Monday, April 3, 2017

April Update

Wow. We are literally in the last full month for this semester! How did that even happen? Every year, the spring semester seems to fly, way faster than the fall semester. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this time of year...I love summer and the different kind of work we get to do then, so I'm excited to see its speedy approach! But that also means that students are graduating and transitioning out of FOCUS. This is a really good thing, but it's also a little sad when they move away for jobs. 

Anyways, March was such a fun month! I can't wait to catch you up on it! 

New Apprentices 

The first weekend in March was filled with graduating seniors interviewing for the apprenticeship in the fall. I am super excited for this new group of apprentices! Denton will get to have three this year! I'm looking forward to the individual dynamic each one will bring to our staff and the increase of things we'll be able to do on each campus because of the added man-power.

These apprentices (seven total) have already begun their fundraising season and will continue through the summer. Please be praying with me that each one will be fully funded by August 1st (or sooner). I'm a fundraising coach again this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing God move. Neither of the two girls I'm coaching has a childhood church home or many Christian family members, so they are already feeling daunted by this process. Please pray for boldness and peace, as well as for God to completely provide for them!

Spring Break

What a fun and much needed break! Austin and I got to go on a little trip to St. Louis, Missouri, stopping in Oklahoma to see my sister and her family on the way up. I love getting to be with family! My nephews have taken to calling Austin "Uncle Awesome," which he just loves. St. Louis was a blast!

It was so sweet to get away and spend some solid adventuring time together.

Uncle Awesome by my nephew
The Arch!
St. Louis Zoo

I'm so thankful for that little vacation! God really refreshed us and got us into a good mindset to come back and finish the semester out well.

What You've All REALLY Been Waiting For...

Our Denton SSI Team at the Square!
Spring Student Impact (SSI) was AWESOME! Having been recharged during Spring Break, we jumped right into SSI at the end of that week! Denton had a team of 12 (2 leaders and 10 students) that flew in from Washington on Saturday. We spent the entire week with them, doing outreach on the three campuses. Here are some of my highs and lows of the week:

-It's really hard to get students to stop and have deep conversations with you at TWU. So many of them responded "No thanks, I'm a Christian. I'm good." and were unwilling to even talk about what that meant to them. 

-There are a lot of students who are confused about what it means to be a Catholic/Christian. When asked "Are you a Christian?" many would respond "No, I'm Catholic." What does that even mean?! 

Enjoying the pool on a hot day!
-There were only a few antagonistic people that came by, but the students handled their harsh accusations and criticisms with a grace that can only come from the Holy Spirit.  

Outreach at TWU
-I got to talk with one girl, who gave me such an interesting thought to chew on. We had been talking about the general campus response to our presence that week. "Thank you for being here and for doing something so bold and self reflective. As someone who was raised Christian and has chosen to walk away from it, I really appreciate your approach here," she said. 

I thanked her for her response and kind words. She was surprised that we had actually just earlier that day had a more critical and antagonistic response from someone. "You know, if they're like me, which being in the Bible belt, they probably are...they're probably going through the stages of grief over the loss of their religion. It might have been a personal decision, but it's still a loss. And you know, grief isn't linear. That anger stage can resurface whenever!" 

I have never thought about walking away from your faith as cause for grief, but that makes a lot of sense to me. I've thought about that a lot since then. Maybe it's a cop-out to feel like this (I should have compassion on everyone, regardless of grief or not), but it's a little easier to have grace and compassion when someone lashes out because of grief. 

It's absolutely a good reminder that I don't know everyone's story. It's a good encouragement to not assume someone is just a jerk, but is maybe in pain. 
I hope I have the chance to follow up with this girl and to get coffee sometime! She gave me her number, so there's a good chance!!  

Students praying at NCTC

"How can we best represent Jesus to our world?"
"What would you like to see Christians do differently?
-Tuesday night at TWU's Fellowship, Danielle, challenged the students to think through the gospel and to try to share it without using any "Christianese" or churchy language that might be confusing or off-putting. It was super hard! The next morning, the SSI students had a devotional where they spent the majority of the time paraphrasing a few key Bible verses without Christianese. Overkill, you might think...or God's hand preparing them for outreach that day! 

It was absolutely the latter! While we were at TWU, I heard one of the SSI leaders having a conversation with a guy about what it meant to be a Christian. "I think you just have to be a good person," he was saying. When she asked him what the difference was between Christians and good people, he didn't know. 
She then got to share the whole gospel, without Christianese, to this guy. 

He seemed more surprised than anything else! He didn't get reborn right then or really have any kind of significant response...but that's one guy that absolutely knows what the gospel is now and hopefully the Lord continues to pursue and plant seeds with him! 

Students praying at TWU
-It was encouraging to see how many people we talked through over the course of the week who came to check out our Friday Night Fellowship! I'm so hopeful that they get connected even deeper with community, but more importantly, with Jesus. 

-There was a lot of prayer that happened throughout this week. At almost any given time, I could look around and see some student in prayer with another one before they continued on their way. 

-It was encouraging to our students to see how bold the SSI students were in starting and carrying on their conversations! I hope that our students continue to mimic them in their interactions with their peers on campus!   

Outreach at UNT

Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers for this week. I think a little bit more of the Kingdom was brought to the DFW area this week. Please continue to pray for the conversations we had, for the new students coming to FNF and Cores, and for all of our students (Texans and Washingtonians) to continue to be bold for Jesus on their campuses. 

Prayer Requests

  • New Apprentices: for their fundraising to be at 100% by or before August 1st. For boldness and peace. For their hearts to be prepared for what the Lord would have them learn this year. 
  • SSI: Praise God that it went so well and that so many got to hear the Good News! For the Lord to continue to work in the hearts of all of the students who participated in any way.
  • Austin's work: His department has downsized from 8 people to 2 (him and his boss now). He's currently being interviewed for a new position with a sister company. Please be praying for wisdom and peace. 
  • Fundraising Season: many of our staff, including myself, are beginning to work on raising their funds for this next year. Pray that the Lord provides abundantly so we can all be full-time on campus without worrying about finances. 
Just FYI, these student testimonies are posted on the page. You can find more testimonies and other staff blog updates there, too!