Tuesday, April 14, 2020

April Update

Hello everyone! The FOCUS ministry is still "up and running" despite all the changes and uncertainty in our world. Students are still in need of mentorship, love, support, and Biblical truth, and we are thinking of creative ways to do that! Most of it is happening through online platforms but it has created some unique opportunities that we've never had before. Unfortunately the only photo I have to show is of a video stream, but it gives you a good view of what it's been like! We are still having "large group" on Thursday nights with a sermon and breakout small group video chats. We are still having Biblical teaching with our Pizza Theology sessions on Sunday afternoons about heaven, hell, and the intermediate state. We are still having Core/small group and 1-1s through video chat as well. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Houseparty are keeping us going!

One of our pastors preaching on Thursday night with his son!
Also, in case you're wondering, I am still very pregnant and my due date is next Wednesday, April 22nd! Once the baby comes I will take a very generous 12 weeks of maternity leave and my plan is to transition to part-time ministry! I am very excited about this next step in my journey as a new mom and minister. I am hoping that you all will continue to stay on my support team as I transition to this phase! I am so blessed that God is allowing me the opportunity to continue to do what I love while also being a mom. 
Ready for this girl to make her appearance!
Please continue praying for our students, especially the ones at the campus that are lost and more lonely than ever. Pray that God would help us come up with new ways to reach out to them in the midst of social distancing. Pray that our students would remain healthy, as many of them are still going into work for financial reasons. Thank you so much for your continued support during this difficult time, financially and otherwise. I understand that many of you are making sacrifices to continue to support God's kingdom work on campus, and we are eternally grateful. 

With love and appreciation, 
Danielle <3

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Arrival of Spring--Danielle's March Update

I want to thank all of you who prayed for my dad and his recovery...he is back home from the hospital and doing much better! He is receiving outpatient therapy and continuing to get his strength back. I am still blown away by the miraculous healing that God gave him. It has filled me with an immense gratitude that I hope I don't take for granted as time passes. It seems that my dad has been gifted a second chance at life, which has also taught me to really appreciate my parents in a new way. I was reminded through this process that God really does answer prayers, and that we should never cease to bring all our requests to him, great or small.

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Mark 11:24

I was reflecting on this passage during the time that my dad was sick, and it really challenged me. What if my dad didn't make it through, despite my prayers? What would that mean? Does God really give us whatever we ask in prayer if we simply believe He will? This passage continues to challenge me, but God is teaching me that if I surrender my will to him, my prayers will always be answered. If I surrender my will, and allow His will to be done, then no matter what happens, he has already given me an answer. I hope that makes sense or at least gets you to think about it more and your own prayer life. I have by no means "figured it out," but I'm slowly understanding more. 

I wanted to update you, and THANK YOU, for one big thing that happened this month: our Showcase! Thanks to all of you who came to the show, who donated, and who prayed for its success. We don't have final numbers yet but we certainly raised a lot more money than we had expected, which is going to help our SICM students immensely! Here are some photos from the event: 

photo credit: Sean Do

Photo credit: Sean Do

Photo credit: Sean Do

We had a blast at the show and are excited to bless our SICM students with funds to send them to Washington this summer. Thank you again for all your support!

Much love, 
Danielle <3

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Life is a Gift---Danielle's February Update

As many of you may have heard, my dad is going on day 11 of being in the ICU. He and my mom caught the Swine Flu. My mom got better because she had received a flu shot, but my dad didn't. He got worse and developed pneumonia and then Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. He has been on life support for 10 days and we don't know when they will take him off the ventilator. I have been going back and forth between Plano and Houston to be with my family, and needless to say, it has been difficult.

The Lord has been good to us though, and I have seen his mercies in so many new ways every day. The support of our family, friends, and church has been immeasurable and I am completely humbled and grateful. My heart goes out to the people who have to face things like this alone, without any support. We have met different families in the ICU and it has been difficult to see the ones who have little to no family with them. There is one patient close to my dad's room whose family had to hire strangers to stay with him 24/7 because they couldn't be there. I can't imagine how hard that must be! I have been so blessed to get time away from my work in order to be with my family, and especially with my mom. I am also so grateful for technology that allows me to stay involved with what's happening in my ministry even when I can't be physically present. If you could keep my dad and my family in your prayers, I would so appreciate it!

To update you on what's been happening in our ministry, here is a look at the past month in pictures:

Our staff went on retreat and invited Brady Bobbink, a friend and partner in campus ministry. Brady directed Campus Christian Fellowship at Western Washington University for many years and we have modeled a lot of our ministry after his. We send our students up to Bellingham, WA every summer to learn from him and his staff.

All 5 of our churches came together to hear Brady speak and to celebrate what God has done in our community. Our pastor had a vision to plant 20 churches by 2020. If you include all of our church plants and campus ministries, we have 16 communities! God has grown our body tremendously.

Collin College students at Winter Camp!

More Collin College students at camp, including some girls that I mentor on a weekly basis. 

The whole group at Winter Camp 2020, from 11 different FOCUS ministries across the DFW Metroplex. We had around 580 people there!

Coming up at the end of this month (Feb 29) is Showcase 2020, our annual fundraiser to send our students to Student Institute of Campus Ministry in Washington. I'll update you with more details soon but please consider coming out to this concert and art show! It is always a fun time and we have many talented students in our community that love to perform. Go to anyfocus.org/showcase to get your ticket now!

Thanks for reading and for all your prayers 
<3 Danielle

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Contemplative Pastor---Danielle's January Update

Our staff recently returned from a rejuvenating retreat where we spent time with Brady Bobbink, the former director of Campus Christian Fellowship at Western Washington University. Every summer we send about 100 students from our ministry up to Bellingham, Washington to participate in Student Institute of Campus Ministry, which Brady created. He has been such an influential person to our staff, our students, and our entire ministry! It was such a blessing to have him and his wife, Shirley, with us for several days. He then came and spoke to our family of churches this past Sunday.

Our family of churches, including our campus ministries, gathered for worship and to hear Brady speak

Not the best photo but you can see Brady (second to L) and his wife, Shirley (in the back row) speaking to our staff

One topic Brady spoke about that stood out to me was the inner life of a pastor.  Our staff read a book in preparation for this retreat called The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson. Brady emphasized Peterson's assertion that the primary job of pastors is to pray and guard the flock, to protect and maintain a life of solitude and intimacy with the Lord, rather than productivity. This has been a struggle for me over the years, as I thrive on getting things done and fixing people's problems. I have been reminded how important it is to pace myself in the rhythm of ministry, which includes a time of the Lord reshaping me for his mission. I believe this practice will allow me to serve the students better this coming semester, especially as I prepare for the big transition of motherhood. 

Please be in prayer for our 2020 Winter Camp next weekend! We are hoping to have around 500 students attend across all the campuses. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us! Hopefully next month I'll have plenty of neat stories to share :)

Thank you so much for your faithful support and prayer. I hope your holidays were refreshing and that this next year is full of opportunities to deepen your relationship with the Lord. 

With love <3
Danielle

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving---Danielle's November Update

I apologize for my late update this month! Thanks for taking the time to read and see what we've been up to at Collin :)

October is often a rather long month in campus ministry. It's the time for mid-terms and what some of us like to call the "October Blues." Half of our students tend to get a bit discouraged around this time of year with all the responsibilities of school, work, and ministry. One of the themes our staff and students have been relying on during this time comes from Philippians 4. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

I have used this refrain for many students in our weekly times together and have seen God refresh and encourage, bring peace and thanksgiving. Now we are only a few weeks away from the end of the semester and God has continued to be faithful in our community. Praise God! 

Here are some photos from the past month in ministry:

Dr. Mary Poplin, author of Finding Calcutta, spoke to our students about her latest book Is Reality Secular?
Our 4 Collin apprentices dressed up for Halloween TNF. Two 80's ladies and Gandalf and Frodo!

We had an outreach event on Halloween and encouraged our students to come in costume! Here is a gypsy with Guy Fieri ;)

We served free hot dogs to the students for our Halloween outreach event. We served around 300 hot dogs that day! Even thought it was cold the students came out to eat and fellowship. 

Another fun bit of news for those that haven't heard: my husband, Matt, and I are expecting a baby girl in April 2020! We are thrilled and so thankful to God for blessing us with this sweet gift. We have prayed a long time for this and can't believe how good God has been. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

With love, 
Danielle <3

Monday, September 30, 2019

God Is Faithful---Danielle's September Update

The first two months of school have flown by and have reminded me of how faithful our God is. We welcomed Collin students to the campus during the first week of classes with games, bad tattoos, food, and fun. We were on the campus every day meeting new students and offering them an opportunity to be involved in a loving, God-centered community. Here are some photos:

One of my favorite events (and our most popular)!

My dancing banana tattoo was requested by several students ;)

Games on the lawn

We did tie-dye t-shirts too!


Our first Thursday Night Fellowship meeting of the year
We met so many new students who were looking for friends and community. Many of them have stuck around and attended our Fall Camp, which happened just a couple weekends ago. Our theme for camp this year was "Community," and we looked for ways to cast a vision for what Godly community looks like. Here are some photos from that weekend:

Organized indoor games--the best part of camp

A "Survivor" style game that involved completing a puzzle while blindfolded

Packed house for praise and worship!
We are planning some big things for the remainder of the semester, including "outreach" challenges and a BIG party for the entire campus! Thanks so much for all your love, prayers, and support. God is bringing people in, changing hearts, and healing lots of brokenness. It is amazing to see and it never gets old. We couldn't do this stuff without you!

Thanks for reading!

Danielle

Monday, August 5, 2019

The School Year Has Begun---Danielle's Ministry Update

Our Collin staff team just returned from a 3 day retreat to bond as a new team and prepare for the coming year. We read a book by Henri Nouwen called "In the Name of Jesus," a short but powerful look at the temptations that Christian leaders face while doing ministry. We have four new apprentices joining our team this year and we are so excited for the new personalities and fresh perspective they will bring! Our Collin team is now the largest it has ever been.  

Our 2019-2020 Collin Staff Team

Me with Jacy, an apprentice I'm supervising this year

We also spent time praying and planning for our student leaders this year and what groups they will be leading. We have 23 student leaders who have volunteered to help lead their peers through small group discussion and one-on-one Bible study. Please be in prayer for them as they prepare to get out of their comfort zones to reach as many as possible on the campus! School starts August 26th, so we will be meeting with our leaders to prepare them for what's ahead. Many of them are leading for the first time! 

As a side note, I wanted to share with you another neat experience I had in July. I attended our church's Teen Camp for the first time and I was absolutely blown away by the experience. God is working miracles and radically changing the lives of these teens! At first, I was very skeptical of the process and felt that maybe these teens were faking it or experiencing a "camp high." When we returned home though, so many of them were making huge changes and following through with the goals they set for themselves. One of the most amazing stories I saw at camp involved a girl who had been severely bullied. This big football player at her school had even told her to go kill herself. Well this boy ended up at camp (miraculously), and one evening the teens had the opportunity to confront people they had wronged. This young girl walked up to the boy that had bullied her and said, "I forgive you." At that moment, this big football player began to sob, embraced her, and apologized profusely for how he had treated her. That boy's life was changed right then and there. Praise our God for he is good!! 

Teen Camp 2019, photo cred: Jordyn Von Runnen

Thank you so much for investing in the lives of young people! They are the church of today and need people to believe in them. I'm so thankful to have a team like you behind them! 

With love, 

Danielle