Monday, June 10, 2019

Cru Summer Kick-off

Cru Omaha looks a bit different during the summer. Instead of meeting in classrooms on campuses or in students' homes, you'll find students gathering together in the evenings at a coffee shop in North Omaha, or in various homes in Washington County. And, it all started in late May with our annual Summer Kick-off!

Students came from Omaha and Washington County to a beautiful acreage outside of Omaha, for fun, food, games, and a challenge to spend their summer well! The rain sent us indoors to a large recreation room for part of the event ...

After hot dogs & chips out on the covered decks, they enjoyed table games before the inspirational part of the evening.

What a joy it was to hear one of our Fort Calhoun students share how she came to a personal relationship with Jesus, and how her involvement with Cru matured her, and gave her opportunity to develop her leadership skills as a student leader.

We also heard from several graduating seniors ... from Omaha North HS, Omaha Central HS, and also an exchange student who had attended Fort Calhoun HS. It was so exciting to hear of life-change, and also of an exchange student coming to a personal relationship with Jesus just in the past month through his connections with Cru. Right before he returns to his country of origin.

Another exciting part of the evening was to hear from three visiting Burke HS students, who joined us for the first time. They are hoping to redirect their current club movement on their campus into a Cru club this next school year. 

Jake led the group in a final challenge to make their summer count in even deeper ways than before as they meet together to grow in their faith, and to focus on building into the lives of others.

The rain had lifted by then, and we headed back outdoors for some more games, and also s'mores! And then, off to the beginning of Cru Summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

School Year 2018-2019

It has been an eventful year and a busy year as staff and volunteers with Cru Omaha! So much so, that we have not even been able to take the time to post very often here! We'll share a few photos here to capture some of what has been happening this year, along with a collection of quotes from students during this past school year. 

(The quotes shared will be a random selection from students at our various campuses, not necessarily related to the specific photos themselves.)

"Cru has helped me strengthen my relationship with God. Before I joined Cru, I was sad, lost, and lonely. But now I have found love in God and in a family with the Cru members."

"Listening to Ron (Cru volunteer) makes me feel like there's hope ... helps me understand life."

"Cru helps me get involved with other students and come closer to God in a place where He is not always welcome."

"I am taking my first steps into Christianity, and being a part of Cru has unlocked realizations I do not think I will find elsewhere."

"I like Cru because it's an opportunity to be a light to my peers, and it reminds me how great God is."

"Cru has been an amazing opportunity to access the gospel on my high school campus. It allows students to grow through deeper connections with believers and nonbelievers and start gospel centered conversations at our school."

"I learn about God at Cru and I can talk to people here."

"School doesn't teach about Christ. Cru let's you talk about Christ with your peers on campus."

"Cru helps me to come near to the Lord and to trust that He's always there for me."

"I like Cru because it gives the youth a chance to learn about God and the Bible."

"Cru has helped me understand and apply the Bible to my life."

"When I first started coming to Cru I didn't have much of an understanding of what Christianity was and

"Cru has been huge in developing me as a leader and in my faith."

"Cru has helped me by teaching me about God. Thank you."

"Coming to Cru enriches my knowledge and understanding of God's Word. I'm glad to have Christian friends who have the same passion for Jesus as I do who are my age."

"Cru has shown me what my place is in God."

Please pray for the students in these photos, and those represented by the quotes that we have collected from this past school year. We are so grateful for all that God has done in students' lives! 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Staff and Volunteers

We love our volunteers! As a small staff team of three, we continually are so grateful for the 20+ volunteers that work alongside us. And it's probably safe to say that Cru Omaha would not be able to exist without the dedicated volunteers God has blessed us with. 

These two photos (above and below) were taken at one of our volunteer training sessions. We met in March at Cups Cafe in Omaha for a great sharing and training time. Our volunteers who were present represented our Cru groups at Omaha North, Omaha Central, Accelere Alternative School, Blair Otte Middle School, and Marrs Middle School. It was a valuable time together.

Also, as a staff team of three (Gary, Jake, and Cherry who is taking the photo below), we value input from our regional leaders. 

We are grateful for our visit from Scott (left in photo above) in early May, as he met with us for encouragement and advice as we evaluated the school year 2018-2019, and gave input for the new school year coming up.

As we step into summer ministry, we are grateful for recently graduated students who step up, and desire to come alongside our other volunteers. 

The photo above shows a few of our recently graduated student leaders from Fort Calhoun HS and also Omaha Central HS as they met with us as staff and other volunteers. It was a great time making plans together for our Cru Summer program. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Snapshots of Cru Omaha Students

A photo collection of some of our Cru students from the past few months ...

A fundraiser bake sale our Cru Central students held for a student's mother, in need in Zimbabwe

Cru Accelere students listen intently as our passionate volunteer, Ron, shares with them

A fun Christmas party with Cru Fort Calhoun students

Cru Central students gather for their Christmas party

Friday, November 16, 2018

Cru Harvest Party

It happens every fall ... we gather up students and drive to a beautiful country home on the edge of Omaha for a Cru Harvest Party! An amazing couple from our church opens up their spacious place for students to escape from the city, and enjoy a taste of country for fall fun and inspiration.

This year some of the students from four of our Cru area campuses gathered together on Friday evening, Nov. 2nd. They came from Central High, North High, South High, and Fort Calhoun High. It's always a treat to get students together from our various Cru campuses.

The evening started out with various yard games, and also included several hayrides ... one while it was still daylight, and also another after the sun had set. We also roasted hot dogs and s'mores during the evening. For some of our international students, this was a first experience of this kind!

After the games and food, students gathered around the campfire to hear from our guest speaker, Damian, from Sicily. He shared his story of overcoming addictions, and coming to know Jesus personally. Students were challenged and encouraged with his story. 

It was a cold night, weather wise ... colder than usual for this event. But the games and food, the warmth of friendship around the fire pits, and the light of God's awesome and powerful love shared together, filled us up and made a lasting impression. 

Please pray for these students as they continue to learn and grow in their faith and in their friendships on their various campuses throughout the rest of this school year.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Cru Staff Visit in October

It was a beautiful fall day to pick up two Cru staff friends from the airport. Scott flew in from Denver, and Nicole from Dallas. The next day we were joined by Bill from Orlando. It was a special few days together. We love how our Cru leaders like to stay in close touch with staff around the country, visiting when they can, and always, bringing encouragement and helpful ideas. Scott, and also Nicole are our new regional Mission Directors, overseeing and also offering their help to our staff team here in Omaha. Bill is from our Cru headquarters in Orlando, and gives oversight (along with others) to our team here, as well.

A stop after the airport, to prayer walk and meet students on an Omaha college campus,
assisting the vision of Cru staff in our region who work on college campuses.

A treat to also meet up with a former student from one of our Cru High campuses.

A fun gathering at Scooter's with staff, a volunteer, and a few high school students.

Nicole, getting to know Shar and Quisha, two Cru Central student leaders.

Our home was the gathering place for our two days together. From there we drove into Omaha to view the five campuses where we meet regularly with high school and middle students. Also our visiting staff were able to visit two of our Washington County student gatherings.

We're thankful for leadership from Orlando, Denver, and Dallas who encourage and pray for us in Omaha. Our meetings were centered on sharing from God's Word, prayer, giving input on our plans for this school year, helping us with staff development and team development, as well as visiting some of our campuses. One of our biggest prayers is for more staff to join our Cru Omaha team of three, and for more volunteers to join with our nearly 25 volunteers who are an integral part of our team.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How God Brings People Together to Reach a Campus

Several years ago, God drew me (Gary) to search out the location of an Omaha inner city high school that I knew about but that wasn't on any of the major streets of the city. As I drove into the parking lot one afternoon when school was just getting out, around 1,500 racially diverse students were pouring out of every door into the parking lot, milling around and piling into waiting school buses and parents' cars. God gripped my heart deeply as the words of Jesus came to mind, 'they were like sheep without a shepherd'. I prayed through tears that God would allow us to bring Cru to that campus.

A few years later, several teachers at that Omaha North High campus began gathering for prayer weekly before school to pray for God to do a work on their campus.

One year ago Tim, a North High football player was being mentored by Daniel, his youth pastor. As they were meeting one day during summer break, Daniel suggested they go to Tim's high school campus and pray for God to start something for Christ there during that next school year. Not knowing all that might mean, Tim nervously agreed, and they did so. (All these people in this story were active in our church, Citylight, but none of us knew how God was drawing each of us to focus prayer on the same thing.)

About the time school was starting last fall, I was contacted by Phil, the outreach pastor of Citylight, who sensed God's leading to reach out to area high schools with the gospel by bringing in a former NFL Running Back, Wm Green, now an evangelist. The plan was to get him into high schools to share his dynamic story at school assemblies during the day and have an evening outreach where students could return and hear the rest of his story, which would include the gospel.

Phil knew of my contacts with Omaha high schools so he contacted me for help. This began a cycle of events where in February last winter, Wm Green spoke in three area high schools and at an evening outreach at Omaha North High with 30 students praying to trust in Christ! 

This resulted in an opportunity to start Cru at North the following week, with the help of several of the teachers there who had been meeting for prayer for several years, and also with Tim's help, our key student leader there at North! 

As we met weekly for the rest of the spring semester, Tim's energy for seeing God work grew and he began taking more and more leadership motivating and encouraging others. In June, we made it possible for Tim to attend Cru's Summer Conference in the Rockies, where his passion to reach his peers skyrocketed and he avidly soaked in Cru's training to share his faith. And now he is so ready to do so on campus this fall as he starts his senior year there.

As we were writing this post, Cru students and teachers were inviting North High freshman to Cru North at a Cru booth on the first day of school! Fifty students signed up at the booth, indicating interest in coming to a Cru North meeting!

God has made it obvious to all of us that He has definite plans to do a significant work in the lives of Omaha North High students. Please pray that all that He has planned will become a reality!