Saturday, August 5, 2017

August Update

Hello! I'm sorry this update is a smidge late. We got back Thursday from our summer staff retreat, which I'll tell you about here in a bit!

This is technically the first post of the new school year! I am so ready to start this new semester. The summer has been great and productive, but I miss the structure of the school year and meeting consistently with my peer team!

Since I have some new ministry partners going into this year, I wanted to take a bit of time to define some common terms you'll see a lot this next year throughout my blogs!

Ministry Partners
This is YOU! You are part of an incredible team of people who pray and support me financially. Hopefully you and I know each other at least a little bit already! If not, I'm really looking forward to getting to know you better through this year. Each of you is an essential part of my ministry and I want to know you guys! I love hearing back from you when I send out this blog, and I love getting to pray for you. I know I wouldn't be able to be on campus full time without a stellar team composed of people who love God deeply and who are obedient to doing what they can to bring His Kingdom here. 

This is the "core" of our ministry (cheesy, but true!). These gender-specific, smaller communities meet weekly to study the Bible, worship, serve, and share life with each other. 

This stands for Core Facilitator. These are student leaders who are paired up and lead Core on a weekly basis. We call them facilitators because their role is one more of guidance through the discussion than being a Leader that may get put on a religious pedestal. It goes back to our philosophy of leadership being based on Mark 10:42-45, which says "Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over the, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but the serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 

Leader Team 
This is the entire body of student leaders, which includes corefas, the sound/tech team, and worship team. These students are volunteers who give about 15 hours a week to their peers in the different ways they serve. 

Peer Team
This is my favorite part! Peer team is a group of 6-10 student leaders who are assigned to a staff person for the whole year. Every other week, we meet as this group to discuss important topics, to invest in relationships with each other, to support one another as we each do ministry, and to be filled up to go out again. 

One on Two Meeting (1:2's)
The weekly meet up of a staff person and a set of corefas or other student leaders. 

Focus on Jesus (aka One on One Study)
A 10-week study our students can use to lead their peers through the basic concepts of Christianity. These include a study on the Word, community, sin, grace, baptism, the character of Christ, and others. 

Welcome Week
This is the week before school starts at the universities. At UNT, there are orientations, a thing called "Eagle Camp" for freshmen, and a myriad of activities and events every day. We try to be at as many of these as possible to meet new students! This first week is vital because everyone is open to new experiences and is looking for friends - someone who may not have any interest in a Christian organization otherwise may accept an invitation to visit and hang out this week.

Friday Night Fellowship (FNF) 
This is our weekly large group meeting, where all three Denton campuses come together to worship, listen to someone bring a message, and fellowship afterwards together. 

Each year, FOCUS takes on young graduates who are wanting to explore whether full time ministry is the direction God is calling them. It's a 10-month apprenticeship full of hands-on ministry, classes, and mentorship. 
2017-2018 Apprentices

I think that covers the basics! If there's ever anything you have questions about, please let me know!

What happened to July??

July is overrrrr! The last few weeks were pretty packed! I got to spend a week in Kansas with my mom, which was just so sweet. As Mom's cancer has progressed, I've been learning to soak in quiet moments with family. I'm grateful to be able to recognize the importance now, so that I don't regret not spending enough time with anyone later. 

Tea & Jesus time! 
The rest of July, I worked on finishing my support raising. Praise God, I'm at 100%! I'm so thankful for each of you who gave generously and got me to that goal. 

I have also gotten to meet up with different students throughout this summer. One girl, Eryka, has been my consistent study buddy this summer. I've loved getting to know her this summer, and I've been praying for the Lord to open her heart more and more to a relationship with Him. She's so hungry for truth, but battles a lot of fear and anxiety in giving Him her whole heart. Keep her in your prayers through this next semester. 

Staff Retreat

I think this was one of my favorite staff retreats so far! We spent a few of the sessions talking about what might seem like silly things, like what we liked to do as kids or who our best friend was in high school. But Brandon, our staff director, pointed out that stories like that build affection and closeness in a team. He was right! I loved getting to hear more about who my teammates are and what they were like growing up. 

2017-2018 Staff from all ten campuses
We also talked about more intentional things, like what our biggest ministry disappointment or failure has been or what our calling into ministry looked like. Those things gave me a deeper respect and appreciation for my teammates. Each of us has been called to this work in different ways, with different talents. Something I sometimes struggle with is the insecurity that I'm not as equipped for this work or that I don't do as good of a job as some of my teammates. This last week, I left the retreat so affirmed and encouraged. God has called each of us here and to compare or worry about those kinds of things is such a waste of brain space. 

This was the theme song of the week, which I hope you take a moment to listen to right now. The first night we were at the retreat, I had some heavy family things hanging over my head and could not make it through this song. It's a funny place to be...when things seem so incredibly hard and Not Good, but to be able to recognize the goodness of the Lord. I'm so thankful for the Lord's hand in my family's life and the way that He has been going before us. I hope this song encourages you the way that it encouraged me. 

Student Testimony

Each month, I'm going to share a story here that will be from one of our ten campuses around DFW. This month is a girl I know from TWU! She's going to be a corefa this next year!

  “I grew up in the Methodist church surrounded by various spiritual mentors. Though I had a good church upbringing, I don’t think I really knew how to truly seek God. My spiritual growth was consequently very slow, with many stops and dead ends. I knew God was there, but for too many years I believed that I could find Him by myself.

It was not until I began dealing with crippling anxiety and depression that I began truly seeking God. The support from my church during my time in a psychiatric hospital gave me a new thirst for God and community.

I found FOCUS late into my first semester of college in 2015. Sine joining, the ministry continuously shows me the importance of community in growing our relationship with God. FOCUS has challenged my beliefs, encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, and even helped me to be more confident in my own skin. This year I have been asked to be a student leader. Despite my fears of inadequacy, I know I have been equipped with a community that will continue to guide and shape me into a better disciple, so I may go and make new disciples for God's Kingdom."

Morgan Chappell (Senior, Texas Woman's University, Communication Sciences and Disorders)

Prayer Requests

  • Welcome Week Prep: This is an evening of training open to our community of students to learn how to make the most out of Welcome Week. Pray that students come ready to learn and then take initiative to put what they learn into action on campus. 
  • New student leaders: Pray for boldness as they go into this new year. Pray for self discipline as they figure out a new, hectic schedule and face the first few weeks of school. 
  • New students: Pray for openness to Jesus and a hunger for true community.
  • My Mom's health: Her latest CT scan came back pretty positive! Keep her in your prayers as she battles this cancer.