Campus update

One of our largest ministries in Portland is at the University of Portland. It is a Catholic school, and one of the few Catholic schools in the country that allows Campus Crusade to be there.

A few years ago, the school administration realized that about half of their enrolled students were Protestant. They felt unequipped to resource those students well, and so they asked us to fill the role of a Protestant campus ministry. We agreed, but they had some requirements.

We were forbidden from evangelizing on campus at all. After all, a Catholic parent who spends $40,000 each year to send their child to school doesn't want them being hasseled by religious weirdos. We agreed. They also asked that we be careful of the content of Bible studies and weekly meeting talks, making sure that the subject matter was theologically neutral, and not overtly Protestant or anti-Catholic in any way.

Anyway...it has always bothered me somewhat that we have been unable to teach our students there how to listen to others and talk about spiritual topics. So back in Decmeber I devised a very neutral questionnaire, consisting of four questions:

1. What has been your spiritual background?
2. How has that shaped you as a person today?
3. How has that shaped your view of God today?
4. Who, in your opinion, is Jesus Christ?

These are questions to explore a person's thinking without offending their theology. At this point, should a student be interested in talking more about these topics, we proposed to the Catholic administration that we would suggest the student attend either the Catholic campus ministry meeting, or our Campus Crusade meeting. Both are University-sanctioned places to discuss spiritual issues, and Jesus is glorified in both places. We promised not to share the gospel on the spot, but to follow up in the safety of the sanctioned environments.

Last week our staff team proposed this plan to the Univeristy's Spiritual Directors, and they loved the idea. So much so that they not only agreed to let us do the questionnaire, but they are going to have some of their Catholic student leaders do them too. This is a level of cooperation between groups and the mobilization of new laborers that I have never encountered before. God is seriously at work on that campus, to the point where he has raised up Catholics to go out and proclaim on campus.

Amazing. Praise God.

This year has challenged my thinking on many things. I believe more and more that Christ can be found in the Catholic church. Protestants have criticized Catholics harshly over the years for being tradition-bound and dead and empty theologically. Not only do I believe that this is an unfair accusation, but I think many Protestants (and Evangelicals too) would be surprised to find the same thing to be true in their own churches. No denomination has the market cornered on ritualistic apathy and a powerless spirituality.

Anyway, God continues to work in Portland. Your prayers are appreciated!


More poetry from Allison

This one is from a few weeks ago. She is getting quite better at knowing her nursery rhymes because we read the book so often. However, I wanted to post this one - its my favorite.

Adam and I had recently seen the movie, Little Miss Sunshine. Allison heard us refer to the movie and immediately launched into...

Little Miss Sunshine
Sat on a puffet
Eating her crispy rice porridge
Out came a HUGE spider
And sat down on her puffet
And scared little Miss Sunshine away so he could eat all of her porridge



Ministry update

Cool news - one of our latest postings was about how our newsletter about Dave, the Portland State football player who has started a ministry of service on campus, was on the front page of CCC's campus ministry website.

I got a phone call today from the parent of a college student in Ohio who heard about what Dave is doing and wants to start a similar ministry on his own campus.

That just blows me away. It goes to show that godliness leads to more godliness, and that God will glorify himself over and over again through our efforts if we let him.

I have to follow up the phone call, and am excited to do so.

My amazing family Part III

Not only cute and eminently quotable, but Allison is showing a huge hunger to learn. She sees Alex go to school and learn to read, and she is wanting to do those things too.

This week she learned "Right" and "Left" in about five minutes. This is remarkable, because as Alex said, "Dad, I don't even know that so good yet!"

She also now knows which shape is a 'trapezoid' and which one is a 'hexagon'.

Seriously, I don't think I learned 'trapezoid' until I was 10.

My amazing family Part II

We do regular school exercises with the kids each week to teach them basic reading, math, geography, and other concepts. As you remember, Alex learned to read this summer and fall. Now he is working on math.

In the last two weeks, he has learned a few rules for math: numbers stand for things; adding one to a number leads to the next larger number; adding zero to a number leads to the same number; and that sometimes, letters can stand for numbers.

Today we were working on some addition problems, and I introduced the basic algebra concept that "sometimes letters stand for numbers". I wrote the problem, "3+H=6" and asked Alex what number the letter "H" stood for. He looked at it, and said with little hesitation, "3!"

I was amazed - I remember in junior high watching so many kids get paralyzed by seeing letters in math problems. I guess Alex isn't old enough to know to be afraid of that, but in the next five minutes we did a dozen more algebra problems: "4+Z=8", "Q+6=6", "Q+6=7", etc...he got every one right and didn't even hesitate.

It leads me to wonder if we don't underestimate what kids are able to learn. I was telling Alex that other kids won't learn to read until they are seven years old. He wondered how they would be able to wait two more years to read Spider-Man books.

My amazing family, Part I

Since Anne won't brag on herself, I'll do it for her.

Last weekend she entered a half-marathon hoping to walk the course in 3 hrs. Instead, she did it in 2 hrs 53 min, and managed to finish second among the women's walker division. She had to hang around for the awards ceremony to pick up her prize.

I could not be more excited for her - she is becoming quite the fast walker. Her pace for 13.1 miles was 13:13 per mile. Try walking a mile in 13 minutes to see how amazing that is!


Front page news

Many of you might remember our previous newsletter that had the story of Dave, the Portland State University football player. Recently as I was browsing Campus Crusade's Campus Ministry homepage, I came across this.

Dave's story has been selected as the front page story for the Campus Ministry homepage. I was pretty excited to see that!


More poetry from Allison

Allison received a Mother Goose book for Christmas, which we have read numerous times. Yesterday she recited Baa Baa Black Sheep. Here is her version (I promise you I'm not making these up).

Black Sheep, Black Sheep
Have you any fur
Yes, yes, yes Sir
one for the master and
one for the lane and
one for the little boy who lives down the drain.


Allison's fashion (& poetry)

Allison, recently, has really been excited about her clothes...especially shoes, tights and leggings. She has several pairs of each. Saturday afternoon we were checking out some sales at the Gap (thanks to a Christmas gift card from some friends), and we left with new shoes and two pairs of leggings which she couldn't wait to try on. As we were driving home, she began to recite a poem that Alex had to learn for his preschool Christmas performance, although she altered it a bit. Here is her version. (Remember, the donkey travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem...).

Clippety-Clop, Clippety Clop
Go the donkeys feet
From Nazareth to Baby Gap
It took about one week.


The least of these

Last week I mentioned how our staff team has been going out to some of the smaller and more non-traditional schools in our scope. Of the 32 schools we know of in Portland, at least half qualify as "the least of these". We love them and we want to give God a chance at surprising us with fruitfulness, and so we go in faith.

The first wave of exposures went about as expected, but with a couple surprises. At one school, thw administrator asked our staff if they would just email a flyer over to her office, and she would have it hung up around campus. Exposure without any real exposure. Hopefully, God raises up someone to respond to the poster's challenge to start a ministry on that campus. We can coach and resource them from that point.

In another instance, a staff member committed to looking into a similar exposure strategy at the Birthingway College of Midwifery, definitely one of the most non-traditional colleges in our scope. She mentioned to a friend that she was going to call over there, and as it turns out, her friend has another friend that graduated from the school, and may be interested in leading a Bible study there. Believe me, it challenges my paradigm of ministry when things like that come together. It just goes to show that we never would have known had we not gone there. If more comes of this story, believe me I'll let you know.

Other schools have not been as open. Several have no student involvment at all, and are not interested in there being any. Others have been welcoming, but not encouraging about the prospect of there being any interest in on-campus activities. God is big enough to honor our efforts, though, so we play our part and wait on his timing.

A pleasant Sunday

Finally, some sun around here! Although the temps were at or below freezing, there was not a cloud in the sky today. So, after church we took the kids out to a nice breakfast. Then, Anne went out for a 7.5 mile walk. When she got home, I went for a 9 mile run. In the sun. Very nice.


Big thoughts

Take a look at this...it's a simulation of how big the Earth is in relation to other celestial bodies. Pretty amazing.

Just because it's cool

Here is a cool list of the world's ten most dangerous roads. Think your commute is bad? Check these out!

Some part of me wants to try my hand at driving them.

New Orleans story

Here is a good article at espn.com about the current state of the city of New Orleans.

We had 11 students from Portland Campus Crusade go to New Orleans for 10 days during the month of December. All told, our ministry had 44 people go down to do cleanup work this fall.

Our team is currently trying to decide if we may invest spring break in another relief trip.


What a downer

Anne and I took the kids to a restaurant last night to watch the Ohio State - Florida game. The place we went is a local Ohio State hangout, and it was wall-to-wall scarlet and gray. The kids were excited by the energy of the place, although Alex had to cover his ears from all the noise.

Things were great for the first sixteen seconds of the game. The whole place went crazy when the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. After that, it got really depressing. You would have thought someone was kicking puppies, judging by the shocked silence for the next two hours.

Anyway, once the "blue" team started getting really far ahead, Alex kept asking how long until we could leave. You know it's a bad football game, or at least bad for your team, when a little boy has had enough of the action.

We left at halftime.

A good first week

Our campus team has been getting back into the swing of things after our conference. We had staff in East Asia leading students on a ten-day ministry vision trip encompassing evangelism on campuses in a closed country. Sarah, one of our interns, took a student to Houston to attend a conference for international students desiring to grow in Christ and minister on their campuses. Most of us were here at our conference in Portland. All of us spent two days in regional meetings right after the conference was over.

Now, it's time to head back on campus. Two exciting things are coming up right away:

First, we have split up the remaining schools in Portland that we have not yet attempted to launch, and have organized an all-out push to go to every campus in Portland. Manyof these schools are very non-traditional, ie highly commuter, highly specialized, and having very broad age demographics. So, Everest College, or Heald College are both schools that cater to second- and mid-career educations, and are very non-traditional, but we believe God works in the lives of students in those places as well. In all, there are now 32 schools in the scope of Portland. Our team will have attempted to start ministries on all of them by the end of next week.

What do we do there? For such a non-traditional school, we usually call the campus administration and ask if there are any Christian clubs or Bible studies presently happening on campus. If there are, then we will contact the leaders of the Bible study and talk with them about partnering with us to reach their campus. Partnership with a large, international organization can be tremendously beneficial for an independent Bible study leader. If there is not any such activity, we ask the school if we can hang some signs with our contact information so any students that might be interested in starting a Bible study or group knows how to find us.
Keep in mind that nearly all of these type of schools have no student involvement whatsoever. Students go from car to class to car, or else take classes online, rarely if ever visiting campus. Our role is to be faithful to God and believe that he can and does work in situations that do not look promising from our viewpoint. We want to give God the chance to surprise us with fruitful ministry! So, we spend some, but not too much, time in these locations.

The second exciting thing is that next week our team will be attempting to launch four or five new Epic ministries in Portland. Epic is Campus Crusade's ministry specifically aimed at Asian-American students. These students have a unique cultural heritage and face certain challenges to faith common their ethnicity and upbringing. As a result, we desire to serve them by creating ministries more tailored to their needs.

Abe Gin and Jen Morishima, two staff interns on our team, spend nearly all their time working with Asian American students. They have identified several schools with large Asian-American populations where we will be attempting to start Epic ministries.

Kid humor

The other day, Allison was picking her nose. I asked her what she was doing. Her answer:

"Digging for treasure."


Back to campus

This week, having finished up our Winter Conference, and with the imminent start of classes at most schools, it has been time to put things into motion for the next term.

So what does that mean?

I have had some time to think over the fall term, and I have decided on a few adjustments here and there around the city that will hopefully allow ministry to progress. Some examples:

More direction for the staff team: I really don't like being told what to do. I usually thrive when given expectations and an example, and then left to figure it out myself and ask questions as I need to. I am learning as a leader that most people hate that. I have left my team feeling a little scattered because I have left things too open-ended for them. So, to remedy that, I have been working on giving the team very specific responsibilities.

Greater training focus: Related to the previous one. My desire is to see the staff team better equipped to do the things I will ask them to do.

Better team unity: Our team of 10 is not too small, but we are scattered all over the city. This can become unhealthy as people are on their own too much; the feeling of isolation becomes very tiresome and leads to burnout. I hope to see more frequent team times so we can approach ministry as a cohesive unit and not as a collection of individuals.

A focus on our student leaders: We walk with a constant tension between opening new locations and building solidly into existing ones. Our currently opened schools each have some pretty obvious needs unique to each school. Whether that need is a greater identity with CCC, or better training of the leaders there, or assistance from volunteers, or just encouragement from the staff team, we need to spend some time focusing on those needs in order to build strong leaders and strengthen their successors for coming years.

An ethnic focus: We will be out and about looking for students and church partners with the desire to reach students of ethnicity. "White-guy ministries" reach such a limited scope of students. The alternative is to find people that would lead ministries focused on students of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Please pray for these things, and more. God continues to move in Portland, and we want to be good stewards of what he is doing.

Allison's Dance Class

Allison, for awhile, has been talking about taking ballet, so today I told her we would look into it. We stopped by a dance studio close to our home to ask about times and prices. By chance, we happened to arrive at the same time the 'Intro to Dance' class (3-5 yr olds) was meeting so they let Allison join in for the afternoon session. She was excited! And, she loved it. Since its an intro class, they do ballet, tap and jazz - so we left the studio armed with new ballet slippers and tap shoes.


Winter Conference

Yesterday marked the last day of our Winter Conference held this year in Portland. Students from schools all over the Northwest stayed for four days in Portland for a time of worship, teaching, and outreach.

Our Portland team coordinated the day of outreach to the city. We had students working and serving in over 30 different locations on Sunday December 30. Groups fed homeless, passed out clean socks to homeless, did free maintenance and spent time with residents at hursing homes, cleaned up local parks, struck up spiritual conversations at coffee shops, played basketball with kids at troubled and at-risk youth programs, and participated in many other venues.

Overall feedback from the day has been incredibly positive. Our aim was to give the students at the conference a chance to live out their faith in Christ in a tangible way. We desire that they would see how natural it can be to serve God, and have that begin to characterize their lives in increasing measure.

Thanks for praying for our conference...it is probably the most significant thing we do all year. Pray now that the students from Portland that attended the conference would take back what they have learned and continue to live it out on campus and in their lives.