Category Archives: Newsletter
Daniel with Tommy and a friend
After years of praying and working at UAlbany when we served there, Cru Intern Daniel Hall sent us this recent story about just 1 of 3 students who came to Christ this fall on that campus:
“Tommy and I have been friends since I first came to UAlbany back in 2015. We met in my first computer science class …and immediately became friends. We progressed through the two years quickly taking class after class together every semester. Keep in mind, this was the same time Cru was being [re]established at UAlbany and as such I began inviting him to different events.
As the second year rolled around, Tommy became more interested in hanging out with us and eventually got to know some of our now close friends.
All of that brings us to the beginning of this semester… where again Tommy was invited to various events. What I didn’t know however, is God was already working in his heart to bring him towards himself. Tommy had been experiencing some troubles and really was searching for answers to questions he has had about the Bible. He then began to attend our small groups, asking so many questions, then… he wanted to know how to have a relationship with God. Later on during the second week of classes, another student and I met with Tommy personally to follow up. We shared with him [the gospel message]. We invited him… to receive Jesus, and with some tears shed, he joyfully prayed to receive Christ!
A 1 min video about experiencing God through hobbies JohnAndEllenFleming.com/hobbies
We boarded up the house and evacuated from Hurricane Irma unscathed and took a trip to see some ministry partners up the east coast. We enjoyed some early fall activities along the way, like apple cider and cider donuts, one of our traditions! Evie turned 4 and Maddie Mae had a (scheduled) hospital visit for some throat/stomach pain; God is good and she is is on meds and doing better. The girls are adjusting well to school and thriving. Noah is “getting into more things” and keeping up well with his sisters; dancing in the livingroom to music or walking fast around the house! He’s a charmer! Thank you for your support and prayers as we reach students and faculty for Christ ! 🙂
Our youngest enjoying some much needed time at Chucky Cheese!
Birthday Girl on a date with Daddy!
Our family stopped at the Capitol while heading north after evacuating from Hurricane Irma
WITH God and Each Other at Cru17
Every two years, thousands of Cru staff descend upon the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO for Cru’s national staff conference. This time the theme was “WITH”: what it means to be with God and in partnership with each other, both within Cru and in other organizations and churches.
Throughout the week, we were able to hear from a diverse panel of speakers, participate in seminars and workshops, and reconnect with friends from around the country. If you’d like to experience the conference for yourself, visit cru.org/cru17 to watch/hear the sessions, seminars, and interviews with the speakers. Thank you for praying and partnering with us financially so we could attend this conference and gain fresh insight and vision!
With school just starting in recent weeks in our community, life in our house is a whirlwind in the mornings getting out the door and yet a little quieter during school hours! But our little guy still makes plenty of noise! 😉 We celebrated Noah’s 1st birthday in June and Maddie Mae’s 6th birthday in July with huge groups of little friends and their parents at our home, which is a gift to have opportunities, both spiritually and otherwise, to love on them!
I’m the Sign!
This summer as students were getting ready to say their goodbyes, one student on the mission team sent with Cru to Czech Republic, Victor, and a Czech student named Frank, accidentally got off on the wrong tram stop and were separated from the rest of the group. Victor used the time they were alone to ask Frank where he stood with God. Frank said that he had heard about God and had even been in a Bible study before, but he was waiting for a sign. To which Victor replied rather emphatically, “I’m the sign!”
Victor went on to explain that he had come all the way from the U.S. to tell him about Jesus, so what more did he need?! Frank went to church the next day and met with the pastor. He and Victor have been in communication as Frank is asking many questions. Victor’s response may have been a little surprising, but how significant that he realized that we are all signs pointing to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! We pray that Frank will come to know Jesus as he continues asking questions and seeking to know the Truth. Isn’t it fun and encouraging to hear how young people are bold and step out in faith in these kind of ways?! It’s an honor to partner with you to send people like Victor out into all different parts of the world to bring the gospel to those lost and searching everywhere!
You may recall every spring Cru does a conference called Big Break in Panama City, Florida. It’s Cru’s alternative Spring break, where students from all over the US traveled to Panama City Beach for a week of growing in their relationship with God and learning to share their faith. They spent time engaging with people on the beach, and also by using social media to send the Falling Plates video to friends and family and listening to their experiences of Jesus so far in their lives.
One Student named Allison* shared about her experience below:
“My best friend from home came from a christian family so I thought, I don’t know if I need to text her or not and so I texted her the link to the [Falling Plates evangelistic] video. She texted me back and said I literally just cried. I’ve been feeling really hopeless and horrible lately. And last night I prayed for a sign that I’m still worth it, that I’m still meant to live, and that God still cares for me and today you sent that to me. This is insane. I’m literally in tears.”
Students and staff initiated 11,170 spiritual conversations digitally. 3,024 of them turned into gospel conversations, with 104 deciding to follow Christ, plus 601 future appointments were set up with friends and family! On the beach, 3,338 conversations were initiated and 1,470 heard the gospel, with 222 deciding to follow Christ!
These stories and results are super encouraging to us and we hope to you too! Jesus is moving and sometimes not in the ways we expect! When we hear stories of students listening to and responding to Jesus, it’s why we do what we do!
Until Every Student has Heard,
- THANKS to so many of you who prayed for John’s recent surgery last month. He is healing up well.
- that we would be able to quickly grow a larger team of people to join our ministry in prayer and financial support so we can return to our office to accelerate the gospel through the operations of Cru. Pray for us traveling for this reason this summer. We have about $1900/month left to finish growing our team.
- That we would not let the distractions around us take us away from the Good Work the Lord has for us. (Nehemiah 6:3)
- That we would look for opportunities to be Jesus’ hands and feet to those around us in our kids’ social lives this summer.
- For the millions of teenagers and college students transitioning out of school into summer… for the Church to carry this gospel to them.
- For God’s provision of a newer family vehicle through a Cru family who sold us theirs.
- For our home appliances to stop breaking, lol! 🙂 (we had a fridge fan go bad, a pump motor, and our washer too! we have replaced each one but this comes at a cost and is very distracting 😦 )
Enjoy a few of our latest pics:
Our little guy is turning 1 this week!
Our girls were in a theater day camp for a week and made new friends while singing their favorite songs!
Free donut day at Krispy Kreme! (Noah had more fun than he looks) 🙂
Evie has a favorite treat! (same as Daddy’s)
Aunt Mary came to visit!
Evie drew a special drawing for our vets
Last month we dedicated our Noah to the Lord in front of our Church, shown above with one of our leaders
… said Katherine about her recent experience with her mom. She is an international student who attended the recent Bridges International conference. (Bridges International is Cru’s ministry to internationals studying in the US) I’ll share more about Katherine’s story below. What does awakening spiritual curiosity for students even look like? While many of the 1,000 students at the conference came to learn about God, some did not. They’re in the Explorer’s Track, and they came because they want to get to the beaches here in Florida. Another reason is they’ve discovered it’s hard to make friends as an outsider in the US, or because, understandably, they don’t want to stay on campus alone during winter break… While the Christian element of the conference seems to be just a sideline to them, God is on the move behind the scenes. This Explorer’s track had a time of just that: exploring some topics. One of the most common objectives to the existence of the Christian God goes like this: “How can God be both all-powerful and good? Why would we see such suffering in the world if God were both good and powerful?” Katherine shares that her mother suffers every day and that this question of God and suffering really matters to her. She reveals that her mother’s pain has been so severe
that she wishes she were dead and the situation has caused a 180º turn in their relationship, for the better. When asked,
“Do you think the suffering was worth undergoing if it gave you and your mom a close relationship?” “Yes. The suffering was worth it to me. I have this new relationship with my mom.” God is showing Katherine that He, also, was willing to suffer in order to have a relationship with her. He, like Katherine and her mom, sees suffering as worthwhile to gain the priceless gift of relationship with us. He wants to be that close, to talk with her every day and to give her eternal life with Him. The question of suffering and God’s purpose in it is a question with which we wrestle as well. Walking through pain and suffering in our lives has brought us closer to Jesus and has continually awakened a longing for eternity and desire for the gospel that we believe is worth it! Just as Katherine was real with her wrestling… What does it look like for us to wrestle and to be intentionally authentic about where we find ourselves with the hard questions to awaken curiosity with others AND ourselves?!
Spring Is In the Air!
As multiple tens of thousands of college and highschool students descend on the beaches and hotspots of LA, Las Vegas, and Florida this month during their spring break weeks, many of our Cru students also go to these locations, but not to get drunk with alcohol and have sex. Cru students attend our training conferences right on the beach locations to meet students who are open to spiritual conversations. All while they party on the beach, listen to their life stories, share their testimonies in conversation, and share the gospel too, as the Lord allows. We have been there a few times with our students from Albany and it is quite an adventure that builds faith (for students AND staff like us!). Please go to JohnAndEllenFleming.com/springbreak to see our training and worship sessions in Florida almost every weeknight/morning of march. Please pray! below is an encouraging letter from our director on our new position too.
Letter from our Director
Daddy Daughter Dance!
By His Amazing Providence and Mercy,
PS If you prefer the pdf version of this newsletter update, feel free to download it by clicking on the image below. Enjoy!
Recently, I (John) accepted an offer to join the Operations Resource Team for the Campus Ministry of Cru (our ministry to middle, high school, and college students and faculty). It was the culmination of a good deal of prayer for Ellen and I including discussion with many individuals. Here’s the backstory…. You may remember from when we first joined the High School Ministry Operations team two years ago that Operations is how Cru describes the infrastructure upon which the day to day ministry operates: including things like Communications, Conferences, Graphic Design, Finances, Technology, and anything ministry-related on the internet. Do you remember the story about how the disciples fished all night and caught nothing? Jesus asked them to “cast the nets on the other side of the boat”. Jesus provided a miraculous catch. The nets weren’t strong enough and the boats weren’t large enough to hold the harvest of fish; they had to call for help! Operations teams provide “boats” and “nets” to our staff, volunteers, and student leaders to bring the gospel to the nations. With a growing family with changing needs, we sensed the Lord was drawing us to a change in role. We are excited about this change, especially as it increases our scope to reaching over 661 million middle school, high school, college students and faculty with the Gospel. We know that if we can effectively reach the students and faculty of the world’s campuses, we can reach the whole world through their influence as they are sent out to every nation.
We will still be in Orlando at Cru headquarters. In fact my desk will move only about 50 feet! Of course there’s no change in our passion for reaching out to young people with the good news of the gospel. There is also no change in our need for your partnership in our outreach. Please pray for our family as we take some extended time to increase the size of our team of prayer and financial partners until we are fully supported in our work. After this I will be able to fully engage in the new role.
Your prayers and financial support are still critical means for God to provide for us… so we can reach out to young people with Jesus’ love and good news. We appreciate you greatly and look forward to telling you more about this transition as the details become more clear.
Our “lives are not [our] own”, so we follow with joy and step out in faith. We are grateful that you walk with us in this journey together!
He had come to Burger King to have his last meal…
300 teenage students from all over Western Europe and America gathered for Cru’s SHINE conference this past summer in Malaga, Spain. Each day, they spent time building joy and faith through worship, the Word, prayer, and in preparing for outreach events. The week culminated with a free concert by a German Christian band, “Good Weather Forecast”, where the gospel was shared with thousands. A family from the SHINE conference stopped into a Burger King for a bite to eat after a long day in the city. They struck up a conversation with a young man wearing a satanic t-shirt. After they shared Christ with him, he confessed that he had come to BK to have his last meal. He planned to end his life that night…until he heard about Jesus. He threw his old t-shirt into the trash, put on a SHINE t-shirt, and went home with a new life to live! Thank you for helping us reach him!