The Irby e-Blurb

Christ exalted on every stage.

 Outreach   :   Worship   :   Training

Poland...a story years in the making

In the early 90s, a young youth leader named Rich took a group of kids to see “The Convertibles,” a 50’s rock cover band that used music and a fun performance to share the gospel. They loved it, and Rich was amazed when ten of the kids he brought put their faith in Jesus that night

Rich was inspired to start a missions organization called “Next Generation Mission,” mobilizing students on trips to Jamaica to share the gospel through service and music.

Years later, Rich and his wife traveled to Poland to explore her family heritage. When the clerk at the records office saw her information, he got a strange look on his face and disappeared to get his superior. It turned out she was the last remaining descendent in a line of the royal family that they thought had died out, the von Promnitz family.

The Polish government had recently sold the family property and they wanted to know what they could do to make it up to Rich and his wife. They told the officials all they wanted was the freedom to bring groups to Poland to share the gospel through music. And the Polish government agreed! 

Over the last several years, the long and storied history of the von Promnitz family, along with the Polish people’s love of music, has opened doors for the gospel through cultural centers, churches and cathedrals, schools, town centers, and more.

This August, I (Seth) will get a chance to continue the story by going to Poland to do outreach concerts with my band, The Gap Theory. This is the second band our ministry has sent to work with Rich. The first was a great success and we look forward to this partnership growing. 

One cool part of the story is that “The Convertibles,” the band Rich took his youth group to see so many years ago, was one of our Cru bands! 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our ministry. We so appreciate you! Please pray for many to hear the gospel and respond through our concerts and for Laura and the kids while I’m away. This trip will cost around $3000 beyond our normal support. If you feel led to give a special one-time gift to help me take the gospel to Poland, you can give online at or mail us a check made payable to “Cru”. Email or call me if you have any questions. Thank you!

Christian Mission to Gaza    Pastor Hanna Massad

Dear friend,  #Gaza is dead

That’s one of the social media messages coming from my home city. It is a troubling illustration of the hopelessness people feel. And no wonder. Fifty-five thousand government workers have not been paid since March. Forty-five thousand more receive less than half of their salaries every 40 days. One hundred thousand workers are unable to support their families, affecting as many as 700,000 people. More than half of the people in Gaza live below the poverty line. At the same time, electricity is available only a few hours a day, tap water is unsafe to drink, the Mediterranean shoreline is contaminated, and Gaza residents are completely dependent upon humanitarian aid.

In the past two days, Christian Mission to Gaza, through the only evangelical church in Gaza, distributed nearly $7,000 worth of coupons to 120 desperate families, providing them with staples like milk, rice, cooking oil, cheese and beans, along with materials to help them keep their homes clean. And we hope to help more. But the suffering families in Gaza are not the only ones God has entrusted to us.

ISIS victims continue to suffer, despite boast of its demise.

A US Department of Defense headline today read:Evidence of Normal Life Returns to Iraq, Syria, After ‘Caliphate’ Defeat. At the same time, the United Arab Emirates has pledged $50.4 million to rebuild a mosque in Mosul. In Amman, however, there is little relief for families who were left homeless and hopeless by the terrorists. The evening of October 31, 2010, Samuel, his wife Rita, and their infant son Samuel were worshiping at the Sayidat al-Nejat (Our Lady of Deliverance) Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad when six ISIS terrorists entered and began shooting. Samuel managed to get his family to a room with some other families where they hid for what seemed an eternity. During that time, militants threw bombs into the room, killing one person. Another lost both arms. Fifty-eight worshipers, priests, policemen and bystanders were killed, and 78 more were wounded or maimed. The terrorists detonated their explosive vests when Iraqi commandos stormed the church five hours later. Before they could leave, Rita had to convince the Iraqis that she was two months pregnant. They thought she was wearing an explosive vest. Fortunately, when she went to the hospital, she was told that her baby, Frank, was safe and healthy. Rita still suffers from PTSD. Four years later, her father was targeted by Islamic militants because he owned a liquor store. One day, while her father, brother and uncle were driving, militants pulled alongside and opened fire, killing her father and injuring her brother and uncle. Samuel was supposed to be with them, but God preserved him. Again, her family was persecuted by militants and beaten. When local police arrested them, they thought her family had turned them in. “If you don’t withdraw the case,” read a message written in blood on their wall, “we will kill you!” Samuel and his family have been in Jordan for the past eight months. His son Samuel, now nine, hasn’t been able to attend school in two years. Frank (7) has never been to school. Samuel is in much pain and needs back surgery, but he cannot afford it. The family tried to emigrate to Australia but were denied.

Another family—father, mother, uncle, daughter and two sons—were targeted by kidnappers. The kidnappers took the father and uncle, warning for them to leave. When the family ignored the warning, masked gunmen returned, breaking in their home at 2 am, robbing the family and demanding again that they get out of Iraq. The family moved but remained in the country. After the militants returned a third time and robbed them, they sold the few pieces of furniture they had left and fled to Jordan. Their daughter had been studying to become a doctor. But she doesn’t know now whether that dream will ever come true.

On behalf of your suffering brothers and sisters in Gaza and the Iraqi and Syrian refugee families in Amman, thank you for your prayers and sacrificial financial support. And if you can share a special gift today, it would be deeply appreciated.

 May God bless you abundantly, along with all those you love.

 Hanna Massad


10 Headlines That Kept Us Busy For The Last 3 Months 

1. Indy Student Worship Band Takes Their “Show” On The Road!

We auditioned and trained a student worship band for the Cru Winter Conference in Indianapolis for the second time this past December. The first year (Dec 2017), I led from stage. This year (Dec 2018), I helped coach from the front row and I couldn’t have been more proud. Everyone on stage was either a current student or recent graduate. They were one of the hardest working and most polished bands I’ve heard and their hearts for Jesus were clear. I secured them a follow up gig leading worship for a regional Cru high school conference in mid-January. They went, all on their own, and I received reports that they did a phenomenal job leading worship and ministering to the high schoolers (who thought they were the coolest.)

2. Live Worship Album Released Dec 2018

In conjunction with the Minneapolis Winter Conference student worship band, where we have been helping audition and train students for over 20 years, we released a live worship album this December. It sounds great and it’s up on all your favorite platforms. Search for “Worship Network of Cru” on Spotify or iTunes to find it. 

3. Denver In January? Take The Whole Family? Sure! Why Not?!

On January 10th we loaded up the family and flew to Denver! It wasn’t as cold as I was afraid it would be. The kids had a great time hanging out with us downtown as Laura and I went through training to lead a Cru summer mission to Munich, Germany. A staff woman from IU, Katrina Coco, and I were training to lead the team and Laura was there to be the operations director. It was awe inspiring to see over 400 leaders from all over the US being trained to take college students on summer missions in the name of Jesus all over the world!

4. No Huddle Offense Wins In Spain!

About 40 hours after getting home from Denver, I was back at the airport to fly to Malaga, Spain. I met up with my team of 4 other musicians to lead worship for Cru missionaries from all over Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Because we flew in from multiple places and couldn’t practice beforehand, I told the team to show up with the songs memorized. We began to call this strategy the “No Huddle Offense.” It actually worked wonderfully! My friend Jen, who Laura and I joined staff with, was at the conference. She’s married to the country director of Lebanon and now lives there. She let me know that she was not going to miss any of the worship times because she never gets to worship in English where she lives. That taste of home, that comfort and encouragement, those are the reasons our being there is so vital for these missionaries.

5. Middle Eastern Sound Tech Receives Christ Through Sound Check

Our band traveled on to the Middle East to lead worship for another conference. This one was for national missionaries (people from the countries where they serve). Our turbulent flight and hour bus drive got us to the hotel at half past midnight. We were playing the next morning, so we had to sound check that night. Setup and sound check finally ended at 2:30AM. We got about 3 hours of sleep and had to be back in the ballroom ready to play at 7:15AM so we could practice with the Kazakh/Russian speaking vocalists. To add another layer of complexity, the sound tech didn’t speak English! It was very tiring and stressful, but I was really proud of our team for their attitudes and professionalism. We got to spend the next 4 days leading worship for amazing women and men who risk their lives and the lives of the families daily to share Jesus with their nations. People gathered at this conference had been stoned, threatened by their own family, beaten, imprisoned, marginalized, and forced to live in exile. But their love for Christ shone all the brighter and their passionate exuberance for our Savior and God could not be contained. I count it one of the highest privileges of my ministry life to have been there serving them through worship. A few days after returning to the states, we got a text explaining that our sound tech had not been a believer. But, the witness of our behavior during the sound check as well as the clear explanation of the gospel from two local missionaries, led him to pray to receive Christ. How cool!

6. Boss Finds Major Strengths and Weaknesses In Team

While I was out in Spain and the Middle East, other members of our team were in South America and Thailand leading worship for missionaries in those areas. We all came back just in time for a visit with our boss from Orlando. He spent time with our team leading us through a process of self discovery about our team’s overall strengths and weaknesses. It was a great time and gave us lots to work on as we build our team this spring. Managing people and leading our team has been a major theme for me. If you know any great books on the subject, let me know. I’ve been devouring them. Here are a few I’ve finished since January - Team of Teams, The Culture Code, Radical Candor, and The Power Of Moments. 

7. Young Staff Take Control At The PA Worship Arts Weekend!

Not long after that we were off to PA to have our third annual worship arts weekend (PA-WAW). I got to take Ezra along with me, which he really loved! One former student, who is now staff at WVU, told us that coming to the weekend three years ago completely changed everything about how they did worship on their campus. Now they have a thriving worship team as part of their movement. That was awesome to hear! But the real headline for me was how much the younger staff on our team stepped up into different roles and did a fantastic job. I was able to step back from being the conference organizer and from several other responsibilities to focus on developing two new talks for the weekend. 

8. Munich Trip Dies...And Resurrects!

The Thursday before the PA-WAW it didn’t look like there was any hope for our Munich trip. We only had 2 students who had applied and we had been scrambling to find more, to no avail. Our goal was to have 5-8 students but we had no idea where they were going to come from. If nothing changed by March 1, we had decided to shutter the mission and ask the students to join a different trip. I’ll have to tell you the full story in another letter, but by the Thursday after PA-WAW we had 4 more students who had applied. And by the following Thursday, they had been interviewed, accepted, and had committed to coming! Not only that, but flights and lodging have been found that work perfectly and fit in our budget! God is good!

9. Performing Artists Team Personnel May Increase By 25%

Looking past summer to our next school year of ministry, there is a very good chance that our team will gain 3 new interns, all former members of Cru Winter Conference worship bands, and 2 new staff. We did a lot of work setting up a process for recruiting and communicating with potential people this winter. So, I am thrilled with these results. Their path onto our team is not without challenges. Please pray for their support raising process as well as our preparations for them to join us. 

10. And The Biggest Headline Of All...Number 4, Due In Late August!!!

Two weeks after volunteering to lead the Munich mission, we learned some amazing news. We are pregnant! So if you do the math you will realize we are going to be in Munich with Laura six months pregnant and in charge of operations for our team. Of course, if there are health concerns, she will not go, but we are trusting God’s timing and would appreciate your prayers.

Pastor Hanna Update

Dear friends,

I’ve been in Jordan now for 12 days. Let me tell you what’s been happening.

In my last letter I asked you to pray that all the materials we were bringing with us – eye glasses, phone chips with Bible software, vitamins, clothing etc – would get safely through customs in Jordan. I’m pleased to say these prayers were answered; everything got through!

Hundreds of people have had their eyes tested and been provided with the correct glasses. We’ve been able to visit and help many refugee families in their homes. We’ve helped hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees with food, clothing, medicine and hospital costs.

Now I need to ask for your prayers as I prepare to travel to Gaza on Thursday with my dear friend from Scotland, Pastor Richard. I have been granted permission from Israel to enter Gaza on the 14th. I still await permission to leave Gaza on Monday 18th. Please pray this is granted soon!

Please also pray that the Bible software chips for phones make it through the Hamas checkpoint without problems.

Thank you once again for standing with us as we endeavor to carry out the work God has given us. Please pray for us often as you have done before
May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Christian Mission to Gaza
255 E Santa Clara St
Suite 100
Arcadia, CA 91006