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Recently a buddy of mine asked why I wrote my new book, This Change is Everything: The Hope and Future of Gospel Mission. I told him I wrote it because I’m blown away at how God has used young people to grow his church. Read below to see what I mean.

 

The story and theme of the Bible is very clear: God’s love for all nations and his love for the unique cultures he created. The Bible, and all of history, is also very clear when it comes to those who told the story. From the early days of the Bible through the present, we see example after example of God using young people to bless the nations.

A recent photo of students preparing to go to the world on a summer mission trip.

           A recent photo of students preparing to go to the world on a summer mission trip.

Here are some fascinating facts about the world changers we will look at in the book:

 

  • Some of the greatest leaders and missionaries in the Bible were young people.

 

  • Centuries ago, a shepherd boy named David, who happened to be about seventeen years old, destroyed the greatest warrior in the world. Why, exactly, did he do it? He did it, according to the Bible, to share with the world how great God is. This young man says he did it “to show the whole world that there is an extraordinary God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).

 

  • God used a young woman named Esther in the Bible to save an entire culture.

 

  • All but one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, those who eventually spread Christianity, were all young, likely teenagers, when he chose them.

 

  • God called a young man named Patrick at the age of twenty- two to share the story of Jesus in Ireland in the fifth century. The results are almost unbelievable as God used him to reach an entire generation.

 

  • The first missionaries sent from North America were all under twenty-three years old.

 

  • God called a student, a sophomore from Occidental College in Los Angeles, to share God’s story with Indians in southern Mexico. Within a decade he translated the Bible into their language, planted several churches, taught them how to read, and trained them in life-saving health measures.

 

  • The greatest athlete in Great Britain’s history gave up his sport to become a missionary. He took his friends to China and shared with people who had never heard 
of Jesus Christ. He was twenty-two years old.

 

  • A nineteen-year-old from the University of Minnesota dropped out of college, bought a one-way ticket to Colombia, and landed in the jungle without knowing anyone. Just
 a few years later, an entire tribe had heard of God’s love
for them, and several became missionaries themselves.

 

The bottom line is that God has used young people throughout the centuries to help others know God and to grow spiritually. book-3

 

This book is written with you in mind. God wants us all to be missionaries. He wants us to help others, even in cultures different from our own, to see and understand how he is working. I hope this book helps you on this journey.

 

The first half of this book will be spent diving into the history of young people’s amazing impact on world missions. The second half of the book dives into the main obstacles they face as they consider crossing cultures and sharing the reality of Jesus Christ with people around the world. Through it all you will see how God has indeed made you a world changer.

 

For more information on the book go here:

 

http://www.thischangeiseverything.com

 

Let me know what you think! 


I’m excited to release my book, This Change Is Everything: The Hope and Future of Gospel Mission. What’s the book about? Read below and you’ll get a good idea. 🙂 

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I recently heard from one of our students who is serving in the Middle East. She regularly meets with the president of the Muslim Student Association on one of the campuses there. Over the past semester they have become good friends and trust is being built.

 

This Muslim student said she has been having a “dream about the prophet Jesus visiting her.” Our missionary told her friend that it is very special that Jesus would visit her in a dream. The Muslim girl responded that it actually isn’t very special at all. It isn’t special because she has thirteen friends in the Muslim Student Association on campus who are have having the exact same dream.

 

It’s actually not unusual for a Muslim to experience Jesus through a dream. I’m so glad that this girl, who recently graduated from college, was there to help her new friend know the real Jesus. She literally helped her interpret her dream! This is just one of many stories I hear of how God is working through young people around the world. It’s awesome.

 

The worldwide spread of Christianity, in many ways, has been carried out by young people, especially college students or recent college graduates. We see this in the Bible and we see it in history. My book speaks of an amazing story, the storytellers, and the stumbling blocks.

 

THE STORY

 

In college, I studied Political Science (well, I at least went to lectures about it). I remember one of my professors lecturing on how the nations of the world were in constant change throughout history. New borders were created and new countries emerged. He would show maps of the world over time to demonstrate how countries have changed.

 

But when the Bible speaks of nations, it’s not referring to pictures on a map. “Nations” in scripture refers not to political lines, but to unique ethnic groups and languages. When God speaks of his desire to know the nations, he is speaking of knowing the unique cultures he has created. 

Students sharing their faith with others students while on an overseas mission trip

Students sharing their faith with others students while on an overseas mission trip

 

God introduces his love for the nations in Genesis. But his love for the nations, and his desire to know and be known by all cultures, is repeated throughout the entire Bible. From start to finish, this story is everywhere in the Bible. The main story of the Bible, its theme, is about spreading knowledge of God to all people in every nation and in every language. Bob Sjogren, in his book Unveiled at Last, calls this storyline “a unifying thematic backbone permeating God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation.”

 

THE STORYTELLERS

 

The story of the Bible is very clear: God’s love for all nations and his love for the unique cultures he created. The Bible, and all of history, is also very clear when it comes to those who told the story. From the early days of the Bible through the present, we see example after example of God using young people to bless the nations.

 

Here are some fascinating facts about the world changers we will look at in the book:

 

* Centuries ago, a shepherd boy named David, who happened to be about seventeen years old, destroyed the greatest warrior in the world. Why, exactly, did he do it? He did it, according to the Bible, to share with the world how great God is. This young man says he did it “to show the whole world that there is an extraordinary God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).

book-3

* God used a young woman named Esther in the Bible to save an entire culture.

 

* All but one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, those who eventually spread Christianity, were all young, likely teenagers, when he chose them.

 

* God called a young man named Patrick at the age of twenty- two to share the story of Jesus in Ireland in the fifth century. The results are almost unbelievable as God used him to reach an entire generation.

 

* The first missionaries sent from North America were all under twenty-three years old.

 

* God called a young man, a sophomore from Occidental College in Los Angeles, to share God’s story with Indians in southern Mexico. Within a decade he translated the Bible into their language, planted several churches, taught them how to read, and trained them in life-saving health measures.

 

* The greatest athlete in Great Britain’s history gave up his sport to become a missionary. He took his friends to China and shared with people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. He was twenty-two years old.

 

* A nineteen-year-old from the University of Minnesota dropped out of college, bought a one-way ticket to Colombia, and landed in the jungle without knowing anyone. Just 
a few years later, an entire tribe had heard of God’s love
 for them, and several became missionaries themselves.

 

THE STUMBLING BLOCKS

 

The story of the Bible is remarkable. There is a reason why it is referred to as the good news. The fact that God created us, and desires to know us, is good news! The good news is that Jesus died for our sins and was raised back to life so that we might live with him forever.

 

I love to help people understand that God has called young people throughout history to share this story, to tell the good news. Over the past twenty-five years,
 I have seen consistent stumbling blocks young people encounter as they consider telling God’s story here at home or overseas in missions—many are the very same obstacles I faced when I was that age, when I was considering how I could help share God’s story. The second half of the book will look in more detail at the four main stumbling blocks young people face as they consider telling God’s story to their friends and to the nations.book-4

 

HIP HOP FOR JESUS IN TOKYO

 

Ten years ago, a girl I know, Michelle, went to Japan for a year to work with college students as a missionary. After training, and with an open heart, she began to make friends with students on
 campus in Tokyo. She noticed that Japanese students really love their music; they love hip-hop and dancing. So Michelle did something I would never have done in a million years: she started a hip-hop dance club.

 

A few times a week Michelle would gather her new friends and they would dance. Michelle would teach, they would practice together, and then go out to eat. After a month or so, a student in the club, Yukina, asked Michelle why exactly she was in Tokyo that year. She said, “I am here to help students like you understand God’s love for them. He has changed my life, and he can change yours too.”

 

Fast-forward ten months. Yukina had become a follower of Jesus through her friendship with Michelle. Yukina eventually led her sister and her parents into a relationship with God. The next summer they were baptized as a family. Lives were changed as they heard and understood the story that is so consistent through the Bible—God’s heart for the nations.

 

God wants you to be a major player in his story. He wants to use you to be a blessing to the nations, and to those around you, as Michelle was to Yukina and her family in Japan.

 

This book is written with you in mind. God wants you to understand his story, and his love for the nations and cultures he has created. Many of these nations live right here in your own dorm, neighborhood, or school.

 

But be warned, as you come to understand God’s heart for the world, your heart will grow as well. You will become a world-changer.

 

For more information or to purchase the book go to Amazon or:

 

www.thischangeiseverything.com


I remember the first time I was overseas on an international summer mission. Our small team of students from various universities in California saw a dozen students become Christians. Bible studies (spiritual movements) were launched on 3 universities, and we were able to empower young leaders to make a difference on their own campuses. It really was a powerful summer of seeing God change lives.

This team from Miami of Ohio University just left for Montenegro.

 This team from Miami of Ohio University just left  for Montenegro.

 

This month we are sending the first wave of our summer mission teams around the world. Over 3,100 students will be sharing their faith both here in the U.S. and overseas.

 

You are the light of the world - Jesus Christ

     You are the light of the world – Jesus Christ

There will be much storytelling happening throughout the summer as these students share how God has changed their lives. John Piper calls this “the most shareable message in the world.”

 

These young people are going so the nations would hear and respond to the glory of God. As is written in Psalms 67:3-4, “Let the nations praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!”

 

 

Imagine the joy people will experience as they hear about how they can experience a relationship with the living God. Forgiveness, purpose in life, healing in relationships, eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are just some of what people will experience this summer as they hear about Jesus.

Our teams from the Upper Mid-West.

        Our teams from the Upper Mid-West

Our team in Uruguay

                       Our team in Uruguay

They will no doubt “be glad and sing for joy.” I can’t wait to hear how God works.

 

For those of you who are heading out to share your life and faith, thank you so much for going.

 

Know that I and many others are praying for you!


“Go Shane, GO! Come on Seb, just drop in!” – Solana Beach, California. Spring 1989.

 

IMG_3930

I had mucho fun on this surf trip to El Salvador a few years ago.

As my friend encouraged me I paddled hard for a three-foot swell, probably closed my eyes while doing so, and stood up on my first wave.

 

It was unreal. As I awkwardly got to me feet I knew I had the bug.

 

I was hooked. I surfed until well after the sun went down that day. As I changed out of my wetsuit I knew that I had the bug. I had been bitten. I decided right then and there that I was a surfer.

 

Just a few days ago, as I surfed fun three to four foot surf here in Central Florida – and twenty-six years after that first wave – I still have that same bug. As I was drying off (no need for a wetsuit with the 77 degree water!) I kept thinking of how spending time in the ocean riding waves has influenced my life.

 

On an earthly level surfing definitely impacts where I think about vacationing (thanks to wife Laura for putting up with this for over 20 years), and how I spend any free time I have. As any other hobby does, surfing can dictate finances (boards and wetsuits cost money, unfortunately).

 

But riding waves has also influenced me profoundly on a spiritual level. Surfing has deepened my relationships as I have bonded with many close friends on surf trips to Central America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. I also have made new, and life-long friends, in the water. Surfing helps connect me with others, which is something God cares about very deeply. The Bible calls this fellowship.

I love talking about God with my boys during and after a fun surf!

I love talking about God with my boys during and after a fun surf!

 

There are two obvious observations I can make after all these years of chasing swells.

 

  1. Becoming a surfer is easy, but becoming a good surfer can be very challenging.

 

  1. Surfing brings joy and fulfillment, but this joy and fulfillment is temporary.

 

Again, deciding to be a surfer is easy and it really can bring joy and fulfillment.

 

Kind of like following Jesus Christ and growing in a relationship with Him.

 

It’s easy to decide to become a surfer (if you live near the beach!). It’s also easy to become a Christian.

 

Surfing brings temporary joy and fulfillment. Christianity and walking with God also brings joy and fulfillment, but unlike surfing it’s permanent.

 

It really amazes me how simple God has made it for us to know Him, to have a relationship with Him. We don’t work for it. We decide to follow Jesus, to give our lives to Him, and boom! Just like that we are accepted as a child of the creator of the universe.

 

But how do we decide? How is that so easy?

Of course He was...

Of course He was…

 

One night a few years ago I spoke with my friend Mike about what it means to have a personal relationship with God. Mike was having a hard time, and I simply asked him if I could share with him how knowing God helps me when life is hard.

 

I was clear that knowing God does not make life easier. Knowing God may not create the easy life but it no doubt gives one a purposeful and fulfilling life. At the end of our conversation, Mike right there during dinner, prayed with me and became a follower of Jesus.

 

Here’s what I shared with Mike, and what I want to share with you:

 

God loves you and wants to walk through life with you.

 

I told Mike the Bible is very clear that God created men and women to know and grow in him. Through a relationship with him we can experience his love that lasts forever.

 

I read a few Bible passages with him where Jesus speaks to this, John 10:10 and John 3:16:

 

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Son Curren dropping in.

“I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

My friend was tracking with me at this point. So we moved to the second point.

 

Every man, woman, and child is imperfect. Because of our imperfection, our sin, we cannot know and experience God’s love.

 

The Bible is also very clear that we are born into sin. We talked about what that word actually means: sin. Sin simply is “to miss the mark.” The mark is God’s perfection, which we are all guilty of missing (just ask my wife and kids, there are plenty of times when I am missing the mark!).

 

The book of Romans speaks to this: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23) A few chapters later scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (6:23)

 

Mike was tracking with me and said he understood so far. So I continued.

 

Jesus Christ is the provision for our imperfection, for our sin. Through him we can know and experience God’s love and purpose for our lives.

 

It’s not really fun talking about sin. But this is where the good news comes in! The Bible speaks over and over again that God has provided us a way to overcome our sin, to be forgiven, and to experience his love.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

 

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (also note 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 and the resurrection of Jesus)

 

God knows we can’t overcome sin on our own. This is why he sent his son Jesus. Mike said he couldn’t remember hearing about God in this way before. I told him there was one more important point to understand.

More than anything in life I want my family and friends to understand how they can know and grow in a relationship with God.

More than anything in life I want my family and friends to understand how they can know and grow in a relationship with God.

 

To know God personally and experience his purpose in our lives, we must receive Jesus into our lives as our Savior and Lord.

 

I shared a few verses with Mike that are important when understanding what it means to begin a relationship with God:

 

“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) We don’t come to know God by being good people, or striving and working as hard as we can. We come to know God through belief and faith in Him.

 

I also wanted Mike to understand the term “grace.” In Ephesians 2:8-9 the Bible speaks of this mind-blowing truth about God, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that no one should boast.”

 

Coming into a personal relationship with God is all about grace. Grace is a free gift. Grace is something we receive for free. Grace is unearned. Grace is unmerited favor. In other words there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor, it is by accepting his grace that brings us to him.

 

Jesus says in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him.” (3:20)

 

I asked Mike what Jesus was referring to when he speaks of a “door.” He looked at me and said, “Um, I think he is probably talking about the door to my heart or my life.”

 

I then asked Mike, “Okay, well, would you want to open the door and give him your life today?”

 

He said, “Yes, I believe this. I want to do this. But…now? In this restaurant?”

 

I said, “Sure buddy, no better place than right here and right now.”

 

He said, “Okay, what do I do?”

 

I then showed him a prayer of commitment that he prayed with me, a prayer giving his life to Jesus, a prayer asking for forgiveness, a prayer beginning a relationship with God.

 

This is the prayer I led him in over dinner that night. This is a prayer you can pray right now. Or perhaps this is a prayer you can lead a friend in at a later time.

 

“God, I need you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my heart and my life and I receive you right now as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me a purposeful and eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.”

 

By praying this prayer, and beginning a relationship with God we are assured of a personal relationship with the living God. This is how we become children of God, friends of God, followers of God. It’s really that easy.

Getting some prayer time before paddling out for my heat.

Getting some prayer time before paddling out for my heat.

 

Becoming a Christian is easy (like deciding to become a surfer), but living out the Christian life can be challenging for sure. Start by accepting Christ into your life and ask him to help you live a life that honors him. Here is a great site to point you towards this growth:

https://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god.html

 

Okay, I’m gonna go get some waves. See you in the water. 🙂

 

 

 

P.S. Please respond on this page or email me with any question or thoughts! Shane.sebastian@cru.org


I was surfing with a friend in Cocoa Beach earlier this week and the topic of my job came up. As we waited for a wave I was asked more about what I do and why I do it.

Taken last week in a contest - son David smashing the lip!

Taken last week in a contest – son David smashing the lip!

 

My friend took off on a wave – a good one actually – and I thought of the answer to his question. The bottom line is that I do what I do because Jesus changed my life back when I was in college. The college years are such an incredible time for a young person to grow spiritually, and to prepare for a lifetime of walking with God and pointing others to Him.

 

I thought of several stories of how God is at work around the world in the lives of young people, especially college students. Take a read and be encouraged!

 

God at Work in Ethiopia

 

Even though Ethiopian students were still on Winter Break, God recently arranged that Blake would meet Abel, an Ethiopian student, through a friend of a friend. Abel was curious about why Blake (a young missionary from here) was in Ethiopia, so Blake explained that he works with students and teaches about the Bible. Abel quickly replied, “Really? I could use you! I came here with my friend today because I want to know about Jesus.”

Just a few of the countries our young missionaries are serving hard in.

Ethiopia is just one country in Africa where we are seeing God work in and through college students.

 

Abel had recently attended a Protestant church and noticed something there that felt different from his own spiritual background. He began asking his friends questions, desiring to follow Jesus but not knowing how to do so. Blake was able to explain the gospel to Abel, and Abel chose to receive Christ and become a Christian with Blake right then!

 

Blake met with Abel several times over the next couple of days to help him grow in his new relationship with God, and just four days after he received Christ, Abel called Blake to share some amazing news. “Hi Blake, I’ve talked to two more people today and they’ve decided to join our religion, too. They want to meet with you to learn more.” The semester hasn’t even started and God brought Abel to know him, and then used him to bring two more people into the kingdom!

 

God at Work in South East Asia

 

Only God knows the impact a single relationship can have. Deba, a young student is continuing to grow in his faith. At the beginning of March, we helped send out 4 mission trip teams to reach various villages on the outskirts of the city.

Of the 50 students being sent out, Deba was one of them.  Intentionally, he and his team were sent to his own hometown, a type of suburb-village hybrid that was just a 2-hour train ride north of the city.  This is a town where the word “Jesus” is literally an unknown word.IMG_1169

 

In that one week they shared their faith with 97 students, and saw 59 students pray to receive Christ that were from local college campuses. Of those who received Christ, 4 took the step to be leaders on their campus by starting Bible Studies/fellowships.

At one of the few churches in the area, which was home to maybe 20 people, the team led the Sunday service with music, testimonies, and a message. They had a HUGE turnout and they said it seemed like a church revival moment!

 

God at Work in Latin America

 

A group of 7 students from 5 different cities in Colombia were challenged to leave for 90 days for Nicaragua, a country that none of them had ever been to, to trust the Lord with His plans to see how He could use them. And He did just that. These students had plans to start Bible studies on the main university in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. God had other plans. BIG plans.

Daughter Kirra and her team on their way to Latin America last month.

Daughter Kirra and her team on their way to Latin America last month to share with high school students. Sorry, didn’t have any pictures of Managua!

 

God continued to open door after door and in just 3 months, this group of students PLUS 39 new Nicaraguan student leaders started Student-Led Bible studies on 5 different campuses, both public and private all throughout Nicaragua (not just in Managua).

Talk about a 5 fish and 2 loaves kind of story! They were also able to share the saving message of the Gospel with more than 200 students during their time. I know they will leave changed forever. They were available and God multiplied their efforts.

 

I could share several more stories from around the world of how God is at work in the lives of young people. But I’ll save those for another post in a week or two.

 

I hope you are encouraged at how God is working in the lives of young people around the world! For more information on how you can join these students overseas go here:

 https://www.cru.org/opportunities/mission-trips/upcoming.html