We have some fun and significant ministry news to share with you. Actually, it represents more than just great news. It represents the answer of a seventeen-year long prayer of ours. Let me (Ashley) explain.
I consider my two years in grad school as probably the most transformative and significant years in my life. I grew in my relationship with God like never before. I experienced my best friend in grad school come to know the Lord personally. I met Heather! And God began to shape my heart and life towards helping give every person on the planet an opportunity to say â€œYesâ€ to Jesus. That is, He began to align my life purpose to glorifying Him and to helping fulfill the Great Commission.
In fact, at one point I met with Chuck Roeper, the Cru grad ministry staff man who had been mentoring me, to process all that God had done and to dream about the future. During our time, I exclaimed, â€œI canâ€™t wait to meet all of the other Christian chemistry grad students involved with Campus Crusade!â€ I was imagining all the friendships I could develop and all that we could see God do as we trusted Him together to change the world. He said, â€œWell, that canâ€™t happen right now.â€ I replied, â€œWhy? We are Campus Crusade for Christ. We are everywhere!â€ (I was surprised, because I had begun to realize that Cru was on most every campus in the U.S. and I assumed that was the case for grad students, not just undergrad students.) He then said, â€œWell not for grad students.â€ I remember feeling so sad and disappointed. I had met with God and seen Him work in such powerful ways that year that I wanted every grad student in the world to see Him capture their hearts, transform their lives, and send them on a life-long adventure with Him.
Soon after, God led me to pray and to ask Him to change things. I thanked Him for leading me to one of the only 2-3 campuses in the whole world that had a Cru movement for grad students. And then I prayed, â€œGod by the time I die, would you please let me see that You have given grad students the same opportunity to be a part of a movement like Cru as our undergrad students have. By the time I lay my head on my pillow for the last time and close my eyes for the last time, would You please let me see that You have done this.â€ Though I donâ€™t remember exactly when I first prayed that prayer, I do remember it being a watershed moment. In fact, I now believe it was an incredibly sacred moment of God intervening in my life. He had placed something significant on my heart to trust Him for even though I had no idea how that would happen. I was still planning on being a chemistry professor. I had no sense at all that I would go into full-time ministry. I simply felt a great desire and burden for that dream to capture my heart for the remainder of my life.
He has never released me from that dream and prayer. A year later, God used that dream and prayer to call Heather and me into full-time missions with Cru to reach the grad students of the world with the gospel in order to help reach every person on the planet with the gospel. And over the past 17 years, Heather and I have been working for and continually asking the Lord to answer my prayer.
So hereâ€™s the news! About a year ago, the national leadership of Cruâ€™s Campus Ministry started a series of discussions with us about the launching of an official national graduate student ministry for Cru. As I mentioned earlier, Cru has not had an official ministry dedicated to reaching graduate students, though it has been reaching undergraduate students and faculty members for decades. There have been a few individual ministries in the U.S. like ours at Penn State, but no nationally organized ministry of Cru to build grad student ministries on campuses throughout the U.S.
A few weeks ago, the Executive Director of the Campus Ministry announced that Cru is officially launching national graduate student ministry to help reach the 2.5 million graduate students in the US and beyond and that they have asked me to oversee it all as the new ministryâ€™s Executive Director.
We will transition into our national role this year and out of our role of leading the local grad and faculty movements at Penn State. However, we will continue to live in State College and will continue to be involved locally.
In fact, one of the main reasons for staying in State College is to help build both a strong grad movement and a strong faculty movement here that will serve to launch and build grad movements all across the country.
As you can imagine, we are incredibly grateful to the Lord and excited, as well as humbled by the trust placed in us and by the enormity of the task ahead. We are continually thanking the Lord that He goes ahead of us. We are so grateful that you continue to go with us as well. What a joy it is to trust God with you not only for the graduate students and faculty at Penn State, but now also for every graduate student in the U.S. and beyond.