Dan & Heather Litchfield arrived at the University of Maine in 1999 with a passion for Christ and a truck full of outdoor gear. Within the year God cast a vision for using the outdoors to reach students with the hope and love of Jesus Christ. As brand new missionaries with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), they grabbed the vision and ran (or paddled…), helping to conceive Lifelines at the University of Maine. That fledgling ministry has now expanded to cover four regions in the U.S. and to offer multiple international missions projects. Dan and Heather continue to be as impassioned about the mission today as they were at the start.
As vision casters, they often think and pray over the big picture, but it is the little steps that excite them: helping students grow from where they are now into fully devoted followers of Jesus. They have now served on campuses in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and by God’s grace are taking the ministry to New Zealand in spring of 2017. Dan is the National Field Director for Lifelines, overseeing 32 staff across the nation. He and Heather together also serve as Lifelines Team Leaders in the Northeast. They have four amazing kids: Caleb, Emma, Micah and Aliza.
I can remember my father leading me in a prayer to accept Christ into my life around the time I was six years old. I struggled with a learning disability throughout elementary school. It was through that that I learned to depend on God. He was the one that understood what I was going through. He was the one I could trust. In my teens I started seeking proof and asking questions to see if what I believed was really true. The answer I got confirmed my belief and I became more able to tell others about God.
When I entered college I thought I was on a different planet. We had 46 fire alarms pulled in my dorm my first semester. Sex and alcohol were as much a part of the college environment as studies. I started to isolate myself from those on my floor. The result was loneliness and feeling out of place. It was about that time that someone on staff with Cru came to my dorm room and challenged me to share Christ with those on my floor. I took him up on the challenge and it changed my whole college experience. I ended up sharing the gospel with everyone that lived on my floor. One of those guys even accepted Christ. I found that they were interested and were searching for something but they did not know what.
During my sophomore year the plan I had for my life fell apart when my girl friend and I broke up. In the wake of that event, I told God I would do anything He wanted me to do and go anywhere He wanted me to go. I loved sharing the Gospel and by the end of the semester decided I was being called into full time ministry. I have been a staff member with Cru since 1997 and I am so glad for God’s calling on my life.
As a senior in high school I prided myself on being a self-made woman. I was striving to excel in every area of life, but little did I know how much I would wrestle with God over the rights to my life and my plan. Thanks to a Christian friend and his family, I began to find answers to the hard questions that kept me from relying on God. By December I wanted what they had—peace, trust, healthy relationships with each other, and an intimacy with God that gave them hope, security, and confidence for each day. After much debate and agonizing in my heart, I accepted that if God was truly who He claimed to be then I could not make a better choice for myself than to yield to Him. That night I asked Him to take control of my life.
Six months later I found myself on the road to college in Pennsylvania, nine hours from my new Christian “family.” For a year I worked hard to do all the right things: reading the Bible, praying and attending church. By sophomore year, however; I was tired of being good while my college friends were fun. One night I made the decision to join them. That was the first night I tasted alcohol. I joined the college party scene. By the end of that year, my life was far from what I had ever wanted it to be. I tried to change my life on my own to prove myself worthy to God, but again and again I would fail.
By God’s grace I studied abroad in France my junior year. I had the chance to start fresh with new people, far from my old way of life. What’s more, I had time to spend in the Word and an intense need to rely on God for every aspect of my new life, whether it be communicating or finding my way around town. I came to understand that if I wanted my life to change, I needed God to do it for me. I began to depend on Him rather than myself, and my relationship with Christ soared. That semester set the course of my life. I was filled with gratitude toward God and wanted to help other college students, both believers and non-believers, experience that same freedom in Christ. Within a year and a half I was filling out my application for Cru and marrying that cute Christian friend from high school. Way to go, God!