The Power of Influence

In these next few weeks, our family and team of nine AIA staff will be trusting God to meet many new students in the athletic department. Each of these student athletes has tremendous potential to impact the world around them. During their 4-5 years in college they will be influenced and will influence others. We have the unique opportunity to meet these student athletes at this critical time, when the trajectory of where they go and who they become will most likely be determined.

In light of this, our mission at the University of Minnesota is making disciples who make disciples. We are trusting God that hundreds of Gophers will be influenced by the gospel of Jesus Christ during their short time on campus and then go on to influence others. This includes their teammates, classmates, communities and families. Below is a story of influence from a third year football player named Tyler who Luke met for the very first time last fall. Hear from Tyler how his life has been changed in the last year and how he’s trusting God to influence his family members.
“I have always known Christ but I haven’t KNOWN Him in the way I do now. During my freshman year of college I had the desire to connect with some type of group but never really initiated anything. The fall came around my sophomore year and my brother in Christ Gabe invited me to come to a Bible study with Luke. I was relatively unfamiliar with terms as simple as “grace” and I was just kind of there to absorb information. Over time I started to understand more and more and was beginning to feel like I could lead my own Bible study.
This past year hasn’t been easy on my family. My family members are more “common Christians,” but I have been able to use what I have learned and teach them what it really means to surrender to Christ. I have continued to pray for them, and now my moms friend invited her to a Bible study. I have been able to comfort my mom with the Word of God and her life is changing for the better. I have stepped up and become a father figure to my brothers to make sure they are on the right track. My family means so much to me and it’s important that I can encourage them and talk to them about Christ. I have always felt that God has a special plan for me and joining AIA is just the beginning of me being reborn spiritually.”

Tyler has been influenced by Christ this past year and is now seeking to influence his family for Christ.

Tyler has been influenced by Christ this past year and is now seeking to influence his family for Christ.

This is just one example of God can move in someones life in only a year! We cannot wait to see who the Lord leads us to this year who will experience Christ transforming their life and the lives of others around them.

Students Reaching Students This Summer

Duke, Grayson, Luke, Chris and Tyler at the end of the Ultimate Training Camp Twin Cities.

Duke, Grayson, Luke, Chris and Tyler at the end of the Ultimate Training Camp Twin Cities.

Have you ever had a mountain top experience from a Christian conference or retreat, but failed to apply what you experienced once you entered back into normal life? We have seen and experienced this before, but this summer we are witnessing lasting transformation in lives of our students who came to the Ultimate Training Camp in June.
One example is from four Gophers that were in a discipleship group with Luke this past year (pictured right). They attended UTC together, and once camp ended the four of them decided to continue meeting for discipleship group on their own while they were on campus for summer team workouts. Soon after, these four guys felt called to start a Bible study for their team as an outreach to guys who had never been involved in Athletes in Action before.
A couple guys showed up the first week to their Bible study. Then those guys started to invite their friends. Last week there were 12 guys at the Bible study (pictured below). By God’s grace, last week was the week they had been planning on sharing the gospel. Four of their teammates came for the very first time last Thursday and got the chance to hear about Jesus. Corey, a former wrestler who will be Interning with AIA this year, came to help these new leaders share the gospel. Multiple guys in the room made a decision that night to trust in Christ!
It has been so encouraging for us to witness these four Gophers be available for God to use them this summer. They are beginning to own the mission of making disciples who make disciples. UTC was a catalyst for them to not just grow in their faith but to see the opportunity they have to bring the gospel to others. They are changed lives helping to change lives!

Summer football team Bible study.

Summer football team Bible study.

Transformed Lives Through the Ultimate Training Camp

Who or what do you worship? For many collegiate athletes, the answer to that question is their sport. From June 1-7, 125 athletes from around the nation came to the Twin Cities for the Ultimate Training Camp. The goal: discover how to worship God THROUGH your sport.

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Watch this video below to get a glimpse of what happened at the Ultimate Training Camp Twin Cities. Grayson, a student we work with at Minnesota, is the first athlete you will see interviewed when the video starts.

God Is Moving On The Football Team

Chapel for the U of M football team

Chapel for the U of M football team

Four weeks ago I sat in on my first chapel meeting with the Gopher football team (pictured above). Each player was given a survey card so they could indicate their spiritual interest coming into the season and it also listed a few ways we could be a resource for them this year. Later that day as we gathered to look through the cards, we were blown away by what we saw.

Of the nearly 100 cards we received from the players, 90 of them indicated that they are interested spiritually! Many of those players circled that they wanted to know how to have a relationship with God, receive a free Bible, talk with someone about their faith questions or join a team Bible study. Our new co-worker and current football team Chaplain Luke Kaiser told us that this is by far the most spiritual interest he has seen on the team in his six years on campus!

Our goal is to meet with every player who is interested and listen to where they are at in their faith journey. We will get the opportunity to explain the good news of Jesus Christ to these young men, many of whom have never heard it in a clear and compelling way. Imagine the impact that these men could have on campus and around the world if they began to live for Jesus! Our relationship with the football team is also opening doors to other teams, which we pray would get the gospel into every corner of the athletic department.

Pray for Ari in South Asia

One of our student athletes from SCSU, Ari, is serving in South Asia this summer on a Cru Summer Project. If you would like to pray for Ari and her team, here is a list she came up with to pray specifically!

Ari, pictured above right, will be a senior this year at SCSU.

Ari, pictured above right, will be a senior this year at SCSU.

7 Days of Prayer for South Asia

1.Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who currently live in South Asia. Parts of South Asia can be dangerous for people to proclaim that they are a Christian. Pray that they would be given safety, strength, and a passion to continue to share the gospel despite the challenges!

“Therefore let us do good to all people, especially those who belong in the family of believers.” –Galatians 6:10

2. Pray for guidance and for God’s love to soften the hearts of those in leadership and governing positions in South Asia. Although the government claims to have “religious freedom,” “anti-conversion laws” have been implemented in some areas making it difficult for an individual to become a Christian. Also, religious persecution by extremists is not managed well by the government systems.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” –Ephesians 6:12

3. Pray for the sick, elderly, poor, and orphaned children living in South Asia. South Asia has the world’s largest concern for poor people. More than 500 million people live on less than $1.25 a day.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” –Matthew 5:3

4. Pray for those who face the horrors of slavery and sex trafficking. The realities of slavery and trafficking in South Asia are beyond heart breaking and overwhelming. Millions of women and children are being taken advantage of daily and they need our prayers!

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” –Isaiah 1:17

5. Pray that God will prepare and open the hearts of those we will serve and minister to in South Asia. Only around 1% of the specific population we will be ministering to is considered Christian. Pray that God will use us to reach people in the other 99%!

“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

6. Pray that our team will be guided by the Holy Spirit so that lives may be made new by His love and in His name! Please pray that we will be attentive to the Holy Spirit and follow Him in and through everything we do.

“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” –Romans 8:27

7. Pray that God would bless our team’s health and safety and give us protection from the devil. Also, pray that He will give us patience and guidance in any and every situation!

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:17

Blending Faith and Sports

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With the school year over and final exams completed, many college students will begin a summer job or take time off for vacation with family. However, this is not the case for most collegiate athletes! Summer can be one of the most rigorous times for athletes to train for their upcoming season.

We desire the athletes we work with to not just grow stronger physically during their summers, but spiritually as well. The best venue Athletes in Action has to offer for this growth is called the Ultimate Training Camp: an intense one week camp in Fort Collins, CO to tackle the issue of how to blend faith and sport together.

There are currently 150 collegiate athletes from around the country participating in this camp, being pushed to the limits physically and spiritually! 13 athletes from the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State are at UTC this week. Check out this video to get a sneak peak into what UTC is all about!

UTC Extended Trailer from jon demeter on Vimeo.

What God Has Called Us To: Reaching Athletes

You’ll know from reading our letters over the past few years that part of God’s plan for us through our ministry with Cru has been the privilege of working with athletes at St. Cloud State. What started in 2010 as a 1-2 hour/week step of faith, has now turned into a fulfilling passion for both of us. Through that initial step of faith, God has blown us away with His work at SCSU as the Athletes in Action ministry has grown to nearly 70 athletes involved in our five weekly Bible studies.

While we have enjoyed many parts of our job with Cru at SCSU, launching and leading this Athletes in Action ministry has far and above been the work we have loved the most. Most recently, it has been so much fun to see God use Kristina in some incredible ways to reach women’s athletes with the gospel and to disciple women to lead their teammates to the Lord. We are excited to announce that we’ve recently been asked to consider making a transition to work full-time with AIA. The new role will be to become a co-campus director with AIA at the University of Minnesota and work alongside another couple who started AIA there in 2007: Luke and Alisha Kaiser (pictured below). Check out the U of M AIA ministry here.

Luke, Alisha, Weston and Avery Kaiser AIA Staff at the U of M

Luke, Alisha, Weston and Avery Kaiser
AIA Staff at the U of M

With only a handful of staff members, they have been unable to reach the hundreds of U of M athletes on their own. One thing we are particularly excited about is that we will continue to lead the St. Cloud State AIA ministry and because of the close proximity we will even be able to make campus visits a couple times a month. As a ministry of Cru, the mission of AIA is one we can get excited about: Building spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sport so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus. After much prayer, discernment, and wise counsel, this December we made the decision to accept this role and begin our work with AIA at the U of M in the fall! Our time with Cru at SCSU has now ended and we will soon move to the Twin Cities to begin raising the new financial support we need for this role and our baby girl! Please be praying for us, the SCSU AIA ministry and what God has planned for us in this new role serving full-time with Athletes in Action! If you have any questions, please email me at lucas.middendorf@cru.org.

Want to hear more about AIA? Check out this video:

8 Things Your Support of Cru has Accomplished this Fall

For those of you who support the ministry of Cru, God has done some pretty amazing things this fall. Thanks to your help, students and faculty all over the world are hearing the gospel and are experiencing life-change. Here are some of my favorite highlights of what God has done:

1. At the University of North Dakota, a school of only 10,000, 421 students come to Christ at a recent outreach called “The Maze.”

2. A student at Texas Tech has led ten of his friends to Christ in the first two months of the school year.

3. A communications professor at a large state school recently sent one of our Cru staff the following email: “Tomorrow 325 students will hear my testimony as part of my lecture in 3 sections of Comm 105, and you are a large part of the reason why.”

4. At the University of Florida, our staff member Scott was greeted by the smell of stale beer as he entered the KA fraternity to share with the 26 pledges. The comment card he received from a student named Evan was priceless: “I need some help. I’ve got a lot of questions. I have been trying to find God for the past couple months.” Evan is now a believer in Christ.

5. At the University of Illinois, the team is following up over 3,400 “One Minute Questionnaires.” Six students have already said “yes” to Jesus. Three of the six are from China.

6. Dartmouth collected over 800 contacts from students interested in either knowing more about Christ or getting involved in a Bible Study. This is exciting as the Northeast is known to have a difficult spiritual climate.

7. Cru at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo invited fraternities and sororities to be a part of packing meals for the organization “Feed My Starving Children”. In two days, they packed 200,232 meals that will help feed 550 children.

8. The team in Paris gave away 500 Bibles in two hours to students who came up and requested them. One professor even gave money for the team to go buy more Bibles.

God is doing something unique in this generation of students. Our desire is to take advantage of the time the Lord has given us and get the gospel message in as many hands as possible. Thank you for your generous support of the ministry which enables our us to give our full attention to this spiritual harvest.

10 Things Your Support Of Cru Has Accomplished This Year!

As you well know, our mission is that we would build spiritual movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus. For a real life example of how this happens, check out this awesome video!

For those of you who support the ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), God has done some pretty amazing things this year. It is really quite staggering. Thanks to your help, students and faculty all over the world are hearing the gospel and are experiencing life-change. Here are some of my favorite highlights of what God has done:

Your financial support has given 10 million people a chance to know God personally this past year. That works out to someone every three seconds hearing the gospel. (And this is just through the US Campus Ministry arm of Cru.)

Thanks to your help 119,000 people began a relationship with Christ – enough to fill two Astrodomes to max capacity.

At the University of Iowa, over 1,500 students crammed into a 1,000-seat venue to attend an outreach with an Illusionist called the “Maze.” Another 1,000 students were turned away due to maximum capacity.

The Portland Winter Conference changed the life of one young man, a former member of “The Century” club in his fraternity. His goal used to be to sleep with 100 women in a year. Changed by the power of the Gospel, he is now a student leader on his campus.

This winter around 3,000 students showed up for our Korean American Winter Conferences. Most people don’t even know that we have a ministry targeting Korean American students; much less that it is one of our largest ethnic student ministries. We also have ministries targeting African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native American, as well as international students.

- Thanks to your support nearly 1,000 international students from 57 nations attended our Vision 2011 Conference. Half of those students were not yet Christians.

The students who attended our Winter Conferences pledged over a quarter million dollars to missions for this coming year. Over $150,000 of that was given in cash during those conferences.

Your support has given 42,000 high school and middle school students an opportunity to know Christ, and 4,500 began a relationship with him. Did you know that over 70% of our high school and middle school ministries are run by volunteers?

More than 3,200 faculty and students went on summer mission trips this summer, investing their lives in others. Midshipmen at the Naval Academy went on mission projects to Haiti, Venezuela, and Kenya – even though they had less than one month off for the summer.

– This past year you have helped send and sustain 750 foreign missionaries to 35 nations around the world – many of whom are serving in the least evangelized parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

As I reflect on all that God has done through your support I am reminded of the passage in Ephesians that says it is purely by God’s grace that any of us know him. Paul goes on to say, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). Thank you for the GOOD WORK you have been part of in reaching students and faculty for Christ around the world!

Grateful for this semester at SCSU

First of all, thank you for your partnership with us so that everyone would know someone who truly follows Jesus! Your gifts and prayers help us to be used by God at St. Cloud State University and around the world to reach students with the gospel. We hope you will be encouraged by watching this video from Cru on how your gifts are being used to change the world!

Campus Crusade for Christ — Christmas Thank You from Masterworks on Vimeo.

God has been doing some amazing things in our midst at SCSU this fall semester. As far as we know, over 800 spiritual conversations were initiated by our student leaders and staff on campus this fall! These initiations led to 300 actual spiritual conversations, 151 gospel presentations and 26 students who asked Christ into their life! Your partnership is sending the gospel go forth to help turn lost students into Christ-centered laborers.

We are also so grateful to the Lord for the growth of Athletes in Action this fall at SCSU. Starting with 5-10 students involved last spring semester, we now see over 50 athletes attending our six small group Bible studies each week on campus! I have especially enjoyed seeing the young men from the football team Bible study I lead begin to bond together and grow in their faith. I knew none of them just a few months ago, and now I am dreaming of these 5-6 guys being used to one day reach their whole team for Christ!

Ledell, Jordan, Jameson, Grant, me and Corey from the SCSU football team Bible study