Tina Woodruff: 50 Years of Faithful Service with Cru Military

Posted in: Stories

Fifty years: that is how long Tina Woodruff has been faithfully connecting the military community to Christ. She joined Cru Military® in February of 1974, almost ten years after the ministry began, and we are honored to celebrate her lifetime of service!

“I am so blessed to serve with Cru Military all these years,” Tina said. “I have worked with so many great people, great leaders, and made so many friends.”

Tina’s U.S. Navy History

Tina's Dad in U.S. Navy Uniform

Tina has a long history with the U.S. Navy. Her mom served at the end of World War II, her dad served in the Korean War, and both were stationed in San Diego for a time. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Tina chose to serve in the Navy for three years as a hospital corpsman, also spending time in San Diego.

During her time in the Navy, Tina came to know Christ.

“Someone reached out to me with the gospel when I was in the Navy,” Tina said. “I was invited by a woman Marine to a Bible study on the base. I had never been to a Bible study, but I went that night. It happened to be my birthday, October 18. A corpsman came up to me and asked if I was a Christian. I said that I thought I was—I tried to live a good life. He explained that being a Christian was more than living a good life—it was accepting Christ into one’s life, accepting Him as Savior. I prayed with him.”

Tina in U.S. Navy Uniform Tina began attending the Bible study for a while, and a few weeks later she met a Navy nurse who was coming on staff with Military Ministry® (now called Cru Military). This was Tina’s introduction to the larger ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ® (now called Cru®). She got involved with the local ministry but was hesitant to share her faith. Then God sent two single staff women with the ministry, and one of them began to disciple Tina. It was then that Tina began to share her faith with boldness. 

As Tina’s time in the Navy was drawing to a close, she had to decide what she would do next. She prayed and the Lord impressed upon her that He came to seek and to save the lost. Then one of the staff women challenged her to apply for staff.  

“I wanted God to use me to reach other people in the military, too,” Tina said.

Becoming a Cru Military Staff Member

But to be a full-time staff member, Tina learned that she would have to raise her own financial support. 

“That was scary,” Tina said. “I had never heard of that. Then I heard how much we had to raise, and I saw it as a mountain! It was never going to be raised.” 

But Tina stepped out in faith and filled out the application. 

“I was in my last week in the Navy, living in the barracks,” Tina said. “Cru asked me to come to their headquarters at Arrowhead Springs. I met with Ney Bailey and another HR lady who is still on staff. They had a few more questions for me.” 

After hearing Tina’s answers, they approved her application. Tina finished up with the Navy on Friday and was in new staff training with Cru on Monday at Arrowhead Springs. 

Tina as a young staff member in 1979“I was just going to join Cru Military for the bare minimum—that was two years,” Tina said. 

That was 1974. Now, 50 years later, Tina reflects fondly over her ministry career and all the amazing things God did through her work.

Decades of Ministry

Tina’s first assignment was to move to Virginia and join the staff team at Fort Belvoir. 

“I was only there for a short period,” Tina said. “But I was able to share the gospel and disciple women. Then leadership closed the Fort Belvoir ministry and moved me to Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos) in Texas for three years starting in 1975.”

At Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos), Tina ministered to enlisted women, discipling them in the faith. 

“I always leaned toward the enlisted women because I had been enlisted, ” Tina said. “I had a wonderful ministry there holding fellowship gatherings on Friday nights, training people to share their faith, and enjoying ministry to women. I even got to be the short-term director of Fort Hood (Fort Cavazos) after our director was reassigned.”

Next, Tina was transferred back to San Diego, California, to be part of the training center that Cru designed for field staff. Most of the Cru Military staff were required to leave their assignments and go to San Diego for the seven-month training. Afterwards a number of them remained in San Diego as did Tina. She was there from 1978 to 1992. 

“I got to return to the Naval Hospital where I started out in the Navy,” Tina said. “I also got to serve at the Naval Amphibious Base and Naval Station at North Island.”

Because of Tina’s incredible experience with Cru Military, she was asked to start working in the ministry office. 

“I really enjoyed the administrative side of running a ministry,” Tina said. 

A New Leader

During her 50 years in ministry with Cru Military, Tina saw the ebb and flow of staff sizes and ministry needs. In a time of declining staff numbers, a new leader emerged. 

“When General Dick Abel came aboard, I would say he rescued us,” Tina said. “He really built up our staff numbers–field staff, office/support staff, and even created our first human resources team.”

Even though Cru wanted the ministry to move to their headquarters in Orlando, Florida, General Abel knew that the region around Newport News, Virginia, was the best location since it had the largest population of military-connected people in the U.S. 

“I had to move again. I moved, crying all the way, because I was going to miss my San Diego,” Tina said. “But I trusted God, and He was so faithful. And the ministry in San Diego continues to this day.”

The office in Newport News was large, and there was plenty of storage space. This allowed for the team to have volunteers come in and help with projects. Recent Tina photo

“We started making Rapid Deployment Kits,” Tina said. “They included a three-month ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotional with a military cover, a New Testament Bible, the Would You Like to Know God Personally booklet, and information about how to contact Cru Military if they wanted to know more. After 9/11, volunteers assembled hundreds of thousands of them. We would get notes from people overseas who received them telling us how much they appreciated them.”

International Ministry

Tina has seen a lot of changes over her decades of service, but one change surprised her the most. 

“I never dreamed that we would become an international ministry, reaching the militaries of the world,” Tina said.

Early in 1992, Cru Military staff, including Dick Russell, Tina, and others, traveled to Moscow, Russia, to help set the stage for ministry to the former Soviet military. On another trip, General Abel went to help expand ministry in Russia. Altogether, Tina was able to go to Russia three times to help with different outreaches.

Tina remembers a very special Easter Sunday in Red Square. 

“Thousands showed up for the event. The Music Ministry of Cru had a large choir, which I was in, and had special songs by music star Carol Lawrence. Bill Bright gave the message,” Tina said. “When he gave the invitation to accept Christ, so many hands went up. It was broadcast all over the country.”

Tina was also honored to travel to Hawaii in the 1980s with the office team twice to help out with an outreach called “Operation Pro Bowl” involving several Christian NFL players who spoke at several military installations in partnership with Athletes in Action, another Cru division.

As a full-time missionary for 50 years, Tina’s love for Jesus spills over in everything she does. In fact, coworkers note that Tina is always on the lookout for someone she can tell about how wonderful Jesus is—from waiters in restaurants to people she meets in the streets.

“Every day is a witnessing day,” Tina explained. “That is what General Abel used to say.”