Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March 2018

You're Invited!

Some of our performers from last year!
(Photo: Sean Do)
You are invited to our Spring Showcase on April 7, 2018. Every year we hold a fundraiser art show and concert to support one of our biggest events of the year - SICM. We take a group of our potential leaders to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM) in Bellingham, Washington. This is a huge opportunity for our potential leaders to develop hands-on ministry skills, learn more about leading a small group and ministering to their peers, and grow in their relationship with God. 

A campus ministry in Bellingham partners with us and is super generous with us! Families from a church hosts a majority of our students - giving them a place to stay and food for the whole week - to cut down on costs for our students. Even still, this ten day trip is expensive for many college students. It costs about $815 per student, so this event makes a tremendous impact in allowing our students to afford the trip. 

The show is jam-packed with talent! We ask students, alumni, and music professionals to perform for the show. In between our shows, we hold an art sale with a variety of different pieces created by local artists and students. I would love for you to come!
There are a variety of music genres and art forms at the showcase!
(Photo: Sean Do)

When is it?
Saturday, April 7, 2018

Matinee Show: Doors open at 2:30 pm; Show begins at 3:00 pm.
Art Show: 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Evening Show: Show begins at 7:00 pm

Where is it?
Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church
Bent Tree Family Theater
4141 International Pkwy, Carrollton, Tx, 75007

What is the cost?
$20 General Admission
$15 Student Admission

Where can I buy my ticket? 

Even if you can't come to Spring Showcase, please keep it in your prayers! There are a lot of moving parts to coordinate, so pray that it goes smoothly! Also, please pray for our students going to SICM. It can be such an impactful trip for them. Pray for their personal fundraising to go well so that they don't have added money anxiety.

One of my SICM girls getting groceries for a pancake fundraiser! 

Heating Up Outreach

We've been in the process of heating up outreach on all three of our Denton campuses this semester and that has been going great! I have loved getting to meet the "fruit" of outreach on Friday nights as new people wander in looking for the student they had met earlier that week on campus! 

One kind of outreach that has resulted in some cool stories is called "Treasure Hunting."

How to Treasure Hunt: 
  1. Take a minute to pray and settle your mind. 
  2. When you're ready, start a timer for 45 seconds. Write down whatever comes to mind in that tiny period of time. It can be a name, a pattern, a color, a place, or any other noun. Don't try to filter out words that seem irrelevant! Just write it all down. 
  3. When your 45 seconds are up, take your list and go look for someone who fits that description! When you find someone, ask them how're they're doing and tell them about Jesus! 
Outreach Gang! They prayer walked the campus today!
I know that might sound confusing, so here is a story to illustrate! A couple of weeks ago we were doing outreach at UNT and we were going to try Treasure Hunting. Aaron prayed over us and we each wrote down things that came to mind while he was praying. When he had finished, this one student, Kassi, had a very specific shade of pink come to mind. She and another student stood up to go start doing outreach and as the other student moved aside, Kassi saw a girl who had been sitting right behind him wearing the EXACT shade of pink she was looking for! She had been blocked from Kassi's view, but I know the girl had been there the whole time. Kassi gulped down her exuberant excitement and trepidation of coming across weird, and approached the girl in pink. 

The girl was actually quite open to talking with her and they had a good long conversation! She was stressed out from school and Kassi was able to love on her and encourage her. Kassi also found out that the girl had a cousin coming to visit from her same home town, so they exchanged numbers! Who knows what that conversation really meant to the girl in pink, but it was such an encouragement to Kassi! She had a new kind of interaction with the Spirit and was reminded of how powerful He is. She was encouraged in being an outreaching person because God is going before her and will direct her feet in outreach. 

I was so encouraged because Treasure Hunting is such an easy thing to do. Maybe give it a shot yourself, next time you're at the grocery store or walking in to church! Who might God want you to encourage that you wouldn't normally approach? 

A Sweet Baptism 

I had the privilege of baptizing my friend, Eryka, this past Sunday. She has had such a crazy journey and God has pursued her so hard throughout these last couple of months. This is her testimony: 

Eryka has a sweet community who will walk with her as she walks with Jesus!
My life has been a crazy mess of twists, turns and the ground being pulled out from under me on more than one occasion. As a little girl, my life consisted of neglect, abuse and confusion, wondering why I was always in so much pain. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I suffered through so much depression and anxiety, it would lead me to self-harm and pushing others away. By high school, I would pray, but it would be for God to let me die so I wouldn't suffer anymore. My senior year I had a plan to kill myself and I had written my suicide note, ensuring that people would know how much they had hurt me. 

Before I put that into action, I went to church because of a classmate and had my first encounter with God. That night we talked about who we could trust, but I didn't feel like I could trust anyone, so it was hard for me to listen. Two days after my graduation, I went to church with the plan to kill myself when I got home, but was found out and hospitalized. I spent my time in rehab lying my way out. After I left the hospital, I was hesitant to go back to church, but was greeted by so much love and genuine care for my wellbeing. I felt so much peace knowing I was loved. 

My goals for college were to focus solely on school, but those were not God's plans. Near the end of my first semester, Pita told me about a group that met on Wednesdays and I decided to check it out. I eventually opened up to Pita and started going to more FOCUS events. At first I was overwhelmed, but grew to love it. But it wasn't until after I started meeting with Miriam weekly and her pursuing me and pointing me to the Lord that I really considered God to be a factor in anything that had happened in my life. She showed me what real love looked like, both sweet and tough, but mostly tough because I am stubborn. 

God really started to reveal himself to me in this community. I was on the fence for 6-9 months, but after my first winter camp, I decided to jump off the fence. Now, instead of sitting on the fence and trusting its structure, I can lean on God. Through him I have found peace and comfort in knowing there is safety in his arms and he will never let me go. I can always trust that I have someone to run to in the hard times. God has been with me since day one. He cried with me every time I cried and hurt with me every time I would self harm. He stayed by my side the entire time I was in the hospital and I truly believe he is here now. No matter what, he is always there and knowing that is the most comforting thing. 

Thank you for your prayers for me and for Eryka as we've met together this last year. It's been really cool recently to see her putting her faith into practice and start to share that with her friends. A lot of her old friends are in much of the same mind and emotional state that she was in before she met Jesus. I can't wait to see how the Lord uses her testimony to bring even more people into his kingdom!!

Pizza Theology

One more thing from February that was really cool was Pizza Theology! Pizza Theology is an event we put on once a semester where we dive into a bigger theological subject and spend four hours of lecture time on it, broken up by an hour of pizza and fellowship! Our topic this year was the Second Coming of Christ! I had the honor of being asked to speak for a portion of the night about the book of Revelation. I've studied Revelation some in the past, so I had a base to start from, but a good portion of my time over the last month and a half went into studying and preparing for this event. 

Soo many students!
Speaking in front of 500 students was a daunting task, but the Lord was so good to me through that experience and rocked my world several times! I loved getting to dig deeper into Revelation and to present it to the students in a way that was approachable and hopeful. If you'd like to listen to it, you can find it here

This topic came at such a good time for me - it was incredibly encouraging to be reminded of how God has been working a plan to redeem His people from the very beginning, to know that He is in control always, and to be reminded to stay alert and active as we wait for His return. There is so much hope offered in the book of Revelation. It rustled my imagination as I read through and breathed some new life into me.  

As Always...

Thank you for your support and your prayers! I would not be able to do what I do without you. Thank you for being a part of moving the Kingdom forward! 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February Update

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.  

-Psalm 107:1

This verse summarizes how I've felt over the course of the last month. Since being back from my leave of absence to be with my mom, I have been so thankful for where the Lord has placed me. I have a lot of peace about my mom's illness. I'm so glad to be back and working with my students and teammates again. I'm so much more appreciative of my church and ministry family. My life is not without it's sadnesses, trials and frustrations, but God has been so good to me all throughout the last months and has provided for me and my loved ones in very sweet ways. How kind of him.
Thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family!

Winter Camp

Winter Camp was the BIG DEAL of this last month! We took close to 600 students from all 11 of our campus ministries out to Sky Ranch for a long weekend before school started back up. Every year, this is such a fun time to be all together and to hear a word from the Lord in a place removed from the stress and busyness of life. 

We invited Geoff and Jessica Mumley, who are campus pastors with the student ministry we partner with in Washington (you know, where we send students for SICM), to come speak on the topic of "being sent." One of the phrases from the sermons that has really seemed to stick with our students (and with me!) is "Who told you that?" I've heard our students use this question multiple times over the last two weeks to call out lies their peers are believing, insecurities and fears they have allowed to fester, and to think through misunderstandings they have about God. Already it has been a helpful tool in my ministry with seekers who have misconceptions about who God and Christians are - "Who told you God is like that?" - and then getting to redirect them to Biblical truth! 
Waiting for the session to start!

In addition to getting our students excited about being Sent as disciples, God answered so many prayers over the course of the weekend! Students that had originally said "No" to coming to camp changed their minds and had significant encounters with God. Friendships were solidified in cores that will really allow them to get deeper over the course of this next semester. One student was baptized at camp! Another student decided to get off the fence and allow Jesus to be Lord of her life! I'm thankful to get to be part of this weekend and to see how God continues to work in these students' lives over the course of the rest of the year. 

This is a video one of our students at UT Arlington made from the weekend! It gives you a glimpse of the fun, fellowship and worship that took place over the weekend! 

The dance party at Winter Camp is one of my favorite things. A student commented that she's never felt so free to cut up and be herself before without alcohol. I love that this community is teaching students you don't need drugs or alcohol to have a good time. 

My friends and coworkers, Brandon and Sarah, got engaged at camp! The students went craaaaaaazy! 

Thank you for your prayers for Winter Camp! It's our largest event of the year and it went so smoothly. But more important than that, students encountered God and were changed. Praise God!

Student Testimony

This month's student testimony is so exciting to me, because it's from a student at our newest campus, SMU! God has been so faithful in building that campus and working in the new students' lives. Look at the changes already in just one semester! 

Candice Fudzie
Southern Methodist University
Math, Environmental Engineering, and Sociology
"This past semester, I was a 17-year-old girl who felt very overwhelmed with all that college had to offer. I deal with depression and anxiety. Throughout high school, these disorders tore me apart and made it extremely easy to block out my friends, my family, and God. I was going down a destructive path and, frankly, it’s by the grace and love of God that I am even alive. FOCUS has given me a community where I’m allowed to be vulnerable and transparent. FOCUS has helped me emphasize my personal relationship with God; now I’m sure to let him know how I’m feeling (something I couldn’t accomplish in high school). Due to my growing relationship with God, I’ve been able to see a clear and healthy path towards dealing with my depression and anxiety where He is a part of my journey. PRAISE God! Whether it's lying on the floor listening to “Build My Life” by Housefires, writing out my negative thoughts and turning them into positive ones, or calling my mom to tell her how I’m feeling, I remember the Spirit is with me to give me strength."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Update

Thank you! 

So last time, I left you with an invitation to give to the annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. That end of the year fundraiser is so important - there are a lot of administrative costs to keep an organization as large as FOCUS running smoothly, not to mention having the financial capabilities to move when the Lord says "Go to a new campus"! This fundraiser gives us the freedom to do just that. 

This year's fundraiser was met with all kinds of incredible blessings! 
1. Facebook waived all processing fees for any gift given to a non-profit organization. Those little fees can really add up and take a chunk out of a total! 
2. Facebook, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a generous anonymous donor matched over $10,000 in gifts given! 
3. We raised not only our goal of $50,000, but went OVER our goal!
4. We were able to end the fundraiser sooner than we had originally planned, which meant all of our staff members could completely enjoy their holiday break without continued work in this area!

I want to say a particular thank you to each of you who gave this year. God has deeply blessed this ministry through you. Just think about the hundreds of students who will be impacted for His Glory this next semester, and the ripple effect from there! How awesome to get to be part of that. Thank you for being obedient and generous!! 

A Leave of Absence

My December was an interesting one. Coming back after Thanksgiving, I was dealing with a lot of anxiety, fear and depression regarding my mom's health. She was actually doing relatively ok, but the potential for treatment was looming and I was terrified of those implications. 

I talked with my supervisors and they determined that since we were in the last week of school and our students were moving into a month long break, I could take an extended leave of absence to go be with her. That was such an incredible blessing to me. I have not had that long of a period of time at home with my mom since I was in high school! 

It was a sweet time together and I had a lot of time for quiet reflection on the last year. God really worked in my heart throughout those two weeks to show me how anxious I've been lately. I don't tend to slow down enough to acknowledge how I'm really doing and to let Him soothe my heart. But my body knows and has been trying to tell me! I've had to stop drinking coffee because it makes my heart fluttery and my hair has been thinning all this last year. 

We read Romans 8 this morning in our staff meeting and verse six really spoke to me: The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 

It makes me think of John 10:10, where Jesus talks about how "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they may have life, life to the fullest!" That's something I've reflected on often with the girls I'm ministering to but had not yet taken the time to digest it and apply it to myself. The anxiety I've been experiencing is not "life to the fullest." It reeks of death. One of my teammates commented on the Romans verse "How good of God that he wants us to experience peace and life every day, through every situation. Not just some times or in certain situations." 

My mom's situation hasn't changed. She's still fighting a disease that doesn't offer much hope. But God does offer both hope and peace. I'm thankful for God reminding me of that during my leave of absence. I'm hoping to really put these reflections and insights into practice this next year, whatever it may bring.

Also, what a kind, compassionate team I have the privilege of working with to allow me that time! I am very blessed. 

Denton Team - Ready for the Christmas Party!

January Student Testimony

Graham Spencer
Collin College
"FOCUS showed me what a real relationship with God is. Coming from a Christian private school, I thought I understood God pretty well, but I didn't have a relationship with Him at all. Through the example of my Corefas, staff members, and just so many other students, I saw what it means to earnestly seek God. One of my favorite moments from freshman year was a talk with my friend, Pedro. We were good friends at this point in the year, and I had become pretty vulnerable with him. We got into a serious conversation about our current walks with God, what that looks like, and why/ After poorly answering how my relationship with God was "pretty good," Pedro really pushed my ideas of why I was a Christian. I ended up realizing most of my faith was blindly following the laws God had given us, and not really seeking Him out. Pedro then opened up to me that he had struggled with the same problem early on in his faith. I'm beyond thankful for Pedro and so many other friends like him who have spurred me on in love. Before FOCUS, this community, I was living half the life I am now. Now, I am living life with God, not just for Him."   

Prayer Requests

  • Winter Camp is this weekend! Please be praying that our students would radically encounter Jesus this weekend! Please pray that deep friendships would be solidified and that our staff would have the stamina to minister to students this weekend.
  • Please pray that our students would be outreaching int their classes and purposeful in their friendships this semester!

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Update

Keep FOCUS Growing

I'm sure you know the big deal this month is the Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser that's currently happening! Each year, we host a fundraiser to provide funds for new campuses, student needs, advertising on campus, Focus on Jesus study books, and so much more! If you aren't already following FOCUS on Facebook, you can do so here. This last Tuesday was "Giving Tuesday," where Facebook waived all processing fees and the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation matched $2 million towards non-profits!

My friend, Tony, from Zambia!
You guys were ON IT! Over the course of that day, we went from $2,999 to $34,000 of our $50,000 goal! That is incredible. Thank you so much, if you have already given! If you haven't yet, please seriously pray about it and give through the Facebook page, since they have permanently waived fees for non-profit organizations now! 

It's only because of generous givers like you guys that we are able to do as much as we have been and would like to do on these college campuses in the DFW Metroplex! Thank you!!

Check out the Wishlist and see what gets YOU excited!

A Sweet Story

I want to share a story about the provision of the Lord for our student leaders that's been unfolding over the course of the last month! It started at one of our leader meetings near the end of October. You could feel it when you walked in, and as we started talking through the agenda that night. Our students were beat. The energy that they normally exude was just dead. Danielle felt prompted by the Spirit to change up our plan for the night and ask everyone "how are they really doing" and "what was going on"?

Some of our students hanging out!

One after another they started sharing about how stressed they felt, the high levels of anxiety a lot of them were experiencing, the feelings of overload and burn was rough! We spent some time that night praying for each other.

The next day, I got a text from the mom of one of our students. That always makes me nervous! What did your kid do? What did I do?? Hesitantly, I called her back and it was one of the most encouraging conversations. She had been at a women's retreat recently and felt the Lord leading her to start pouring out what she has been learning and benefitting from these retreats for the last several years onto the next generation. As she told me about the refreshment she experienced each year in intentionally coming away to be with Jesus, she asked if I thought that was something our students needed right now? I just started laughing. And crying a little. Boy, was it! That was exactly what our students need.

So we've started planning and figuring out the logistics. December and January are such funky months with the break, but we have tentative date set for February! Now where to host it? The next week from that encounter, I was at a mini seminar for my Bible Study Fellowship class and was paired "randomly" with a sweet lady for part of an activity. As we talked, I got to share some of what I do on campus, and at the end of our time together, she said "Well, you better get my information so I can support you!"

Just finished a Bible study with this awesome lady!
Whaaaat? If only all support raising was that simple! We exchanged information and we've spent the last several weeks trying to figure out a time to meet. We finally got to meet this last week and I was so encouraged by her. One of the first things she told me was "I want to support you, but I really feel like the Lord is leading me to open my home to you and your ministry. Is there anything you can think of that you need a place to host?"

Literally the day before I had been researching good locations for this little retreat! Now, it still might not work out there...we have around 30 women student leaders, which is a lot for one home! But the fact that the Lord is going ahead of us and opening doors is really awesome. Who knows what else we might get to do in that space next year!

This might seem like a lot of little coincidences, but each time I have gotten to meet or talk with these two women, God has provided in such sweet ways. This retreat for our women leaders is coming together and I am SO excited about it! And they have blessed and encouraged me at times when I have felt so down this month. It has been a reminder that God provides and is taking care of me and our students. The generosity of these two women (in their time, money, and home) is so reflective of His heart.  I hope that encourages you, too! I'll keep you posted about the retreat!

A picture from Pizza Theology over The Sermon on the Mount! You can listen here, if you're interested!

Student Testimony

This month's testimony is from an alum who is near and dear to my heart. Danyelle lived with my sister, Moriah, for a couple years and we did international student ministry at UNT together. This year, I've seen her go through some of the hardest things. But her heart for the Lord and his people is unwavering. Please keep Danyelle and Franco in your prayers! 


Monday, November 6, 2017

November Update

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 

As I was thinking about how I wanted to start this blog, this verse came into my mind. It's so applicable right now. There have been some cool things that have happened this month, but there have also been some difficult, on-going situations that I've been thinking about a lot. Apparently there's this thing called "the October Blues" in ministry and I've definitely been feeling that. We've gotten down into the nitty-gritty of ministry. This month (whole semester, really) has been leaning on the more on the difficult side - many of the girls I'm meeting with have hard situations in their lives that cause extra stress...many students are dealing with depression and anxiety...people are so clearly broken, but refuse to choose Jesus...many loved ones are dealing with health problems...that list could just go on! And yet, God is good. His love is enduring and his faithfulness continues. I'm so thankful for that. Please keep me, my teammates and our student leaders in your prayers as we battle onward.


This month, I've seen God's hand in leading a couple of our students to be baptized! It's always encouraging to see someone choose to be obedient in this way! Here is Tabitha's testimony. She is one of the girls I have had the honor of studying the Bible with this last year. I've really loved getting to watch her grow. 

Sweet Tabitha!

Growing up, I didn’t really know what God or Christianity was. I knew people went to church on Sundays and they read this thing called the Bible, but outside of that I didn’t know what it was. As I started getting a little older, I began to realize how much I did want to know more about it. Everyone around me was in a small group or had this unwavering belief in something great, and the fact that I didn’t left me feeling very much like an outsider. It left me feeling like I didn’t deserve to know about God and all of this grace and love he had to offer the world. It instilled in me this fear that I would never be good enough to know.

Once high school came along, God began to use my sister as a tool to try to bring me closer to Him. She would insist on having me go to church with her, she would ask me my thoughts on it after every service, whether I wanted to talk about it or not. Even after she moved away, I had this conviction to keep going and so I would go to the service by myself. I couldn’t quite see the transformation that was happening, but it was there: I began to sing the songs during worship, I was taking notes on the sermons, I was intent on trying to learn more about this God of ours. His plan to bring me to him was a few years in the making, but it was working.

Once I got to college, I had this conviction to join a ministry and that’s how I find myself here today. With all of these people that were my age and were trying to figure out the same thing that I was, I truly craved that community and that understanding. I went to that first FNF alone, but came out of it with such a massive group of people that cared about me and wanted to help me learn about God and the Bible. The fact that these people were so intentional with me and cared so deeply about me was baffling. My small group leaders once described us all with a verse and mine was 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” I didn’t understand at first, but they were showing me what loving like God was like. And even though these people did love and care for me I knew that this was only a small fraction of the magnitude of love that God has for all of us.

I recently decided to let the Lord have my heart and to lead me where he believes I should be. For so long, I believed I wasn’t worth it, I didn’t know the Bible and there were others who certainly had to be better Christians than me. Even after I started going to church I never thought that I was good enough, for God’s grace, His love, certainly not of being saved. No one is perfect, but God sees us as worthy enough to be saved.  And that is why he sent his only son to die for us, so that we can be saved.  After trying to control my path and falsely believing that I know what is best for me for so long, handing over the reign is the only thing I can do. God is intentional  with his timing and sometimes I wish he would have gotten to me sooner. Back before high school before I had that negative view of Christianity, but everything happens for a reason and even if we don’t understand his timing it is done by his will and is good. I’m ready for God, and he’s been waiting for me for so long. I’m ready to swing that door open.

Kassi getting baptized!
Opal (middle) got baptized!

All Church Retreat

The DFW Metro Family of Churches had it's 20th anniversary this year, which we celebrated by bringing back a tradition of All Church Retreat! This was such a fun weekend. All three of the churches that support FOCUS (located in Garland, Wylie and Denton) came together for three sessions focused on the past, the present and the future. It was a sweet encouragement to see how God has been working through these people to build up truly a family of churches that serve the surrounding areas, children, teens, college students, adults and seniors. I loved getting to see different friends and to catch up with them. I'm thankful to get to be part of this family of believers and I'm so excited to see what God does with the next twenty years!

Some Pics from Halloween

Each year, our students really enjoy dressing up for Halloween! It's a fun, less pressured night for them to invite their friends who might not come to a normal Friday Night Fellowship!  Here are some of my favorite costumes this year. 
Bob Ross and Painting

A Six Pack of Coca-Cola

The Wall from "Stranger Things"

Phineas & Ferb

Thank you guys for the ways you pray and minister to me! I'm so thankful for you!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Update

 Happy Autumn!

This is seriously my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather (sandwiched between the typical Texas heat), the occasional drippy gray days, the colors, all of it! 

September is such a transition month for both the staff and the new student leaders. We're all getting used to each other and building relationships. The students have huge opportunities in their classes to meet and engage with their classmates, which is always a potential, but is MUCH easier in those first few weeks. New cores are forming, finding rhythm with each other and developing vulnerability and friendship. It's a pretty sweet time! 

These are the corefas I'm mentoring this year and they are the cat's pajamas! 

Hannah & Reagann (front seat) & the UniCOREns (backseat)

Reagann is a senior studying Chemistry. This is her second year as a corefa. It's been pretty cool watching her "grow up" these last few years, as her freshman year was my intern year with FOCUS. I've gotten to see her learn how to push out of her comfort zone of being an introvert to really love people well. She's someone who makes others feel cared for and valuable to her. I'm excited to get to know her better this year. 

Hannah is a junior studying Media Arts and Advertising. I'm amazed at this girl's creativity in SO many areas! This is her first year as a corefa, so she's learning how to juggle a lot of things on her plate. She's already grown so much in time management and I think this next year will really help her grow that much more in learning healthy balance. Something I've really enjoyed about meeting with Hannah so far is that she's very thoughtful in her interactions with people and wants to learn how to best show Christ, no matter who she's with. 

Sarah (far left) and Elena (middle) with their core. 

This is my second year getting to mentor Sarah and Elena as corefas, which is such a treat! 

Sarah is an Environmental Science major in her senior year. She's a passionate, straight forward, obsessed with nature kind of person! I've really loved getting to meet with Sarah again this year and to continue growing our relationship. I'm thankful for her honesty and willingness to be open about hard things, her persistence and passion for people, and her desire to keep growing as a disciple. 

Elena is a senior studying Integrative Studies with concentrations in Biology, Psychology and Human Development And Family Science. (What a mouthful!) She's such a light hearted, loving person who is really grappling with her natural tendencies to become more like Christ. Something I appreciate about Elena is that although she strongly dislikes conflict, she's still willing to have hard conversations, ask tough questions and be honest about things in her life. 

Sierra (green shirt) & Katie (grey hoodie) with their core.

Katie is a senior studying Creative Writing and Media Arts. She was a corefa the year before last, but knew she was going to have a hectic junior year, so she didn't lead last year. I love having Katie on my team again this year! She's someone who is so thoughtful in her interactions with others and is really striving to grow in her relationship with God and how she relates to others because of that. 

Sierra is a junior studying Human Development and Family Science. This is her first year as a corefa and is the "youngest" Christian in my peer team this year, having been committed to Jesus for a little over a year now. That freshness has been so exciting to work with - she has great questions and perspectives! I'm really enjoying getting to know her and to see how the Lord is growing her. She's been a go-getter already in pursuing people for Jesus! 

So those are the women I'm spending the most of my time with this school year. I love how diverse this group is (ethnicity, backgrounds, interests, major, etc!). Keep us in your prayers as we continue getting to know each other - for the Spirit to really grow us as friends and for each of us to be molded to look more like Jesus through our time together. 

Fall Camp 2017

 Denton Fall Camp 2017 (UNT, TWU & NCTC)

Fall Camp came early this year, with the hope that new students would develop deeper friendships and catch a vision for community earlier in the year. It was a special 24 hours of worshipping, playing and praying together. It was fun to see people come out of their shells and start friendships outside of the people they knew from core! 
Worship team perspective
One thing I really loved about this weekend was hearing from Jamiann Worsham and Brianna Marble on Sunday. They were two students who transferred to UNT from Collin College and the FOCUS ministry there. Their first year at UNT was so hard, but through it, God gave them a vision for building a FOCUS community there, which He sure did! 

It was so encouraging to hear how God used two juniors to recognize a need and then to get the ball rolling to start things at UNT. From there, the TWU and NCTC ministries were planted - opening possibilities of meeting and ministering to over 60,000 students in Denton alone. WOW! 

Campin' in Cabins!
I also got to have a really neat conversation with a girl at Fall Camp. She's revisiting the idea of following God after several years of highschool rebellion. She wanted to talk and pray about trying to understand God better, which opened such a sweet conversation. There was so much about her story that made it apparent that the Spirit was calling her back into relationship - she keeps coming to FOCUS events & says she feels something different in the people...she came to Fall Camp even though her cousin (who has been inviting her to things) couldn't come...she sought me out to talk and pray. She's so hungry for truth! Please be praying for her as she explores. Pray against distractions and fear about giving God another try. 

Things to Pray About

  • A PRAISE! Do you remember the student, Selvent, who collapsed at a Summer FOCUS event and then spent several months in the hospital two summers ago? I have an update about him! He's actually doing really well. His mom brought him home and has been doing intensive therapy with him. He's walking and talking again, he remembers things and can carry on a decent conversation, which is just incredible. Praise God for his recovery!! Thank you for your consistent prayers for him.
  • Outreach on Campus: We've been heating up outreach on each campus, starting with monthly personal challenges (like asking a classmate to coffee) and our first official event since Welcome Week is in two weeks! Pray for our students to develop a lifestyle of outreach, not just a mindset of weekly events being "outreach." 
  • What's Next: This year is my last one on this contract with FOCUS. When I made the three year commitment, three years seemed like a good long while and would end at a place where Austin and I would be considering starting our family soon. So I'm in the process of praying through what the Lord would lead me to do next - to continue in campus ministry or something else - and I would love your prayers! 
This is a testimony from one of the students at UTA. I think it's so neat to hear how the Lord is moving on the other campuses that FOCUS is on! 

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and friendship in my life. I'm so grateful for you! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Update

"For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God." - Psalm 86:10

We made it through Welcome Week! What a face-paced, hectic, fun, stressful, fruitful time! Welcome Week is a time of year when I really see how great God is in connecting people and getting his work done through us. 

We started the week off with not one, but TWO full days of helping people move in. UNT changed how they run it and it was awesome. Much more organized and less stressful each day, just a little more tiring to have it spread out over two days. Our students were champs though! I never heard a complaint, always saw smiles and high fives (if their hands were free!) as they passed each other and new students in the halls. 

Part of the move in crew! What super stars!
I met one girl while moving in that I'm really excited to get to know more! So far, she's been one of the few who has consistently responded to my texts and has wanted to hang out this last week. As we ate lunch together and told the Cliff Notes versions of our lives, we realized we had SO many significant life events in common, I'm just about 10 years ahead of her. (PS, this was the first year that I've felt a little old on campus, being 10 years older than the incoming freshmen. Crazy!) She's interested in exploring Jesus for herself, even though she was raised in a Christian home. I can't wait to get to know her more! 

Games in the Union! Look at that tower!! 
I met another girl at lunch in a cafeteria on campus. We spent a couple of hours together talking and going to events the university was hosting. We got to walk back to the Union just the two of us and I was able to ask her some more personal questions about her life and tell her more about myself. We got to talking about religion and she told me she was from a Catholic family, but they never went to Mass or anything, unless there was an important ceremony, like confirmation. I asked her if she was interested in exploring Jesus for herself during this time in college and she said yes! She hasn't been able to come to anything yet, but I'm glad the Lord put us together at lunch and for the world of possibilities he opened up there! 

"Football Bowling" at MGF
The rest of the week was filled with events on campus, all day every day! One of the most populated events is the Mean Green Fling. All of the student organizations, Greek life, and local businesses set up booths so students can sign up for information and free stuff! My favorite story from this year's Fling was about Aaron, one of my teammates. 
He was walking by a frat booth and one of the guys asked him if he had a minute. Aaron is not someone who would be interested in joining a fraternity, even if he was still a student, so he hesitated and quickly tried to think of a reason why he couldn't stop to talk! The guy followed up with asking Aaron if he was part of FOCUS, the shirt that Aaron was wearing. Thrown off guard, Aaron told him he was. The guy said "Oh GOOD! I've been looking for a Christian ministry! I just became a Christian a couple of weeks ago and I need to find a place to plug in!" 
WHAAAAAAAT?! How cool is that?? They exchanged numbers and are planning on getting some time together soon. I'm hoping he comes to a Friday Night Fellowship soon so I can meet him. What a bold new Christian! 

It's always hard to gauge just how good of a job we're doing throughout the week of meeting people and inviting them to things until Friday Night Fellowship rolls around. And then we get to see a bit of the results of the week! Granted, there are a lot of people who come just once to see what it's about, but that's one more opportunity to make a significant connection with them that could eventually lead to a changed life for Jesus.
This Friday was one of our smoothest first FNF's ever! The Spirit was so present and I left being encouraged and so excited about this new year. Look at this picture of all the new faces who were there that night! 
God is so good!

What to Pray

We're now moving into the more regular part of the year. Students are settling into their classes, cores are starting next week, and one on one Bible studies are starting to take off! Here are some things you can be praying with me as this new year settles down into a routine:
  • Peer Team: I have a new team of 6 girls I'll be mentoring this next year! Pray for vulnerability and depth of relationship to be something we all strive for and for each of us to be grown in our walks with God through meeting with each other. Pray for wisdom for me as I lead them. 
  • Students being outreaching: Pray for all of our students to continue to reach out to their classmates and professors this year. Pray that they really catch a vision for their classes to be their mission fields this year! 
  • Kristen, Rhett and the other new apprentices: Pray for our new apprentices to adjust to this new face-paced schedule and to get the most out of this year. Pray for wisdom for them as they lead in more of a staff role. 
    L to R: Kristen, Aaron, Rhett. The sillies!
Finally, one more story to leave you with...this one from the UTD campus! How cool that God is moving on campuses all across the DFW Metroplex?! 

Thank you for your prayers and financial support! I'm so thankful for you and could not do any of this without your love and support!