.

Hurtling down the river is certainly a wild ride. But the real wild ride happened on the way home. All the guys in my car immediately fell asleep. After all, it was quite a workout rafting all day. But after dinner, they rallied and began to talk. My friend Paul, from Greece, was talking to a freshman named Chris about his relationship with God.

Inside, I was worried a little as I listened to Paul talk about Jesus and how thrilling it was to be intimately connected with Him. It all sounded a little over the top. I wanted to explain to Chris, who is much newer to the Christian faith that this wasn’t the only way to experience God. But I felt God tell me to not say a thing.

When Paul paused, Chris spoke up. “I have talked to many pastors and other Christians, but I have never heard someone share with such effortless joy about being in a relationship with Jesus. This is incredibly attractive to me.”

I smiled. This is what discipleship really looks like – students pointing students toward Jesus Christ. There was something infectious about Paul’s relationship with Jesus.

We experienced beauty, adventure, and intimacy during our wild ride on the river. But we also experienced beauty, adventure, and intimacy during our wild car ride home. Thank you for enabling Malisa and I to join others on their spiritual journey and point them toward Jesus.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

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Prayer Requests

  • That Chris would experience the gospel like Paul has.
  • Praise: AJ, Tony, Peter, Shannon, Catherine, Wes, Nina, John, Sam, and others who have started following Jesus this fall!
  • Praise for the 243 students at our fall retreat this past weekend.
  • For Gospel conversations to continue with Malisa and a few women from Iran here studying Biology.
  • For our family to walk closely with Jesus and to lean into Jesus.

#Instagramish

Posted on August 25th, 2015

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Here’s an #Instagramish way to pray with Brian and Malisa this month

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Malisa (right) and some of our staff team pose during a prayer walk. Would you pray with us for the next few weeks?
We’ve put a prayer guide online at www.brianandmalisa.com/prayer

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Sydney has had many great family sails on Nana Kay and Grampy Tom’s schooner. Please continue to pray for healing for Brian’s mom.
Here’s her caringbridge site

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It was so fun to be able to visit many of our friends and supporters in Utah. We loved seeing you all. #blessed

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Malisa has discipled Stacy from Northeastern for the last few years. Now she has joined our team as an intern.

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There are 250,000 students returning to Boston in the next week. Pray for spiritual openness & that many would follow Jesus.

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Eliza will be turning 2 in October (and Sydney is already looking forward to turning 5 in February. Please pray for us as parents.

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Ben and Val’s wedding was a family affair: Brian and Malisa did pre-marital counseling, Brian performed the ceremony, and Sydney was the flower girl.

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Brian’s operations team has greatly increased – up to 10 staff now including Sarah (center) and Brittany (right).

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On September 2, we’ll be taking BU students like these to get Ice Cream and fries. It’s a really easy way to connect with freshmen.

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We’re praying for a movement of men to raise up at BU (we’ve got over 100 women involved, but only a handful of guys). Would you pray with us?

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We love you.
Loving our adventurous Lord,

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Prayer Walk

Posted on August 25th, 2015

If you’d like to download a printable PDF, here’s one for:

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  1. West Campus:
    • Abundance of women excited about growing and journeying spiritually.
    • Insider team
    • Lizzy is going to try and weave in Social Justice to one lifegroup
  2. AIA (Athletes in Action):
    • Favor for Sarah B and Bethany at BU
    • AIA Lacrosse Guys
    • Community as a whole with AIA
  3. CFA:
    • Norah and Gwynnie CFA Life Group inside dorm this year.
    • Creative inroads to gospel conversations.
  4. Bridges:
    • Men to get involved in Bridges through Warren co-ed bridges group.
    • Sarah, Ying, and ChenChen (pray she finishes her support raising soon) as they seek to build bridges into new cultures this year
    • Target outreach.
  5. Whole Campus:
    • Faculty, admin, janitors, RAs: including Grace, Kim, and Nick
    • freshmen that we meet at Splash – that many would start following Jesus, Involved new believers from last year would continue to walk with Jesus
  6. Lectio Divina: Matthew 9:36-38
    • What is Lectio Divina?
    • Lectio Divina invites us into God’s presence to listen for his particular, loving word to meat this particular moment in time.
    • How do I practice Lectio Divina?
    • In Lectio one listens to the word as it is read aloud, or you read the text aloud for yourself. Read a Scripture passage slowly and out loud, lingering over the words so that they resonate in your heart. When a word or phrase catches your attention, don’t keep reading. Stop and attend to what God is saying to you. Be open to the word. Don’t analyze it or judge it. Listen and wait. Listen for any invitation that God is extending to you in this word.
    • The Scripture Passage: Matthew 9:36-38
    • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
  7. Warren:
    • insider team – connection with each other, favor on their floor, that others would see the gospel lived out in their community
    • great freshmen to get involved in the 6 life groups in Warren
    • men to get involved
  8. East Campus:
    • Upperclassmen
    • that sophomores, juniors, and seniors would stay involved in the mission and keep growing as they follow Jesus

 

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  1. Wentworth Institute of Technology: community, missional living in community, Thursday night co-ed group, groups of freshman women and men
  2. Mass College of Art, Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  3. School of the Museum of Fine Arts: A new leader or two to be raised up this year.   Continued open doors with campus
  4. Simmons College: Good working relationships with university, quick relational connections for staff with student leaders, Rose, Mary, Jenn, Rikka, and Juliana.
  5. Emmanuel College
  6. Wheelock College (and Simmons Dorms): open doors to the Gospel
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  1. Life Group Leaders:
    • Pray for insider team to launch a great sticky community.
  2. Bridges:
    • inroads with international students
    • Pray for connections with Freshman in Stetson and Spear
  3. Incoming freshman class:
    • Pray that we will meet and connect with huge amounts in the first few weeks.
  4. Move toward movement rather than ministry this year:
    • pray for Patty, Sarah Kline, and Ying as they lead out as MTL’s at NU this year.
  5. Praise God for our interns
    • including Stacy who saw over $52,000 come in during their last week of ministry partner development.
  6. Tyler Jensen and Jenna as President and Vice President of Agape

 

Join us this week LIVE

Posted on July 16th, 2015

This week is our Cru national staff conference. Over the next few days, we’ll be hearing from Christina Cleveland, Andy Crouch, Henri Aoun, KA Ellis, Francis Chan and more. Unless the speakers are talking about ministry in sensitive countries, you can watch all the sessions live. Just go to https://cru15.cru.org/watch/index.htm between 9 and 3:30 Mountain time.

The Next Generation

Posted on July 16th, 2015

On a warm Colorado evening a few weeks ago, I set up our little fold-up table that had made the trek from Boston. I laid out my blue and white tablecloth and set out picnic plates and a few other things for dinner. Then I welcomed Patty, Sarah, Emily, Lara, and Lorenna. I was excited to begin a journey with these five incredible younger women for the summer.
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Above: Lorenna, Sarah, Lara, and Patty at our apartment the first night of their new MTL training

This summer, I got to coach these women to become new Missional Team Leaders (MTL). Each of these women will now lead a team of staff, volunteers, and students to help reach campuses like Yale, Brown, Boston University, Northeastern, The University of New Hampshire, Rhode Island School of Design and many more campuses with the Gospel. They will build students into multiplying disciples and they will mobilize students to be sent to the world.

Patty, Sarah, Emily, Lara, and Lorenna came into this training in various ways. Some were excited and hopeful. Some were worn out from this past year of ministry. Some were scared and uncertain about stepping into this new role. One thing they all had in common: they were willing to be vulnerable about where they were at; they were willing to allow the Lord to help cultivate their hearts for what He was calling them to.

Isn’t it just like God to use small group community to help us grow?  Over the course of the training, our group encouraged Lorenna to use her gift of strategy and her skill in business to think through how she could set up her team well for this up coming year. Lara shared openly about her fears. She struggled to be strategic, but has great ideas about developing engaging and open communities at Yale. In this small group, each woman started thinking about how their understanding of their personal ethnic identity impacted the way they led.

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Above: My whole coaching group. Clockwise from top left: Lorenna (Brown, RISD, Rhode Island), Emily (UNH), Sarah (BU, Northeastern, Wentworth), Patty (BU, Northeastern, SMFA), Lara (Yale), and me.

Would you please join Brian and me in praying for these five women as they begin to lead this fall? They are each leading alongside others who are seasoned and welcoming their fresh perspectives. Would you also pray for the incoming freshman who are preparing to coming to campuses around New England and New York in the upcoming month.  It is because of your partnership in ministry that Patty, Sarah, Emily, Lara, and Lorenna are on their ways to being great new MTL’s. It is because of you that Brian and I are able to trust Jesus for these five women to impact the lives of students across New England and New York. It is because of you that we can trust Jesus for our own impact in the lives of students who do not yet know Jesus.

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Above: family night at Mary’s Mountain Cookies Sydney is eating a “S’more” cookie. My mom always says, “Eat dessert first.” We agree.

Just a little ministry highlight: Social media has already been helping us to connect with incoming freshman before they even get to campus in the next month. At Northeastern we have seen close to 50 freshman reach out to us wanting to either hear more about the Gospel or be part of a small group that focuses on the Gospel. Similar things are happening around the city of Boston as well.
Loving our Adventurous Lord,

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Above: Sydney and Eliza have had a great summer playing with their new friends and neighbors for the summer Liam and Ethan.

How to Pray

  • For Patty, Sarah, Emily, Lara, and Lorenna as they return to New England to lead on campus
  • For incoming freshmen across New England and New York who do not yet know Jesus
  • For Brian and me as we continue to raise our girls
  • For Brian’s mom, Kay as she continues her treatment for ovarian cancer (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kayellis/ for updates).

How to Give

You can give a special gift to support our ministry.

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We took Brian for a great family hike for Father’s Day. We wore Eliza and Sydney out in the process 🙂

Please pray for Brian’s Mom

Posted on April 1st, 2015

Malisa and I wanted to let you know some hard news about my family so that you can be praying.

At the end of February, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. The cancer started in the ovaries and has since spread to the liver and other organs. My parents flew home from their winter in Idaho and my mom is now receiving chemotherapy at Dana Farber in Boston.

We’ve set up a caring bridge site for my mom at www.caringbridge.com/visit/kayellis if you’d like to get updates so you can pray for her.

Much of this Malisa and I learned about just before and during Big Break, so it made for quite a different week for our family. I cried more than I normally do on the beach for spring break.

We would covet prayers for my mom, Kay, and for our family.

Making the Gospel Clear

Posted on April 1st, 2015

Jordan looked at me intently as I finished sharing the gospel with him a couple weeks ago. “As I hear you explain this, it just brings up more questions. The main one: ‘Why would I want to give up control of my life and trust it to someone else? I like being in control.’”

Responses like this from guys as I share the gospel leave me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m sad that Jordan is not yet ready to start following Jesus. And I wish he were. On the other hand, I love that in just a few minutes, we’ve been able to make the basics of the gospel message really clear. I love that Jordan is not rejecting a caricature of the gospel. Right now, he’s rejecting the gospel itself.

But it leaves me with hope that, one day, when Jordan gets to a point where he realizes that being in control isn’t working, he will know how to start following Jesus.

I love helping make the gospel clear to people who don’t yet know Jesus. And I love training others to do the same.

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Above: Malisa (bottom right with Sydney) and I (top left with Eliza) took a group of 40 to Panama City Beach over spring break.

One thing we have realized is that right now at some of our campuses in Boston we have some students who are doing an incredible job joining their friends on their spiritual journeys – exploring where they’re at, asking great questions, being interested in their lives, and demonstrating the gospel at work in community. But while these students might even explain some of the gospel message, they stop short of asking their friends to decide to follow Jesus.

So last month, my friend Patty and I led a training time for some of our student leaders focused on this key thing: How do you explain the gospel so that it’s clear that our friends have a decision to make – either to run life their way, without God, or to submit to Jesus as their ruler?

We had a really fun group of students come to the training including a couple that do not yet know Jesus themselves. It’s still a bit of a mystery/miracle that we have non-Christians come to events where we’re training students how to share the gospel, but there you go. After Patty and I demonstrated a hypothetical gospel conversation and the night ended, I got to have a real gospel conversation with “Ivan,” one of the non-believers that came that night. It was so fun to do what I had just trained others to do.

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Above: Sharing the gospel with “Ivan” at our training night

The thought I left Ivan with:
Following Jesus doesn’t mean you need to know everything about Jesus or the Bible because what separates us from God isn’t a lack of information. What separates us from God is the fact that we’re rebels and like being in control of our lives.

So what it takes to start following Jesus is pretty simple. You take whatever tiny bit you know about God and put your tiny bit of trust there. Put your weight on it. And the way to do that is to talk to God. To say something like,

“God, if you’re there, which is still a big ‘if’ in my mind, but if you’re there, I know that I am not worthy to be accepted by you. I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life. I am guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you and I need forgiveness. Thank you for sending your son to die for me that I may be forgiven. Thank you that he rose from the dead to give me new life. Please forgive me and change me, that I may live with Jesus as my ruler. Amen.”

That’s the sort of prayer that all of us can pray and share with others too.

Thanks so much for praying for us and partnering with us as we introduce others to Jesus. Malisa and I love that because of you, students like Jordan and Ivan can hear the gospel. Thank you.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

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How to Pray

  • For Jordan to get to a point where he wants to give control to Jesus – the only one who can control him without destroying him.
  • For Ivan to pray and put his weight on the trustworthiness of God
  • For our students who have seen 5 more students trust Christ this spring – that many more would know Jesus.
  • For Brian’s mom, Kay as she is treated for cancer.

The Table

Posted on March 12th, 2015

“And as he reclined at the table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Mark 2: 15-17

It has been just a few days shy of 19 years since I was first invited to ‘The Table.’  I remember being scared and worried that I didn’t know enough of The Bible to really sit at the table of one incredible woman who opened her home for college students to gather and study His Word.  That table that we stretched out at helped to build into me a hope and vision for what else God could do in my life, whom else could hear of Him, Who else I could invite to the table.

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So on Thursday afternoons we make due.  In a old fraternity house that has now been turned into just normal student housing, a group of about 15 faithful college women gather and also invite new women to the table almost every week.  It’s a powerful picture because girls like “Molly” don’t come feeling confident or stable in what they believe. In Fact, she came crawling back after a heavy bout of spiritual attack and mental health issues.  But she came and listened and began to share her story.  She began to open up. This incredible community has been used to bring about some healing and health in her life. When she arrived last week, it was with the joy of how she had shared her faith story—the gospel working in her life—with 3 others the night before.

Today was no different. I lugged lots of homemade soup onto campus. When I arrived at the door, a girl with a nervous smile was already standing outside, waiting to get in. I said “hi” and introduced myself; she shyly said, “I’m ‘Leslie’.”  “Great come on in!”  So Leslie joined us at the table because one of those faithful 15 girls invited her.  It brings tears to my eyes to think of how God is using a simple table to bring about change in many women’s lives.

Thank you for praying; thank you for being part of the Table in Boston. Please keep praying that new faces would be invited to the table every week and that our little group of women would display the grace and truth of Christ over and over again to each other and to those that are just joining us.

How to Pray:

  • For the table to continue to be a safe and honest place
    to understand the Gospel.
  • For the 60 plus students and staff headed to Spring Break Mission trips from Boston.  Please pray for our little family as well.  We have just taken a group of 40 to Big Break, which is an evangelism outreach.
  • For Brian and I to continue to believe God for changed lives in Boston.
  • For the many relationships we have recently build with students from a extremely closed country in the Middle East.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

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“Mohammed” is on a Journey

Posted on February 5th, 2015

“I have many fewer friends in America than I did when I lived in [my home country in South Asia]. But all of them are deeper, and all of them are involved with Cru.”

“Though the students involved with Cru are not Muslim like me, we share so much, and they have encouraged me to think about my spiritual background. I think everyone is on a spiritual journey.” I totally agree, and can’t wait to see that journey continue toward Christ.

These are two of the encouraging things that my new friend “Mohammed” told me as we drove north last weekend. We were heading with 18 other guys for a men’s ski weekend, but as you can imagine, the journey was as important as the destination. It’s for car ride conversations like I was having that we do ski weekends in the first place.

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We found a great place to stay – Thanks Brandt and Mike for both suggesting Shiloh lodge, and all of you who helped make connections for us. We took guys for a great day skiing (half skied, the other half snow-shoed). We enjoyed meals together, and played games into the wee-small hours of the morning. But we do all those things so that we can have great sharing of life stories and connection about deep things.

A ski trip gives me an excuse to get to know Mohammed. “You know,” I told him, “one of the things I love about the Koran is that it says that Muslims should read the New Testament and listen to Jesus. And Jesus spent a lot of time talking about the Kingdom of God. The real question that’s worth answering: ‘What does it mean to be part of the Kingdom of God.’ Perhaps we could start looking at that sometime soon.”

And so that’s where we are and where we need your prayers. Mohammed is an “involved-non-believer” in our Cru movement at BU. He had other great conversations over the course of the weekend with Jeremiah and Josh. And now I want to start looking at the New Testament with him, and seeing what Jesus says about the Kingdom of God.

We’re committed to journeying with guys like Mohammed, with Alex, with Igor, with Kyle, Phil, and lots of other young men who are taking time to consider Christ while in college. And we’re committed to doing men’s ministry differently than we do women’s ministry (that’s going well too – Malisa would love your prayers). Whatever it takes to make Christ known.

Loving our Adventurous Lord,

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Prayer Requests

  • For “Mohammed” to become part of the Kingdom of God (where Jesus is the King).
  • For the other believers and not-quite-believers-yet that came with us this weekend – that God would work in their lives
  • For Malisa as she ministers to our women – there’s a women’s gathering this weekend that we would covet your prayers for