Friday, December 15, 2006

CCC on CBS Evening News

To view the story yourself, click here:
> > VIDEO of story on CBS Evening News

> > WRITTEN story

Bibles Replacing Beer On College Campuses
Researchers Find Many Students Entering Colleges Say They're On A Spiritual Quest

MADISON, Wis., Dec. 14, 2006
Is the Bible replacing beer as motivation for college students? (CBS)

(CBS) You don't have to look far to see why the University of Wisconsin makes the Top 10 list of party schools year after year, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports. A trip down popular State Street says it all.

But these days, another kind of bingeing is catching on, one that is less about beer and more about the Bible.

Rae Gillen used to follow the party crowd. Now she leads prayer groups in the dorm. She made the change after breaking up with a boyfriend two years ago.

"It was just probably the most difficult time of my life that I've ever had, just really sad all the time, really depressed. And didn't really know how to fix it," Gillen says.

She found her fix in Campus Crusade for Christ, a student organization whose services resemble a kind of college party for God. Their membership at Wisconsin has tripled in the last five years.

That mix of higher education and a higher power isn't unique to Madison. Campus Crusade for Christ says it has expanded to 1,200 campuses, and has seen its membership almost double during the last decade.

UCLA researchers found the vast majority of students entering college say they're on a spiritual quest. Nearly 80 percent say they believe in God, nearly 70 percent pray, and they're looking for a new way to explore faith, outside of the traditional church.

A half-dozen college ministries are spending millions to build private, religiously themed dorms close to campus like one in Madison that has an underground passage to the Presbyterian church next door.

"Students will be able to come right underneath and come up and worship in their pajamas if they want," says Pastor Mark Eldson.

What Gillen really wanted was a sense of belonging and a deeper connection.

"People who desired to really know me and not just me as the person who was crazy enough to do something that, after a few beers I was willing to do," Gillen says.

It's not that today's students are giving up the party in favor of prayer. But when the party's over, some search for more than just a ride home.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An example of the fruits of recruiting

Here is an encouraging blurb from one of our new staff who joined SV as a direct result of my online recruiting initiative:

"I am so thankful for the Student Venture internet job posting. I would have never known that I could serve God by utilizing my gifts in finance and administration as well as spend time ministering to students face to face at their high school. What a blessing to be able to use my gifts, talents, and desires to serve God’s kingdom and see high school students reached for Jesus. Thanks Howard, your diligent work has provided an opportunity for me to serve God that I would have never known was available. - Scott B/Student Venture - Finance"

Please pray many others like Scott will find out about SV through the internet, see how their professional skills could be used in the context of ministry, causing them to apply to join staff.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ministry Stats through October 2006

Here is a snap shot of our ministry’s statistics: (These numbers do not include conferences for the summer. They do include all cities reports through the end of October except for 3 cities, whose reports only went through the end of September.)

49,923 = Personally heard gospel (including direct field ministry, internet, and summer projects)
7,455 = Indicated decisions for Christ
1,688 = Total students in Student Venture discipleship groups

Monday, November 06, 2006

First Halloween

Watch the video by pressing the orange arrow.

This video is of Cooper's first Halloween. He was a rooster!

* if for some reason the above video doesn't work on your computer, try this alternate version (but it may take a minute to load):

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cooper's first steps walking

Watch the video by pressing the orange arrow.

This video is of Cooper taking his first steps walking... It's fun seeing his expressions as he learns this new mode of transportation!

* if for some reason the above video doesn't work on your computer, try this alternate version (but it may take a minute to load):

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mudbowl Outreach to Freshmen

This fall, Student Venture West Plains (MO) put on an event for incoming freshmen called the “Mudbowl”. This was designed to be fun, high energy, and a little over the top. We got permission to use a 60’ x 100’ section of land owned by a local soccer club. We plowed up the land and had the local fire department pour several thousand gallons of water on it to make it good and muddy. To make sure it was muddy enough, we had several trucks drive (and spin!) around on it until the mud was about a foot deep throughout the entire 6000 square foot area.

We hid 8 balls in the mud, ranging from a tennis ball to a beach ball, and had 150 freshmen crawling through the mud looking for them for prizes. We had a 60 foot race on hands and knees through the mud, complete with a tape at the finish line. We had a tug of war between 30 overconfident freshman guys and 60 freshman girls. Of course, the girls won! And the highlight was the football game played with 4 footballs at once. (We actually used oversized watermelons as footballs, just to make it more challenging.)

In the course of the event, two upperclassmen shared about their relationship with Christ and challenged the freshmen to start their high school experience with God. One of the students, Amanda, shared about how her sophomore brother died in a car accident 6 months earlier giving her perspective that life is short and uncertain. She went on to share the Gospel and encouraged the students to place their faith in Christ. Twenty-seven students indicated that they did and 25 others requested more information about Student Venture.

By the end of the night, after the mud fights were over, and everyone was completely covered, the fire department hosed everyone down and many teenagers went home with a new sense of hope and purpose in their life.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Warren Bane

I want to introduce you to Warren Bane, our National Director of Recruiting. He and I develop many of the recruiting initiatives for Student Venture. We have been working non-stop for the last three years seeking to find new ways to EXPOSE masses of people to Student Venture's ministry opportunities, get people the EXPERIENCE they need to get their feet wet, then ENLIST them to join our staff team. Please pray for Warren as he helps manage the recruiting agenda for all of us.

Whitney's Turning Point

One of our staff, Dave Mikesell, in Minneapolis, MN recently had this dialogue with Whitney (girl on far right, with friends at the Getaway)

“Can I talk with you, Dave?” asked a red-eyed junior girl. “Sure,” I said and Whitney and her friend and I sat down to talk. We had just finished one of many powerful large-group sessions at the Rocky Mountain Getaway this summer and the speaker had talked about purity with the opposite sex.

She felt guilty about things she had done. I tried to explain that when Christ comes into our lives He forgives our sin: past, present and future. To illustrate the point further, I asked Whitney when she had given her life to Christ. She looked at me, shook her head, and said, “Even though I have grown up going to church, I don't think I have ever given my life to Christ." I asked if she wanted to experience God's forgiveness and receive Christ as her personal Savior.

To my surprise she said, “No.” She went on to explain that she did not think it was right for God to take on the punishment of her sin. “I feel like I should carry it.” I said, “But He wants to forgive you and have a relationship with you”. “But why...why would He do that?” she asked. “Because He loves you,” I said. And then it hit me why she could not accept God's great gift for her. Just minutes before she had explained how she felt like she could never live up to her parents' expectations. So, I looked her right in the eyes and said, “Whitney, you don't want to receive Christ because you don't believe anyone can love you. You don't believe your parents love you and you don't believe anyone, including God, loves you.” “That is exactly how I feel,” she said, her eyes now full of tears.

After a few more minutes of talking, Whitney looked at me and said, “I am ready! I am so tired of carrying this burden. It's too much.” So, we bowed our heads and Whitney asked Christ into her life! After we said “Amen,” she remained bowed and heaved big sobs of relief. Whitney is now going to a great church with a friend and attending a Student Venture Bible Study.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cooper's 1st Birthday!

Watch the video by pressing the orange arrow.

A giraffe
A cake - yum yum
A baby brother/sister ?!?


Monday, June 05, 2006

Attack of the Gator...

Saturday morning, I literally almost got mauled by a 10-12 foot gator while fishing!  It rapidly swam up to me and lunged out of the water with his jaws open wide!  I took off running like a school girl...  After regaining my composure and changing my soiled shorts, I went about 100 yards farther down this canal.  After about 3 casts, I see the same gator off in the distance.  He spashed around in the water and took off toward me a second time!  Realizing that this Laviathan was not going to give up until he nabbed a large pink man, I decided to bail out and end my “relaxing” day of fishing...


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cooper is on the move!

Cooper is just over 9 months old and is on the move! Watch the video by pressing the orange arrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

DaVinci Code :: ministry resources

Campus Crusade for Christ has produced these resources so that you can seize this unprecedented opportunity to equip believers to answer the challenging questions raised by The Da Vinci Code about the deity of Christ and his Word -- opening up the most positive, compelling and welcomed dialogues about the real and relevant Christ.

Josh McDowell's new book, The DaVinci Code: A Quest for Answers is now available as an audio Podcast. You can listen to each segment online or subscribe and download it to your Ipod at

Don’t forget you can get all of our resources, including the Companion Guide mini-magazine now available in English & Spanish at

These Mini-Magazines are aimed at equipping the body of Christ to share the truth of the gospel in the climate of the Da Vinci Code phenomenon.

May 2006 presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to equip believers to answer the challenging questions raised by the movie about the deity of Christ and his Word. If we approach this with a positive readiness, we can seize this as an opportunity to open up compelling dialogue about the real and relevant Christ.

Fervent efforts have been made to provide you with resources well in advance so that you might implement a Da Vinci Code Strategy that embraces, equips and strengthens the body of Christ.

Each magazine is 20 pages, full-color throughout, 6.5" by 9.5" in dimension and weighs 1.3 ounces.

Download the PDF here

Friday, April 21, 2006

Staci's Story after her sudden death...

[We have created an evangelistic webiste:]

As we share the gospel with students and see them respond, God will often surprise us with a bigger purpose in our work than meets the eye.

Such is the story of Staci Stephens, a sophomore this past school year at an Orlando high school. She had received Christ through our Student Venture team in Florida. A year ago in March, Staci suddenly died from what was diagnosed as Viral Myocarditis -- a virus had attacked her heart. She was a healthy, athletic cheerleader, gone just 48 hours after her first symptoms.

Shortly after her death, a remarkable story began to unfold. In the months until her passing, Staci had grown so much that the impact she had on her campus of 3,800 students was amazing.

In a letter to friends Staci said, “This has been the most life-changing year I have ever experienced. On January 18, 2004, I was reborn and found my savior Jesus Christ at a conference put on by Student Venture. Since then, I have dropped my old ways of living and completely given myself to Christ. My life has been changed for eternity and now everything that I live for makes sense. I don’t have to fill my heart with worldly things anymore. I am completely satisfied and Christ has filled every little void in my life.”

The evening after her passing, over 850 students packed out her school auditorium, sharing stories of the impact Staci had on them personally.

Staci and her friends in Student Venture had prayed all year for spiritual awakening to break out at their school, and even dreamed of a day when the auditorium on campus would be filled with people hearing about Jesus. Through the life and death of Staci Stephens, their prayers were answered.

We believe that God intends to use the story of Staci Stephens far beyond her campus. As you know, the Internet has become the preferred means of communication among teens, and the negative moral impact of the Internet on teens has been documented as well. But what if we could use the Internet for something totally different…telling Staci’s story and bringing teenagers to Christ?

Shortly after Staci’s death, we began production of a video of Staci’s story and an internet web site where students could see the video and be introduced to Christ. The web site and video have now been produced, and the site is live. Listen to just a couple of the responses we are receiving from young people who have visited

“'When i watched the DVD about staci i wanted to cry. because i also tried filing the empty hole with earthly things to make me happy. but nothing ever really filled it. the DVD talked about how she brought so many people to know christ while she was alive. well she brout me to know the lord last night on march 27, 2006. i thank staci for that because she made me see that i was in trouble and heading for more. well once again thank you staci, you are very much alive.'. Tomi

As students e-mail their responses to us, our “web counselors” respond back with spiritual guidance for their next steps in following Christ. In just 6 months 2,118 people indicated they trusted Christ, with an average of 14.3 people per day clicking “yes, I have prayed to receive Christ” after reading through the gospel! We have dramatically increased the number of students visiting the site, seeing the video and hearing the gospel, by purchasing ads on

Feel free to visit the site and then, if you would, come back here and leave a comment with your opinion. Thank you for the part you play in our ministry to countless others!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Changed Life Story of Josh, a Freshman Leader

There is nothing more exciting and rewarding to me than seeing a teenager move from darkness into light, from aimlessly wandering through life chasing empty pursuits to having meaning and purpose. That's what we get to see in Student Venture. And there's nothing like it.

Try to remember what your life was like before you had a close, intimate relationship with Christ. Remember the incredible joy and peace when you finally understood the Gospel and placed your faith in Christ. What an unbelievable privilege we have to help teenagers come into this same relationship. I've included a story below about a teenager named Josh who had achieved great success but knew that something was still missing in his life until he placed his faith in Christ.

We're almost to our final deadline to apply for one of our U.S. summer projects but still have some spots available, especially for guys. If you know someone who has a heart for reaching teenagers and wants to invest their summer in something that will make an eternal difference, tell them to visit: to apply for one of these life-changing projects.

Yours for reaching teenagers for Christ,

Howard and Laura

During this past fall, we had an outreach for the freshman football team at Loveland High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lots of guys came out, the outreach went well and, as always, some of the guys came to faith in Christ. We started a follow up Bible study, called "Cross Training", with the guys who were interested. One of those was a guy named Josh Lay. Josh is an incredible athlete. As a freshman in a school of around 1,400 students, he is the starting quarterback on the freshman football team, on the varsity baseball team and a varsity wrestler. Josh, however, had not attended church since he was around 3 and had very little spiritual background.

During the second week of the study, we talked about assurance of salvation. In other words, how do you know that you are going to heaven when you die? At the end of the study, Daniel McKee, Student Venture staff member, went around the room and asked each guy what he had learned that night. When he got to Josh, Josh had tears in his eyes. He just said, "Will you guys pray with me? God, I don't want to try to do life on my own anymore. I trust you to save me from my sins. I receive you as my savior. Amen." Well, the guys went nuts for a while after he finished praying. Everyone was so excited to have been a part of seeing their buddy, Josh, place his faith in Christ.

It seems the light bulb has come on for Josh and he is just growing like crazy. He learned how to share his faith in Christ at a training we had one Sunday and the next day, he led a friend to Christ in math class. Then he went home that night and led his two brothers to Christ. He continues to share his faith regularly. Although Josh was very successful in sports he was still searching for something more. Now that he has experienced Christ, he can't stop sharing the Gospel with all of his friends. He has been talking with one friend for some time and, two weeks ago, gave him a "Connecting With God" booklet. That night his friend went home, talked with his parents, and placed his faith in Christ with them.

This is what Student Venture is all about. We help students come to faith in Christ and then help them multiply that faith into the lives of those around them, using the natural sphere of influence that God has given them.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Summer Projects for College Students

We have created 6 summer project options for college students to participate this summer. Each gives them an opportunity to get their feet wet and see if SV would be the place for them to serve after they graduate. Please pray for qualified students to apply for our summer venture projects ASAP!

Daytona Beach, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, New York City, Orlando HQ, and Traveling Conference Team

We have lots of spots still left on all the projects and really are looking for those applicants who have good staff potential.

For more information, check out:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Carrollton ministry update - 5 Generations in Discipleship Chain!

Laura and I were leading the ministry in Carrollton, TX for years before transitioning to our current recruiting role in Orlando. We had to transition most of the ownership of the ministry to our student disciples and two staff who focused on the Carrollton ministry part-time. The following story of several Newman Smith High School students in Carrollton really encapsulates what we are trusting the Lord to do through this ministry. Thank you for praying this through!

Jared Lyons, a freshmen at the time, got plugged into Student Venture through a football outreach I led. He later attended our summer conference (Rocky Mountain Getaway) in 2002 and recommitted his life to Christ. He then began to help disciple an upcoming freshmen student, Matt Rucker, for the next three years. Matt attended the Rocky Mountain Getaway in 2003 and recommitted his life to Christ, and began to co-lead a student bible study with Jared in 2004 and 2005. During this time, Matt and Jared saw many students come to Christ and they began to follow them up in their weekly bible study. One of those students who started attending their bible study was Jorge. Jorge had been dating Jenny for 2 years, but then Jenny attended our winter conference, Fastbreak) in January of 2005,and after rededicating her life to Christ, called off her relationship with Jorge because Jenny was a Christian and Jorge was not. Jenny began sharing Christ with all of her friends and saw several of them place their faith in Christ and began a bible study that she helped to organize. Recently she led her atheist friend to Christ!

Anyway, two weeks after the break-up with Jenny, Jorge attended a Super Bowl outreach where Jenny helped share the Gospel message to the 80 students who attended. Although he indicated a decision to receive Christ, he really was not sincere. Several months later, and after he would avoid getting together with Jared and Tom (SV staff guy) for follow up, he attended a student –led bible study led by Matt Rucker in September of 2005. When Matt saw that there were several new non-Christians attending his study, he abandoned the bible study content for the day and shared the Gospel and Jorge sincerely trusted in Christ that afternoon. He then began coming to the weekly bible study, attending church, and growing in his faith. He then went to Fastbreak in mid January ‘06 where he really caught a vision for reaching his campus for Christ after he led 4 students to Christ on the day of outreach!

1 month ago, his good friend Ozzie (a senior and the father of a 6 month boy), came to Christ after Jorge witnessed to him and brought him to a church camp. Ozzie began coming to a weekly SV bible study with Jorge, and a short time later Jorge and Ozzie decided that they would start a weekly bible study group for their non-Christian friends. Eddie, their good friend and a non-Christian, has been attending the study, and although he initially resisted the Gospel, just came to Christ two weeks ago after Jorge invited him to attend a Christian event!!

Because of your partnership, five generations of spiritual multiplication is happening, and the chain is in it’s infancy! Please pray this vision of multiplication would expand to reach the entire campus, their families, and ultimately the world!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The Fusion+Orlando Conference invited Student Venture to present our ministry opportunities to the 1200 attendees. We were one of many ministries, but we had some good conversations with potential candidates. Pray those we spoke with will contemplate how they could be a part of our team leading them to pursue the next steps.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Soft Hearts In The Tough Inner City

In Student Venture, we're all about seeing changed lives. Seeing a teenager go from darkness to light, from hopelessness and lack of direction to meaning and purpose for their life. At our FastBreak conference recently, we saw God work in supernatural ways, convicting the hearts of students and showing them their need for Him. Below, Chip, one of our staff, shares about what God did in the lives of 5 guys from his inner city school. It's not your typical "guy thing" so keep reading below.

At our Fastbreak this year, God did a great work in the lives of 5 young men from Eisenhower ninth grade school, a pretty rough school on the edge of the inner-city that has a lot of problems. This was the first SV conference for all of these guys, and some of them admitted that they came to the conference for the wrong reasons and with wrong intentions. The second night we were there God really spoke in a powerful way and worked in each of their lives deeply. Three of the guys accepted Christ that night and stood to proclaim their decision to the entire conference. The other two had already made decisions for Christ but weren't living for Him. As God worked in their hearts that night, they made a deeper commitment to the Lord and were changed as well.

After the evening program they went back in their room for the cabin chat time. Their staff leader opened up their time in a word of prayer. Almost immediately, these five guys put their arms around each other and broke into a spontaneous prayer time that went on for almost an hour. They prayed very simple, childlike prayers of thanksgiving, confession and supplication, interspersed with words of encouragement, repentance and apologies to one another and expressions of love for one another. It was quite an amazing time.

Then they sat down and began to talk about what had happened that night. They were so filled with joy and excitement about what God was doing in their lives, especially the three who had received Christ that night. Some of the guys in the cabin next door came over because they had heard a little about what was going on. As each new person came in, they were greeted with a hug and "I love you" from at least one of the guys in the room.

Before long, many of the guys from both cabins were sharing their struggles, hurts and confessing their sins and were all loving on each other and trying to encourage each other in whatever they were facing. (Try to imagine a bunch of tough, inner city guys hugging each other, telling other guys that they love them, asking them for forgiveness.) Many tears were shed and many issues dealt with. The next day they were so excited to go out witnessing on the day of outreach. Two of the guys who had accepted Christ the night before had the opportunity to lead someone to Christ at the mall. Some of the other guys did as well. When they returned they wanted to share with the whole conference what had happened to them and how God had changed their lives.

When they returned to school on Tuesday, there was a buzz in the school about these guys and the changes that had happened. Several of the guys went to some of their teachers and apologized to them for being disrespectful and acting up in their classes. They also went to other students and asked for their forgiveness for things that they had done to them in the past. This week they packed out the SV meeting with 60-70 students and the guys shared how God had changed their lives and some of them apologized to the entire group for anything they had done that had hurt or offended them. They encouraged the rest of the students to make sure they knew Christ and to live for Him and not for the world. The students, teachers and even the school principal were all greatly encouraged by what was shared at the meeting and by what God has done.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cooper's 6 month birthday!

Today is Cooper's 6 month birthday! It seems like yesterday that he was able to fit in the palm of one of my hands, now he is sitting up and loving life. Laura is still breast feeding and we've recently added some solid foods (picture above w/ food on his face was his first solid food meal).

So we want to encourage you to go out, buy yourself a peice of birthday cake, sing Cooper a "Happy Birthday" melody, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

eLearning Project

I am on a taskforce trying to create an online training center for our staff, interns, volunteers.  With our scope of building spiritual movements everywhere (over 56,000 high schools in US), we are inventing new platforms to equip our future workforce.

This Monday and Tuesday (Jan 9-10) eLearning Project Planning Seminar we hope to:
      Walk through the eLearning process / Big picture overview
      Review Student Venture training content of what we will put into eLearning format
      Focus on project scope / content / some design - some training in writing
      Key results:  Project Plan established / Course Content Determined / Design     
      Concept Outlined
is a site with a nine-minute presentation explaining the eLearning concept. The site was created by a group that trains journalists. The concepts they present give a good reason for eLearning, and some of the tangibles about eLearning.

Our eLearning content, when we start designing and developing, will include print, video, flash, etc. It will require content specialists in campus ministry, writers and editors, graphics designers, software, internet and computer specialists, etc.

Pray we have some quality productive time in this first round of meetings.