Sunday, November 3, 2019

Encouraging Notes from FOCUS Alumni

I consistently get messages from past students highlighting ways that their time in FOCUS continues to shape their lives. It's very encouraging! I wanted to share a couple of recent ones so you can get a glimpse into some of the fruit of our partnership.

From one of our young men:

Have you ever read The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind? It made me think about how glad I am for the summer school of ministry, and for you introducing the scholars from Regent College and elsewhere to me. I seriously think it saved my faith. I don't think I could follow God if I hadn't had that mental and philosophical help. - Matt

I haven't read the book, but I've definitely come face to face over and over again with young men and women who are asking the question, "can I be an intellectual AND a Christian?" How did we get the reputation of being anti-intellectual? It's especially ironic given the role of great Christian minds over the past 2000 years who have advanced civilization in basically every area. 

This coming weekend, we will be hosting Dr. Mary Poplin, a professor from Claremont Graduate University, to speak at our fall Pizza Theology on "Is Reality Secular?" Please pray that the Spirit will shape the minds of young disciples through events like these so that they lead in their various fields as thoughtful, committed Christians.

From one of our young women:

After our annual Leadership Conference, planned this year by Laurence Glenesk and my wife, Sarah, one of our young graduates who has become a teacher sent them this message:

Hey I know you two put all this together, and I wanted to let you know what an immense blessing it has been.

Coming out of vocational ministry and into education, one of the struggles I have felt over and again is the lack of specific training for how to hone my ministry in the context I am in. In FOCUS, I had staff directors pulling resources for me, asking me challenging questions, and generally supporting my desire to grow as a creative minister. In teaching, I’ve found the same efforts (Professional Development) to be largely a waste of time and money, and not anything related to spiritual training, obviously. Last year, FISD’s topic of focus was “innovation.” They pulled some famous, charismatic person to speak at our convocation, who gave a presentation that was both entertaining and alienating. The disconnect between my day-to-day interactions with students and this man’s urgent cry for innovation didn’t help, and it mostly ended up in our staff having to create forced lessons “using technology” that would have gone better on paper, if we’re honest. But hey, it’s “innovative.”

So today I was not excited about our topic, though I am always excited about what God’s gonna do at our leadership day. Boy, was I wrong.

Today’s sessions have been the best—THE best—training for my job that I have ever had. I spend about 85% of my waking hours with Gen Z kids and I love them. My thoughts when I go to bed are consumed with those kids. My prayers are full of hope and heartbreak for them. I desperately want to learn to love and serve them better and to show them the heart of God. Today I have learned how to, and it was free.

I am blown away at the quality of this conference, and I know it is driven by attention to the Spirit’s leading and a love for God’s children. What an honor to call you both friends and share in the gifts God has given you in ministry. Thank you so much for all you’ve done!

We are continuing to invest in our alumni, as well as our students, through events like these, equipping them to live out the mission of God in their various spheres. I'm so encouraged to hear messages like this one!

2 More Things

Our annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser will be coming up on giving Tuesday after Thanksgiving on December 3. Please pray about whether the Lord might lead you to give a special gift during this year-end season. We are currently projecting a loss for this year, but we're trusting God to make up the difference!

Here's a sneak peak at the theme this year!

And here's a sweet testimony from one of our students. Thanks for investing in young men like Johnny!

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