New Relationships with Jesus

The first few months of the school year are a busy and strategic time for our Destino staff and students! We celebrate that many students have begun new relationships with Jesus! Here’s three stories told by Destino staff members.

Lauren, University of Minnesota

Veronica (above left) is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, living in the dorms on campus. She filled out a contact card and our Destino team has gotten to meet with her. Her second appointment was with my teammate Abby, who brought along one of our student leaders, Lizeth (next to Veronica).

Lizeth and I have spent many hours together over the past year! From our first meeting after she filled out a contact card last fall, to helping her write her personal testimony, to sharing our faith together on campus, she has grown immensely in her walk with God.

In their meeting, Lizeth had the chance to share her testimony with Veronica and explain how God has used Destino in her life. As they talked, it became clear that Veronica wanted to hear more about how to know Jesus. Abby and Lizeth explained the gospel to Veronica, and she prayed to receive Christ that day! Right afterwards, she came to our Fiesta Friday and had the chance to meet our Destino familia. What an amazing answer to prayer -- for a new sister in Christ, for our student leaders to grow in their heart for evangelism, and for new students to be welcomed into our Destino community!

Daniel, Los Angeles South

During the first few weeks of the semester we promote Destino and approach hundreds of students, inviting them to be a part of our faith community and know Jesus. Richard (above right), one of our new interns, sensed the Holy Spirit leading him to approach a young man named Mario (above left). After talking for a bit, Richard invited him to a Bible study just a few hours later. As we finished the Bible study, I could tell Mario had more questions. As we processed the content, it was evident he was ready to commit more. “Eternal life begins with the decision to believe Jesus’ death on the cross pays for our sins and to invite Him to rule in our hearts, yielding to His leadership daily,” I shared. This resonated with Mario, he wanted this. So we prayed together and as Mario prayed so sincerely, we were confident in his salvation.

Lauren, University of Central Florida 

We had over 200 spiritual conversations the first week of campus! Pricilla was one of the students we met. She talked through a spiritual interest survey with my husband Kenny, and I called to follow up with her. She began to share her desire to get a master's in counseling, and I asked her what started that passion. She vulnerably shared about a painful past in which she had encountered abuse and saw her dad thrown in jail. It was a counselor at a domestic abuse shelter that had made a significant impact in her life. I asked how she felt about God after all she has been through, and was able to share my own testimony of struggling with God’s goodness in the midst of suffering. She told me that she believed in God and had seen him change people’s lives’, including her dad, who is now a strong Christian after God changed his life while he was in jail for dealing drugs in Colombia.

Pricilla understood the gospel intellectually, but negative experiences with judgmental Christians, on top of all the pain she’s been through, had made it hard for her to trust God or live for him. We talked through my process of surrendering my life to Christ and choosing to live for him. I asked her if that is something she wanted at this point in her life. We prayed together and she said yes!

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An Answer to Prayer

Last fall, Robert Lopez wanted to start a Christian club on campus. God put on his heart a desire to reach people at California State University Domingo Hills who didn't know about Jesus.

“I prayed to the Lord two things,” said Robert. “Firstly, I prayed that the Lord use me as His instrument and that everywhere I go and every breath I take would be for His glory. Secondly, I prayed that the Lord lead me to the right people who will support me.”

At the same time, the Los Angeles North Destino team was also praying. In a season of discouragement, they sought intercessory prayer. God led them to try and launch new Destino movements on campuses where Destino had no ministries. Then at CSU Domingo Hills, Destino staff member Kai Pottenger was introduced to Robert.

This was an answer to both their prayers.

The two began meeting together. That week they went out on campus and had the privilege of seeing another student begin a relationship with Christ. With Kai’s help, Robert launched Destino at Domingo Hills and the group became an official club in January of 2018 (some of the students are pictured above).

“The Lord has been bringing the students to the club,” explained Robert. “There’s a story of an atheist girl we met while sharing the gospel who believed that she came from stardust. We shared the gospel to her and she was the first person to attend our official meeting and has been going ever since. She has also invited her friends to our Bible studies.”

This past summer, Robert was taking classes at Cerritos College. “I have been speaking to students about God in that campus," said Robert, "and God has been leading me to maybe start something over there since I live nearby.”

In Destino our desire is that every student would have the opportunity to know about Jesus! We are so excited to help students like Robert launch Destino groups on their campuses. Would you take a minute to pray for the students at Domingo Hills as well as Cerritos College, that many would come to know Jesus and get connected to the Destino familia?

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Sent

In Destino we journey with students and faculty to follow Jesus and fulfill their God-given destiny. Our desire is to see people enter into relationship with Jesus, to help them grow in their faith, and to send them into the world to repeat this process!

Here’s a story from our Destino staff member Vanessa (pictured above in the center) who just saw two students sent into the world.

I began discipling Gaby (pictured to the right of Vanessa), from the University of Texas Health, San Antonio, in 2016 on a mission trip to North Africa. That summer I saw her immerse herself in a new culture, have spiritual conversations with Muslims, and return with a strong desire to lead a Bible study for nursing students. Gaby started a Bible study on her campus and saw the Lord transform their group into familia. “God is just so good,” Gaby recounted, “I never would have imagined myself leading a Bible study!” Gaby graduated Summa Cum Laude in May and began working at a hospital in Austin.

In September 2016, a couple of Destino staff members and I drove to Texas A&M University to teach Destino students how to share the gospel on campus. Amongst those students was Vanessa Maree (pictured left in the center). At the end of the training she received Christ and said she wanted to be discipled! Since then, she became president of Destino at A&M and has led the movement, cultivating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that has brought new students. I’ve enjoyed seeing her leadership and kind personality bring students to the familia of God. Vanessa Maree recently graduated and will be working as a medical scribe in San Antonio. The Lord brought her from death to abundant life in Christ and I am so grateful for her! God does amazing works in people’s lives.

It is a new school year, and we are trusting God to change the lives of many students like Gaby and Vanessa Maree. Please join us in praying!

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“It’s like coming home.”

In the Latino community, familia (family) is very important. Arianna, a student at the University of Minnesota, found Destino to be an extension of her familia. Here’s what she had to say:

“When I think of Destino, it’s like coming home. You’re with students who are also Latin American and you share the same similarities, something that we all relate to.

I really like that they [Destino students and staff members] don’t pressure you, they’re just willing to listen and they’re genuine and caring and allow you to be 100% comfortable in your own skin...I am able to tell them things that are going on without feeling judged. I definitely like the community that they’ve built because I feel welcomed and included.

Destino is a place where you’re gonna grow as a person, create strong relationships and learn more about God and how He works in your life without you knowing it. People listen to you and give a little bit of their insight about what the Bible says.

Being with Destino helped me a lot as far as building a relationship with God and realizing that with anything that I do, God is always by my side and I should never feel ashamed despite making mistakes.

Destino made my experience of Minnesota much better. They complemented my life and my journey, and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to be a part of it.”

Because Latino culture is so oriented around family, Rigo and Lauren Rodriguez, Destino staff in Minneapolis, have not just been able to minister to Arianna but her whole family. After meeting them at Arianna’s birthday party they’ve come to church with the Rodriguezes and spent time at their home. Rigo and Lauren are now people they call when they need prayer or a listening ear. God is using Destino staff like Rigo and Lauren not just in the lives’ of college students but the Latino community as a whole, helping them to know Jesus and walk with Him!

*Arianna's story was featured in an article about Destino on Cru Storylines. Click here to read the whole article.

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Destino Break 2018

“I don’t even know why I’m here,” said Jane. “I don’t really like the party scene, but all my friends are here so I came.” Jane, who was about to do Jell-O shots with her high school senior friends, was being honest. Like many on spring break, she didn’t know her purpose.

Destino staff members JD and Vanessa approached Jane on the shore of Port Aransas, Texas. They were part of a group of 33 Destino students and staff (pictured above) that spent their spring break much differently than Jane and her friends. On Destino Break, the group received training and went to the beach to start conversations about Jesus.

Vanessa and JD used a picture survey called Soularium to talk with Jane, Dillion and Alex. “As we heard about how these students gave into peer pressure and how they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, my heart sank,” said Vanessa. Just before they could share the gospel, Jane’s friends called them over to head out. As they left, JD gave them each a booklet called Knowing God Personally, which explains the gospel and provides an opportunity to receive Christ.

Although those three students didn’t receive Christ that day, some others did. Destino students shared the gospel with 18 people and three of those received Christ!

On the last day of Destino Break, five students decided to be baptized (pictured above). Jolene, a student from Northwest Vista College said, “I always thought baptism was something you had to earn. I thought I wasn’t worthy to be baptized. [But now I understand] God already claimed that I was worthy by sending His son to die for my sins. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Today through baptism I choose to identify myself with Jesus Christ.”

What a joy to see the Lord at work in the lives of many!

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Launching New Ministries

DU students Brendie, Stephanie, Isaac, and Rebeka at their first meeting.

“We are looking for people who love Jesus and want to tell others about him.”

A few weeks ago the Denver Destino team to helped launch Destino movements on two new campuses in Denver: the University of Denver (DU) and the Community College of Aurora (CCA).

After spending each morning in prayer, they approached over 300 students, asking them this question and sharing our vision to start a ministry on campus through the Latino community. Over that week they challenged 27 of these students to lead these new ministries. Starting Destino movements in new places stems from our desire that every student would have a place on their campus to learn about Jesus Christ, ask questions and grow.

Christy and Jessica, Destino staff members, stopped Brielle, Loresa and Shadia on their way out of math class. The three girls had become friends a few weeks before after meeting in their class and realizing they all shared a loved for Jesus. While they ate wraps and fries at the small campus cafeteria, Christy and Jessica explained our vision for Destino. They all expressed interest in coming once meetings begin.

Another from the group approached a student at DU. After a brief introduction she exclaimed, “I’m not interested, but my roommate would be! Let me connect you with her.” She told her roommate, Brendie, about Destino and Brendie called the Destino team. They were able to meet with her and ask her how she hopes to see God move at DU. She expressed, “I am a religious studies major, and I want to have conversations about my faith with other friends and classmates that aren’t Christians.”

The team jumped at the opportunity to meet again with Brendie and three other DU students who showed interest in leading Destino: Stephanie whose family is Belarusian, Rebeka whose family is Ethiopian, and Isaac who is Mexican-American. Rebeka reserved a room on campus, and the group shared their dreams for what they hope God would do at DU. They dreamed about having Bible studies for men and women, having a monthly familia dinner, and sharing their faith with friends and classmates. The Denver team trained them with a tool called “What Matters?” to equip them on how to start a spiritual conversation based on topics that matter to many people, and especially to Jesus.

We look forward to what God continues doing at DU and CCA!

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“Your will and not my own.”

Jerry was not happy. During the day of outreach at the Destino Winter Conference, most students go out into the community. But some are asked to stay back at the hotel to intentionally reach out to their friends and family through the internet.

Jerry wanted to go out into the community, but he was asked to stay back and do the digital outreach. Disappointed, he managed to pray, “God, move and use me today; let me do your will and not my own."

Jerry, pictured above, saw God do something unexpected.

After being trained in some of Destino's digital evangelism tools, God helped Jerry share what he was learning at the conference with friends and family back home. He ended up sharing the gospel with his best friend from childhood, Robert. Robert was deeply touched by the outreach video about how much Jesus loved him. Robert was amazed at how powerful God’s love was. Up to this point, Jerry had never been able to have this kind of conversation with his best friend, but he was overjoyed when Robert became a Christian that day! Praise God he uses us in new and unexpected ways when we surrender to his will!

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Destino Winter Conference

“I was terrified!” said Enya. “I’ve never told anyone about Jesus, so it was my first time.” The freshman from San Diego was at the Destino Winter Conference in Dallas in January. Saturday afternoon she and several other students messaged a video to their friends on Facebook with a gospel message, leading to 76 spiritual conversations. “Even though I hadn’t talked to my friend for years, it went really well. She was really thankful I shared the video with her.”

Students attending DWC receive instructions for an outreach in Arlington, TX.

That same afternoon, the rest of the students at DWC partnered with a local church to do Sunday school type programs in different neighborhoods around the city. They played games and taught them a Bible story and memory verse. This “Day of Faith” during the conference gave students a direct opportunity to learn how to share with others about Jesus Christ. Students started 136 conversations and eight people prayed to receive Christ that afternoon!

The three day conference was themed Uno—One God, One Body and One Mission—together in Christ. Students were also challenged by speakers, and participated in workshops, bilingual worship, prayer and familia times.

Conferences allow students to step away from the chaos of life and consider their lives in light of eternity. “I’m so glad I went,” said Hannah, another student from San Antonio. “The Lord worked in so many ways this weekend. I’m looking forward to taking back what I’ve learned from this conference and continuing to share the gospel and His love with others.”

Students post their burdens and blessings on a board during the final session of DWC.

On the last night of the conference, students were led to bring their struggles to God through a guided prayer time. They wrote down a burden and a blessing on a post-it note and brought it to the front of the room. They then put these notes on a board with a map of the world to show how God uses it all to reach the world for Christ.

We also experimented with a satellite conference in LA for students who couldn’t make it to the national conference. Over 30 participated!

If you'd like to experience or revisit this years' DWC you can  watch talks and others segments at youtube.com/destinomovement.

Lizeth Rios shared how Destino has impacted her life during one of the sessions at DWC.

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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.

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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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