Monday, May 1, 2017

Danielle's May Update

Last night Denton FOCUS had our Spring Formal to celebrate the end of the school year. We had a great time! We sang, we danced, we ate, we recognized our leaders and graduates, and we thanked God for all the things he did this year in our community and on our campuses.

Matt and I with the TWU student leaders that I mentored this year

Some sweet seniors

Matt with Alex and Mitchell, two students he mentored this year

TWU women's Core (small group)

Looking snazzy

UNT men's core
It has been fun reflecting on what God has done this past year. I moved back to Denton almost a year ago and so much has happened since then. I've been adjusting to married life, working with a new team, leading a different campus, and living in a new city. I wouldn't trade it for anything, though. God has taught me a lot this year about how to be more selfless. I've also learned patience, specifically in leading the TWU ministry. We have had some trouble with students being inconsistent and lacking some commitment to God. However, I have seen our student leaders be faithful with what God has given and they have done an excellent job of serving selflessly. Our last meeting of the semester was full of students that are devoted to God and to each other! 

This Friday is our last large group meeting of the semester before finals begin and our students take a break for the summer. Thankfully, we will still be meeting as a large group over the summer with all 9 of our FOCUS ministries combined! If you are interested in checking out what God is doing in campuses all over the metroplex, then please stop by this summer! We will be meeting every Thursday night at 7:30 at Watermark Community Church in Plano, beginning May 25. 

I want to thank each one of you for continuing to pray and support our growing community. Your partnership with us is the thing that keeps us going! Our joys and successes are also yours, because of what you have poured into this ministry. We are so grateful for you! 

Much love <3

Monday, April 3, 2017

Danielle's April Update

Our biggest event in March was SSI (Student Spring Impact) where students from Western Washington University came down to North Texas for their Spring Break to reach out to students on our campuses and tell them about Jesus. We had a group of 12 students come to Denton for the week and they were such a fun group!

Matt sitting with the SSI ladies by the pool

The SSI Team with the Denton Staff
Our campus outreach consisted of display boards and conversations with challenging questions for Christians and non-Christians to ponder. We were out on each of the campuses, UNT, TWU, and NCTC every day of the week to reach as many as possible. We allowed students to write their answers to our questions in order to facilitate open conversation about the hurt that non-Christians have experienced, as well as an opportunity for Christians to apologize. 

FOCUS students engaging in conversation at TWU

"Christians: How are you sorry for the way the church has misrepresented Christ? Non-Christians: What is your biggest complaint about Christians?"

Me talking to a student at UNT

"Christians: How can we best represent Jesus to our world? Non-Christians: What would you like to see Christians do differently?"

I had conversations with some non-Christians who had issue with the way people in the church have been hypocritical. We talked through some of the hurt and pain they experienced, and allowed them a positive interaction with a Christian who would listen. My husband Matt actually ran into one of his friends from the rock climbing gym on campus and found out that he was a Christian because of our display boards. Matt is now trying to build a deeper friendship with him and talk about faith. What a neat God deal!

TWU FOCUS during SSI Week. It was packed!

We had some relaxing hammock time at the park while the SSI students debriefed the day

We took the Washington students to Fort Worth for their "fun day" so they could get a good ole Texas experience :)

It wasn't long after SSI week was over that we had another big event: the Spring Showcase! Many of you were in attendance, and I'm sure you would agree, it was a fantastic show!

The panoramic view of all those who came to Showcase!

Thanks to all of you who came to support our SICM students! We are so excited about the trip coming in May and Spring Showcase is the number one way we can help our students get there!

April is our last full month of classes which means that our ministry is winding down and preparing students for the end of the year. We have scheduled a Spring Formal for the Denton students on April 30 to celebrate the year and what God has done. We are looking forward to it! Stay tuned for next month's blog where I promise to have pictures of the event.

Lastly, here is our student testimony of the month, one of our very own from Denton!

Thank you so much for reading and for your support for this ministry! 

Much love, 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Danielle's March Update

Happy Spring! February basically flew by and March will be full of events for our ministry. I want to share what the FOCUS community has been up to with a series of photos that I hope will encourage you!

Our first SMU Prayer Meeting happened at the Canterbury House! This was before all the people showed up, of course!

Family Night at UNT was such a success! It was honestly the best Family Night I have ever been to. Parents shared stories about the impact that God and community have had on their student's lives. There wasn't a dry eye in the room!

Eating delicious food with students ;)
From L to R: Israel, Matt, me, and Hannah
Another baptism this month! Brooke is baptizing Becca (both TWU students!)
Picnic on the lawn at TWU! Once a month we reach out to students on campus by playing games, eating lunch, and enjoying the beautiful weather

I cooked dinner for my Peer Team ladies on Valentine's Day! 

They requested Albondigas (Mexican meatball soup). I used my momma's recipe and it turned out great!

You can tell by their faces that they enjoyed the home-cooked meal :)

Pizza Theology: Let's talk about Race
So many students showed up to hear from their peers about how race has impacted their lives and experiences. Sirak and Peter, fellow FOCUS staff members, also taught Biblical principles and sociological foundations for this topic. This was especially relevant with our current political environment. 

This month's student testimony: a UTA international student named Hallie
Our biggest event in March is SSI (Student Spring Impact) where students from Western Washington University come down to North Texas for their Spring Break to reach out to students on our campuses and tell them about Jesus. This will happen the week after our Spring Break. We are really looking forward to it! I'll have plenty of pictures, and hopefully neat stories, to share with you next month.

Thank you so much for reading and for being invested in the work God is doing on college campuses in Denton. This work is unreal!

With love,
Danielle <3

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Danielle's February Update

Our Father is so, so good! His Spirit has been working and changing people's hearts already as the students have settled back into school and community. In the last week alone, two TWU students decided to give their life to Jesus and be baptized!

Adriana baptizing Cristina


Brooke baptized Divine
A huge catalyst for changed hearts and minds was FOCUS Winter Camp a few weeks ago. Different members of our staff spoke about the church being the people of God. This year we had about 600 students attend! We increased by about 100 attendees since last year, which is absolutely incredible.

All 600 at Winter Camp

TWU students represent! 
Worship at camp
Each of the speakers at camp spoke about different roles that we as the church have including exiles, remnant, temple and family. A few ideas really stood out and ministered to me: You can't love Jesus without loving the church (his people). There is great cost to being part of God's family, but also great joy. We are bound by the Holy Spirt of God and he intends to bless the nations through us. We have sent our students back out on their campuses to do exactly that. 

God continues to amaze me with the way that he works through this ministry, and especially through your partnership with us! Thank you so much for being generous servants of our Lord! 

With love, 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Danielle's January Update

It is actually snowing in Denton right now! I wasn't prepared for this cold weather but I am very ready for our students to come back for classes. Unfortunately I'll have to wait another week before I see them, but next weekend we have our annual Winter Camp, which we're so excited about! Not much has happened since my last blog update since the students have been on break, but I do have a few prayer requests for you!

  • Winter Camp (January 13-16) at Sky Ranch: Please pray that our students build meaningful friendships, grow in their relationships with God, and catch the vision of our ministry. Also, that those students who are on the fence about attending decide that it's worth the investment (the cost is $150 per student). 
  • Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser: We are so close to our goal ($41,000 out of $55,000)! Please continue to pray that God provides through this fundraiser to help us plant a ministry at SMU this year! If you haven't considered giving to this yet, remember that any gift will help us reach the goal!
  • School starting (January 17): We will have lots of transfer students starting at our campuses this semester. Please pray that our students can be mission-minded and focus on reaching out to many new students who are searching for community. 
Here is our most recent student testimony from a girl named Chiazo that I was lucky enough to get to work with at UNT! I love her sincerely and pray that she is successful in her student teaching this coming year as she transitions away from Denton. 

"Before college, I spent a vast majority of my time at church, from volunteering to mission trips. After graduating, I was nervous about what Christian community would look like now that I had to find it for myself. I prayed for a group of friends who cared about me. I was at the gym six weeks into my freshman year and while I was working out on the treadmill, something made me turn around (while running 80% speed) and I saw a banner for FOCUS. I visited that Friday night and stayed because people sought out His Word, ways to practice His teachings and made Christ-likeness a lifestyle- specifically, Autumn Priestley, a senior at the time I joined FOCUS. I constantly asked myself “Why would someone who is about to leave college want to spend time with me”? She spent time with me because of the lessons she learned through FOCUS. As I make my transition into the “real world” and becoming a teacher, I will remember to seek to understand then be understood when working with students, parents, and other teachers. I will look at my students and love them. I will consider their needs and provide for them, whether that means that I attend their sporting events or support them through tough times. I will show them who Jesus is through my teaching, patience, and discipline on and off the podium. It’s because of my involvement in FOCUS that I am able to know what it looks like to be a disciple in the 'real world'."
Chiazo Akagha (Senior, University of North Texas, Choral Music Education)

Thank you so much for reading! Much love <3

Friday, December 2, 2016

Danielle's December Update

Happy Holidays everyone! The radio stations have begun playing Christmas tunes non-stop and our students are definitely ready for their break to begin. Tonight is our last large group fellowship meeting of the semester and on Sunday afternoon we'll have our Christmas Party. This time of year gives our students a chance to reflect on their growth this past semester and the things that God has taught them. I have enjoyed having more one on one time with each of my students as the semester winds down.
Candy cane coffee with Hannah, one of the girls I mentor :)
The biggest thing happening for our ministry this month is the annual Keep FOCUS Growing fund. We believe that God has called us to make and mature disciples on college campuses in the DFW Metroplex, and we need your help to make it happen! Watch this video, featuring our FOCUS Director Brandon Worsham, to see what our plans are for the Next 20 years of FOCUS!

Here is a recap of the things we were able to do with the donations from last year's Keep FOCUS Growing Fund:

Your gift matters!
Click here to invest!
Please take some time to pray and consider giving to this fund this Christmas season! 

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends as you remember our precious Savior. Thank you so much for your generosity and partnership with FOCUS as we work with God to change students' lives! Much love to you and your families!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Danielle's November Update

Almost every weekend in October was pretty full for our ministry, but the biggest event we had was Fall Camp. Since I had been doing ministry at Collin College these past two years, I haven't been to a Fall Camp in quite a long time. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and I'm continuing to get great feedback from our students about the event! Our main goal for Fall Camp is for new students to integrate into the community and for everyone to build new and deeper friendships. Since our theme for the year is "Be Brave" we decided to focus our camp specifically on bravery in friendships. We had some students share their experiences of a time when they needed to be brave in a friendship. We also had a previous FOCUS staff member, Melissa Collini, speak to to the students about vulnerability and the importance of bravery in relationships. This has sparked many conversations about vulnerability in our cores and among our student leaders. 

Original artwork created for our weekend at camp
Some TWU students at camp
Games are a camp favorite
God's Spirit was present during our praise and worship!
Our second largest event in October was the FOCUS 20 Year Celebration, where I got to see many of you! It was so amazing and special to see all the people that have been impacted by the vision that God gave Ronnie Worsham, our church pastor, so long ago: to plant college ministries in the DFW area. I loved getting to see people's faces during the worship and experience the joy of seeing the fruit of the hard labor over the years to create what we have now. God is so good! I am so blessed to be a part of what God is doing in this city. I hope to continue to play a role in this vision for the next 20 years!

The 20 Year Celebration was packed out!
Finally, I would like to leave you with a testimony from one of my very own TWU leaders that I mentor named Sierrah.

"Last Fall was when I started to seek out a deeper relationship with Christ and I never thought that by doing that amazing things would happenIn the Spring, I was a transfer student and very new to the Denton community, but as soon as I got in touch with FOCUS, I felt at home. At the very beginning, I was easily amazed by the warmth of the community and hearing sermons about God’s work. It was easy to show up to core and Friday Night Fellowship at UNT and just sit and listen, but the more I listened, the more I realized that God had a bigger plan and FOCUS showed me that. When doing my FOJ study and participating in outreach, I learned that I was created to be a disciple as a testimony to God’s love for me. He pulled me out the darkness and into the light so that I could be an example of Him and every day I am thankful for that.  I have learned and experienced for the first time what community is like and how important it is through FOCUS. I have made friends who have invested in me from the moment I met them and my friendships are continuously growing.  Through FOCUS, I have been able to set goals for myself that reflect God’s will and from that I find peace because I am saved."         Sierrah Martinez, Texas Woman's University, Nursing
Much love <3