Nick grew up in a strong Christian family. He has an older brother (Tyler, class of 2009), older sister (Becca, class of 2010) and one younger brother (Micah, class of 2018). He shared how two major events helped shape his faith during his time as a student at SFC. The first was during 6th grade in the fall of 2006. Nick’s father, Bruce Rens, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “When my dad got sick it was kind of a testing point. Do I actually believe this? I’m not sure where I would’ve ended up without trusting God throughout that,” Nick remembers. “Seems like a long time ago at this point, but I definitely remember the teachers back then were very supportive and understanding of what I was going through. In general, school helped take my mind off what was going on.”
Three years after his dad passed, Nick’s mom was struggling with severe back pain. After major surgery she had a very long recovery that included extended absences from the family. “That was a really hard time but also the closest thing I’ve seen to a miracle.” Nick reflected as he talked about his mom’s recovery. “That was an awesome answer to prayer for sure.”
The last two years of high school he was involved with the chapel worship team. He played bass. “That was a really fun experience and I definitely enjoyed doing that,” Nick said. “Getting to see what goes into preparing worship definitely made me appreciate the worship time of church and other events a lot more.”
After high school Nick decided to enroll at the University of North Dakota for a two year program in commercial aviation. “Not really sure where that idea came from, but I thought if I’m supposed to be doing something, flying a plane sounded pretty fun.” Nick said. After the first year it wasn’t as big of a passion as he had thought. He decided to look into other degrees. He took an Intro class in computers and immediately he was hooked. Nick ended up changing his major to computer science.
During his first year at UND, Nick was aware of CRU and their presence on college campuses. He had known some people from church who had been involved. CRU had weekly meetings that were open to anyone on campus. They would have a short worship time, ice breaking games, and then a message from a speaker. They also put on special events throughout the year. He decided to check them out and see if he would “fit” into “CRU’s community”. Nick ended up getting involved through a dorm Bible study that was held once a week.
CRU helped Nick connect with many good people. Being in a totally new environment, around non Christians who seemed “slightly oppositional” to religion, was a challenge. “Having that kind of Christian community was an awesome thing to have. I didn’t understand the importance until I was in the situation where it (Christian community) wasn’t around.”
After two years at UND he decided to transfer to Dakota State University. It was strong in computer science, closer to home, and cheaper. Nick continued to look for opportunities to get “plugged in” on campus and once again became involved with CRU. Instead of just going to the meetings, he began helping to plan them. One of the CRU staff leaders actually encouraged Nick to start working for them full time. “It was definitely something that I was interested in. I really appreciated their work but I was a little torn between doing missions work and using my computer science degree,” Nick remembers. The leader suggested that there were programs at CRU’s headquarters where Nick could do both! “I would actually be able to use those skills that I’ve gotten through my degree, with CRU.” Nick said.
Nick thought and prayed about it. He had to make a decision by January of 2018. “It sounded like a very unique opportunity. Usually when you think of missions work you think of the people out in the field but not about the people behind the scenes helping to get that done.” Nick says the most challenging part of his decision was the uncertainty of raising the support. He had to have all of his support raised by August 1st. That meant a very busy spring and summer of phone calls and home visits to share about his mission. Nick also spent some time taking classes on Christian doctrine.
In August of 2018, Nick Rens moved to Orlando Florida to start his new full-time position with CRU. Being from the Midwest, He’s really looking forward to living in a different community and adapting to his new surroundings. Nick will be working with the digital services group in the web design area. He will be helping to support their web applications that field staff members use for outreach. These applications help staff keep track of their contacts, ministry partners, and track their support. “There’s a fair amount of code that goes into maintaining those and I’ll be helping to upgrade them and keep them running smoothly.” Nick has committed for one year and hopefully he will be able to join full time staff after that. Nick also plans to partner with one of the mission outreaches in Orlando. Once a week he will be doing actual field missions work at Lake Nona High School in Orlando. “It was super encouraging to be able to use my degree and advance the gospel at the same time.”