From engineering to spreading the faith in God with Hank Hornstein

Most people have a negative view on what is going on in the world.

And the apparent decrease in faith – especially in the younger generations – seems to confirm this bad outlook.

But even if this is true, things may not be as dark as they seem.

Thanks to independent groups that share the word of God, there are many ways to impact millions of lives in the US and around the world.

In this episode, Hank Hornstein from Decision Point shares the impact spreading Christian values still has, and what the most effective way of reaching young Americans today is.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • What every potential investor needs to know about the Eagle Ford area and its lucrative mineral rights ([1:44])
  • The pure magic of how your faith gives you a sense of direction (even if you have not been acting out of conviction before) ([4:39])
  • Why Catholic Brazilians are more receptive to evangelical core values than students in the U.S. (even if their prior knowledge of the Bible may be shallow) ([11:12])
  • The single most-used evangelistic tool that enables to convert millions of people ([16:15])
  • How to support today’s youth on their mission to discover the hope of Jesus (even in allegedly impossible areas like California) ([19:10])

DLP055 PC - From engineering to spreading the faith in God with Hank Hornstein



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the State of Texas—and, now, here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. I’m the CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, and PAX Financial Group is the sponsor of this program. I always have to give you the legal disclosure. This information is general in nature only. It’s not intended to provide specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Please visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

Also, if you need to speak to a financial advisor, they have hearts of a teacher. You just need to text 74868 and put in the word “Texas”, and we’ll have an advisor connect with you. There’s no cost for that. It’s going to be about a 15-minute conversation. [01:07].2]

I’m excited today. Hank, thanks for coming in today. Hank Hornstein, and not the “Stine”. We talked about that before, but it’s funny because I’m in the New Braunfels area and there is some of that where the “E” is in a different location and it makes the other vowel pop, right? And so, we see that a lot in there.

Hank: My wife says her favorite trip is through Frankfurt, Germany, because they always address her as Frau Hornstein.

Darryl: Oh.

Hank: They really give it a German name.

Darryl: What’s her first name?

Hank: Her name is Maureen.

Darryl: Yeah, okay.

Hank: Not exactly German, but …

Darryl: Yeah, and I’m going to get into that in just a second, but we have a mutual friend Lee Caple.

Hank: Yes.

Darryl: And, gosh, I haven’t seen Lee in a while. When was the last time you talked to Lee?

Hank: I saw him in the spring. We’ve exchanged a few emails since.

Darryl: He’s a good man. Very, very good man.

Hank: Yes. [01:57].0]

Darryl: Lee actually came down here, the way I met Lee. I don’t know how I met him, I guess, but years ago, and what he did was offered some of the people in the Eagleford area an opportunity to buy their mineral rights. Very fascinating, very competent person. But you know what, what I realize? If you make an attempt to buy people’s mineral rights in the Eagleford area, it’s like asking for their first-born baby, so I didn’t realize how sensitive that was. I just thought, Oh, that’s a good diversification strategy. I didn’t realize how important that was. Lee knows much more about that. I’m really appreciative that he made the connection here.

You’re in San Antonio now. Are you in San Antonio proper or …?

Hank: Yeah, I’m inside 1604, near the 281.

Darryl: Okay, yeah. How did you get to San Antonio?

Hank: Long story, but, recently, I retired from 51 years of ministry with a group called Campus Crusade, now called Cru in the U.S., but …

Darryl: They changed the name?

Hank: They changed the name.

Darryl: Oh. Can you tell me the purpose of changing it?

Hank: Mainly because Campus Crusade has the name “crusade” in it. [03:02].8]

Darryl: Oh, yeah.

Hank: And worldwide, that’s not a good word.

Darryl: Oh, I get it. Yeah, we had in Incarnate Word “crusaders” for a long time, and then they changed the name.

Hank: Yeah.

Darryl: What are they now? The Cardinals? Yeah.

Hank: And Cru is a non, nothing name. As our president says, you can make it mean whatever we want it to.

Darryl: Okay.

Hank: They went with a neutral name and I was there for 51 years.

Darryl: Fifty-one years. Were you in Colorado?

Hank: No.

Darryl: Isn’t that–

Hank: They have a– they had until last, this year actually, a biannual staff conference there for all U.S. staff at Fort Collins.

Darryl: Okay, yeah.

Hank: We went there every two years for 30 years maybe and called it home, really, just loved being there and all the things you can do in Colorado, and always took a vacation up in the Rockies and stuff.

Darryl: Oh, I love it.

Hank: We were there for a long time, but this summer, we had our first-time-ever conference in Milwaukee, not getting as good a deal as we used to in Colorado, so we moved. [04:06].0]

But, anyway, I left there because I got challenged by a guy who’s living in Dallas who started a group called Decision Point. Now, they also just changed their name from something called the National–

Darryl: Is it Point Offensive? No, I’m just <crosstalk>.

Hank: No, it was National School Project, but because of Covid, it went online in a big way and, all of a sudden, we got these requests from places like Peru and the Philippines to have a school project in their schools, and so National School Project, the word ‘national” didn’t work anymore.

Darryl: I want to get to that in just a second, because I want people to hear about what you’re doing today. But take me back in time. Where did you originally grow up? Where was your childhood at?

Hank: I’m an army brat.

Darryl: Oh, okay.

Hank: And for most people, that’s enough.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: I was born in Pittsburgh and never lived there. Both of my parents were from Pittsburgh. We’ve lived everywhere from New Jersey to Hawaii when I was growing up, Kansas, Florida. I can list the places, there’s, like, 12 of them. [05:06].5]

Darryl: Siblings?

Hank: I have an older brother, a younger brother, and a sister, younger as well.

Darryl: Your dad, I’m assuming, was active duty Army?

Hank: Yeah, his career was Army.

Darryl: Your mom?

Hank: She was during the war, World War II. Dad was in three wars.

Darryl: No kidding. Wow.

Hank: A real veteran and real hero, and mom was a nurse in the war and she worked as a nurse on and off all our lives, because Army, they don’t pay that great, so she worked when we needed the money, like when I was in college.

Darryl: So, middle class family.

Hank: Yeah.

Darryl: Lived on base?

Hank: Off and on.

Darryl: Yeah. That’s tricky to develop long-term friendships, but I’m sure you found a way to have some buddies <crosstalk>.

Hank: We have a couple, but I wish we had the internet back then because I could –

Darryl: I know.

Hank: – stay in touch with the kids that I knew growing up. But I’ve lost touch with most of them, don’t have any idea where some of them are, what I’d call my best friend ever, his name was Lance. His family was assigned to Alaska. [06:11].1]

Darryl: Do you know his last name?

Hank: Yeah.

Darryl: Do you remember his last name?

Hank: Yeah.

Darryl: Lance?

Hank: Nelson.

Darryl: Nelson. Lance Nelson. Okay.

Hank: His father was a major when I knew him and they were assigned to Alaska, and the last I heard, he’d taken up skiing and was never going to leave Alaska.

Darryl: Wow.

Hank: So, he’s probably still there. I’ve never been to Alaska, so I haven’t found him yet.

Darryl: That’s fun, though. I would imagine, of course, your family was frugal or, at least, wise with the money. And did your parents ever sit down and talk to you about money? Was there any conversation?

Hank: Not really.

Darryl: Did you observe anything? Was there any kind of point where they were like, Uh-oh, this is kind of tight financially? Was it all stable because of the–

Hank: No, I don’t really know how it happened that I got through college.

Darryl: Where at, by the way?

Hank: I went to Penn State.

Darryl: Yeah, okay.

Hank: Which I can say this year because they did real well in football.

Darryl: Yeah, there you go. Yeah.

Hank: Going to the Rose Bowl now. But money was tight, but it wasn’t … we weren’t broke, but they never bought me a car. I didn’t get one until I graduated college actually and married a gal who had a car. [07:09].2]

Darryl: Wow.

Hank: I didn’t really need one. I had friends that had cars. So, it was tight and I worked whenever I could, get spending money, and I know dad invested some, but not much.

Darryl: Yeah, he had to just pay for it.

Hank: He was just trying to get us through.

Darryl: Did I hear you right? Were there four kids?

Hank: Yeah, the older brother and my younger sister, both flunked out of college, but they both tried to go. At one time while I was in college, there were two of us in college at the same time.

Darryl: Yeah, that’s hard.

Hank: That was hard. I graduated the year my younger brother started college on a basketball scholarship. I like to say I’m the shortest guy in my family at 6’4”.

Darryl: You’re tall, yeah.

Hank: My little brother is 6’9”.

Darryl: Wow, yeah.

Hank: Lives in McKinney, Texas, now. But we’re a tall family. My sister’s about six-foot.

Darryl: Wow. You went to Penn State and did you have a passion to go into full-time ministry? [08:05].7]

Hank: I wasn’t even a Christian until I went to college. I like to say my older brother and I, who didn’t get along at that time, found the two most committed Christian students at Penn State. We both were there, overlapped for two years before he flunked out. But he found a guy who was involved with Campus Crusade and it was his roommate for a while, and he became a Christian because that guy was his roommate.

And I found the president of Varsity Christian Fellowship and he was my roommate. I had no idea he was in a Christian group. I just knew he was a great guy. He was a quarterback of our intramural football team and we were good friends, and when I roomed with him and had some problems with my girlfriend, we stayed up late one night till [3:30], talking about life and love and God, and I basically confessed I had no idea what I was doing in life, didn’t know where I was going. I was studying mechanical engineering, but it really didn’t grab my heart. [09:06].6]

Darryl: Mechanical engineering didn’t grab your heart?

Hank: No.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: It was just something that I thought I was pretty good at. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t out of reach. My roommate was an electrical engineer and I knew I didn’t want to do that. It’s too dangerous.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah.

Hank: Anyway, we talked and he told me about his faith, and I’d never heard anything like that, so I said, “Well, I’d love to have a personal relationship with God, if I could do that,” and he said, “Well, here’s what you do,” and so that night I became a Christian. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, and it totally changed my life.

I would say, before that, I was a jack of all trades. I did a lot of things good, but I wasn’t the king of anything. I wasn’t the best at anything and that’s why it was hard for me to pick a major. I just picked mechanical engineering on the advice of my dad who also studied engineering at Penn State when he was there. It hadn’t grabbed my heart, but when I became a Christian, I just knew this was what my life was all about. This is why I’m here. And when I graduated, I came into the ministry and never looked back. [10:08].8]

Darryl: How did you bump into Campus Crusade, specifically?

Hank: As I said, my older brother was a roommate with –

Darryl: Okay, through that connection, yeah.

Hank: – the leader of Campus Crusade, and a month after I became a Christian, they had a singing group on campus at a concert and almost every Christian on campus, I think, went, and I came in contact with my brother’s roommate because of that. And we met every day for weeks as he started to teach me what the Bible said and another friend bought me a Bible, and I just took off growing because I knew from the very beginning this was what my life was all about.

Darryl: I didn’t even know Campus Crusade was now called Cru. It has been around over 50 years.

Hank: They started in 1951.

Darryl: Is that right?

Hank: At UCLA.

Darryl: You know what’s interesting? If I do the math, I mean, you were kind of in the early stages of this organization. [11:03].0]

Hank: It’s considered early, but it was 20 years old when I went down and enrolled.

Darryl: Okay, all right.

Hank: I started as a student, in ’68, and as a staff member, in 1970.

Darryl: For those that aren’t familiar with Campus Crusade, can you give us a brief explanation of the mission behind it?

Hank: The founder, Dr. Bill Bright and–

Darryl: I might, I’ve got to ask you, did you ever meet Bill Bright?

Hank: Oh, yeah.

Darryl: Yeah. Okay.

Hank: Yeah. I was really linked into a number of really great projects in my career.

Darryl: I’d imagine so, yeah.

Hank: And one of them, we were out in California, traveling the whole world. We worked, technically, for the vice president, a guy named Bailey Marks who reported to Dr. Bright, and what we were doing needed Bill Bright’s permission and approval at various stages of the project that we did for eight years, and it also was my perfect job for me. It was to travel the world, meet with staff of Christian staff from our organization all over the world and help them figure out what their problems were and how they could do better at what they were doing. It was a staff-development kind of project and I loved it. I loved the people I worked with. They were great. I was sad when it ended. [12:17].1]

But Dr. Bright was involved in a number of ways with the project and he was a great guy. He really was a real human guy. In fact, I remember the first time I met him was at the door of the headquarters in California, and he was going in and we were coming from a different direction. We met, there were a couple of us, and he said hello and shook my hand and asked my name, and I just felt like he’d hugged me when all he did was shake my hand.

Darryl: Wow.

Hank: Just, he was a loving, wonderful businessman who had become a missionary and stood for godliness and goodness. The mission is to reach the campus today, the college campus today, and reach the world tomorrow, and they’ve gone a long way to doing that because they became active on a number of college campuses across the country and, eventually, high schools and with teachers as well, because that’s a natural result. But they’ve expanded to 150 or so countries around the world. [13:16].1]

Darryl: I thought you were going to say 150 or so colleges, but now you’re saying 150 countries, so just for people to understand, the scope of this mission work, I mean, it is gangbusters. I mean, I wish I could see it kind of interactive to see how it’s kind of grown everywhere and it’s a household name. I mean, it really is. Even for secularists, I mean, they know who Campus Crusade is.

Hank: I remember one of the things I did during my career was go to seminary, because we lived overseas in Asia for four years. We wanted to go back., but I felt so untrained and so ill-equipped to live in a place where I was one of the senior Christian people and even pastors of churches hadn’t had the small amount of training that I had had in studying and teaching the Bible, and spiritual growth and formation. [14:09].6]

So, I came back to go to seminary and one of the profs at the seminary said, “You know, for a long time, our student body and the student body of most major seminaries in the U.S. are composed mostly of Campus Crusade disciples and Billy Graham converts.”

Darryl: No kidding.

Hank: They were really up there in terms of the impact they made on the student body of the college campuses of the U.S. I don’t know where they’re at now. I was out of the country for a long time. I actually got to direct the ministry in Brazil for 12 years.

Darryl: Goodness, that’s amazing.

Hank: It was a highlight of my life. It was just a huge challenge, but a great rewarding experience.

Darryl: What was the reception for that message in other countries? Were they more receptive than even the U.S. students?

Hank: Depends on the country, but–

Darryl: Yeah, Brazil, for example. [15:00].5]

Hank: By and large, the response is much greater than it is in the U.S.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: I’ve lived in two countries for long periods, like Brazil and the Philippines. Both of them are, on the surface, Catholic.

Darryl: Understood.

Hank: But they don’t really practice it. They don’t really understand it. But what they know is Jesus is the Son of God, but they have no idea what that means.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: And the Bible is from God. That’s what we call pre-evangelism. It’s setting things up for people to believe when they hear the true message of, while we’re in the Christmas season, the true message of Christmas, the full message of Christmas that Jesus came to die for our sins and to free us from the many problems that we get ourselves into in this life.

And people, like in the Philippines and the Brazilians, they’ve heard about Jesus and they think they believe in him, but they don’t know what that really means, and so when you go in and explain it to them, the response is great. We used to say in the Philippines, if you share with 10 people, you’ll have 20 converts, because they are so open that they won’t all receive Christ, but those that do will go home and share with their whole family and their whole family will come to Christ. [16:13].1]

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: Brazil was the same way. It was very responsive. We got to use what was called the Jesus Film. It’s the most-used evangelistic tool in the history of the church. Billions of people in the world have watched the Jesus Film. It’s available to watch free online at JesusFilm.org. It’s the Gospel of Luke from the Bible put into film.

Darryl: Okay.

Hank: That was the goal. That was what was achieved and it was a two-hour movie. It actually films, I think it’s nine hours of the Gospel of Luke, condensed it into a two-hour movie, and we showed that out in the streets free to Brazilians and Filipinos while I was in those countries. We estimated, we reached 30 million Brazilians in the 10 years that I was there to use that film. [17:00].0]

Darryl: Oh my gosh.

Hank: Thirty million, and the least response that we saw when we asked people to come forward like they do at a church service, come forward and receive Christ, the response was anywhere from 10 percent to 20, 20 percent would come forward, would fill out a card saying they’d pray to receive Christ.

Darryl: Here’s the thing about you, Hank. I mean, we just met. You have no idea, over 51 years, how many lives you’ve impacted. I know you’ve reflected on that, but that’s just amazing to me. It’s like, well done. Well done.

Hank: Thank you.

Darryl: I mean, not just feeding somebody. I understand there’s something about feeding somebody –

Hank: Yeah.

Darryl: – and giving somebody a job.

Hank: And we need to do that.

Darryl: Absolutely right, but I’m talking about playing a role in changing somebody’s heart, giving them hope and encouragement, and what that did for maybe the dad that you touched and his kids, and his kids’ kids. Yeah.

Hank: We’re really committed to doing both, but there has to be the message. It has to be clear as well. I remember a good friend of mine and we did a number of summer projects together where we would recruit U.S. college students mostly to go overseas. And we did this in the Philippines. We did it in Thailand and India. [18:04].4]

We did it in eight or 10, I can’t remember now, African countries, and one summer, took 250 students over at one time, split them up into groups and sent them to eight different African countries to show the Jesus Film and reached 750,000 people in six weeks.

Darryl: Unbelievable.

Hank: It was just phenomenal, and Blair and I were sitting at the end of that, and he had sat down and worked through the different projects that we’d done over the last couple years. He said, “Hank, the way I see it, the kids that we’ve taken and the film shows that we’ve done, we’ve reached over 3 million people in this summertime, just going to these different projects.”

I said, “Blair, if you’d asked me when I’d graduated from college if I would ever do anything that’s significant, I would’ve laughed in your face. I’m not that great a speaker. I’m not that great of anything. I’m just a guy who said years ago, ‘Lord, I’ll go anywhere you want me to and talk to anybody you want me to. I’m available,’” and He has taken that literally and sent me to different places, and I’ve been to maybe 60 countries. [19:10].3]

Darryl: I have three more questions because I know we’ve got to wrap up here. One is, briefly, and I’d love to expand on it, maybe we’ll have you back, tell us what you’re doing now.

Hank: One of the guys that was involved in our summer projects also left Cru after 45 years and ran into a lawyer in California who was doing high school rallies where he was presenting the gospel of Jesus in a public school, and he spoke in a place in Southern California and my friend went up to him and said, “It’s hard for me to believe you can do that, especially in California.”

This guy, his name is Brad Dacus. Brad said, “Come and see,” and he went up to Northern California and saw a couple of these rallies in high schools where kids were hearing a youth pastor or a pastor, or even a layman, sometimes an athlete, [who] would come in and, over lunchtime, have a special optional program in the school where this guy explained his Christian faith and asked them to become Christians. [20:11].6]

My friend went to Cru and said, “We need to do this in Cru. This is a great way to reach high school students and share with them the message of Jesus,” and Cru said, “We don’t work that way. We don’t want to do it.” My friend was in disbelief, but he left staff and started a group then called the California School Project to take the gospel into the high schools of California, expanded greatly, and eventually expanded to Chicago and Texas. I was just visiting a friend in Arizona, and a number of states now, where there’s about 50 staff is all.

But they’re slowly spreading to different high schools around the country and that’s the idea. It’s to challenge a student in the school to start a club, which he has a right to do. Anywhere a high school has clubs, you can start a Christian club, and then you invite your youth pastor or someone in to address the club and share the gospel. [21:09].8]

Darryl: So, God has some strategy. I’m a business guy, but I see the strategy. God is using this organization to be able to love on high school kids. And so, you raised your hand and said, “I’m in. I’m going to do it”?

Hank: Basically, that’s what I said. I said, “I’d love to do this.” I also went to Cru and said, “Can we do this as part of Cru?” They said no.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: And I said, “Well, then I’ll just retire.” There’s a guy in New Braunfels.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: He’d been involved with my friend in other ministry and he said, “Please send someone to San Antonio to start this in San Antonio,” and my friend said, “Well, Hank will be there in the fall,” and here I am.

Darryl: Those that are listening, if you know any high school kids it’d be good for?

Hank: They can just go online to DecisionPoint.org and sign up.

Darryl: Okay, so if there’s anybody listening that has high school kids, high school grandkids, and they want to encourage their child or grandchild to be a leader or a Christ in their high school, they go to where? [22:07].7]

Hank: DecisionPoint.org.

Darryl: Okay, good.

Hank: We also need people to coach them. A lot of times, while this began, my friend went to Biola University and challenged Biola students to be the coaches to coach these students in what they’re doing, and so we teach them how to be coaches, so we need coaches and students. We always get parents’ permission. We need youth pastors to mobilize their youth groups.

Darryl: It’s one thing to be frustrated and shake your fist at what’s going on in the world today, but it’s another thing to say, “You know what? I’m retired or I’m retiring, I need to go do something and here we have a great opportunity,” and so thank you for being here. I do have one more question.

Hank: Sure.

Darryl: There are so many questions, but I do have one more question and it’s the most important question. What’s your favorite salsa?

Hank: You warned me that that might be coming. My wife and I have not tried a lot of salsa, because we came across Pace Picante Sauce years ago and we buy it by the gallon. We love the stuff, put it on a lot of different things. [23:09].7]

One of the things I learned as an army brat, living with my dad in a bachelor officer’s quarter, I think in Fort Bragg, I don’t really remember, but I was maybe 14, but one of the bachelors there taught me how to make tacos, cook the shells and deep fry them and stuff.

Darryl: Yeah.

Hank: And I’ve cooked tacos ever since, so that would be like 60 years. Whenever my mom came home from the hospital and she was too tired, she’d say, “Hank, you’re cooking dinner,” and I would fry up tacos for everybody, and we didn’t have Pace back then, but as soon as we found it, we’ve never left the Pace Picante Sauce.

Darryl: Reliable San Antonio product, so, yeah, I’ll give you that. That’s good. Hank, it’s been an honor and a blessing. You’ve made an impact on a lot of lives and you’ll really never know the impact, and so pretty cool to see that and hear the story.

Hank: Thank you for the opportunity.

Darryl: Yeah, even though it’s a microcosm, it was pretty cool to hear, so thank you very much. [24:06].1]

And thanks for everyone who stayed until the end. I appreciate you listening. Again, you’re listening to Retire in Texas, and I want to remind you, as always, you think different when you think long-term. Have a great day.


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