Name: Gina Hatchett (@ginaheartswhales)
Hi, hi, and hi. My name is Gina Hatchett and I have been involved with CRU since the beginning of my freshman year at WKU. Before I continue on, I just wanted to throw out there if something you read catches your interest or if you like whales/Seattle/boba tea, find me in real life or through social media and I am always down for having a life chat over coffee.
OKAY, now to get to the good stuff.
Have you ever been called to do something that sounds uber interesting to be a part of but is not something you would typically do? Well, this past semester, that’s exactly what happened to me. But, cooler than that is the story of how it began dates back 3 years ago…
I was sitting in Bible College located in a tiny, tiny village in Hungary listening to one of my teachers teach about Daniel. In Chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is mentioned and how the wise men of Babylon could not decipher it and believed no one could. Then enters Daniel, who trusts that God will reveal the mysterious dream to him [all for God’s glory], and a line my teacher spoke that has always stuck with me is “God can use a YES man.”
Fast forward to this past fall semester, this sermon has made a reappearance in my mind as I have been seeking out new ways to say YES to the Lord. Whether that be being more diligent with my quiet times or actively living life with open hands.
A very neat way to say YES to the Lord came in early September. I was looking into taking a cool train trip across the country with friends for fun. Randomly, the Lord randomly placed a thought in my head – “What if you made this a trip for me?” I was, of course, like cool…interesting…I got no idea what that means. Within a few days, a complete picture of what the trip would look like formed in my brain. My infamous disclaimer to this trip is that I am not selfless enough to come up with this on my own.
So, what will the trip look like? 4405 miles of traveling through Chicago, Minneapolis, Spokane, Seattle and Portland with 5 friends who are passionate about sharing the Gospel with the people we encounter on the buses and trains we will commuting on and seeking out the homeless in the cities we stop in to help provide for their physical needs as well as having spiritual conversations with them and sharing God’s love with them. That’s a real long sentence…
Does it sound a little crazy? Absolutely. Have we done this before? Not exactly. But, do we believe the Lord have opened the door for to go on this trip to glorify His Kingdom? 100% YES. Again, this is when a life chat over coffee would come in handy because to share of all the radical ways the Lord has provided and led us in planning and preparing this trip thus far creates a beautifully long list.
Are we nervous? YES, we are scared out of our minds. But, we know that the Lord will be faithful to equip us with boldness and confidence to tell about who He is and the relationship that He desires to have with the people we are sharing with.
Can I brag on CRU for a split second? I am beyond thankful to be a part of a campus ministry that not only desires for its students to be actively sharing their faith on campus, but is willing to invest time in equipping us to do so. The people going on this trip with me are super excited to not only talk about our faith with people, but also to bring back our experiences to encourage our friends back at CRU to ignite a revival on our campus at WKU. For as long as we all attend WKU, this is the current mission field that the Lord is currently calling us to.
Well, it’s about that time to let you all go. Thanks for reading, caring, and praying for us!
Find new ways to say YES to the Lord in this new year.
Peace & love,
P.S. –Follow our adventures and read the cool blog posts that we are writing at the4405.wordpress.com.
Name: Mallory Burk
Hey y’all! For those of you that do not know me, my name is Mallory Burk and I am a junior at WKU and have been apart of CRU ever since my freshman year. This is my third year going to Encounter. It is an incredible opportunity and experience that will make a great impact on your life and you will leave the conference feeling empowered, changed, and encouraged.
A little bit of background on my life, I was raised up in a strong Christian home by my incredible family who I am truly honored to be apart of, but even though I was raised by my parents who were strong in their faith, I never had experienced or let alone knew what it meant to have a good or solid “community,” especially during my middle and high school years. I had only just a very small hand full of friends throughout middle and high school who were Christians, so I just was constantly surrounded by friends who would always ask me for advice, who had difficult home lives, or who were not true followers of Christ. Fast forward to my freshman year at WKU, I got plugged into CRU during Masterplan and during my first week, I became overwhelmed with how there were so many people, my age, who not only loved God, but also had a passion to share the gospel with others. I saw and experienced so much love, acceptance, and intentionality from so many people that were apart of CRU and as I started going to the weekly meetings I began to realize that I was finally experiencing what it means to be apart of a “community” and felt like I was apart of one great big family.
During my first semester freshman year I kept hearing everyone at the CRU meetings talk and rave on and on about Encounter and how amazing it is and that I needed to go. At first, I had no idea what this conference was all about or what we would be doing in North Carolina, but after talking more with my Bible study leaders about it I became more interested in it and started having the desire to go. To me, going to a conference with people who were passionate about Christ and had a desire to learn and grow was exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to experience and be apart of. Going to Encounter in my mind meant that it was going to be a way for me to have fun, be with my friends/make new friends, make some great memories, and not have to be bored at home for the entire Christmas break, so naturally, of course, like a smart person, I signed up to go on the trip for those reasons.
Going to Encounter my freshman year was the best decision I ever made and have been majorly impacted still to this day from going on that trip. Not only was it really fun to go on a road trip with some of my friends and sing songs loudly during the car ride, but it was an amazing opportunity to get to know people that I didn’t know at all or know well, that were apart of CRU at western and allowed to become even more connected and closer with them. During that time, I had a major desire on my heart to go on a mission trip to Africa one day and so I had the opportunity to meet up and talk with Sarah Woodward, who is on staff with CRU at WKU, but was a student at the time. She got to share with me about how she went on a Summer Mission with CRU the previous summer to Senegal, Africa and shared some amazing stories and experiences that she had during her time on that trip. Listening to her share one story after another about the different things that her and her teammates saw God do, it made my heart feel as though it was aching and yearning to be apart of something similar to what she had experienced. I even remember that there was a moment when I was leaving Spencer’s coffee shop after my time with Sarah, that I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me, because I began to feel the deep and passionate desires of God’s heart for my life being placed into my heart and that I knew I was meant to go overseas and go soon. Once I got in my car to head back to my dorm I knew that I had to learn more about Summer Missions and start figuring out how I could potentially go on a trip to Africa.
During Encounter they had a breakout sessions that people could go to that had information on all of the Summer Mission locations and opportunities that students can be apart of over the summer. I of course went to one of the break out sessions for Summer Missions and went to the room that talked about the trip on Senegal, Africa. After meeting and talking with the directors that were leading that trip, I sensed it so strongly in my heart and spirit that I was suppose to go to Senegal and that God was calling me to go overseas that coming summer after my freshman year. After a lot of prayer, counsel, and preparation, I was able to have the amazing opportunity to finally fulfill my desire to go overseas and went on a Summer Mission with CRU to Senegal, Africa with a team of around 30 people from multiple college campuses, during the summer of 2014.
After going to Africa with CRU on Summer Mission I was completely changed and marked by the different experiences, hardships, memories, and friendships that I had made during my time there. Looking back, I thank God for placing people like Sarah Woodward in my life who were strong leaders within the CRU movement and who are obedient servants to the Lord and set high standards for me. If it weren’t for her and my Bible study leaders, I wouldn’t probably have even gone to Encounter or let alone do Summer Missions with CRU. I also praise the Lord for pushing me to go to Encounter my Freshman year, because not only did it help me understand more of whether or not I wanted to do/ go on Summer Mission with CRU, but it also allowed me to find more purpose in life and discover more of how God has created me and what his calling is on my life.
I am excited again to have the opportunity to be at Encounter this year! Each time I have gone, I’ve always had a different experience that has shaped me and through the different teachings and services during Encounter I have been able to gain more of a deeper truth and understanding about my relationship with the Lord and where my focus needs to be in life. This year at Encounter I desire to experience God in new, fresh, and tangible ways, to learn more of how I can be more effective in my faith, as well as to become even more connected and unified with other students from WKU.
I encourage those of you who are reading this, that you begin to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you the desire’s of his heart for you and the destiny that he has called you into and that he would begin to reveal those things to you during your time at Encounter. During your time in college, this is a season where you begin to discover your identity in Christ and how God has intricately designed and created you to be. It’s also a time where a lot of growth takes place and where you begin to discover the plans and desires that God has for your life, for your potential career, and for other things that are to come that are important. I also encourage you to begin to pray and ask God to allow you to feel stretched by him and experience growth and transformation within your mind, heart, and spirit. Encounter is an amazing opportunity for the Lord to come and change your life and experience deeper connections with other students and leaders from CRU, especially from WKU. You will greatly be impacted during your time at this conference and you will never regret going! I pray that God would even now begin to stir and prepare your heart to receive everything that he wants to impart on you and revel to your heart and spirit through the various teachings, break out sessions, and worship services.
“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” - Philippians 1:6 AMP
A seven week-long break.
It sounds awesome on paper, but by week three you’re probably brain-dead from boredom or going insane from family reunion overload.
Instead of veering towards laziness or busyness over the break, take advantage of the time to grow in your walk with the Lord. Below are seven ways to survive your seven-week break.
1. Get plugged into a local church
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. –Hebrews 10:24-25
Don’t just attend on Sundays; pursue others in church, help out with a church ministry that operates outside of your normal attendance.
2. Find a Bible reading plan and stick to it
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword –Hebrew 4:12
Devotionals are great, but nothing can substitute for a true study of God’s Word, for yourself. Check out BibleGateway for all sorts of reading plans ranging in length from one year to a few months.
3, Memorize Scripture
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. –Psalm 119:11
Something supernatural begins to take shape when we memorize Scripture and meditate on it. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources out there to make memorizing easier. Scripture Typer and Fighter Verses are the best apps on the market (I prefer Scripture Typer.)
4. Read good books
“Five years from now you’ll be the same person you are today--except for the books you read and the people you meet.” –Charles Jones
At Cru I mentioned picking up The Reason for God by Tim Keller. But really, anything by him is great. Over the breaks I try to read one C.S. Lewis book. If you’re new to Lewis, try the Narnia series or Mere Christianity. Last recommendation, if you’ve never read A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy it is a must-read for every Christian.
5. Listen to good teaching
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ. –Romans 10:17
During long car rides or running errands there’s a couple sermon podcasts that I go to. My favorite apps are The Summit Church followed by Ask Pastor John.
6. Keep in touch with Cru friends
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. –Proverbs 17:17
Your friends from WKU are in the same boat as you. Send them a text. Ask to crash on their couch during a weekend. Give your Bible Study leader a call.
7. Come to Encounter!
What better way to survive the break than to spend 5 days with 60 other Hilltoppers worshipping together, staying up late and learning how to reach others for the gospel back on campus? It’s not too late to sign up. (For those that can’t make it, sign up for Winter Retreat.)