changed lives

There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

Little Did I Know There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

“I thought I came to college to earn my degree and get a job. Little did I know that there were much bigger plans in store for me. All my life I believed in God and tried to lead a moral life most of the time, but I didn’t let God get involved in my life.

“When I came to New Mexico State University, I came open-minded. I wanted to discover things for myself. I got in touch with Destino. I experienced so much love from the people involved. They embraced me like a brother. I made up my mind that this was where I wanted to be. Since then I have discovered the power of the Word of God and just how drastically it can affect my life.

“I’ve been given the honor of serving within Destino, which has helped me grow as a leader and has humbled me. The Lord has given me a heart to serve students and to minister to them with the gospel. I now can see clearly that there is something greater to live for than success. It’s the battle for the hearts and souls of people all over this world. I know with all my heart that I want to serve God and do His work. I’ve discovered that I didn’t come to NMSU to merely get a degree and become an engineer, but also to discover the one and only true God in heaven.”

Little did Lucas, at 21, know that he’d be ministering the gospel of Christ to students long after his time in school was done. Today, Lucas and his wife, Christy, serve with Destino and are parents to Daniel.

Photo credit: Fraser Mummery.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Friends Becoming Sisters.

Friends Becoming Sisters.

While sipping her chai tea latte, Christy wasn’t surprised to look up and see two young Latinas walk into Corner Bakery instead of one. She and Laura had found a time to meet for lunch so they could get caught up on some challenging situations Laura was working through.

Christy also showed up knowing that Laura might not come alone. Through her years working with hispanic students, Christy, who’s married to a Latino, has embraced this warm culture that rarely does something, anything, alone. So it was this day, as Laura and her friend, Khrystal, sat down with Christy to eat together.

After listening to what was going on in Laura’s life, Christy shared that when she goes through difficult times, she has God with her to help her. Because Laura and Khrystal come from a traditional religious background, they easily chatted about how they’d been exposed to and taught about God since they were little. Laura was more involved in her church and youth group, while for Khrystal church was not a regular part of her family’s routine.

Even though Christy had come to encourage Laura, she knew she wanted to express to both of them the truth of how much God loved them, how Jesus died to reconnect them in relationship with God. He wanted to help Laura and Khrystal, through the power of His Spirit, to work through whatever might come into their lives. She asked if she could share the way the Bible describes how we can know God personally?

Both girls were open to discussing more. Christy explained that it’s not enough to know about God’s love, the reality of our sin and brokenness, and Christ’s death and resurrection. We have to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation. It’s an act of our will to place our faith in Christ alone.

Christy held out her pen to Laura and said, “Laura, I’m giving you my pen as a gift,” but then asked her, “So when do you actually possess this gift I’m offering you?”

Laura replied, “When I take it.” Laura and Khrystal admitted that they knew about God, but didn’t feel they had ever invited Christ into their lives to be their Lord and Savior. Christy asked them if they’d like to pray and invite Jesus to be just that.

Laura and Khrystal both said yes. So there in the Corner Bakery, with empty coffee mugs and lunch plates strewn about the table, Laura and Khrystal together prayed to Jesus, asking Him to forgive them and to come into their hearts and lives in a way He never had before. Two friends had become sisters in Christ.

Christy Lopez is on staff with Destino in New Mexico.

Photocredit: smuconlaw.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Outreach, 0 comments
Wanting a Change.

Wanting a Change.

“Hi, I go to FIU but I’m not a Christian, I do want to get involved and be more connected to God. Please contact me, thanks.”

God had been working in Andrea’s life. She was spiritually hungry and searching for a different way to live. Her email went to one of Destino’s leaders, Rachel, in Miami. A few days later, Rachel, and another student, Nicole, met with Andrea.

Andrea grew up with a faith tradition that she wasn’t practicing and wanted to know more about God. As the women opened up to one another, Rachel and Nicole shared God’s message of love and forgiveness with her, and she said it was something that interested her but had a lot of questions. They began to meet regularly for more conversation.

After a few more times, Andrea asked them how God could guide her life. They told her He needed to be in her life to be her guide. She also wondered how she could become a better person. Rachel replied, “The only way to become a better person is if God changes you. You need to ask Him to come into your life and make you the kind of person He wants you to be. Is that something you want to do?”

Andrea didn’t hesitate for a second. She was ready for His solutions and gave her life to Christ.

Over the next six weeks, Andrea eagerly learned more about what it means to walk with Christ. Not only that, she sought out community through a Bible study and weekly campus gatherings.

For a week, the students focused on looking for ways to share their faith stories. Andrea was nervous, yet trusted God to help her join in. She spoke with several people, and one guy came to the group as a result.

When God’s changing your life, and you see Him at work, you want to share it with others. That’s what Andrea’s experiencing as God uses her to influence other students.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Outreach, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
He wants you as you are.

He wants you as you are.

“Last year I went to Destino’s Fall Retreat for the first time. There I decided I wanted God to be my Lord and savior. I’d been thinking that I had to get my life together, but Jesus doesn’t want you to get your life perfect, He wants you as you are.

I realized no matter how hard I tried I’d never be perfect. Trying to become perfect before God is an impossible dream. God accepts us as we are, and then He does His work inside us. It was after this realization that I decided to give my life to Him.

At Fall Retreat 2015, Ruben shared the story of how his life was changed, and was ready to be baptized. Over the year he helped a Destino staff member lead a men’s Bible study.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Wendy’s Story

Wendy’s Story

A woman came to speak to my basketball team after practice one night in December. She talked about us being physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and that the best athletes are growing in all those areas.

My family went to church every week, but I wasn’t doing much about that side of my life. When I sat down with her later, she asked me what I thought would happen if I crossed the street and got hit by a car and died. I said I’d go to heaven because that’s what I’d heard in church. But that night, alone in my room, I wondered how can you know? What if, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t good enough?

I started to hang out with some Christians who seemed like they really knew God, like it made a difference in their day-to-day life. I learned that I could be sure about things like heaven and my purpose in life by having a one-to-one relationship with God.  

I’d always thought it was like a giant scale, if I did enough good things to outweigh the bad, I was “in” with Him. But they explained that no one is good enough, we’re all separated from a relationship with God.

The great news is that He didn’t leave us there; He loved me so much He sent Jesus as a GIFT to connect me back to God. “So that’s it!” I’d never really understood my need for Jesus (other than the occasional “Help me!”) or why people said they were saved—saved from what?! Suddenly I understood that I was saved from that separation and always trying to be good enough.

What a phenomenal Christmas present I received that year, when Jesus’ GIFT of forgiveness and new life became mine.

Wendy is on staff with Destino in Indiana.

Photo credit:  kris_mouser-brown.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Outreach, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Giving Up a “Good Thing.”

Giving Up a “Good Thing.”

One of our staff members, Silas, texted Jose to see if he’d like to meet over coffee or a Coke. Jose responded he’d like to meet.  From Jose’s answers on a Destino survey, you would assume that he was a Christ follower. When they found each other, they sat down to get to know one another before Silas asked, “On the survey, you indicated you wanted to know more about Destino. What about it is of interest to you?”

When asked questions about their answers, sometimes students get nervous. Jose, however, was the very opposite: “Honestly, I’ve been involved in Bible studies, went to a Christian school, and took a hermeneutics [that is, Bible interpretation] class. But I don’t get what Christianity is all about.”

As Silas listened to Jose, he could tell how sincerely Jose wanted to understand what others around him believe.“I know what the Bible says. I can tell you different things. But honestly, I just don’t get it,” he admitted.

They spent a lot of time talking together. Jose began to open up about his potential drinking problem. He found at first it was fun, however, now it’s unsatisfying. He admitted, “I just don’t get how some of my friends–when they became a Christian–gave up drinking. How could they give up something like that?”

Silas asked, “Well, what could make you give up an already good thing in your eyes?” Jose had no answer.

“Only something or SOMEONE that is far greater?” suggested Silas. What a great concept to consider! Destino offers students a place where they can discuss the questions they have about faith. We’re hoping Jose will continue his journey to consider how Jesus can be a great thing in his life!

 

Image Credit: Stefan Insam

 

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
When you hit a wall.

When you hit a wall.

What do you do when your best plans hit a brick wall? Nate’s default was to panic.

He and his wife Jess, both staff members with Destino in Texas, wanted to meet students from one particular dorm on their campus. They’d already met lots of freshmen earlier this semester. Yet, no one from that particular dorm seemed to want to know about Destino.

Add to that new campus policies that make it more difficult to expose dorm residents to what Destino has to offer. Nate felt a bit of panic. He and Jess knew only one course of action: prayer. With an existing student leader, they walked through the dorm, praying for God to open doors to meet students.

Then, Nate and another guy tossed around a football by the dorm. Within a few minutes they convinced one resident, Marco, to throw around with them. Then another, Alonzo, joined them.

Today, both Marco and Alonzo are involved with Destino and have re-dedicated their lives to Jesus, Alonzo’s two roommates, Ivan and Eric, also have surrendered their lives to Christ.

The dorm Bible study has swelled to 17 as Alonzo and Marco invited their friends to check it out. God had some miraculous connections ready in response to Nate and Jess’s prayer. He proves again and again that no human obstacle will stop His mission to bring His new life to those who seek Him.

 

Image Credit:  ok, shawna.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
A Calling to Lead

A Calling to Lead

Arielle and Jaymison are juniors at New Mexico State. While neither comes from a Latino family, they share a desire to see God use them as student leaders in Destino.

“I want to do as much as I can during college to serve God,” says Arielle. She and Jaymison are on the Student Leadership Team at NMSU. Together with local staff members, they’re helping to shape and guide Destino.

Jaymison explained his call: “I believe I have a calling to minister with Destino…I think Destino can be an incredible campus ministry that has much potential.”

Do you want to see God use you to reach your peers on campus?  You can get involved on your campus, or help get a new chapter started!

And don’t think your walk with God has to be perfect! Jaymison says, “God has been teaching me about doubt, that it’s not bad to have doubts….I’m learning there are ways to have doubts and still approach God with my insecurities.” The Lord loves when we take steps of faith, are available to Him and open to learning.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Outreach, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Remembered as a Spiritual Influencer

Remembered as a Spiritual Influencer

“I felt lost and overwhelmed,” admits Katrina as she describes her first quarter at UCLA. “I didn’t know anyone. I’d just go to class and go back and eat by myself and wait for the weekend to go home. But then I found Destino, and it all changed.”

Katrina is now involved in a women’s Bible study. She’s also spending time with a mentor, a woman who is staff with Destino in LA. Recently Katrina told Lauren about two of her friends who have been going to church with her. One of her friends, Sydney, works with her at the dorm front desk. Sydney grew up going to church but stopped when she got to UCLA.

 

“Someday, 10 years from now I’m going to remember you as the person
who helped bring me back to faith. You’re so on fire for God!”

God’s using Katrina to encourage her friend. Sydney told her, “Someday, 10 years from now I’m going to remember you as the person who helped bring me back to faith. You’re so on fire for God!”

Kimberly never thought she could be the type of person that influences others for Christ. But just by being herself and living out her faith, she is!

Who are the people around you that might be influenced positively as you live out your faith?

 

Image credit:  Bryan Jones.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
“We want to study the Bible!”

“We want to study the Bible!”

Julia grew up in a Spanish-speaking church, but since she started attending college at a predominately white university, she missed having a spiritual connection that felt like home. She had been involved with Cru for a few years, made friends and grew in her faith. But she noticed that among 600 students involved with Cru, there were virtually no other Latino/a students. She suspected that others felt similarly to her—they wanted a place on campus that felt like home. So she set out to launch Destino, Cru’s ministry among Latino students. She got connected to the Destino distance coaching team and got some ideas for getting started. The first week of classes, Julia met 34 Latino/a students interested in Destino, and 16 came to their first meeting!

|”So, um, what do y’all want to do?” Julia asked.
They replied, “We want to study the Bible!”

Caught off guard by the turnout, she asked, “So, um, what do y’all want to do?” They replied, “We want to study the Bible!” Students on college campuses want a relationship with God and to find meaning in their lives! Having a special outreach focused on engaging Latino/a students uncovered this thirst for truth and significance.

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.

Photo Credit:  Mark Grapengater

 

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, Outreach, 0 comments