Thursday, December 01, 2011

Changed Lives :: Chattanooga

Here's a video telling Breon Thomas' powerful story of life change through the ministry of Student Venture - A poverty stricken African American kid who grow up in the projects and in shelters.

“my student venture leader impacted me, I’m one person and now I go out and impact others... you are now witnessing a generation that has the possibility to be transformed.  I think by investing in even one kid’s life, you are impacting the world!” - Breon

Breon is on a mission to show the love and joy that his relationship with Jesus has given him through the hand of music and dance. In high school, he was a servant leader in Student Venture starting lunch bible studies were the gospel of Jesus Christ was able to be shared with close to 75 teenagers a week.

Consider investing in changed lives.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011-07 Update - Campus Crusade for Christ's Name Change to Cru


We Just Returned from All Campus Crusade Staff Training

Every other summer, the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, of which Student Venture is a part, gathers in Ft. Collins, Colorado to be refreshed spiritually, have our vision renewed, and celebrate what God has done. Soaking up the God-centered teaching (You can watch some of the videos yourself at ) has revitalized our souls in the middle of this crazy season for our family.


Campus Crusade for Christ is BECOMING... CRU

This is a big year for our ministry. It is the 60th anniversary of Campus Crusade for Christ! What started out as an outreach to college students established by Bill and Vonette Bright in 1951, has now blossomed into a movement of over 25,000 staff with a presence in 191 countries and a scope that is far beyond students.

Another reason this is a big year for us is that after sixty years, Campus Crusade’s name is changing. This past week it was announced that in early 2012, Campus Crusade for Christ will change its name to ‘Cru.’ This change will be for the United States ministry only. Campus Crusade actually already operates under a variety of names around the world. For example, in Russia, it is called ‘New Life’ and in Canada, it is called ‘Power to Change.’

The name change has been in process for two years. Our leadership has prayed, fasted and sought the advice of proven experts who help organizations makes similar changes. In addition, there was extensive market research including in depth interviews and surveys of staff, donors, volunteers and potential volunteers, ministry partners, students, and non-Christians. The change is being made in order to more effectively communicate the message of Jesus with people and partner with organizations and churches who share our aims. To read more about the reasons why this name change is important, or if you have questions or concerns, please visit to get some answers to ‘FAQ’ and see some enlightening short videos. One video is an interview of our Vice President, Steve Sellers, on Fox News.

Very recent media reports have taken an unfavorable stance (imagine that...the media spreading misleading information) by questioning our commitment to Christ since the word ‘Christ’ was removed from our official name. Be assured though, Cru remains deeply committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, the centrality of the cross, the truth of God's Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the global scope of the Great Commission. As you know, many Christian organizations and many local churches do not have the name Jesus or Christ in their name and this does not lessen their devotion to Him or their effectiveness in their mission.

In actuality, the name change brings little impact to our work. Student Venture will keep its name and will continue to be the middle and high school ministry of Cru. The bottom line for us is that we will never stop talking to people about Jesus, His transforming grace and forgiveness that He offers through the cross. It's who we are. It's why we're here. Thank you for standing with us in this glorious mission, and for living it yourself.

Of course, if you have questions about our new name or want further clarification behind why the change was made, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. Please join us in praying for a smooth transition.

As always, we appreciate your partnership in ministry more than words can express. Be assured that the Lord is using you, through your prayer and financial support, to make an eternal impact in the hearts of people!

Complete Letter

Click on the image below to enlarge it to a size where you can read it:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

2011-05 Ministry Update


Two Significant Advances:

  • Video Training
  • Mobile Phone Applications

Transitioning Volunteer Training to VIDEO

Today, 58% of adults after college will never read another book! Instead they spend 4 hours a day watching TV and 3 hrs listening to the radio. They absorb info still, but not in written form. And since more than 50% in the US prefer to hear than read, we’ve felt the need to adapt our training. Who has the time, or interest, in reading a 3-ring binder training manual? Our goal has been to shorten, simplify, and when possible, convert to interactive video. We want to value the time of volunteers. They shouldn’t spend all of their volunteer hours in training, but rather being freed up to minister to students.

Going Mobile! -- iPhone & Android

media_1312999955374.pngMost adults can remember life in the “B.C.” days... not “before Christ,” but “before CELLPHONES.” Hard to imagine that most teenagers have never known life without such technologies. Very soon, especially for students, mobile phones will overtake the computer as the most popular way to get on the Web! My hope is that Student Venture will quickly advance our digital strategies to be fully prepared for these rapidly changing times. We’re creating Campus Crusade’s first ever mobile app for training staff & volunteers!

Our goal: Train Student Venture volunteers in a new way; using the most popular personal electronic device of every high school student, their mobile phone. Create a custom mobile application on both iPhone and Android platforms for Student Venture.

media_1312999918950.pngOur ambitious launch date: July 15, in time for SV's all staff training this summer. This initial “1.0” in-house demonstration will include enough functionality for SV staff and volunteers to get an idea of what is being developed. When it is launched, Student Venture's app will be offered in the iTunes App Store and the Google Android App Store as a free application to users.

Primary initial purpose of the phase 1.0 mobile application: To deliver SV's new volunteer training curriculum with video and textual content to Student Venture's volunteers.

History: The company helping us develop the mLearning app has been refining their skills the last 18 months where they launched a pilot project in Kenya for Nairobi School of Theology. A Kenyan newspaper reported last week that two different groups took the same course - one group participated remotely using a mobile phone, the other group attended physical classes at the university.

Statistics from pilot: Only 60% of the students who attended the physical classroom completed the course (40% drop out rate); yet, 100% of the mLearning remote students completed the same course!

Observations: “What we noticed is that students who physically came to attend lectures rarely made it through all the classes because of busy schedules and heavy traffic. Those who used the mobile phones had an easier time as they could comfortably access all the content.”

Web Evangelism Statistics

Here are stats from two of our evangelistic websites. We are continually trying to learn ways to tweak our marketing campaigns using Google Ads to make it easier for those searching for God online.


Two Major Surgeries - On Same Day...

Cole: adenoids removed + tubes put in his ears
Ben: adenoids & tonsils removed

Family Watched Final Launch of the Endeavor Space Shuttle

We took our kids on a 5 hour round-trip drive to the east coast to watch the final launch of the Endeavor Space Shuttle.

Going Bass Fishing

The retention pond behind our house has provided some family entertainment. One recent evening, Laura caught this 4.5 LBS bass. I couldn’t allow my sweet wife to beat me, so I caught this 5 LBS bass about 30 minutes later!

Cooper Lost His First Tooth


Cooper and Ben Playing T-Ball

Cooper & Benjamin are wrapping up their first season playing T-Ball. It has been hilarious watching. At this entry level, the only objective is to let everyone hit while the opposing team attempts to field the ball & throw it to first base.
Pictured above, Ben’s throwing the ball to Cooper on 1st base. Cooper said, “Ben threw the ball at my face. I put my glove up so I wouldn’t get hit & the ball landed inside it!”

Residential Burglaries

We’ve had some drama in our neighborhood lately -helicopters, police dogs, undercover cops, deputies in our front yard with guns drawn! There is evidence that the L.A. gang, The Crips, have moved in. (I guess gated communities only keep honest people out.) Within a 38 day timespan, there were 7 separate residential burglaries on our street! And over the last 4 years, our kid’s dvd player has been stolen out of our van. The police have arrested two kids so far, but I don’t believe that’ll be the end of the crime, but we’re shopping for another DVD player!

Family Pics


Grateful for your Partnership,

Thank you for undergirding our family and our ministry in your prayers.

Complete Letter

 click on the images below to enlarge to a size where you can read them:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011-03 Ministry Update


9 Student Winter Conferences

Descriptive texts of the conferences:
  • Opportunity for significance
  • Transformed lives
  • Morning and evening main sessions with great worship
  • Evangelism training and a day of outreach in a public setting
When students and leaders returned home, their actual Facebook statuses, which you can read here, reflected the things that happened in their hearts. Andrea and Jamal had a limited knowledge about Jesus before they went to FastBreak, but over the weekend, they placed their faith in Him for the first time! Not only did Jamal give his life to Christ, he also shared the Gospel with 4-5 others the next day. Right underneath was a post from Jamal’s dad saying “I am so proud of you!” Quincy became a believer after a SV staff member shared the gospel with him last fall, and God used Fastbreak to help him grow in his young faith.

Video Gospel Presentation

For several months, I’ve lead a project using creative video clips to illustrate and communicate the Gospel message. Our prayer is the video will go “viral” online when it’s released.

Family Pics


Complete Letter

click on the image below to enlarge it to a size where you can read it:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Video I Created of Japan Devastation to Lead Viewers to Biblical Perspectives

I created a 4 minute video with pictures from yesterday's earthquake/tsunami in Japan.

My desire was to lead people to pray, but also to lead seekers to, one of our key web strategies.

My description includes:
For help in finding answers about "Where is God in the Midst of Tragedy?" visit: 

The YouTube video, "65 devastating photos of Japan Tsunami" can be found on Student Venture's YouTube channel here:

It is also on Student Venture's Facebook Fan Page here:

On Student Venture's Twitter page here:!/studentventure

And on my personal Facebook page here:

If you visit any of the links above, please click "Like" and/or make a comment so that it will boost its rankings in YouTube and in Facebook so that more people could be ministered to.

I'm embedding the video here in our blog:


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Changed Lives :: New York City, Just Not Into Church

“Meeting someone where they are.” - That statement could be applied a couple of ways to this story.  Student Venture Staff met Antonio “where he was” when they met him outside his school.  They also  met Antonio “where he was” when staff used Antonio’s answer about church to share the Gospel with him.  “Meeting someone where they are” shows them that Christ and the gospel apply to their lives and their present circumstances.  Combine that with the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s heart, and a new child of God is born!
In the future, when you are walking around in Heaven, don’t be surprised if Antonio comes to you and says, “Thank you for giving to the Lord; I am a life that was changed.”  We agree with Antonio!

Just Not Into Church

by Kevin and Ginnette Young, staff serving in New York City
I met Antonio, a freshman on the football team, outside the school.  Moses (another SV staff) and I had decided to use the half hour lull before weight training to talk about the Lord to whomever He put in our path.  “You into the church thing, Antonio,” I asked? “Not really, but sometimes I go to church when I feel bad about something I’ve done.” I asked him if he would like to grab a slice of pizza and hear about how he could be forgiven all the time; and he jumped at it.  We sat down and I shared a simple outline of the gospel.  I could tell he was tracking, because his questions anticipated each point I made.  Towards the end of our time, I asked him if he wanted to begin a relationship with Christ, so that he could be forgiven for all of his sins, all of the time.  His emphatic “yes” led to us praying together.  It was sweet to see his countenance change, and the evidence of God’s assurance wash over him. I wrote the day’s date on the cover of the booklet.  “Save this, Antonio,” I said, “it will remind you that today is your spiritual birthday.”  His smile could have stopped the L-train (metro)!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Changed Lives :: Plano, A Student Experiences God at Work

Part of our Student Conferences is giving the students an opportunity to share their faith in the community where the conference is held.  They are armed with a short 5-question inoffensive survey to open a conversation, a Connecting with God booklet that talks about Jesus and having a person relationship with Him, and the Holy Spirit!   We’ll take the students to a mall, on the beach or even to area neighborhoods.
This story is about an outreach at one of our conferences and a student’s experience in sharing Jesus.
This student’s life (and the lives of the girls at McDonalds) will never be the same because she experienced the Holy Spirit working through her to bring someone to Christ.  Thank you for making it possible for us to be on the field, hold these conferences, and give students opportunities to share.  Lives are changed because you are faithful.


A Student Experiences God at Work

by Nicole Matuska, staff serving in Plano, TX
Mackenzie is a senior at Plano HS and went to our FastBreak Winter Conference.  Here is her story about sharing Jesus...
"When the Student Venture bus dropped me and the other campers off at a McDonald's in South Dallas, I wasn’t super excited to share the Gospel with strangers. In fact, there was a spiritual battle raging in my heart and I felt very discouraged. It was my 6th outreach with Student Venture and I had never experienced a stranger accepting Christ.
I always have trouble initiating a conversation, so this year I decided to use the MLK- themed survey to start conversations. This particular outreach I felt very successful in the conversations that my bi-lingual partner, Vidi, and I had with shoppers and employees at the local Fiesta supermarket. Although all the people we talked to considered themselves Christians, none of them had ever heard about having a personal relationship with God. Vidi and I got to explain the gospel to them and they let us pray for them, but none of them were comfortable saying the prayer themselves at that moment. Already the outreach was going better than I had ever experienced before, and it was only going to get better from there!
As all of the Plano and Carrolton students were gathering in front of McDonalds waiting for the bus, my good friend Bola spotted two teenage girls that she wanted to talk to and asked me to go with her. We awkwardly began by asking them the first three survey questions and asked them if they knew that God wanted to have a personal relationship with them;one of the girls said no and the other said yes. So we continued sharing the gospel with them, making it clear that God wants them as they are, and that we can only depend on Jesus’ death on the cross for salvation. As the bus pulled up to the edge of the street, one of the girls accepted Christ and the other rededicated her life to Christ.
I felt very excited as I walked onto the bus because although I was physically there and technically I shared the Gospel with the two girls, it wasn’t me at all. God had done all the work by preparing the girls’ hearts beforehand and speaking to them through me and Bola. I realized that this outreach went so well because I was trusting God to speak through me instead of trying so hard to share the good news in my own strength."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Changed Lives :: Indianapolis, Students Reaching Their Friends

When our Executive Team discusses the different groups of people who can partner with us to reach out to students, we make sure our list includes “other students”. Students are most likely to listen to their fellow students when they share with them.  Students-reaching-students is a unique relationship because students share the same experiences and challenges and can easily relate.  When students share how God has rescued them from hopelessness and emptiness, students listen!
Often people don’t believe that students can lead other students to Christ or help them grow in their faith, but in Student Venture, we see every day that they can!
Thank you, dear friends, for supporting us and for caring about the hearts of students.  We consider it a joy to share this mission with you.

From High School to College

by Mark and Dawn Michal, staff in Indianapolis
Jacey (second from left) is a Sophomore at a different high school (Lawrence North) but has been coming to our meetings for a few years now.  She has had a heart to start a Student Venture ministry at her school and started this year with a Bible Study for her cross-country team.  The girls who have been coming to her study after practice range "from far from Christ" to "marginally Christian".
Jacey was able to bring four of her team members with her to the Student Venture Fastbreak Conference.  All of them grew spiritually and one of them, Abby, accepted Christ for the first time in her life!
Abby is so excited about her new relationship with Christ and Jacey is blown away by this change in her friend.  This is such a perfect example of how a teenager can make a difference.
Jacey could have easily just considered our Student Venture meetings a place for her to grow, but, instead, she saw it as a launching point to reach out to her friends.  She worked hard to get her friends to her small groups, stepped out and risked her relationships, and as a result, her friends are coming to Christ!

Changed Lives :: Northern Michigan, The Influence of Sisters

If you have a brother or sister, you probably remember how much influence they had in your life (and maybe still do).
This story shows the influence that one sister has with another, and it shows how others watch our behavior and are affected by it.  We are a witness for Christ – either for good or for bad.  Praise God, these girls are good ones!
Your influence is felt in the life of Student Venture, and it is a good one!  Thank you for partnering with us and supporting us—you are appreciated.

The Influence of Sisters

by Mike and Laurel Riley, Staff in Northern Michigan
The Influence of Sisters -----
By Mike and Laurel Riley, Staff in Northern Michigan
Jill (high school senior) attended our Myrtle Beach Getaway Conference last June for the first time. She was hugely impacted, and as a result, has touched her family – in particular, her younger sister and her mom --
One of the biggest things God did in Jill’s life at the Getaway was to show her that her life & faith story can touch the hearts and lives of others and bring them closer to knowing Christ in a personal way. Jill has grown by leaps and bounds in her faith this year – faithfully spending time in God’s Word, helping lead the freshman girls’ Bible study, helping start a small group Bible study with some friends, and inspiring her mom and sister Jayne (freshman) to start attending church again.
In early November I received this text message from Jill:
“I just led my sister [Jayne] to Christ! OH MY GOSH! I will never forget what she just said to me!”
Here is an excerpt from the letter Jayne wrote to Jill after begining her new relationship with Christ:
Today I picked up my Bible for the very first time. I started reading Timothy’s chapter. Just from today, my relationship with God has started, and I can already feel it strengthening. I feel as if I can connect with God now and not feel weird about it. This all happened because of you. You are such a great role model and you continue to lead me down the right path. I want to be just like you.”