Carrie and I grew up in different areas of Pennsylvania, and both became believers when we were about 12. We met in college, and helped to start the Cru movement there. We both joined staff with Cru in 2003, right after graduation — and got married the following year.
For 7 we worked together on college campuses in western Pennsylvania, then in the DC metro area. Campus ministry is exciting. We were able to watch students fully grasp the power and beauty of the Gospel – whether they were already following Jesus and finally grasping the depth of His calling or responding for the first time. We loved being a part of students becoming sold on the vision of taking the good news to their own piece of the world – those palaces as varied as pharmaceutical laboratories in Lancaster, PA; craft breweries in North Carolina; congressional offices on Capitol Hill; pulpits in Georgia; and classrooms from Erie, PA to Virginia to Seoul, South Korea.
In 2010 we were instructed by our leadership to spend a year in Orlando, working at Cru’s headquarters as part of a “working sabbatical” program. During that year, the Lord seemed to us to be clearly leading us to “stay” in Orlando.
Our “Ministry Philosophy”
From starting the Cru movement at our school, to helping to re-launch the DC metro campus team after 15 years, Carrie and I always seem to find ourselves a part of starting things, or exploring new possibilities in ministry. It’s not entirely surprising, in daily life, we love to try new things. I have a personal policy to always try the oddest-sounding item on any new menu. My dad used to joke that he never knew what to expect my facial hair whenever he saw me. When she’s working on a project, or cooking from a recipe, Carrie is heard often to say things that start with “Why can’t I just…?” – with varying degrees of success.
In ministry we enjoy problem-solving which often leads to new approaches to improve upon traditional methods. We both love unlikely possibilities and paradox, as we seem to find ourselves bumping the edges of the avoided and untried. As long as the Spirit permits, we’re willing to push boundaries of ‘usual’ and ‘normal’ to make it possible for more people to hear the Gospel.
We are not called to convince people, or convict people, or even to convert people to believing on Jesus; indeed, those are all the role of the Holy Spirit. We, like all believers, are called to live out 1 Peter 3:15-16:
…honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
As we follow Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do what we can to share the Gospel clearly, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His work in the hearts of the people we interact with.
What We’re Doing
Share the Gospel clearly, and equip others to do the same!
…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.2 Timothy 2:2
Azalea Park, Orlando, FL
Carrie provides the Whelpley household the air of hospitality, and the drive to reach our neighbors in Orlando’s Azalea Park neighborhood. She manages our household well, caring for our children – Fia, Cai & Xander, working hard to balance our household finances, and using her “Why can’t we just…? to make so many things that most households buy. Getting her hands dirty in the process gives her as much joy as the tastiness, beauty, or sheer economic benefit her creations bring.
In our neighborhood, she’s the cookie-bringer, good-question-asker and general friendly face that is passionate about caring for people, and sharing Jesus.
Cru & the Jesus Film Project
Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) was established by Bill & Vonette Bright in 1951 at UCLA. It’s the largest non-denominational missions organization in the world with 25,000 full time missionary staff and 225,000 trained volunteers. The Jesus Film Project began in 1979 with the release of the JESUS Film, a 2-hour docudrama adaptation of the Gospel of Luke. Our goal is, “to help share Jesus with everyone in his or her own heart language using media tools and movement building strategies.”
Jesus Film Media has taken the 66,000 videos and clips from 1,400+ languages and made them available on a platform allowing other ministries to use them all for free while making them available to all with an internet connection.
I am working as a designer, and a user experience specialist with Jesus Film Media. Even with a tool, product, or strategy that works, design choices can make the difference between it being noticed, embraced, and used well, and being entirely overlooked. Good design matters.
In December of 2014 – just before I stepped into this role – a single design choice was made on JesusFilmMedia.org that made the difference between our app being installed 350 times a day, and 150 times per day. When I realized what had happened we were able to correct the problem.
Design can be huge things, but good design is a based in attention to detail. An example of this is stairs. I have two illustrations.
The stairs at the 36th Street subway stop in Brooklyn had one stair that was less than 1/2″ difference from the rest of the stairs, which resulted in this:
One half of an inch doesn’t seem like much, even when the city sent workers to fix it, they had a hard time figuring out what precisely the problem was, but after evening the single stair out the problem was solved. On the other hand, medieval castles would regularly add uneven stairs to their stair cases to trip up invaders. The defending soldiers would stand just a few steps above the trip-step and strike when their enemy fell.
When I design I weigh the needs of our users, and the people they’re sharing with with the goals of our ministry. The user who is still somehow on Windows XP should be able to find what they need as easily as the missionary who comes to our site every day.
God has called us to work to bring the Gospel effectively into people’s lives and will continue to do that where, how and to whom He leads.