Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome Week and Beyond!

"Oh Lord God of Heaven's Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord? You are entirely faithful." 

Psalm 89:8 

I feel like this verse is so appropriate for this month. August is one that really does show the faithfulness of the Lord, particularly in regards to answered prayers. Thank YOU so much for the ways that you've really covered our staff teams, the student leaders, the students themselves and our campus connections in prayer over this last month! What an awesome, faithful God we serve and what a major blessing you guys are to me and this ministry!

Part of the Move-In Day Crew

First Flight, Welcome Week Prep, and Corefas 

Last weekend we had a couple days of practical preparation for our students to really be equipped to utilize First Flight week well. First Flight is the week before classes start when freshmen move in and the university hosts daily events to help them get comfortable with the campus, make friends, and prepare for their first year of college. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT weeks in student ministry because everyone is so open to new experiences. 

Our stellar leader team! 
Because it's such a vital week, we take a bit of time each year to try to to equip our students for how best to reach out to the people around them. Our students work so hard to meet new people, swap phone numbers, be invitational to outside events and generally "cast their nets wide" during this week. It's such a tiring week because there are a myriad of events to go to, thousands of students to meet and reach out to, in addition to most of our students also working part time jobs! They really are such amazing, dedicated people.

One event that we host every year is Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag (CTF). The week before First Flight, we found out that the park where we normally host it was under construction! Oh noooo! But we used our problem solving skills and found another area of campus to host, which I think was an even better location. Each night we had 200-275 students come out to play CTF, other lawn games and just to sit around chatting with each other! 
It's events like these that make me so thankful for our Corefas (student leaders) and returning students. There is no way on earth that our team of six staff people would be able to meet, befriend, and disciple even a fraction of the number of people that show up to these events. But the students in this ministry are dedicated and gung-ho for Jesus! It's so fun to get to work alongside these young people to reach the universities.

Made it up 7 flights of stairs for a move-in...twice! 

Some Highlights and Favorites from the Week

The Invisibles
One of my favorite things this year was the variety of new students we met. I noticed that many of the ones I got to have conversations with were people who really were more comfortable staying in their rooms and didn't consider themselves to be very good with social interactions...people who generally try to stay invisible. But I kept seeing them at different events, surrounded by a mixture of our student leaders and others I didn't know, and they seemed to be really enjoying themselves! I'm so hopeful that these relationships they've made so early on will continue, saving many of them from a lonely, isolated college experience and drawing them into a community that will point them to Jesus! 

Just some friends, hanging out!
It's a Starting Point!
Another favorite thing I heard from our student leaders were some of the freshmen's reactions to how they were reached out to over the week..."Wow! I didn't expect to make TWO friends today!" "Yeah, I don't believe in anything, but I still want to be friends." 
While these may be tiny things, they are the potential starting point for the Lord to do some really amazing things as they develop friendships and invite these new people into community focused on Jesus!

International Outreach
Something that I've been praying about a lot this summer was that the Lord would open more doors for opportunities with international students and give more of our students a heart and eyes for them. Wowsers! So we were able to go to several "mingle" lunches with the new Intensive English Learning Institute students (the english school nestled in the middle of the campus) and soo many of our students showed up, too! They were incredibly intentional with trying to make these new students feel really welcomed and loved, even when the language and cultural barriers made it feel extremely difficult. As a result, there were more international students at the kick-off for Friday Night Fellowship and Denton North Church than ever before! 
I'm really hopeful that we'll continue to be able to join in on events that the Institute is hosting and be a blessing to them, while reaching out to the Nations! 
New friends from Taiwan, Plano, Japan, South Korea, and Columbia! 

DNC - we ran out of chairs! 
Kick off for Friday Night Fellowship was pretty fantastic! We meet in a room that can hold 300 students and we had probably a good 200+ there! While it's so not about the numbers, it is really encouraging to look out across a room full of students worshipping God and to imagine all of the things He might do over the course of this next year! 

Denton North Church was along those same lines...full to bursting on Sunday! One thing that was so encouraging to me was that even in such large crowds, I didn't really see anyone that seemed to be alone or left out. New friendships are being developed all over the place! 

MORE Hamburgers!
One last thing I'll share...I got to help serve hamburgers to the students at NCTC (North Central Texas College), which is our newest FOCUS plant in Denton. We were prepared to serve 100 students because so far, not a lot of people have shown interest in FOCUS or anything else on the campus. But where there's free food, there's lots of college students! We could have fed twice as many students as we did and still have needed more! 
While that may be like "Yeah, they'll come for food...whatever," there were actually so many new people who expressed interest and who have been coming to different events since then! That's a major answer to prayer!! 

FNF Kickoff! 

Ways to Pray

UNT: Cores are about to start this next week! Pray that the students we met at Welcome Week and First Flight would get connected and start developing closer, more intentional relationships that lead them to Jesus. 

TWU: The men's side of this ministry is pretty small. There are lots of men at Texas Women's University, but not many are interested in being part of a ministry and sticking around to help lead the next year. Be praying that the Lord raises up more men leaders this year to be able to better reach this entire campus. 

NCTC: Be praying that the people who have expressed interest would continue coming! Pray for outreach on this campus to be fruitful and for the student leaders there to really catch a vision for the people there. 

Thank you for all of your love, support and encouragement! I'm looking forward to great things this year! 

1 comment:

  1. Very exciting! Thanks for the thorough update. I love hearing about international students and the "invisibles."