Sunday, February 4, 2018

Season of Love--Danielle's February Update

February has begun and many of our students are beginning new dating relationships, which usually happens in waves around here. It's fun to be a part of! Another one of the great expressions of love I get to see every Spring is when parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and friends of our students attend our FOCUS Family Night. Parents are often uncertain about why their students are so excited and committed to this thing called "FOCUS," so we like to host an open house to let them see what we're all about! My favorite part is getting to see how much these students that I love dearly, and know super well, resemble their parents. What a treat! We had so many families show up this year that we literally had no room for them.

We had two students share about the impact that God has had on them through FOCUS, as well as an opportunity for parents to share how God has changed their student through this community. Here is what Ernesto Torres, a junior in our ministry, said last night:

"I first became a part of this community about 10 years ago, whenever I used to tag along with my sister to FOCUS as a 6th grader. I had no idea then what kind of impact that would have on my life. Thanks to that, I got to grow up in the Northeast church and I got to be a part of a godly community. However, I never took it super seriously and only did the minimum of what was expected of me. As a result, my relationship with Jesus was pretty shallow. Despite my lack of effort, I was poured into and loved by many through my time in Northeast. For example, there was a family, The Barbers, that welcomed me into their family with open arms. Through the Barber family I learned what it looked like for a family to put Jesus first. Whenever I was 12 I got to study the Bible with Kale Worsham and learned the importance of one on one ministry.

Now fast forward to my transition into college: I came here already knowing about FOCUS, but I also came here as an impulsive, curious, and selfish person. Thankfully, this community has fostered my growth into becoming a better representation of what Christ looks like. I went from making impulsive decisions that would only benefit me, to thinking more like Jesus. I went from keeping what was going on in my life to myself, to letting people know me and guide me through the process. I went from being in a constant state of comfort, to putting myself out of my comfort zone to serve the Lord. This looked like me going on a mission trip to New Orleans to serve the children there. I also did an internship with the Wylie Northeast church's teen ministry. I went from being someone who was constantly being invested in, to being someone who finally invests back. That is why I decided to become a leader, to give back like I was given to through this community. All of that only scratches the surfaces of what God has been doing through me and this community!"

Jacy (L) and Ernesto (R) sharing at Family Night

Three of my ministry partners also shared last night about the impact God has had on their children who are both still in college. I'm so thankful to them for coming and sharing in this vision with us!

Mr. and Mrs. Thornton sharing about their daughter Kennedy

Tony Campbell sharing about his daughter Erin

I wish I had a picture of the whole room of families but trust me, there were many! We are so grateful to all of you who continue to support this ministry so that generations of lives can be changed by our Father. The crazy thing is that the number of people in that room (which was over 375) is just a snapshot of all the people that have been impacted, because there were countless others who couldn't be there! Thank you again for your generosity, because it makes a real difference. I hope you will also enjoy this month's student testimony from our newest campus, SMU! 



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Happy New Year!---Danielle's January Update

Classes in Denton started this week and we are back in the swing of things here! I wanted to wait to send this post until after our biggest event of the year, Winter Camp! We spent the holiday weekend at Sky Ranch with all 600 of our students across the metroplex to gear up for the coming semester. Two campus pastors from Bellingham, Washington, Geoff and Jessica Mumley, came to speak to our group about being sent into the world as disciples. Their stories of being sent to their community were so inspiring. Something that Jessica said that stood out to me most is, "Jesus' mission field was where his feet were, no matter what his plan was. Your mission field is where your feet are!" This has been a great reminder to me, and I think it can be encouraging to you as well. Even if you aren't doing campus ministry, God has still given you a mission field and it includes all the people you encounter on a daily basis. "As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:15).

TWU Core at Camp

Look how many students came!

Some more good news and thanks to share with you: our Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser raised over $60,000! Thanks to all of you who donated and helped us reach our goal! We are blown away by the generosity of our greater community. We have already started renovating our staff meeting space at the church building in Garland, and FOCUS is now able to offer health insurance to all employees! What an amazing blessing!

Finally, here is our latest student testimony from a student at Collin College:


"FOCUS showed me what a real relationship with God is. Coming from a Christian private school, I thought I understood God pretty well but I didn't have a relationship with him at all. Through the example of my Corefas, staff members, and just so many other students, I saw what it means to earnestly seek God. One of my favorite moments from freshman year was a talk with my friend, Pedro. We were good friends at this point in the year, and I had become pretty vulnerable with him. We got into a serious conversation about our current walks with God, what that looks like, and why. After poorly answering how my relationship with God was "pretty good", Pedro really pushed my ideas of why I was Christian. I ended up realizing most of my faith was blindly following the laws God had given us, and not really seeking him out. Pedro then opened up to me that he had struggled with the same problem early on in his faith. I'm beyond thankful for Pedro and so many other friends like him who have spurred me on in love. Before FOCUS, this community, I was living half the life I am now. Now, I am living life with God, not just for him."


Graham Spencer
Collin College, Spring Creek
Illustration
Sophomore

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