Tag Archive: Christ

Conference PIE

“This is a new phase in my life in ministry,” I thought as I noticed the VP of Cru’s US Leadership Development walk by while chuckling at us.  I was in the middle of leading a feedback session with one of the City Directors for Here’s Life Inner City, affirming what I’d seen in his character, competency and capacity over the last six months of coaching his Action Learning Team, and offering ideas for further growth, development and stretch opportunities.

But what made this chuckle-worthy over other feedback sessions I’ve been part of was that I had PIE strapped to my chest and falling asleep in the Ergo carrier and I was wearing a dress and heels.

It’s been a busy month in family and ministry, stretching me when it comes to planning, preparation and walking in step with the Holy Spirit.

Seminar on Walking with God for a Lifetime

Last week I spoke twice at “Unmasked,” the south western PA/Jersey Cru student fall retreat, once in a seminar to equip students to walk with God for a lifetime and then later that day during their Women’s Night.  It was a tremendous time, the students were really receptive to God’s words on Hebrews 12:1-3 and fixing our eyes on Jesus, and the staff women pulled off one of the best overall programs I’ve been part of for a women’s night in 15+ years of campus ministry.  It was fantastic, gut-level honest, honoring to Jesus, and overflowing with mercy and grace.  It exemplified the kind of open, caring, passionate community that I long to be part of on a regular basis.

The next day I met Mike and Phoebe at the Newark airport where we flew to Orlando for the third module of SLI4 (Senior Leadership Initiative, Cycle 4), a 2-year intensive leadership development program designed by Cru to help senior ministry leaders from Cru’s ministries across the country (like The Military Ministry, Here’s Life Inner City, The Campus Ministry, Cru High School, Athletes in Action, The JESUS Film Project, and The Office of the President, among others) increase their capacity and competency while growing in Christ-like character.  I was a participant in SLI1, and Mike and I have helped lead aspects of SLI3 and SLI4.

Developing current leaders and helping people stretch to reach their potential is vital in the life of any organization.  According to a recent Fast Company article:

U.S. companies spent an estimated $67 billion on training in 2011. Some have been more creative about it than others. P&G CEO Bob McDonald, for instance, says he invites 150 leaders each year to a training center like West Point or the Center for Creative Leadership. General Electric spends about $1 billion annually on training through its corporate university in Crotonville, N.Y. PepsiCo enrolls its high-potential leaders in a program that includes a week at Wharton Business School and an immersion experience in an emerging market. General Mills has described one of its leadership courses as “a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialogue.”

Cru’s intentional leadership development program for senior employees is one of the places where I (Sarah) feel like I’ve been able to make my best contribution to the Kingdom of God so far.  We haven’t spent $35million like Starbucks recently did to create a passionate experience to turn their employees into Starbucks evangelists, but our 2-year long program which meets every six months for a week of training, challenge, stretch experiences and spiritual input also includes bi-weekly one-on-one coaching with business leaders who are friends of the ministry.

Whether in her stroller, sitting on the floor or a new friend’s lap, or enjoying a nap in the Ergo, PIE attended a good bit of Cru’s Leadership Conference.  When she became more vocal, Mike and I took turns going for walks or finding a dark conference room where she could settle down for a snooze.

As I embrace my new role as PIE’s Mom, there are still opportunities to contribute to the mission and ministry I love so much.  Naturally I can’t dive into everything; a good bit of flexibility is required, especially as her needs change and as (we pray…) God adds to our family.

I’m motivated to help people take their next step in their faith journey to live out their God-given calling.  Sometimes that means taking a back-scenes approach by caring for PIE and our NYC apartment enabling Mike to offer his best and minister without distraction.  At other times it means taking a more visible role to reach out to people.  Finding that balance at each of PIE’s developmental stages is the goal, and my heart wants to be grateful for each day as I live out what God has for me… Even if it invites more chuckling.


NOTE: To prepare for the trip I read a ton of parenting blogs and asked lots of moms for tips on traveling with a baby.  One of the best tips: pack blue painters tape.

It serves some very practical uses like taping the hotel room curtains closed so sun light doesn’t stream into the room, securing toys to the seat-back in front of you on the plane to entertain your young one, taping shopping bags or light blankets to the car windows as a sun shield so the Sunshine State doesn’t blind your baby in the car, covering the sides of the pack-and-play or crib with towels to create a dark, cozy place for Baby to sleep, and it also becomes a great toy when rolled into big balls.

The Whole Story

“the whole story”… there’s a sense of freedom in that, isn’t there? I’m glad you focused on this part Staci. The idea of Jesus wanting to hear the details, the parts that I think are important and pertinent, the moments that stick to my brain, that’s powerful. That communicates love, kindness, tender involvement. It says “I love you,” without using those particular words.

This was my response to this morning’s online New Testament in a Year devotional written by my friend Staci on Mark 5.  (I love having this online community with whom to read the Bible!)

The devotional was written on part of Mark 5, the story of the woman who suffered through 12 years of hemorrhaging, having visited medical “experts” who took her for every penny.  This woman believed that if she could just touch the robe of Jesus, she’d be healed of this chronic condition which made her an outcast in her culture.  After touching his robe, she could feel the bleeding dry up and she knew she was healed.  But Jesus wanted to talk with her.  Trembling, she told her story after which Jesus blessed and honored her.  It’s a beautiful story of a faith-filled risk.

I wonder…

  • What did Jesus’ face look like while the woman shared her whole story?
  • What did it feel like for the woman to unburden herself from the shame of her 12 year bleeding issue and to actually tell her whole story?
  • What did the woman do next? After 12 years of bleeding, of being “unclean” and an outcast in society, what was in the next chapter of her story?

Then I wonder…

  • What prevents me from telling Jesus my whole story?

This is where I’m stuck today. I’ve felt such overwhelming stress in the last two weeks. It’s come out through unkindness, short-tempered flare ups at Hubs, and general high-strung up-tightness.

When I’ve read my Bible, it’s been to check it off my list or to catch up with the reading group. But now I’m challenged to pause and consider why I’m not sharing my whole story with Jesus: He’s here. He sees my immature outbursts, He knows my thoughts better than I do. Sometimes I use that reasoning as an excuse to not talk with Jesus.

Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son

But there’s something transformational to confession: confess, admit, bring to light, stop hiding.  For years I’ve counseled students that when we confess our sin to Jesus, we are simply agreeing with God about our inability to live up to perfection and holiness on our own, and that confession highlights our need for a Savior.  These are very good things.

Confession also gives me an opportunity to “own” my choices which are demonstrated in my attitude, behavior, and words (as well as the ongoing conversations in my head).

Saying “I’m sorry” acknowledges a wrong has taken place, but asking “Will you forgive me?” is a humble invitation to the injured or offended party to move towards you with mercy.  That’s the powerful moment!  That’s when relationship can be restored.  “I’m sorry,” slaps a band-aid on a gaping wound.  “Will you forgive me?” invites a spiritual healing.

Jesus, I’ve been worried and distracted by many things.  I’m so sorry that in response to Your goodness, gifts and blessings I’ve been short-tempered, unkind, hurried, gruff, exacting and impatient with Hubs.  I’ve ignored You, simply rushing through my day to check obligations off of my list.  I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?  Thank you for forgiving me.  Your Word says you always will.  Whisper in my ear “This is the way, walk in it,” when I veer off path.  Remind me that You are with me for each step.  Thank You for the sweet gifts you pour into my life.  May my heart be renewed and restored today! I love you Jesus, and I need you.  Amen!  

Small Steps to the Homeless Shelter

The roasted vegetables smelled really good.  I’d been standing behind the serving counter for an hour picking up clean plates from my left, scooping out a generous spoonful of those veggies and passing the plate to the person on my right who filled the rest of the plate with spaghetti.  It smelled really good.  I was hungry.

He was hungry.  His back was slightly bent.  He hadn’t shaved for a while.  It was a cold day, but he didn’t have a warm coat on.  He came to the homeless shelter at the same time everyday, and stood in the same line which wound around the building.  He was a regular, and he knew that hungry men like himself were allowed into the dining room in shifts so that there was room for everyone to sit down in a warm place to eat.

I was hungry.  He was hungry. But I wasn’t as hungry as he was.  Looking him in the eye, I acknowledged his dignity and greeted him with a smile and an overflowing plate of roasted vegetables and spaghetti.

There’s something good about serving alongside your staff and students when you aren’t wearing the hat of leader or director.  It puts everyone on an even level and let’s face it, there’s something about looking hungry people in the eye and handing them something hot to eat that removes any sense of hubris.

Wikipedia, that vast bastion of ever evolving information, says, “Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving your life to something you believe free of pay.”

at the Rescue Mission

I agree, but I’d also add that when campus ministers and ministry leaders put our love in action by serving alongside of our students, we demonstrate the Gospel in a deeper way.  With over 300 verses in the Bible about the poor, social justice, and God’s concern for both, putting my faith in action seems like a reasonable act of worship.

For years I’ve thought about volunteering on a regular basis.  I had a roommate four years ago who spent one night a week in a local soup kitchen.  I didn’t even know that our small city had a soup kitchen.  As I watched her go week after week, I thought about how she put her faith in action so well.  I put my faith in words very well, but I felt a great divide between my words and deeds.  I justified my lack of intentional effort to serve others by my full time ministry role (unpredictable hours, seasons of craziness, I’m already trying to meet the spiritual needs of so many), but lots of people experience similar work stresses and still find time to help people.

This fall I’ve volunteered at a homeless shelter and a warehouse with supplies for the underprivileged.  Yes, it takes a bit of time to get there, and I have to say “no” to other great opportunities to keep those time slots open.  But those few hours spent serving people in need (people in REAL need) while connecting with my students have given me some sweet gifts and insights.  I walk away so grateful for how faithfully God has provided for me.  I walk away with a full heart of worship, having had my heart touched by compassion.  I walk away knowing that someone else’s hard life was made just a little sweeter because of those few hours.  I walk away with a greater appreciation for the decisions my students make to be there every month, and I get to know my students in a different context.

What’s the next step? I want to model servant leadership by helping “the least of these” without an agenda to advance my own purposes.  For me, it’s to commit to a monthly time to serve at the homeless shelter.  I’d like to make it weekly like my former roommate, but I’ll start with small steps.

What about you?

Earlier that first volunteer day I almost backed out of going to the homeless shelter.  “I’m just so tired,” I thought as the time flashed up that strange greenish color on the microwave clock.  I didn’t know if I had the energy to make the subway trek down to the Bowery Mission.  Enough of our students said they wanted to volunteer at the soup kitchen to serve meals to homeless men that I didn’t think it would make a difference if I showed up.

But it did.  It made a big difference.  To him, to my students, and to me.


originally posted on the CruPressGreen Campus Ministry Blog on 15 December 2011

Campus Crusade for Christ has a New Name: Cru

One of the most anticipated parts (in my opinion) of our biennial conference in Fort Collins, CO was the announcement of our mission organization’s new name: Cru.

Our New Name and Logo

After nearly 15 years with Campus Crusade for Christ, I’m (Sarah) really grateful for a new name.  I love our mission and the vision and the centrality of Jesus Christ in everything we do.  I’ve served all over the world with the organization and look forward to experiencing the mission in the future.  I think the name change will help us be more effective in our mission of helping everyone know someone who truly follows Jesus.  Our mission remains the same.  Our dedication to Jesus Christ remains the same.  Our statement of faith hasn’t changed.  

Campus Crusade for Christ started as a campus ministry to college students but in our 60 years we’ve grown to more than 29 distinct ministries touching nearly every segment of society around the globe.  “Campus” is too narrow of a name for us.

“Crusade” is also problematic.  At our early stage in the 1950s “crusade” meant some kind of evangelistic revival gathering a la Billy Graham.  But these days our common language has changed and people now picture a sad, deplorable time in Christian history.

But what has surprised me is the controversy that has arisen by the absence of “Christ” from our new name.  Sadly, people erroneously think that it is an indication of a weakening of our resolve or determination to proclaim Jesus Christ.  This is not the case.  The news media, including Fox, Glenn Beck, and USA Today, have stirred up controversy with sensational headlines and commentary.  In announcing the name change, Campus Crusade’s official website has a section where people can comment.  Some of the comments are stinging, caustic and inflammatory, while others are asking clarify questions.

“Cru” is the name by which many of our local campus ministries are known.  I’ve never had to defend or explain our name to a college student, be they believers in Jesus Christ or not.  When I’m with students, I explain that Cru is a Christian campus group.  I don’t hide our commitment to Jesus.  I would imagine that our fellow campus ministries who don’t have the name of Jesus Christ in their name, like The Navs and InterVarsity, would describe themselves in a similar way.

I look forward to introducing myself as working with Cru.  If someone is unfamiliar with the organization, I doubt they’ll ask what it stands for.  Rather, I think they’ll ask what I do, which will open a door to exploring Christianity with my new friend. In the past, I’ve watched people shut down, harden their face, express anger and walk away when they hear our name.  I don’t think “Cru” will have that same response.

On Tuesday night Steve Sellers, our US VP (I was his assistant from 1999-2000 when he was the National Director of the Campus Ministry), took time to explain the heart behind the name change, the process the organization engaged to arrive at the new name, and the humble, prayerful attitude adopted by the 30 people asked to serve on the naming team (which represented the different demographics of the US staff).  The year-long research project included polling staff, donors (my mom participated in a telephone survey!), Christians who are not involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, as well as people who do not describe themselves as Christians.  After the year-long process, the name was approved by the Board of Directors.

We watched this video on the importance of words:

Meanwhile, those of us with smart phones, computers and iPads were twittering away with guesses, prayers, and anticipation.  Parents shushed crying babies in the back of the arena, not wanting to leave early and miss the announcement.  Nearly 5,000 of us sat at attention wishing Steve would simply get to the point: we were ready for the name change announcement.

Upon reflection, I’m very grateful for the way Steve Sellers made the announcement.  Yes, I tweeted: “Hope they make the announcement before the kids freak out! #csu2011.”  But Steve took a deliberate approach to revealing our name so that we understood that the decision was not an arbitrary one, nor was it a flippant choice.  It was a prayerful decision and those who took part sensed the Lord leading them to Cru.

Change is difficult for many people.  As one of the largest mission agencies in the world, we’ve built up quite a reputation as Campus Crusade for Christ in our 60 years of history.  We don’t take that lightly, but it became increasingly obvious that our ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with interested people was hindered by our full organizational name.  Our founder, Dr. Bill Bright, recognized a need for a name change back in the 1970s, and his widow, Vonette Bright, has agreed with the name change.  You can see her discussing it in a video here.

If you have questions or concerns, please email Mike or me, or call us.  You can send us an email from this page by clicking “Contact Us” above.  We’d love to hear from you.

Some additional reading from Cru and some of my staff friends:


Our Second Anniversary

Today is our anniversary!  Two years ago we promised that with Christ’s help, we’d love each other through everything.  So far, we’ve leaned on Christ, on good friends, on family, on new friends and on each other to uphold that promise.  It’s amazing what can happen in two years.  Our marriage seems to thrive in good community!

Engaged! 8 December 2007

Due to some well-timed support appointments in the Sarasota area this week, we were able to return to the beach where Mike proposed to Sarah in December 2007.  Last night we ate dinner at a restaurant with a gorgeous beach view while watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.  Today we spent two hours on the beach, reminiscing and napping near that very spot where Sarah gasped at the sparkly ring Mike gave her.    And yes, Mike reminded Sarah to wear sunscreen, and she avoided getting sunburned.