Virtual Connections

Although Jeanette’s family was very involved in their church, she arrived as a freshman at UCLA uncertain in her faith. When asked about coming to Destino at the beginning of the semester, she wasn’t very interested.

But as the semester continued, some things changed for Jeanette. She decided to try out a Destino Bible study and then asked staff member Sarah if they could talk more about the Bible and her faith. Sarah invited her to join a Friday afternoon discipleship appointment that she has with another student. Although she was eager to meet with them, Jeanette goes home to her family almost every weekend, which is very common among Latino students. However, Jeanette asked if she could Skype into the meeting.

Jeanette has been learning and growing as she connects virtually for a weekly small group discipleship meeting. She even went to church with a friend from Destino. “It is clear God is moving in her life,” said Lauren Pottenger, a Destino staff member at UCLA. “We have affectionately dubbed the time diSkypleship.”

Students are often as comfortable connecting through video as face-to-face. Staff member Kai has had great success meeting with one of the Destino leaders at USC over video chat one week and in person the next week. Also, Natalie, a recent UCLA Destino alumni has started a weekly small group with some of her fellow alumni from Destino and a few current students. Even though Natalie is in San Diego, she is still able to connect with Christian community and influence the lives of these younger women.

Though these virtual connections students’ lives are being changed.

Posted by Destino Admin in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments

The Best Gift

What is the best gift a family member has lavished on you? In Gabriela’s case, her brother Alonzo helped give her a brand new life.

During an incredibly humid day in August 2015, Destino staff member Nate ran into Alonzo at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After Nate explained the gospel to him, Alonzo, who was a freshman, gave his life to Jesus.

Separated by 178 Texas highway miles, Alonzo started inviting his sister, who was a junior at Texas A&M University, to visit San Antonio to experience the Destino ministry at UTSA. Gabriella loved being a part of Destino. At the fall retreat the following year, Alonzo was baptized, much to Gabriela’s amazement.

A week later, Destino staff member Vanessa drove three hours to Texas A&M to meet with Gabriela. Filled with encouragement from her brother’s faith, Gabriela made the decision to follow Jesus too. Vanessa now coaches her from a distance to help lead the Destino ministry at Texas A&M.

Gabriela received the gift of life from her actual brother, but she wants as many people as possible to become part of the familia of God.

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Forgiven and Forgiving

Forgiven and Forgiving

by Chris Nadolny

“Please pray that I am able to forgive the people who’ve hurt me. I spend a lot of time thinking about ways I can get revenge,” said Daniel.

After more than ten years in college ministry I’ve heard most things, but this had a new twist. Though this was not a typical prayer request at the Miami-Dade College Bible study, it was vulnerable and showed spiritual awareness. I knew I had to follow up with Daniel. I invited him to talk more after his class later that day.

We reconnected that afternoon and meandered through campus as the the hot sun baked the concrete. Eventually we found a table in the shade to discuss his request. I assumed by his openness that Daniel was a Christian, but it turned out he had only been to church a few times. He knew he needed something different in his life if he would ever experience freedom from his bitterness.

As I shared the gospel with him, I prayed silently that God would move in Daniel’s life. He had never heard that Jesus was a gift we received as opposed to a model to follow to earn a place in heaven. He was so riveted by the gospel that he stayed through the beginning of his next class. That day he decided to put his faith in Christ!

Since that day, Daniel hasn’t missed a Bible study. We’ve also hung out several more times to talk more about what it means grow in a relationship with God. Last time, we circled back to his forgiveness prayer request. I explained that through his forgiveness, he’s now able to forgive the person and trust that God will bring justice to the situation. As Daniel prayed he not only thanked God for His forgiveness, but also asked God to bless the person who wronged him. God brings the lightness of the gospel to those who are carrying heavy burdens.

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Fall Retreat

Fall Retreat

“I just wanted to let you know that I had too much fun this past weekend at fall retreat.”

This is the first sentence in an email that Adrian sent to Destino staff member Chelsea Hengeveld after the first ever East Coast Destino fall retreat. Adrian is a senior at George Mason University in Virginia.

Fifteen students from five different campuses drove from across the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania to come together for a weekend retreat. They focused on the book of Daniel and their identity in Christ, leaving them more able to fulfill God’s purposes, experience God’s grace, and leave a lasting legacy.

All five campuses that were represented are distance coached Destino movements. Chelsea and her teammates connect virtually with the local staff members and students, all of whom who are launching Destino for the first time. “It was life-giving to all of us to get to spend some time together in real-life instead of through a computer,” said Chelsea.

Sunday afternoon everyone got in their cars to drive home to their families, schools, and friends. But no one was going back the same. “The students were filled with an excitement to share what they had experience with their friends and were challenged to trust God to use them to leave a legacy in their communities,” said Chelsea.

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Hurricane Relief

Hurricane Relief

Recent events have left many grieving and in dire situations. Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, fires, and shootings have filled the news. We are so thankful that in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances, God’s people are working to bring good.

This year Destino cancelled our fall retreat in Texas. Instead we took 70 students from 8 campuses to Rockport and Port Aransas, Texas to do hurricane Harvey relief work.

Anthony Lopez, a Destino staff member in San Antonio, shared this about the weekend:

“The destruction of homes and business was heartbreaking. It was surreal to see restaurants and stores that I had been to from previous Destino trips that were completely destroyed. I had never seen anything like this before. What really moved me was hearing the stories of the people we helped. One couple had been trying to rebuild their home by themselves for three weeks! They were so moved by our help and our prayers that they broke down crying expressing their gratitude to us.

It was both rewarding and heartbreaking to be a part of this trip. I struggled with the feeling of being helpful but also wishing I could do more. In the end I was so honored to be a part of this trip. It was a privilege to be a part of the restoration of these homes and families. I was so proud of our students for giving up their weekend to come and serve others in a time of need. This is what we’re called to do, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To love and serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Thank you to those who participated and gave to make this trip possible. Stay tuned for more opportunities to go and help meet these needs in the future. We also recommend engaging with the efforts of Cru and GAiN.

Click Here To Donate to The Destino Harvey Relief Fund

Posted by Destino Admin in Outreach, 0 comments
A Story to Tell

A Story to Tell

By Lauren Rodriguez

“I believe God will let everyone into Heaven. He loves everyone!”

Arianna, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, shared her beliefs with me as we sat at a coffee shop on campus.

We had met at our Destino information table a couple of weeks before that, when she ran excitedly up us wanting to know more about who we were and how she could get involved. I asked her to lunch on the spot, and we began meeting one-on-one.

Arianna is majoring in global studies and writing, with the dream of hearing people’s stories. She believes every person, everywhere, has a story that deserves to be told, and she wants to write it, broadcast it, or find a way to make it known.

As she explained her dream to me, we connected instantly about how closely her dreams connect with who we are as Destino: journeying with students to follow Jesus and fulfill their God-given destinies.

She was excited to get involved with Destino and find Latino community on campus.  Originally growing up in San Diego, most of her friends had been Latino. Now living in Minnesota, she knew there were lots of other Latino students, but she didn’t know them. She shared with me that she felt like the only Latina student in most of her classes.

Arianna was also excited about growing in her faith.  She had struggled with relationships in her life for years, jumping from one relationship to another to fill her needs but never feeling full.  She shared this openly with me, knowing it was not what she really wanted or what she “should” do.

Living in a very religious family, her mom told her that because of the ongoing sin in her life, she needed to stop going to confession at church until she got her life back in order.  Arianna was sitting in a hard spot – feeling judged, unfulfilled, and wanting more.

Arianna also believed that a loving God wouldn’t exclude anyone from Heaven. From the professors she listened to, books she read, and conclusions she had come to, all roads led to the same God. As we talked over multiple lunch and coffee dates, though, she wanted to know what I thought.

Relationships are hugely important in the Latino culture.  We call ourselves the Destino familia for a reason.  Since I took the time to build a relationship with her, spend time together, and share my life too, she put value in what I had to say.  God opened the door to share the Gospel with Arianna, and she was hungry.

She had never read much of the Bible before and had never heard about the cost of sin in Romans 6:23.  She never knew why Jesus had to die or that she needed to make a personal decision to accept Him as her Savior and Lord. God had prepared her heart, and when she read the verse where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6),” she exclaimed out loud, “I believe that is true!”

Arianna is our new sister in Christ and is already telling her family about her decision!  She’s engaging other Latino students at our Destino events on campus and is excited to be a light for Him.

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What is Your Destiny?

What is Your Destiny?

By Jhila Tercheria 

Cual es tu destino?

We chalked this question on the main thoroughfares of campus to advertise Destino at NC State University.  Little did I know the profound impact it would have. What is my Destiny? What is my path? Am I going in the right direction?  I bet if you counted how many times a day a college student thinks about their future, you would have to stop counting.   

A few nights ago, when I drove Alexis and Erin home from campus, I thought I’d throw out the question again.

“Do you guys think you have a destiny?”  

“Yes!” Alexis answered. “I think God has given me a special gift to be able to read others’ emotions. I just listen to people and I empathize with them almost as if it were me experiencing their story. As I pursue medicine, I know this is something God wants me to use to help heal people.  But more recently, I am intrigued by the spiritual side of this. I want to help heal people’s souls.”

“What about you Erin?” I asked.

“I know I have a Destiny,” came the voice from the back seat.  “I just don’t know what that is yet….”

As encouraging as it was to hear Alexis’s growing excitement for God’s path, I realized that more students were experiencing what Erin felt – uncertainty and not a strong grounding in their future with God.  We are so pumped that students are willing to share their desire, fears, and frustrations with us about their future.

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Beginnings

Beginnings

As Destino staff members Kai and Sarah stepped onto the LA City College campus, they were trusting God to begin a movement to reach the thousands of Latino students on that campus. Over half the students at LA City College are Latino.

The first day there they approached Melvin who was sitting on the quad after his art class. They asked him to do a spiritual interest survey and he agreed. As the survey concluded, Kai took the opportunity to share the gospel with Melvin and he put his faith in Christ. “I gave him a Bible and encouraged him to read a passage so we could talk about it the next day,” said Kai. They met the next day, the next week and every week for the rest of the year.

Although they don’t yet know enough students to launch a Destino movement at LA City College, they have been encouraged to see Melvin grow in his faith. “He’s been trained to share his faith with others and how to read the Bible and apply it to his life,” said Kai

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The Bulletin Board

The Bulletin Board

Ariana, a junior at Purdue University, had a great idea to put up a bulletin board in the Latino Cultural Center on campus. Ariana is trying to launch a Destino ministry on her campus and is looking for ways to engage with new students. The bulletin board would allow her to advertise Destino and gather information from those who might be interested.

A week later she returned to the LCC to gather the information. Instead she was met with disappointment. The LCC could no longer display bulletin boards for other groups and her bulletin board was empty.

¿Cuál es tu Destino? Give your answer to this question now at the Latino Cultural Center at Purdue!

A post shared by Destino @ Purdue (@destinoatpurdue) on

Ariana was discouraged and disappointed, but she did not give up. The next day she started a Destino at Purdue Instagram account. In just three days there were over 100 followers! God used this setback to push Ariana to think creatively about how to connect with students at Purdue. Now she has an even more powerful platform where she can post things to stir spiritual curiosity in others, promote Destino, and invite people into Christ-centered community.

“As Ariana and I celebrated what God has done this semester, she mentioned how she has seen the Lord grow her own faith as she has been leading Destino,” said Chelsea Hengeveld, a Destino staff member who is helping Ariana to launch the ministry from a distance. Although no Destino staff members work at Purdue, the two meet regularly over video chat. “She has stepped out in faith to meet new people, sacrificed her time and her finances to attend the Destino Winter Conference in order to be further equipped as a leader, and she has seen God use her gifts of creativity and art, while at the same time equipping her in her areas of weakness,” explained Chelsea.

Chelsea reminded Ariana of God’s promise in Isaiah 55, that His word will not return to Him empty but will accomplish the thing for which He sent it. Together the two of them continue to trust God to work in the lives of the 1,300 Hispanic and Latino students at Purdue.

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Conversations with Co-workers

Conversations with Co-workers

“I never thought God would use me at my job!” said Gladys.

While a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Gladys worked as the site leader for the after school program at nearby Northwest Elementary. “When I first started working, I took the job really serious,” said Gladys. “I wasn’t really trying to make friends.”

But in March, God changed Gladys’ focus. Gladys helps lead Destino at UTSA. She went with a group of students involved with Destino to Port Aransas, TX for Destino Break.

“She had the mindset of just wanting to have fun on the beach,” said Anthony, a Destino staff member at UTSA. “But by the second day she realized that God called her on this trip to reach people. We may not always want to or feel like doing things, but when God calls us we need listen.”

And as she spent her spring break sharing the gospel with other college students on the beach, she realized God was telling her she could be talking to her co-workers about Jesus in the same way.

The following week she returned to San Antonio and went out to lunch with her co-workers. She has continued to spend intentional time with them, helping them know more about God and the Bible.

Ricky, who shared he wasn’t into “religion or God things,” wasn’t initially open to what Gladys had to share. But in the last month Gladys was surprised when Ricky approached her to ask some questions about the Last Supper and Jesus dying on the cross.

Another of Gladys’ co-workers, Megan, has been really interested in talking about Jesus. The two text frequently now that Gladys has returned home for the summer. Megan plans to attend Texas A&M San Antonio in the fall, where Destino will launch a new ministry in August. Gladys introduced Megan to a Destino staff member there and she told Gladys she plans to attend.

“It feels so great to know that God can use me anywhere,” said Gladys. “I’m excited to keep sharing about Him at work.”

Posted by Destino Admin in Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments