Friday, December 1, 2017

Keep FOCUS Growing--Danielle's December Update




As I'm sure most of you know, we are in the middle of our annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. For those of you who got on Facebook and donated for Giving Tuesday, THANK YOU! Facebook has not yet released the amount of funds matched, but so far our supporters have donated $33,000 out of our $50,000 goal! That is amazing. Thank you so much for your investment in this ministry and for helping us write a new chapter in students' lives! If you have not yet given a special donation to this fundraiser but are interested in doing so, visit anyfocus.org/kfg to donate. We are almost to our goal!

If you are interested in giving to a specific need, rather than to the general fund, we have a wish list for specific expenses that we are hoping to cover next year. Check out anyfocus.org/wishlist to see which funds are dear to your heart to invest in!

Just two of our wishlist items. Go to our website to see more!
For those of you that have not given to KFG before, here is a list of things we were able to do with last year's donations, to give you an idea of what your donation might go to!

Your gifts matter!
Thank you again for considering this ministry and the students that are part of it. We couldn't spread the gospel on campus without your support and prayer!

This month's student testimony is very dear to my heart. Danyelle graduated from UNT a few years ago and was one of the first students I mentored in Denton! She is now a missionary in Bolivia and is showing Jesus' love to orphans every day. Here is her testimony:












Thank you for reading! 

Love,

Danielle

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!---Danielle's November Update

Here is our latest testimony from a FOCUS student at Richland College! Our ministry at Richland has been growing consistently and we are excited to see what God has planned for that campus. If you know of any students that are currently attending or prospective students at this campus, please let us know so that we can help get them connected!


"In high school, I was the type of person that went out of my way to avoid people that I considered to be different than me. I was always looking for people that either talked the way I did or took part in the same things I liked. This led to superficial relationships and friendships. When I joined FOCUS, I really think God taught me that meeting people who were different than me - in every way - was a good thing. Through FOCUS, I have come to realize what it's like to have real relationships with people. In real relationships, you can talk to your friends about how you feel that day and not have to hide anything. When I first walked on campus at Richland, I was unsure about who I was or where I belonged. I thank God that I found a group that I feel like I actually belong to. Through FOCUS, God has been showing me that I belong wherever He has called me, and that it’s up to me to show others that they belong, too."

Joshua Erdmann
Richland College, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

As I reflect on this month and the many blessings to thank the Lord for, I always think of you. Thank you so much for your continuous support which allows students like this to find real community and Godly friendships! Thank you for understanding God's vision for college students and choosing to invest in it. I pray that your Thanksgiving holidays are full of reasons to praise our good God for all he has done in your lives and the lives of those around you.

With love,
Danielle

Sunday, October 1, 2017

FOCUS in Fall--Danielle's October Update

Now that many of the new students that are involved in FOCUS have decided to stick around, we make it our task to help them integrate into the community and feel like they're part of our family. To do this, we take all of our Denton students to Fall Camp, a 24 hour retreat to play, worship, fellowship, and eat! Here are some photos that give you a sense of what that was like:

UNT women's bunkhouse

Our worship leaders lead our community in praise
Speedball, a Denton FOCUS favorite
TWU Core led by Adrianne (far left) and Brittany (far right)

Students listening intently to our speakers

Many of the new students I've spoken to said that camp was a great way for them to feel connected, meet new people, and catch the vision of God's work on campus. One of our new students, Chris Young, said this:

"I came to Denton without a single friend here. At my very first campus activity, which was a transfer meet up, I meet Nate Dolores who later invited me to FOCUS. I came to FOCUS and enjoyed it, so I joined Nate and Trent's core and have been attending it for the past few weeks... I saw fall camp as a really good opportunity to become more integrated into the community and it was even better than I could have hoped. The worship services were fantastic, but the real highlights of fall camp for me were any chance I got to meet and talk to other people. The welcome games were fun and immediately allowed me to meet new people. The meal times were great for going table to table and chatting or sitting down with people you met earlier to talk more about yourselves or camp. The free time allowed me to check out speedball and meet even more people as well as provide an easy conversation starter since I had never played before. Lastly, the bunkhouse was lit. A few of us went around telling hilarious stories and cracking jokes until lights out, which just furthered my friendship with my core members and started new friendships with members of a different core. What I am really trying to get at here is that this community is awesome, the people here are open and willing to form new friendships. So if you didn’t make it to Fall Camp don’t worry about it, but be looking for opportunities to connect more because it’s worth it!"

I'm so encouraged by our students reaching out and making our new members feel so welcome! Thanks for your continued prayers for them. Your prayers make a big difference in the attitudes of the students who attend! Many of them are excited to learn about Jesus and his design for the body of believers.

Thanks again for reading and for your support!
<3 Danielle

Friday, September 1, 2017

Good News--Danielle's September Update

For Welcome Week this year, I have been helping at all three of our Denton campuses: The University of North Texas, Texas Woman's University, and North Central Texas College. This week I had a few neat encounters at the student organization fairs at both TWU and NCTC that I want to share! On Thursday at NCTC my co-minister, Aaron Hollingsworth, was setting up the FOCUS booth for the fair and saw a female student on the phone. She was raising her voice and obviously upset by this phone call. After she hung up, she sat on a bench and started crying. Aaron was about to try and console her, but wasn't sure if she would feel uncomfortable being approached by him. As he was considering this, another woman who works for the college went and sat with the student. It seemed to help, and the student quickly stopped crying. As the woman was walking back to her booth, Aaron stopped her and thanked her for consoling this student. The woman noticed that Aaron was standing at the FOCUS booth and said that her daughter is a freshman at Collin College and just started attending FOCUS there! What a neat connection! That was so encouraging to us, knowing that God is working through generations of students and families through this ministry.

Aaron at the FOCUS booth at NCTC
We also had a student approach our booth at the TWU organization fair who specifically came looking for us because she has a friend that attends FOCUS at Collin College who recommended our ministry!

TWU student Claudia meeting new students
God's Spirit is working and moving across the campuses of DFW, that's for sure! Thank you so much for your many prayers for the campuses, the new students, our student leaders, and our staff. There were many days when we were tired and not sure we could keep going nonstop, but the thought of your prayers and support was motivating and encouraging! Thank you a million times.
Much love <3
Danielle

Friday, August 4, 2017

It Begins--Danielle's August Update

I've been waiting all summer and August is finally here! I am so excited to get things started and meet all the new students that will be flooding the campuses in just 2 weeks. This past week our FOCUS staff retreated together to strengthen our team bond, reflect on what God has done, and prepare for what God is going to do this year. One of my biggest takeaways from the retreat is the idea that relationships matter more than content and/or skill when it comes to studying the Bible with people. Looking back on my experience of studying the Bible for the first time, about 10 years ago, I can hardly remember the things that I learned; however, I will never forget the relationship that I developed with the person who discipled me, my mentor Tana. She was patient, kind, loving, and above all, she showed me Jesus by allowing me into her life as a friend. We are still close friends today! I am encouraged by this because it gives me confidence in our student leaders. They may not have amazing pastoral skills yet, but they can be peoples' best friends. This is such great news! 

2017-2018 FOCUS Staff

Denton Staff Team
(L to R: Kristen, Rhett, Brittany, Aaron, me, Matt, Miriam)

Our 2017-2018 Apprentices
(L to R: Eddie, Kristen, Caitlin, Dawn, Jalen, Rhett)
Our latest student testimony is from one of my TWU student leaders! I am so excited to have Morgan on our corefa team this year. Here is her story: 

“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. Since 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 that 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)

Thank you for reading! Next month I will have lots of news about our first week of school, Welcome Week, and all of the excitement from the month of August. Thank you so much for your partnership in ministry and your love for students! 

<3 Danielle

Monday, July 3, 2017

Your Giving Matters --Danielle's July Update

As I was reflecting on what to share with you this month, I was reminded of a sermon I heard while visiting Hillcrest Church in Bellingham, Washington during our SICM trip.  Jonathan Lytle, a campus missionary at Western Washington University, spoke about the relationship between missionaries and their ministry partners.  It really impacted me and I thought it would be encouraging to you as well.  He had three main points:

1) Praying for missionaries matters more than you think.
2) Hospitality matters more than you think.
3) You're sending more missionaries than you think (or you're supporting more missionaries than you think).

I have seen all three of these to be true in my ministry to the Denton campuses.  Your prayers for our efforts on campus are incredibly important.  Sometimes we face opposition from students, parents, the university, and can even have disagreements as a staff.  As James reminds us, the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).

On the right is Divine, an international student from Kenya, right after her baptism. Pray for us to reach more students like her!  
For those of you who have so graciously offered to open your homes and lives to our students, we are incredibly grateful.  This simple gesture goes a long way.  Often we are ministering to international students who have never set foot in an American home.

Matt and I with an international student, Tony
This is how you are sending more missionaries than you think you are: if these students go back to their home countries, they will have the chance to spread the gospel to places most of us will never go!

Matt and I with the TWU leaders I mentored this past year
Thank you so much for choosing to partner with me, and for your part in spreading the gospel to the world! Your giving matters more than you think it does! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Danielle's June Update

I'm so excited about summer! I, unlike most, enjoy some hot weather. Our FOCUS ministry is still going strong over summer: our entire ministry, all 9 campuses, meet together on Thursday nights for fellowship and worship. This is always a highlight for me because I have been involved with a number of different campuses and I love to see all of the students that I no longer get to work with on a regular basis. It's also a great time for our students to connect with their friends from other campuses that they have built relationships with at SICM.

Speaking of SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry), we had one of our best trips yet! From May 11-21 our students and staff went up to Bellingham, Washington for a week-long training on how to be a minister on your campus. Our students learned about how to lead a small group, how to connect with God and the Spirit, how to discern calling and vocation, and how to evangelize on campus. Here are some fun pictures from the week:

SICM students getting off the plane

Eating lunch on the "Stairs to Nowhere" at Western Washington University

UNT and TWU girls at SICM: Kasey, Sierrah, Nicole, Morgan, & Claudia

More Denton students being silly

This is the group from TWU. We brought 8 students this year!!

My TWU girls :)

I asked a few of my TWU students to share about the impact that SICM had on them:

"I went into SICM mostly because of a checklist. Many people had told me how great it was and when I was asked to go I just thought of it as another activity that people in FOCUS do. Just like every other student going I had so much on my plate prior to the trip and did not really get the time to think about why I was going or who I was doing it for. Thank God that He can work through my life even when I do not give him the time. Although I did not prepare myself for going and I had selfish reasons for attending, God worked through all of it to make this trip honor and reflect his works. The number one biggest takeaway from SICM was the relationships that I formed on the trip. I had made so many good friends in the ministry my freshman year, but for those ten days I was able to really bond with the girls from TWU. I got to know each one of them on a deeper level and that alone was worth going. Girls that I thought were so different from me ended up being who I spent most of my time with on the trip. I feel like my role in the community has shifted, from being someone that is constantly poured into to now showing that same love and dedication to future students. Going to SICM really put into perspective why I was involved in the ministry and showed my purpose in being a disciple beyond my college days." --Claudia Salas

"SICM to me was like hitting the "refresh" button on your computer. Things that I learned growing up in the church were given in such a different perspective that it finally clicked. While in Washington, I realized just how small I am, and yet how big my role is in sharing the gospel. I think that being given the opportunity to go to SICM really gave me a higher sense of maturity in my faith. It's not that I know everything there is to know, because we all know that's a lie. It's about learning that I am human, I make mistakes, I'm selfish, and often lazy. Still, in the midst of this, God sees me and He gives me a purpose. The way God worked through me and others at SICM were like jumper cables starting a car. Christ taught me how to be bolder and how to not expect perfection when seeking to make disciples. It was absolutely amazing to see how God had touched all these college students' hearts. I honestly think it is a miracle that 100 or so college students would choose time with God over worldly temptations. SICM to me meant re-evaluating myself and gaining perspective from those around me." --Brittany Parsons 



"I am a junior at Texas Woman’s University, and have been in Focus for roughly a year and a half. Weeks before I was asked if I wanted to attend, I prayed for a chance to really dive into my faith, get deep into the heart of God, and learn more about his plans for me. When I eventually got the call, I knew that God was answering my prayers. As the time came closer and closer to board the plane to Washington, I prayed for God to open my heart, and allow me to soak up every piece of knowledge and wisdom given to me. Looking back, I whole-heartedly believe that God came through for me. Though I did not experience any earth shattering revelations or see any beams of white light streaming through the ceiling, God broke through my heart and allowed me to really listen to what people were saying. As I sat listening to each speaker, I found that I able to connect puzzle pieces together in my mind. I saw what God was doing in me through the power of the Holy Spirit, and how I am to use that to “go and make disciples of every nation” (Matt. 28:19). I felt the true weight of this command for the first time. During one session, a speaker said. “If nobody went out on our campuses to evangelize, our campus ministry would be dead within four years”. This emphasized that being a disciple is not about my own personal walk with God—though that is certainly an important part of it; it is about the future disciples. Those who will continue to spread the Word of God long after we are all gone. God allowed me to see past myself, and see the plans he had for all of us as the body of Christ. In a way, I supposed God did not reveal to me His plans for me. What he showed me was even better. He revealed to me how I am to work as a part of His plan, and be a vessel for Him to reach those who so desperately need him. All of this was revealed to me while surrounded by believers from all different walks of life. I was able to see God's creation in nature, stay with a host family who encouraged me every day in my walk, and make new friends to further embark on this journey with. Everything I experienced in Bellingham, Washington came together, and revealed God’s plan for all of us, not just myself. Now I feel a new passion in my walk. I feel equipped to go out and talk to people about God’s goodness, and lastly, I feel certain that God is with me through all of it." --Morgan Chappell

Praise God for how good He is! I hope those stories were as encouraging to you as they were to me. Thank you so much for investing in students and stories like these! God is working powerfully through college campuses and we get to be right in the middle of it. Your support make this all possible, so thank you a million times!