“The first 6 weeks in a student’s life are irreplaceable. This is the time when students are the most open to new friendships and when they are setting up their first year’s schedule. That schedule often carries over into the rest of their time at university.” says Aaron Emerson, a Cru staff member. – from cru.org.

conversationShelves are empty of box fans and extra-long twin sheets, innocent bystanders are caught in long lines at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, students excitedly return to campus or are dropped off for the first time as parents post about the long, silent, tearful trip home. A new year is underway!

Amid scholastics, college is a time for students to sort out who they are and what they believe. Their parents’ faith, or absence of, has shaped them.  In the science lab of college, students’ values and belief systems are tested. It is a critical time of exploration and self-discovery. August is a crazy month in Cru. We join in campus fairs, give away Freshman Survival Kits (FSK), hold pizza parties, and provide numerous opportunities for students to feel welcome.

Cru greatly impacted my personal spiritual growth. Staff taught me people skills like truly listening and sensitively discussing deeper issues. To my surprise, students really were open to talking about spiritual things. And they still are!!! Thirty-nine years later I now serve on a team committed to communicate how to know God (win), how to grow in faith (build), and how to be part of reaching the world for Christ (send). We get to invent and create tools that help in this win-build-send strategy for our campus ministries all across the country.

The Words Project is a fun way to meet new people and get students’ opinions on topics. For instance, one girl picked the topic LIFE. When asked why she chose descriptive words value, important and depressing, she replied, “Everyone else’s life has value and is important but mine is depressing.” Wow. Immediately strangers were talking about real life.

A co-worker told me the first time he used The Words Project the couple was curious about spiritual things.  That couple later prayed to receive Christ with him once their questions were answered! This project is in the second beta testing phase and we hope to begin production this fall once final tweaks are complete.  This is only ONE of the tools our team has created. It has been a blast!

To the World    

Australia – Aug 18 – Sep 8   Our band Stone will perform outreach concerts in high schools!  The state church of Australia actually requires high schools to conduct religious education! However, this open window is threatening to close as the government is being pressured to remove this religious education component. Pray for many students to come to Christ while these doors are still open!

Georgia – Sep 22 – Oct 13    Our second band will travel to Georgia, located between Russia and Turkey. Georgian staff members desire to launch their own music ministry, so our team will provide training the first half of the trip. Then our band integrated with Georgian musicians will perform outreach concerts on college campuses. Please pray for effective training and for many to come to Christ through the concerts.

40 day prayer challenge –  Aug 21 – Sep 29  I am committing myself to 40 days of intentional prayer, seeking God’s heart. Ministry opportunities abound and I long to hear God’s voice above all the rest. I need some folks like Aaron and Hur to hold my arms up in the battle. If you would like to pray for me as I pray to hear from God, just drop me a note and I’ll be in touch. Dana.Russo@cru.org This is going to be a rich time as He teaches me more about silence, solitude, and surrender.

Suicide Grief training – Sep 11-15   Next month Michael and I will study how to companion those in complicated grief caused by suicide. Our last training on PTSD and Traumatic Grief was incredible. We all know people who have experienced painful loss. Staff in our office have received cancer diagnoses, one terminal. Please pray for these families. Also that I will be a safe companion in these delicate times.