Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nikki's Story & Thanksgiving

At our Thanksgiving dinner last week, my family had the opportunity to host one of the new FOCUS students from UTD, Nikki.  She's seeking and learning and studying Jesus, and she's been great to have around this year.  At our Thanksgiving dinner she shared that FOCUS and learning about being a Christian are the things she's most thankful for from the past year.  Here's a little of her spiritual story:

Four months ago I moved to Dallas, taking the biggest gamble of my life at the time to pursue my passion, a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. I packed whatever I could fit in my car and left San Antonio, completely oblivious to another passion God had decided it was time for me to chase after--Him. Once I made it here, I met a group of women who befriended me no questions asked. At the time I was a religion hopper, jumping from Buddhist, Baptist, Atheist, Catholic, and settling on Islam. I was just trying to find my place and home knowing I had always believed in a higher power.  Through one of these women however, Christ challenged me to see which road I would take so I chose the one less traveled. This woman convinced me to go to FOCUS and after a few times I was challenged once more by her to do FOCUS on Jesus, so I agreed. I was so angry with her after the first day because this woman dared to challenge me and my beliefs, and after that day I planned on never returning. I wrote in my journal to God asking why He would be so cruel and allow this to happen and I asked God to show me a world divided and within that world where He wanted me to be. A few weeks later, still going to FOCUS and doing FOCUS on Jesus, I waited patiently for his sign. Then God gave me, Marwa, a woman I helped one night with programing homework in the computer lab. Again, Christ challenged me when she asked me what kind of Muslim I was. I couldn’t give her an answer because there was just so much more I had yet to learn. Raised Muslim, Marwa found Christ later on in her adult life and unbiasedly she showed me the good and bad sides of Islam, she also told me she would pray to God for me. I wrote in my journal again that night about a world divided and later realized that this was what I had asked God for. This was His answer to me, to become Christian. I was a woman who felt as if something was always missing and through FOCUS not only did I find friends, a family that I love unconditionally, but I also spiritually have grown because of every single person in FOCUS. I am happier now than I ever remember being before I moved. FOCUS has given something so precious, a priceless gift that will forever be one of the greatest I will ever receive in this life - helping me to find Christ. 

Nikki at the beginning of the semester with some other FOCUS students.  Rachel, to the right of Nikki, is the one studying the Bible with her.
With Thanksgiving last week, I just want to say how thankful I am to each of you and the many ways you support me in ministry and life.  Thank you to all of the financial supporters who invest in the vision of vibrant Jesus-communities on every campus, and are willing to partner with missionaries to make it happen.  Thank you to those who support with advice, support, friendship, and encouragement.  Thank you to all those who helped lay the groundwork for these campus communities during your own time in college.  Thank you to those who mentor or have mentored our current generation of student leaders--your fruit is growing!  This is truly a team effort--thank you for being a part of the team.

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God's service." - Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Monday, November 11, 2013

A couple of cool stories

We had our UTD ministry Park Day a little over a week ago.  Because our first date on a Saturday was rained out, we decided to have Park Day in lieu of our regular Friday Night Fellowship on campus. I wish you could have watched firsthand as lots and lots of students came out, played games, ate dinner, and stayed for a devotional.  People new to our community formed new relationships and got to see how a Christian community plays and has fun.  At the devotional you would have heard 4 students share about how Jesus has impacted them through this community over the past few years.

One of the guys shared about how he came in not knowing what to expect, but that he simply said "yes" whenever he was invited to something ( like small group, one-on-one study, the SICM training) and was open to what God wanted to do in his life.  He shared how God used those simple things to change him and prepare him for ministry.  Then he challenged the freshmen to say "yes" and be open.  That's a message for each of us, no matter how far along in our spiritual journey.  When God invites, say "yes" and be open!

We also had a girl in grad school and a guy who is a junior share, and they both shared about the same person making an impact on them--Christa Smith (formerly Kenyon) who graduated years ago.  I love how in the kingdom simple things that we do can continue to bear fruit for years to come.  Jesus loves the imagery of seeds that start tiny and grow into huge things!  Both of those students have been deeply impacted by Christa's invitation in their life, but it wasn't immediate.  I encourage you to "not become weary in doing good" (Gal 6:9), because God's harvest comes in the right time (Mark 4:26-29).

I would have included an incredibly sporty picture of me, but I didn't want to outshine the students.

You can't see the majority of the group, but we had a great time of worship and sharing outside.

One more story: this past Friday night one of the Sociology professors at UTD came to our Friday Night meeting to share with the students about the ongoing impact Jesus has on her life.  You would have been so encouraged to hear her share!  Most challenging to me were her comments about the times in life when God has led her to do really hard things--getting her PhD, her first job as a professor, etc.  She shared that when she feels overwhelmed and incapable, she goes back to the question, "Is this what God wants me to be doing?"  If the answer is "yes," then she knows she can finish what He sent her to do.  I hope you find that encouraging too and remember it in those moments when you think your strength has run out.

One of our student's favorite professors sharing her testimony at FOCUS!
Thank you for investing in me, in these students, and in a Kingdom vision for this campus.  You're making an impact, and it's only growing!

PS:  One great thing about having a larger staff at UTD this year is that I've had more time to invest in teaching.  I've been working my way through a commentary on Mark's Gospel from the NIV Application Commentary series to help me prepare for a weekly Discipleship Class (or "D Class") on campus at UTD.  This book is awesome!  I thought it would be just a reference book to help me write curriculum, but it has taken me deeper into the scripture and is challenging me so much as someone striving to follow Jesus.  I highly recommend it if you're looking for something to read and want to understand Jesus more.  It goes beyond explaining the text and gives insight into how it should shape our lives as Christians, both individually and collectively.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Break Every Chain

A couple weeks ago at our UTD Friday Night Fellowship (FNF), I had the opportunity to introduce our theme for the year--Break Every Chain.  I shared about God's ultimate desire to end oppression and bondage and bring true freedom through Jesus to the world.  After the lesson, we had every student fill in the blanks to this sentence: "____________ is a chain in my life that I want to see broken this year so that _______________."  

After a song, we opened up the mic to let anyone share what they had written.  Around 70 students came up to share!  I wish you could have heard how they made themselves vulnerable to the community as they shared about chains of fear and anxiety, of sin and shame, of constantly comparing themselves to others, of laziness, of depression, of weakness, of lust, of vices like smoking--and that barely scratches the surface.  On the one hand, your heart would have broken as you heard what the world has done in and through these students.  But on the other, you would have been so encouraged to see them boldly renouncing those things, openly facing them, and powerfully praying for God to move this year!  Transformed lives is absolutely the best part of campus ministry!  

The students in attendance that night who don't know Christ were blown away by the openness and acceptance they witnessed that night.  And many of them shared as well!  We have so many students coming who are investigating Jesus for the first time, and so many Bible studies started with them already.  

This past FNF, I had a girl tell me that she was trying to be serious about finding God for the first time--she'd started reading a Bible given to her by a friend and she's made it to Leviticus!  She's coming to a class I'm teaching on Mark's Gospel starting this Friday--I can't wait to tell her all about Jesus.
Please be praying for God to move powerfully this year, breaking the chains in these students' lives and bringing them into intimate relationships with Him.  And please message me with your own answer to the above prompt so that I can be praying for you too!

A couple more notes:

1.  My peer team is made up of the Core group leaders I'm mentoring on a weekly basis.  I'd so appreciate your prayers for them as they try to reach out to the nearly 40 guys attending their groups.
From left to right, it's JD, Morgan, me, Christian, & Peter.

2.  I wanted to share with you these cool articles about UTD.  You can just read the headlines, or click on the links to find out a lot more.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

U.S. News Ranks UT Dallas in Top 25 for Diversity
UT Dallas has one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse student populations in the country, according to recent data from U.S. News and World Report. “Diversity is important to the student experience,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. read more

Big Freshman Class Lifts Enrollment to 21,145
The largest freshman class in UT Dallas’ history is a major reason that enrollment has grown more than 7 percent since fall 2012. The preliminary total enrollment tally of 21,145 shows a record 2,231 new freshmen – a 44 percent increase since last year. read more

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Office of Communications at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's been an awesome beginning!

I'm running about three weeks behind on most of my tasks, but the student ministry is off to an amazing start!  Honestly, I think we've had our best Welcome Week yet on every campus.  At UTD, our 36 student core leaders went out and made tons of new friends, starting with move-in and continuing on through all the campus-sponsored events.  I wish you could have seen these young disciples in action!

One of the students I mentor was sharing with me about how last year he was too shy to meet new people.  So he thought about one of the most outgoing people he knows--Charlie.  Then, when he'd see a freshman standing by himself this year, he'd just ask himself, "What would Charlie do?"  The answer? "He'd walk up and introduce himself." So that's what he did!  And he has about 15 guys coming to his core, only a couple of them returners from last year.  I could repeat stories like that over and over.  These students are willing to stretch outside of their own comfort zones in order to meet the needs they see around them. I'm reminded of Paul writing, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9).

Had you been at our first Friday Night Fellowship at UTD, you would have stood among nearly 200 students!  Had you attended UNT's meeting last Friday, you would have worshipped with around 250.  I'd be worried except that we have nearly 40 small group leaders on each campus--plus a host of staff and returning students--ready to befriend, teach, and mentor these new people.  God is growing these missional communities, but we aren't losing our core value that ministry is personal--"One on one is how it's done" as my father/mentor Ronnie always says.

After Welcome Week was over, we took all of our staff and small group leaders on a retreat--over 100 people.  Our topic was the Heart of Leadership.  In one session we focused in on the idea of vulnerability (if you haven't seen the BrenĂ© Brown TED talks on vulnerability and shame, I highly recommend them).  Afterward, each student anonymously wrote a secret on a card and slipped it into a box.  Later that night we had them on the wall for everyone to read and reflect on.  I think you would have had tears in your eyes if you had been there reading those secrets--some exciting, some heartbreaking.  I know I did!  I've included a sampling of them below so you'll get the idea.  Pray for these students and all the others.  If these are the secrets in our student leader's lives, think about the brokenness in the lives of their peers who don't yet know our loving God.  Thanks for supporting me in so many ways so I can be on campus and with students.  Without our partnership, so much Kingdom work would go undone.

These are just a sampling--some were darker, others really encouraging.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The busiest month of the year!

We are off to a great start this August.  Upperclassmen started moving in yesterday at UTD and freshmen are coming in the next couple days.  Our leaders, both students and staff, have been diligently preparing to welcome new and returning students with help, friendship, and the opportunity to learn more about Jesus.  Just this week we'll host a pool party, an ultimate frisbee night, and a trip to the dollar theater.  On top of that, our students will be attending all sorts of official university events with the goal of making as many new friends as possible!  At those events you would see FOCUS members meeting new students, drawing in people who are by themselves, starting up games and activities, getting contact information, and inviting people to other events.  Doesn't it feel good to get a personal invitation when you are new somewhere?  Be in prayer that we'll make the most of these great opportunities--the first two weeks after move-in sets the course for the entire academic year in campus ministry.

Especially pray for all of our leaders who happen to be more quiet or shy.  This is when they really step out of their comfort zones in order to serve freshmen and transfer students who don't have friends yet.  But God can and will do amazing things through those sacrifices--I've seen it over and over.  It reminds me of the title of a book I've never read: If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat.  I mean, with a title like that, do I really need to read the book?!  God does His biggest miracles outside of our comfort zones, and I love seeing young disciples step out of their comfort zones in an effort to be more like Christ.

August also saw the beginning of the 2013-2014 FOCUS Staff, serving 6 campuses!  I'll be investing a lot of my time in this extraordinary team.  Pray that I would have wisdom and insight as I lead our team in leadership development for the coming year.

Thanks for your partnership through friendship, prayer, and finances.  This is a team effort and we couldn't do it without you guys!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spiritual Energy

This past weekend a new friend of mine (Todd Sinelli) shared this idea: think of money as spiritual energy that we can pour on whatever we want to see grow and flourish.

Think about that for a second.  We invest money in our kids, in our retirement, in grand causes, and in petty vices, sometimes even in sin.  And whatever we pour it on gets that much stronger.

As a ministry, we've consistently made the decision to invest the funds God gives us in people rather than programs or facilities.  That's because we hold the firm conviction that raising up leaders for the harvest is what the Kingdom of God needs most; what the world needs most.

I remember talking to a missionary to Peru last year.  He shared that he'd learned that he could get thousands of people to show up at any event he had just by giving stuff away at the event.  But guess how many people showed up at the first event where there wasn't a handout?  He had to scrap years of work and start over with a new approach because he realized there was no lasting fruit.

Campus ministry can be like that.  You can throw big events, give away free food and cool stuff, bring expensive attractions and students will show up!  These things do have some value in drawing people in. But what are we drawing them in to?

Real community is what people really need, whether they realize it yet or not.  And real community requires real disciples, real leaders, real friendships.  You would be so encouraged if you could pull back the curtain, so to speak, and see what lies behind the large groups of students we draw on these campuses.  Not a lot of advertising; not a lot of free stuff; but a lot of authentic one-on-one relationships.

That's why we put so much time and energy and so much of our budget into the FOCUS Internship. Training our brightest young men and women disciples to think critically and Biblically, to love and care for others in more helpful ways, to lead communities and reproduce themselves as leaders--these are what the Church needs!  We've got 9 amazing young people coming on staff as interns this year.  If you haven't been given an opportunity to invest in campus missions yet, consider investing in one of them this year as they wrap up their support raising in the next couple weeks.

Pray for these 9 as they embark on a huge year of growth in character and ministry skills!
This kind of ministry is slow going, slow growing--at first.  Some of you have been investing for a long time.  But the exponential nature of what we are doing is starting to show itself.  We have more student leaders than ever before this year (about 90 core facilitators!).  We're starting to reach out at Texas Woman's University and the Collin College Preston Ridge Campus.  And even with all this growth, we are exporting leaders into the marketplace and into families and into local churches every year as students graduate and move outward.  It's an exciting time to be a part of FOCUS!

What all are you pouring spiritual energy on?  Let's see some great things grow and flourish in the years to come!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trying to catch up...

Well here we are on the 22nd and I'm just now getting my blog out--clearly I'm behind.

Since my last post, we took our largest group ever to SICM.  The training was excellent as always, and our students have returned more passionate than ever about impacting their campus with the good news of Jesus.
These are the UTD students we took to SICM.  It's gonna be a great year!
In the meantime, I'm scrambling to get ready for fall.  We have staff and ministry budgets to raise, student leader teams to assemble, and curriculum to write.  And in the midst of that, we still have hundreds of students in town for the summer, participating in our weekly meetings and in this summer's School of Ministry classes.

To help handle all of that, I'm so encouraged to have Sirak joining our staff at UTD.  He'll be focusing on men's ministry and training worship leaders.  Sirak's internship has gone great this past year, and we invited him to join our permanent staff.  He has grown tremendously in pastoral insight, in his heart for these young guys, and in his ministry skills.  He's willing and able to have the tough conversations that can really help people move to new places in their walk with God.  And he's become a dear friend.  As I continue to spend a significant amount of my weekly time investing in our staff at other campuses, it is so encouraging to have Sirak at my side at UTD.

On the personal front, I've been trying to sell my house.  If everything goes according to plan, I should close on July 2 or 3.  God has been good (as always), providing a buyer and making the process move quickly.  But it's been a crazy few weeks of unexpected problems.  As an example, the night before the final negotiations, I came home to this:
You might think it blew over in a storm, but no.  Apparently a root grew in a tight circle around the trunk, causing the tree to commit tree suicide as it grew.  The top just popped off.  Who knew?!
I'm sure there's a powerful sermon illustration in there somewhere.  I just need to figure it out!

I appreciate your prayers for this ministry.  We face all the challenges of growth, of our most experienced student leaders continually being exported to other ministries (aka graduating), and of all the things the enemy is doing to destroy college students.  Keep praying for us!

And a special thanks to those of you who support financially--supporting a staff person, helping underwrite an event, scholarshiping a student to go to camp--these things are investments in the future of the kingdom and they are truly making a difference.  Thank you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Vision, Revisited

Christian Hernandez-Hollie (a really talented young lady!) read a poem during our Friday Night Fellowship a couple weeks back entitled "The Vision".  It's worth five minutes to listen and dream with God about what He wants His people to look like.  If you'd like, you can read the poem yourself here.
The vision happens one person at a time, as hearts are turned to God and lives are changed.  The vision is personal because we serve a personal God.  It can't be mass produced because He doesn't mass produce us.  It will look different at different times and different places and in different people, but in the end it will always look like Jesus.  That gets me excited!
This month, 10 of our campus missionaries will take 55 of our students to Washington to learn more about this kind of personal ministry.  And hopefully to catch a clearer vision themselves.  These are students who we hope will step into leadership this fall.
Please take a moment to pray for these students that the Lord will do something special in each of their lives that week (May 16-25), and that He will knit our hearts together in true Christian community, based not on our similarities, but on His vision.
My prayer for you is that you will see His vision more clearly, and that your friends, families, and co-workers will see His vision more clearly by looking at you!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The home stretch

I came across this sermon that one of our sophomores gave at his home church about his experience in campus ministry.  If you have time to listen to it, you will be so encouraged!  If you only have time for a sound byte, I recommend listening for one minute starting at 3:15--a great testimony to "one on one is how it's done!"

This past week we hosted 21 students and 3 staff from Campus Christian Fellowship at Western Washington University.  Each of them chose to spend their spring break reaching out to students on our campuses--and it was awesome!  Walking around campus last week, you would have seen each of them, paired with one of our FOCUS students, starting up spiritual conversations around campus.  You would have heard them respectfully asking questions, getting to know people, finding out where they are with God and trying to help them take the next step.  Over the course of one week and 4 campuses, we talked to Christians of all stripes, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Wiccans, Satanists, agnostics, and everything in between.  These students are growing in love for their peers and becoming more courageous about starting spiritual friendships with them.  Great stuff!

Part of the team from WWU showing some Comet Pride!

Friday night we hosted a Good Friday service on campus at UTD and had a great turnout.  We had people from other ministries as well as students we met during the week come out.  You would have been so touched to hear 6 students perform monologues they wrote about different perspectives on Jesus' arrest, trial, death, and burial.  Sihui, one of the international students who gave her life to Christ this semester, wrote this from the perspective of the woman who recognized Peter in the courtyard.  (It's written in exactly the style she shared it--so personal).  

Yeah....It's him! I wasn't sure if he is one of the men who always with the master, who called Jesus. But I'm sure about it now since it's not just me recognize him, other people recognize him also. I went to the temple and listened to the teaching from this master several times, and I also met him on the street when he was teaching or healing people miraculously. This man was always with this master! I thought he was faithful and loved his master. But what did he just said? He said that he doesn't even know him! He was lying! He just disown his master! Why? after listened to the teaching of this master and saw the miracles hie did, even me started to believe this master, Jesus, maybe is a prophet sent by God. But this man, who just said he doesn't even know this master, the time he spent with this master, Jesus, much more than I did. The teaching he got from Jesus much more than I did. The miracles he witnessed much more than I did. Even though he was so close to Jesus, he betray Jesus. Oh, what a poor man! Not even a dog would disown its owner. Not even a dog would betray its master. This man must be freaked out! He must be afraid about his safety since his master just be arrested. Even though he witnessed the wisdom and supernatural power of his master, when things came to his own interest, he chose to betray his master for saving himself. His faith to his master is not even as faithful as the faith of dog! Oh...this poor man. Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest disciples. Even though he could use his miraculous power to heal people, even though he could give so much good teachings, he could not make his disciple keep his faith to him. Yeah, this is human. When things come to our interest, we always tend to think about ourselves and worry about ourselves. If I were this man, I would disown this master also. Yeah, no matter how good and powerful this master is, I would betray him also, as this man did, for saving my life. Who would not want to save his own life? No one would be so foolish that willing to lose its life for someone, even though this one may be a prophet, a man sent by God.
Wait......why then this man, Jesus, still boast that he is the son of God? Why he didn't deny his master for saving his life? He seemed so calm and not afraid at all when he was arrested. He seemed so ready and willing to give up his life for insisting that he is the son of God. Why a human being would have such courage and faithfulness? Is he crazy that he is still claiming himself as the son of God even though he would lose his life for saying it? But his teaching is full of wisdom. How could a crazy man give so much good teachings? Where does his courage, faithfulness, power, and wisdom come from? Oh..it must be from God! Only God could offer such faithfulness, power, and wisdom. I was wrong! He isn't only a prophet, a man sent by God, he is also the son of God, whom he always claims himself is! This master, this teacher, Jesus is the son of God! But he is about to be killed by human! How could this happen? How could this happen? Oh, my God! Oh My dear God! Please please stop these human from killing Jesus, your son. Please have mercy on us. Please have mercy on us, God! Please allow us spend more time with your son. Please let the truth from heaven stay with us!
Keep praying for the mission on campus.  God is doing great things through our partnership!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reflecting on the FOCUS Internship

Every year, we have a group of college graduates join us on staff as campus missionary interns.  They get professional fundraising experience as we raise our budget and then spend the next school year serving, giving, loving, studying, teaching, sharing their faith, and growing as men and women of God.  While FOCUS has had interns for a long time (my own internship started in the fall of 1998!), we launched our formal, part-time internship program three years ago.

In that time, the internship has become one of my absolute favorite things about this ministry.  First off, we are building on a foundation already laid.  Most of our interns have come to us after multiple years in our community.  We don't have to start from scratch--we have clear goals of how we want to see their knowledge, character, and heart for God grow in the coming year.  But more than that, we have the time with them to really work on those things.  One of the internship applicants for this year told me last week that he wanted to take a year to equip himself for ministry for the rest of his life.  For some of these young people, they are holding off launching careers for a year so that when they do get into the marketplace, they will have a greater impact for the kingdom of God.

Because of that time and intense focus, I see such amazing changes in the interns!  We're batting 1000 so far.  Every single one of them has had major breakthroughs in tough issues and has grown in significant, visible ways.  Some are on staff with FOCUS, leading campus ministries at Collin College, Richland College, and the University of North Texas.  Others are teachers, programmers, graduate students, and more, making differences in people's lives far beyond these campuses.

So many of you have contributed so much over the years in so many ways to make this all possible--laying the foundation of this ministry, sharing your faith with and mentoring students, praying for these campuses, contributing financially.  Thank you.  We are only beginning to see the fruit.

This year, we are making the internship full-time so we can make it even more intense and intentional.  We have 11 people in the application process.  11 GREAT people.  We'll be adding a lot to the internship's Biblical studies and on-campus outreach.  Pray for wisdom for our staff as we finish the selection process.  And pray that God will provide mightily for all our needs.  This could be a game-changing year!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Your Winter Camp Report

You would have been blown away to get to worship with the 370 people who came to Winter Camp this year--up from 250 last year.  You would have heard great lessons about the Kingdom of God from Geoff Mumley, been led in worship by multiple worship teams made up of students from all of our campuses, and had a blast making new friends and growing deeper in your walk with the Lord.  But I think a few things would have stood out even beyond that:

1.  Diversity.  We prayed for diversity and God has answered.  We had people of every color and people from all over the world at camp.  But it's more than just that.  On the way home, our guest speaker Geoff was telling me about what he saw--"the coolest of the cool hanging out with people who would have been social outcasts anywhere else; extreme athletes playing games with the physically handicapped."  He called it "a little piece of the Kingdom."  And you are helping build it!

2.  Serious students.  Had you been at our optional class during free time on "Reading the Prophets," you would have had to find a seat amidst the hundreds of students who left their games to come learn how to be better students of the Bible.  All through the weekend, students had their journals and Bibles out, taking notes and drinking deeply from God's word.  One student remarked to me that the scheduled journaling time was the highlight of her weekend.

3.  Growing vision.  Students were catching the vision that God has given us--that every student needs a Jesus-follower as a friend, that every person ought to have someone offer to study the Bible with them, that every campus in the DFW Metroplex needs vibrant, creative fellowships of believers.  And they are starting to understand that realizing great visions will take great investments.  I heard a student say that he had already decided he wanted to be involved in campus ministry after college, but that now he realized that meant financially as well.

You would have been blown away.  I was.  Thanks for believing in me and supporting me in so many ways.  I'm humbled to be a little part of the BIG things God is doing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Almost Winter Camp!

Hey all, I have a few exciting things to tell you!

1.  We had THREE baptisms out of the Richland ministry last month, and they are three pretty different stories.  One of the guys was an international student from Rwanda really making a decision to follow Christ.  He made that decision only days before moving to Maryland to continue his education there, but one of the other campus ministries was able to connect him with a church in his new city led by a pastor from his home country!  Another guy has a Christian background but hadn't been living a life that brought glory to God.  He made a decision to live seriously for God instead of for himself.  And the third was a student's mom!  She came to her son's baptism last year and started coming to church.  Mandy (on staff) and Kristen Chapman (a long-time FOCUS supporter) had the opportunity to build a friendship with her and study the scriptures together--and she made the decision to make Jesus Lord of her life!  You would have been so encouraged to see each of these three make a solid decision to relinquish control and take a big step into the exciting plans God has for them.  

This is Landry sharing his testimony after his baptism.  The ICF staff was a huge part of God working in his life, and they got to be there too!
Travis baptizing Cameron.
Griffin's mom Leane talking before her baptism.  She is quite the preacher!  As she was going one of the Northeast elders walked in and asked who she was about to baptize. :-)

2.  Winter Camp is this weekend (Jan 18-21)!  Woo!  These are some of the most important days of the year for FOCUS, and I'd love for you to visit if you have the opportunity.  This year, we'll be at Sky Ranch in Van, TX.  We'll have morning and evening sessions both Saturday and Sunday.  If you are interested in coming out for a session and maybe a meal, please email me or call me.  We'd love to have you see with your own eyes how God is at work in these young men and women!  And if you'd like to help scholarship a student (or students) to come to camp, that would be a big help too.  As we've expanded to Richland and UNT, we've reached more and more students from lower income backgrounds.  We're committed to taking them with us, but camp costs $135/person.  Investing in the spiritual life of a young person is a great kingdom investment.

3.  My role is changing yet again.  We've rearranged some things on staff and I'll be leading the UTD ministry again as well as supporting the staff at the other campuses.  I'm so excited about it because I love UTD FOCUS!  

Developing Our Pastoral Team

We are back in August and ramping up for the school year! We have an amazing pastoral staff, and an outstanding group of student leaders. At...