Category Archives: Winter Conference

“My friends don’t get it. They say, ‘Why do you talk with your mom every day?'”

bridges-intl… 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 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



20161218_125041img_8078 this-is-my-favorite-one-it-captures-their-relationship-well-evie-is-passionate-about-him-welp-hes-a-little-unsure-but-loves-her-enough-to-smile-lol-%f0%9f%98%82%f0%9f%98%82%f0%9f%98%82-ellen father-daughter-dance

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!

“My heart it is so empty, I feel so alone and I don’t know what to do. I have never felt this way before.”

asian girl comes to christ blockedThese are the words from a student named Violette** tearfully shared with Cru staff member Kassie one evening at our West Coast “FastBreak” student conference in Southern California. The following was written by Kassie:

Violette is one of the three exchange students from China who came to Fastbreak with us this year. I explained to Violette that the reason her heart was empty was because there was a God-sized hole in her heart.
We talked some more and then I asked her if she wanted to ask Christ to fill that hole. She said, “Yes, but I don’t know how to pray.” “I’ll show you,” I answered as we bowed our heads and I lead her in a prayer to ask Christ into her heart.
“My heart is full, thank you so much!” Soon after Violette prayed with me, her friend Euphie pulled me aside to ask how she could accept Christ too!
The third exchange student Ester was already a believer and now all 3 of them will be joining me for a weekly Bible study.
You may know that it’s illegal and dangerous to practice the Christian faith in China, so it’s a huge testament to God to see these 3 young women so willing to become warriors for The Lord in their country!
Our ministry is very quickly expanding and I can feel God’s presence! It’s very exciting to be able to share this with you all and I ask for you to pray for these 3 girls to grow in their faith.”

**names changed for privacy.

For a printable version of this newsletter, download a pdf document here.

did you know April 2016

watch an excellent video about Cru community

watch an excellent video about Cru community

easter family photo shoot 1

Winter Conferences Help Students experience Jesus!!!

At our 11 winter conferences, occurring from December to March, we saw the Lord do amazing things for teens across the nation with Cru!
With only half of our conferences reporting in so far:

Almost 500 conversations initiated by our staff and students, 146 of them turned to spiritual things, 60 of them included a gospel presentation, and as a result, 19 students decided to follow Jesus with their lives! Beyond this, our teams in over 4 cities showed the Woodlawn movie this school year to more than 1000 students and over 100 decided to follow Jesus!

Pray for these students to grow in their faith and share it with others.

In His Gracious Grip,


prayer requests - April 2016 Newsletter from the Flemings - Google Docs

daddy daughter dance all together 2016

Daddy Daughter Dance with our girls

Ellen teaching class at fastbreak

Ellen teaching a group of teens about Evangelism at the Florida winter conference

ellen pregnant 2016-04-01

Baby#3 due in late June!


“I’ve been brought here for a reason… I can see exactly why God brought me here!” (winter ’15 update)


Some of the students that attended our Winter Conference on the west coast with John

… were the words of John* at one of our conferences in December. Jason, a Cru staffmember, had been working with John and his fellow wrestlers for over a year and trying for months to get his guys to sign up for the regional Cru winter conference on the west coast near John’s high school.

Since Jason had wrestled in college, he had been helping out with the team at the high school and going to their practices, with about 15-20 wrestlers going to a Bible study each week. It was the day before the conference started. Before that day’s practice, he had scheduled a meeting with a local pastor about partnering with his church in some way to reach students for Christ. During the meeting, the pastor said, “whatever you need, I want to help. If you guys need money…cars…resources…transportation–just tell me what you need and let’s work together.” This was really encouraging to Jason, and he went to the practice right after that, but he wasn’t informed that it was actually a wrestling match. So Jason had nothing to do during that time because the students weren’t available. He was pretty frustrated because he thought he wouldn’t have the one last chance to get some of them to sign up for the conference. So he started praying, “God, why am I here?… I have put so much effort into these guys, none of them are going to end up coming [to the conference].” He walked into the gym just then and saw all of them just sitting around waiting for their match to start. He also noticed the computer/printer room near there happened to be unlocked so he could print conference registration forms. So Jason just started calling over the guys, saying things like “someone gave a bunch of money so you could have a discount to go” and “fill out this release form!” They were excited to hear this news! (even though Jason hadn’t yet asked for the money!) and so four hours before they left for the conference, eight guys had signed up! Jason texted the pastor he had met earlier and asked if they could help send these guys to the conference, and he gave $1,000 toward that effort!  Praise God!


Students at the same Cru winter conference

At the conference during one of the boys’ sharing times, Jason told them the story of all circumstances that made it possible for these guys to come to the conference and how God wanted them to be there because he has a plan for their lives. By the last day of the conference, two of the wrestlers had prayed to receive Christ, including John*.  The conference speaker had asked all of them earlier that day to think about one of the darkest times in his life, and how Jesus was there even in that dark time. In front of all his wrestling buddies, John shared that his “darkest time” was the last time that he was raped as a gradeschooler. He said that he had been raped often at that time in his life. He shared that he remembered that time because he felt like Jesus was there when  his perpetrator was about to rape him again as usual but all of a sudden he just stopped! And it never happened again after that. He believes Jesus stopped the perpetrator from doing it. He said to Jason: “Hey Coach…  you’ve been saying this whole time that I’ve been brought here for a reason… I totally believe that now… I can see exactly why God brought me here!” Thank you for helping us create safe places for students to meet Jesus!
Because of His Grace Always,

john and ellen red sigs

P.S. you can download a pdf version of this update that is easily printable here.temp-fampic


A girl in a burqa crossing a Walmart ditch?! and a snazzy Cru video makes headlines!

a woman wearing a burqa crossing a bridge

This week as we prepare to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection, as I was near Walmart I saw a muslim family carefully trying to cross a narrow ditch between the parking lot and the street. Of course the first thing that I noticed was a female in a burqa down in the ditch, as it is a rare sight just about anywhere around here, nevermind in a ditch!  I have since learned that she was actually wearing a niqab The burqa covers the entire face and body while a niqab d`oes the same but leaves the eyes visible to others. It was an odd sight, that made me ask “why are they crossing the ditch instead of walking a hundred feet or so to where they would no longer need to risk falling into a stream of water or mud at the bottom of the ditch?”

She could be a child of God and walking with Jesus, who knows!? but the likely fact is that she is probably not because her outfit suggests she belongs to a family/culture that follows another religion and, like I was before I met Jesus, headed for an eternal destiny separated from God.

The picture of her crossing the ditch slowly about 6 feet below the street level seemed to get me thinking: How much of a picture is she of a lost lamb who doesn’t know her way, headed for spiritual death, trying to cross a spiritual divide without the Only One who can bridge that gap for her: Jesus?

We work with college students, showing them the way to Jesus who is the only one who can bring them back into healthy relationship with God.  We are grateful for you who have prayed and given financially and in other ways so we can be a part of this work!

Snazzy Gospel centered Video Clip published by Cru makes it into the local Times Union newpaper here in Albany!

Read the news article here. Watch the clip by clicking below.


Below in our latest 2-page newsletter are some highlights from The Epicenter Experience (annual winter conference) collected from all over the northeast, with student testimonies of how they met God and how he changed their lives here in Albany on Wolf Rd at the Holiday Inn. We added a little snippet of a story from a local campus where our students are sharing their faith more boldly and obediently this semester.  We trust you will be encouraged by it when you click on the image below to read the newsletter. We hope it will encourage you to show the lost people around you the way to the Bridge to Life!


Our Latest Newsletter



Please pray for students coming to our Epicenter Conference!

IMG_5582We hope you had a great start to the New Year! We enjoy new starts and reboots, because it seems like it’s part of God’s way of redemption in our lives as we turn a new chapter and trust him in new ways. This is what our Conferences are for so many students each year and at each conference. Our coworker with Cru in the Northeast Regional Operations Team (which directs the conference), Jonathan Thorn, writes it best on his blog this way:

“…I love that often, in these moments away, God shows up powerfully. Epicenter was a key time last year for many of the 450 students and staff – and for me. Over 20 students decided to become Christ followers, and many, many others took significant steps of faith, both at Epicenter and on campus afterwards.

This week, over 600 students and staff will gather at the Holiday Inn Wolf Road in Albany, NY. I’ve been planning the details of this conference with the Ops Team for the last year, and especially the last couple of months – with the hope that Epicenter 2013 will be a significant time of spiritual faith steps as students hear from the Lord. “

Please pray with us that God would come down in power and that students would yield their hearts to him in every way possible, and that out of this conference students would take action right away, even before they leave, to make him known to those around them, both literally, and digitally, as we plan on doing some outreach through connections on facebook and using video testimonies.

We would love for you to experience Epicenter with your own eyes if you are available to see one session this coming weekend on Friday or Saturday! Contact us and let us know if you can come, especially on Friday night as there will be a special session at 7pm open to the public that night!  Otherwise, you can watch the sessions yourself online where we will be broadcasting them during the whole conference. However, there are some things you just have to see in person to get the full effect! =) Thank you for your prayers and support that make it possible for us to see God’s Kingdom expand in the hearts of students at conferences like Epicenter!

Check out a quick Video clip of last year’s highlights:

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