This month's author interview is with Dave Dishman, who wrote the recently published book GO, Following Jesus to the Ends of the Earth.
Q. In what capacity do you currently serve with Cru?
I'm currently the National Innovation Director for Global Missions.
Q. What does your day-to-day experience look like?
I spend my time working with our Global Missions national team to develop new ways to help get more people involved in our mission around the world.
Q. What is the essence of GO?
GO is a collection of thoughts on our call as followers of Jesus to take the gospel to the world. In it I talk about what it means to go out, what things are involved in going and what might hinder us from going. It's really an encouragement to take the first step of leaving our home and engaging in the mission of introducing Jesus to the world.
Q. There have been other Great Commission-related materials written by Cru staff members through the years. What’s different or unique about GO?
Cru has been sending people to the world since it's inception and that has certainly influenced my thoughts on the subject. However, GO is unique in several ways. The book contains timeless principles in updated language. It's written in order to be read by this generation of younger people and with this in mind, it's organized in a blog style, with short entries on a variety of topics. The book overall is short and designed to be read in a few hours.
GO is focused on encouraging people to step out into missions. It's written as a prod, a stimulant, a hand in the small of the back that pushes you out to the world. Jesus quite clearly tells us to go. This book is an echo of that call.
Q. What was the most challenging part of writing GO?
I'm passionate about the topic and have been thinking about writing this book for a couple of years, so the initial writing was energizing and enjoyable. However, I'm not naturally a writer and this is my first book, so the challenges came in the editing process and re-working difficult areas to make the thoughts clear and meaningful.
Q. What was the most rewarding aspect of writing GO?
Most rewarding is knowing that as I put my thoughts on paper, in book form, these thoughts will be read by loads of people I'll never meet or speak to in person. This ability to influence followers of Jesus broadly towards missions is rewarding. Also, finally holding the physical book in my hands was an incredible feeling.
In 1992, I had my first formal opportunity to teach English through my denomination's church-based program in Japan. I learned from the missionaries how to use language classes to build authentic relationships and create a platform to share our lives and faith. We partnered with our Japanese sister churches to provide opportunities for non-Christians to attend English classes, which were typically followed by a five or ten minute "chapel message" given by a pastor or evangelist.
I taught 10-14 classes a week, with students from 5 to 70 years of age. In that year, I grew to love this amazing opportunity to use my native language to share God's love. I became burdened for my new friends to know the God who loves each of us and calls us to follow Him.
How did Eyes to See come about?
After I returned to NY in 1997, I began teaching at the Christian Embassy and was encouraged to pursue my Master's degree in TESOL. About that time, another curriculum using clips from the Jesus Film was produced which I tried with my students.
As I reflected on each lesson, I saw there was so much more potential for spiritual discussions with my students than the exercises included because these lessons were focused on beginners.
The idea to create another program, more in line with current language teaching methodologies that I could use with multilevel classes of well-educated adults, began to germinate.
When I first saw "The Story of Jesus through the Eyes of Children" video, I was drawn to the video and felt that it would be better to create a curriculum based on this version of the film because of how vocabulary and cultural understanding are woven into the plot line.
In 2003, I returned to Japan for three months to partner once again with the Sendai churches and work intensely on developing Eyes to See, Ears to Hear. It was an exciting time. As the Lord gave me ideas, I wrote and then tested pieces with my friends. Over the years, I've used it in classes of diplomat wives and have been encouraged by how the women have responded.
When I showed it to Janice G T Penner, a teacher educator and published author of ESL materials, she helped me make it more user-friendly for new teachers and strongly encouraged me to pursue publication so it could be used by other faith based programs.
How is Eyes to See, Ears to Hear different from other "ESL" materials?
There are several unique characteristics that distinguish Eyes to See, Ears to Hear from both secular and other Christian "ESL" materials. Being based on an entire film about the life of Jesus, it seeks to create a "question-friendly" environment for students. In addition to participating in communicative exercises common in secular texts, classes will have opportunities to explore the meaning of the various scenes they watch about Jesus.
Each five-minute segment is watched multiple times: the first time students watch to understand what is happening, after which vocabulary is reviewed; the second time, there is a specific listening task; the third time, students are assigned to groups to discuss a specific scene. Out of these discussions come great ideas and questions! In each unit, the reading section, taken from the New International Reader's Version of the Bible, is followed by questions which require students to apply the grammar concept studied; this creates a more comfortable environment for those who are not familiar with the Bible because it does not prematurely ask them to apply it to their lives.
Finally, each unit offers a "Taking it Home" exercise, encouraging students to share a specific story from the film with friends and elicit answers to specific questions. These exercises provide natural opportunities for students to practice their language skills while exploring the meaning of the Biblical story in the context of other important relationships.
What are some of the success stories you've experienced or heard from teaching this curriculum?
Each time I've taught a class using the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear curriculum, I've been amazed by the discussions and laughter. The students, volunteers, and I had so much fun discussing the various exercises! We learned from each other and got to know one another's cultures and interests on a deeper level. Christians in the class were encouraged because they were given tools (e.g. vocabulary and grammar) to talk about the most important thing in their lives. One lady from Southeast Asia learned that Jesus had come to save us from our sins; she believed that message and returned to her country with a joy and peace that overflowed!
Early in the process of trying to get "Eyes" published, I gave a copy to a foundation's leader who "accidentally" left it in his limousine when he got out at the airport. When the limo driver found it, he picked it up and started reading it. He was reminded of the Bible stories he had learned as a child and determined to return to church. A few months later, this man and his family were active members of their church!
As the writer of this curriculum, I was thrilled to see how my volunteers were able to use the curriculum when I was away. Although neither had experience teaching ESL beyond volunteering with my classes, they found it easy to use and were excited by the spiritual discussions that took place. Their enthusiasm was such an encouragement to me!
I pray that many other ministries will find Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Conversational English Curriculum to be a useful tool for introducing their non-native English speaking friends to Jesus.
(For more information on, to Look Inside, or to order the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Conversational English Curriculum click here.)
Where did the idea for the Katie Carlson Adventure Series come from?
A number of years ago God led me to write a serious book for couples about protecting your marriage. Then one day it occurred to me that since we flew a lot in our ministry work, I could productively use my time on airplanes by writing a fun, fiction book for kids. At the time, I reasoned that writing fiction didn’t require any resource or reference books like serious topics did (how wrong I was!), so it would be easy to do while flying.
Just a short time later, I was out riding my bicycle when the entire storyline came to mind for the kids’ book. I always carry paper and pen, because I get lots of ideas while biking, so I stopped and jotted it all down. Creating stories seems very natural for me, because I’ve always put myself to sleep at night by making up adventures. However, I really didn’t think it would come to anything, so I simply stuck it in a file.
When did you know that you wanted to write fiction for youth?
After getting the plot idea for the story, I didn’t think much more about it, because it seemed like God had directed me to continue teaching and speaking to women. But on our next flight, I typed out the first couple of chapters just for fun, then sent them to my brother who had three kids ranging from nine to twelve years old. He got really excited, because he saw how the book was teaching a Christian character quality. He and his wife had read tons of books to their children, and his comment was that so few books—even good stories—actually taught anything of value. So he really encouraged me to continue.
I haven’t read tons of children’s literature on purpose, because I want the Lord to direct me rather than merely imitating what is out there. The one series that has inspired me, though, is
C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
What do you hope to accomplish with this series?
This question gets me so pumped up! The original idea—to teach Christian character qualities while telling exciting adventure stories—hasn’t changed. But God has enlarged the scope
The Lord has led me to weave an entire discipleship process into the Katie Carlson Adventure Series! As far as I know, such a thing doesn’t exist in any other Christian fiction series for kids.
The Cru motto of Win, Build, Send is exactly what this entire series does. The first book explains how to know Christ personally in a very natural way as part of the story. Then book two follows up by explaining more about forgiveness. The next books successively teach the importance
of daily time in the Word and the trustworthiness of the Bible, the importance of Christian fellowship, the Spirit-filled life, how to share your faith in Christ, and how to stand firm in the midst of the world’s temptations. It’s an entire discipleship package, all woven within fun,
exciting stories that kids are eager to read!
Josh McDowell says, “If a child doesn’t accept Christ by age twelve, there’s only a four percent chance he or she will.” And George Barna adds, “What you believe by the time you are thirteen is what you will die believing.” So it is critical to reach our young people with the gospel and ground them in the foundations of Biblical faith in Jesus Christ.
We all know how desperately our society needs transforming. We yearn for a spiritual awakening and a return to Biblical values in our country. But I have to admit, I’ve had a hard time having the faith to believe that the adults in America are going to turn back to the Lord.
However, when I saw what the Lord was directing me to do with the Katie Carlson Adventure Series, I got so excited I couldn’t sleep! If we can grip the hearts of the youth and plant them firmly in the Lord, I believe the upcoming generation can be a huge part of transforming this country!
These books are also a wonderful tool for reaching non-Christian kids. As they are drawn into the story, they get the gospel presented in a totally non-threatening, natural way. Then as they want to continue following Katie and Zack, they’ll keep reading through the series, being discipled as they read. And the best way for kids to learn and remember is through stories—so this is a natural!
There will also be supplemental resources that go along with the series. For instance, Adventure
in Paris teaches the importance of daily time in the Word, so we will be offering a free download of a daily Bible study called 30 Days with God. It has daily readings, along with short explanations and applications. And woven into the Bible studies are vignettes of Katie and Zack learning these same truths, so kids will want to keep reading the Bible studies to see what Katie and Zack are talking about. I’m just so excited about the potential of all this, I can’t help using tons of exclamation points!
How did you decide to pick the locations for the first two books?
The first book, Adventure at Cassidy Ranch, is set in northern Colorado—not far from where Cru meets every other summer. I picked a location that was both very pretty, and very familiar.
But the actual ranch setting is based on Rancho Mission Viejo, a 22,000 acre working cattle ranch very near our home, where I was privileged to help exercise horses for several years. It’s far easier to describe a location you know well!
The location for Adventure in the Bahamas was chosen because the story is about hunting for sunken treasure, and upon research I discovered that most galleons went down around Florida and the Bahamas when they hit the area’s jagged reefs. Elbow Cay, specifically, was chosen for its charm and blend of British and Bahamian cultures… so of course we had to go there.
What are some of the future titles you have planned to appear in the series?
Book 3, Adventure in Paris, is coming out this Fall. I haven’t decided on the exact titles for Books 4 and 5 yet, but one is set in the wild west of Texas, and the other in New Zealand. They will be available in 2015. Books 6 and 7, a cruise around Italy and a fun story in Hollywood, will be available in 2016. Texas and horses go together like bread and butter, New Zealand is the outdoor adventure capital of the world, I love Italy, and of course you can’t beat Hollywood for a story that deals with temptations!
What kind of feedback have you received from readers or parents of readers of the first two books?
Honestly, Stottler and I have been overwhelmed by the response! The kids love these stories—not only the adventure and cliff-hanger chapter endings, but also the spiritual aspects.
Kids have an innate hunger for the Lord, so it meets that need in a very natural way within the context of the story. And since I’ve been putting Chapter One of the following book in the back of each story, the kids (and the adults) have been very eager for each successive book.
The funny thing is, adults seem to love the stories as much as the kids. I even have fathers coming up to me at church and whispering that they just finished the book and loved it, and want to know when the next one will be available.
And grandparents have been incredibly eager to purchase the books, because they have a strong desire to see their grandchildren grounded in Biblical truth. They have been a great market for these stories.
I can hardly wait to see what the Lord is going to do through the Katie Carlson Adventure Series. He has given us all sorts of huge ideas for expanding the impact in kids’ lives, like summer camps, school curriculums, board games, etc. So the adventure continues!
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With New Tract, Children Can Watch the Gospel Unfold Before Their Eyes
The children’s evangelistic tract “Have You Heard the Most Wonderful Story in the World?” is based on the classic Four Spiritual Laws booklet for teenagers and adults written by Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Cru. It includes an invitation for the child to receive Christ as Savior. It has a unique design, because as the Gospel presentation progresses from beginning to end, the tract unfolds from a size of 4 ¼ “ by 5 ½ “ to 11” by 17”. Sold in a pack of 25 tracts.
El tratado evangelístico “¿Alguna vez has escuchado La Historia Más Maravillosa del Mundo?” está basado en el folleto clásico Las Cuatro Leyes Espirituales escrito por el Dr. Bill Bright, el fundador de Campus Crusade for Christ. Incluye una invitación para que los niños acepten a Cristo como su Salvador. Tiene un diseño singular, porque a medida que se comparte el mensaje del evangelio, el tratado se desdobla de un tamaño de 4 ¼ por 5 ½ pulgadas a un tamaño de 11 por 17 pulgadas. Se vende en un paquete de 25 tratados.
Cru Store releases a brand new evangelistic tool for children: a coloring and activity book that presents the gospel in four easy-to-understand points.
Not all childhood evangelism has to involve multiple generations. When we think of sharing the Gospel with children, it's natural to assume the presence of an adult, who is going through some series of outline points, using words and Scripture verses, the meaning of which may be lost on the kids.
Think of the last time you went to a sit-down chain restaurant. If you took small children, more than likely, the hostess grabbed a menu for each child that served two purposes: to help the kids decide between chicken nuggets and corn dogs, and to keep the kids occupied during the time it took between sitting down and delivering the food to the table.
These restaurant chains print activities and coloring objects on the kids menus. The smarter ones use the activities to reinforce that particular restaurant's core products. Red Lobster's children's menus, for instance, features games, word problems, and coloring objects featuring sea creatures (most of them edible and available at their restaurant). The kids like to engage their siblings for a partner—or competitor—for the tic tac toe games. They sometimes even ask their parents for help in solving the cross word puzzles. This type of engagement not only helps keep the otherwise rambunctious kids in their seats during meal time, but it also serves to help create stickiness—the kids, at a young age, begin to learn that it's fun to eat at Red Lobster or Red Robin or whatever restaurant takes the time to engage them.
Jim & Barbara Grunseth - authors of Home to Home: Passing On Five Cornerstones of Christian Marriage talk about their heart for marriage ministry and share some fascinating stories of how their book has changed lives.
Q. What experience or process led you to write Home to Home?
Jim& Barbara- We saw so many engaged couples receiving inadequate coaching and training for their marriages. We also saw so many married couples not just struggling in their relationships but also slipping further and further into isolation. We’d had it with the epidemic of divorce! We wrote Home to Home so that couples, pastors, and home based small groups would have a very simple, concise, and affordable tool to:
➢ Build healthy, encouraging, accountable relationships.
➢ Instill 5 solid biblical Cornerstones so that marriages don’t just “go the distance” but flourish in oneness and purpose.
➢ We wanted couples to not just break out of isolation patterns, but to build life long friendships with other couples.
➢ We took the Lord’s Great Commission Command to “Go and make disciples of all nations” seriously. Couples who disciple or mentor other couples are passing on what has been entrusted to them. 2Timothy 2:2
Q. What do readers tell you that they’ve gotten out of reading the book?
Jim & Barbara- 95% of all the couples that we personally know who have completed the Home to Home 6 lesson process are still married and their hearts and homes are fixed on Christ. That statement speaks for itself. Couples have told us and written to us stating that they have never seen such simple, yet clear coaching principles based on eternal truth regarding their marriage. They also loved the encouraging, gracious friendships that were formed. They know that after going through Home to Home with just one couple or, say, 5 couples, they have friends they can call on or go to when life gets difficult and discouraging. They are so glad to know and understand such things as God’s amazing, unconditional love for them, God’s calling on their marriage, and His mission specifically designed for them. They have told us they now have a unified vision for why they are married. Most couples today have no idea why they are married.
Q. Any dramatic before-and-after couple stories from your years of counseling and/or using this book?
Jim & Barbara- Roughly 12 years ago, we began mentoring a young couple, Dan and Michelle, from our church. They had placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ a short time earlier. We grounded them in the Christian faith and went through Home to Home taking turns meeting at each others homes once a week for about a year. The trust between us became strong and our encouraging friendship, we know, will last a lifetime! They not only passed on the five Cornerstones of Christian marriage to another couple but He became the youngest Elder in our church. They took “be fruitful and multiply” seriously. They now have seven children!
Barbara- We had the great privilege of leading a small group of young married couples for 10 wonderful years. Occasionally one couple would move but then God would bring another couple in to replace them. We studied many topics but mostly we stuck to “keeping each other’s marriages” strong in the Lord and His Word. We went through Home to Home together. We learned and practiced what it meant to “look out for one another”. We were not so much the leaders but more simply hosts who helped “to keep the hockey puck in play” in terms of keeping open and honest discussion going. We modeled for them vulnerability and imperfection. We told them to never “get perfect” on us for if they did, we wouldn’t be able to relate to them. These 6 couples now have children of their own. We are friends with them for life.
Jim- We had one couple whose marital relationship was, by all human standards, dead. Karen’s sisters were all divorced. Her rebellious adult daughter begged her to “dump the drunk!” Tom was a slobbering alcoholic who tried many rehab programs but he always fell off the wagon and got drunk. Karen was in the process of leaving him when they came to see us. We earned their trust and began to deal with their “heart” issues. We helped them go to Jesus and His Word for help. Over time and with much immersion in God’s Word, they began to experience:
➢ Healing from their emotional wounds
➢ Grace and forgiveness from the Lord
➢ And the expression of mercy and compassion toward each other.
During one session, Tom broke down and cried. Amazingly, his formerly estranged and fed up wife gently reached up with her hand and tenderly wiped away his tears. In all my 30 years of ministry, I have never seen something of the Lord so beautiful! He is sober and they are serving back in their church. They are in love again!
Jim & Barbara- We trained one pastor, his wife, and 5 kids with Home to Home. He had fallen due to adultery. He stepped down from the pastorate. Through Home to Home and the accompanying Scriptures, God restored their marriage and family.
Jim & Barbara- We mentored Ross and Cindy with Home to Home and they passed these 5 Cornerstones on to another couple. He is a business owner who is led of the Lord and is now planting a new church. He is the new head pastor!
Q. What about Home to Home facilitates the “passing on” of the five Cornerstones? How transferable are each?
Jim & Barbara- The idea of Home to Home is simple. It is where 2 or more couples, engaged, or married meet together for at least 6 gatherings in one or more homes to build each other up, to laugh, to listen, to eat, to share from the heart God’s sure hope and plan for their marriage. Yes, one couple is usually the Host and the other couple(s) is/are the Guest(s). The guest couples are coached to eventually pass what they have learned on to other couples either one couple at a time or in a small group. The material is easy to use. Each person has their spiral bound book and it is designed to the guest couples know they are being groomed to become Host couples. There are specific Host Guidelines at the back.
Each of the 5 Cornerstones are fully transferable. They are passed on and entrusted to other couples much like the baton is passed carefully in a relay running race.
Q. Give three examples of real-life couples who’ve improved their marriages or have successfully mentored other couples using Home to Home.
Darla and Bill were mentored with Home to Home. They came to us at each other’s throats arguing and accusing each other. They were battling financial, physical and emotional struggles. The deep friendship that formed and God’s loving principles for their lives and marriage helped them to gain higher ground. They are doing well today.
Mark and Sandy were lay leaders in their church. Mark began having an affair with another lady. It looked like he was going to “bolt”…dump his wife and son and run off with his new flame. Through many difficult mentoring sessions, we took them through Home to Home. The pastors and others also helped. Mark finally repented of his sin and his wife forgave him. They are now serving in the church again in faithfulness.
Don and Anissa work for a Christian organization. She was sexually abused as a child and struggled also with a bi-polar type emotional disorder. We befriended them and fully excepted them with the grace and the mercy that only the Lord can give. In going through Home to Home, they caught the vision for how their marriage is really God’s smallest battle formation to advance the causes of Christ. I believe they began to pass Home to Home on to another couple. They are both doing well.
Authors and Books
Here you'll learn more about some Cru authors and the ministry materials they've created that are making a difference in the lives of real people.