Sunday, February 1, 2015

Winter Camp 2015

I can't imagine how Winter Camp this year could have gone better. We had nearly 500 people gather to worship, learn, pray, and play together for three days. I'm still hearing great feedback from students who were impacted, energized, and equipped to return to their campuses as maturing Jesus people. We see from Jesus' ministry that growth in numbers doesn't mean much by itself, but I'm encouraged that of those hundreds of students, only a handful signed up separate from one of our core groups. That tells me that nearly every student started the weekend tied in to the community with leaders who know them and are investing in them personally. (And hopefully they ALL ended the weekend that way!)

This was the big group--well over 400 college students plus some siblings and friends in their last year or two of high school, FOCUS staff people, and some alumni and supporters who came to help minister and bless students.
And here's the UTD group whooshing! Note there are a couple of alums in the bottom right corner with a little future Comet. Leah and Jared, the parents, are past leaders who have had a huge formative impact on our ministry--Leah was even one of the first 5 students involved!
Our speaker was Dr. Iain Provan, an Old Testament scholar from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He spent the weekend unpacking for us the goodness of God and His plan as revealed in the Old Testament. In keeping with our "Words of Life" theme this year, he spoke on Words about Creation, Words about God, Words about Being Human, Words about Suffering and Evil, and Words about Hope. He also did a nearly two-hour open Q&A on the Old Testament. Even though it was billed as an optional event, well over 300 students were in attendance.
Iain Provan
I think these words from Nikki, one of the UTD students who became a Christian this past year, capture it well: "Iain Provan's lectures were by far the best I've had thus far (sorry Brandon!). As one of many who did the [FOCUS Summer School of Ministry class] for Genesis, I couldn't help but take pages and pages of notes while Iain was speaking. It blew my mind to get not only his perspectives on some of the things discussed in the class, but just to dig once again below the surface of such an important piece to gain insight on a different approach to Genesis was mind blowing!! I definitely will re-read the application commentary and do more research just to see what else is out there!"
Since our students are studying at public colleges and universities, they typically don't get to study the Scriptures at a college level. Two things Iain said stick out to me: "Every Christian needs to be educated to the level of their ability" and "It's kind of scandalous to have a higher degree in something else and still be at level one in our biblical understanding." It's our intention to continue to bring in scholars as well as pastors as speakers at our various events to better equip our students for a lifetime of Christian service.
(Regent, a graduate school of Theology, describes itself as transdenominational, evangelical, and orthodox, with its first priority being to remain true to the orthodox faith as recorded in the Scriptures. One of their main focuses is on equipping and training the whole people of God, not just professional pastors. I've probably recommended it before, but the bookstore has a website where you can purchase mp3 recordings or CDs of many of the classes. If you have a commute or take long walks/runs in your regular schedule, this might be a great way to use that time to develop your ability to "love God with all your mind." You might start by searching for Iain Provan on

A couple quick updates:
FOCUS 140 funds - We're still looking at how to best use the money raised to keep FOCUS growing in 2015. We're planning to overhaul our website and create an app to get ready for more campuses and more students in the next 5-10 years. We've been gathering an amazing team of staff and students to move to Arlington and launch the ministry at UTA, and we plan to buy them supplies for outreach and also subsidize a team-building and planning retreat sometime this summer.

Rooms at UTD - We now have rooms for every Friday night this semester...except for next week! We have some great churches in the area who have offered to host us so we may move off campus for that one night. Please say a prayer that we don't have these problems again in the Fall!

Thank you for your gifts and prayers to make all these things possible. Together, we're blessing a lot of students. I hope it's a blessing and encouragement to you as well!

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...