Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hallie, Pizza Theology, and Prayer

Hallie's Story

Hallie Tran (Junior, UT Arlington, Nursing)
"I grew up in Vietnam with Buddhist parents. My aunt shared the gospel with me and my brother, and I became a Christian when I was around six. Looking back, I can see how God was pursuing me and leading me to grow in my relationship with Him by giving me a desire to go to church.

When I came to America, my host families helped me grow in my faith. My parents came to visit me and my brother after a couple years. My parents thought that because we were thankful to God, we were not thankful to them, and they were really angry. They were in Vietnam working hard to provide for me and my brother to go to school in the States. They made us choose: we could stop following God and they would continue to support us financially, or we could follow God and He would support us. My brother and I chose God. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to transfer to UTA, but God provided a way. My parents, after my aunt spoke with them, decided to continue supporting me until I graduate. My relationship with my parents has changed a lot since that conversation. In some ways, I feel like they disowned me and my brother. My parents aren’t really my family anymore. But FOCUS has since filled that role, and the people in this community have become my family. FOCUS has challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and invest in people. It has been a safe place for me to have hard conversations. Because of FOCUS I have deep friendships. I was accepted to a nursing school in Florida, and seriously considered going, but decided to stay at UTA because I saw what God was doing on this campus. I have so much to be thankful for and can see the great things that God is doing in my life and in those around me."

Pizza Theology on Race

The view from my seat in the back at Pizza Theology.
Last weekend we had our spring Pizza Theology and over 400 came to think deeply about the topic of race, ethnicity, and culture from a Christian perspective. Two of my UTD staff guys, Peter and Sirak, did the primary teaching, and they were amazing! Peter laid out a biblical vision of race from Genesis to Revelation. Sirak (who is also a sociology professor at Richland College) laid out some sociological and historical foundations for how we think about race and the current state of affairs. In addition, we had 13 testimonies from within our community that reflected some of the incredible diversity we encounter each day (including one from Hallie who is highlighted above). Each of those testimonies included a pastoral word, and I was blown away by the pastoral insight and skill of our students. We are truly raising up a generation of leaders!

One recurring theme was the importance of listening. We often repeat Stephen Covey's axiom to our students: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

If you have an interest in the topic, the audio and study guide for pizza theology are posted here.

Request for Prayer

We have been very blessed, but in a community of 800+ students, there are always some really tough things going on. Here are a few:

  • Suicide - We always have students grappling with suicidal thoughts. This semester we have students who have checked themselves into psych wards for their own protection, students with close friends and family members who are suicidal, and students who are grieving over loved ones lost to suicide. Please pray for special grace for these students and for all those who are are seeking to love and support them.
  • Death of loved ones - We have students this semester dealing with the recent or impending deaths of parents, not to mention grandparents and other loved ones. Please pray for God's comfort in their mourning.
  • Recovering from abuse - In our recent student survey, 12.5% of our students said they had been the victim of some sort of physical abuse, and 19.8% said they had experienced some sort of sexual abuse. 1 in 5. So many of these students are opening up about these experiences for the first time and just beginning to process them. Please join me in my prayer is that God would heal those wounds and redeem those experiences. Another of our axioms from Alan Pickering: "Your misery can become your ministry."
I could go on and on, but I say this to remind you to pray for these students. And pray for us too, that we can effectively minister Jesus Christ to them and not fall into the trap of just being amateur counselors instead of true pastors.

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for doing what you can to bless these students. Together, we're having an impact on so many.

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