Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December News

Fall semester is coming to a close next week for our students. This semester has certainly been eventful and fruitful! In the past month we continued our conversational evangelism on campus with positive results. Many of our student leaders participated in facilitating these spiritual conversations with the prompt of "Who is God?" and "Does God care about..." Christians and non-Christians alike have expressed their appreciation for our "non-threatening" approach to conversation about God. I have already developed some new relationships with non-Christians on campus and assisted in setting up a Bible study for a nonbeliever. Weekly evangelism on campus is not something our ministry has done before but we are able to see the fruit of these efforts in a wonderful way. It has become increasingly evident to us that God has big plans for changing the atmosphere on college campuses and we are excited and grateful to have a part in that! This, of course, would not be possible without YOU. Your love, prayers, and support have been invaluable to this endeavor. Thank you again for partnering with us in this great work!

In my last post I mentioned that I would share our sermon about Breaking Free from How We Think. You can listen to it here. Keep in mind, this was our first time preaching in front of the body, so it's not completely streamlined! You can hear a little bit of our goofy side :)

In mid November FOCUS offered an in depth teaching session that we call Pizza Theology. This is something we do once a semester to go deeper and learn more about a specific topic in ministry that is applicable to college students. Our theme was Breaking Free from Addictions and Compulsions. We invited a professional counselor to teach us about how we can break free from addictions and minister to others who deal with them as well. You can listen to that session here (it's about 2 hours long).

This Friday will be our last group meeting as a ministry before the Christmas break and we will be having a Christmas party! We will be taking some time to worship and sing Christmas songs, as well as get the students to think about who Jesus is and why we're excited about celebrating his birth.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with loved ones and I wish you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for reading. As always, please send me any prayer requests or good news that you have! Much love!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Planting Seeds

This past month the FOCUS interns have been given the task of devoting weekly time to evangelism on all six of our campuses. We are divided into the Dallas team and Denton team. Our Denton team consists of the four interns at UNT and TWU (Sarah, Grant, Matt, and I). The Denton team decided to center our evangelism events around the question of "Who is God?" Our goal statement is: to stir up an atmosphere of curiosity and exploration of God's character so that people get personally invested in the question of who God is. We set up some displays with pictures to facilitate conversation and to get people thinking about God's character. One of the questions we came up with that was pretty challenging to some was "What does God care about?" We posted pictures of the following options for people to discuss: Humor, Social Justice, Politics, Women, Homosexuals, Poverty, the American Dream, and Science.

I was able to have some pretty neat conversations with students about what they really believed. Many of them answered the question of what God cares about with "Well, everything!" However, once I began to probe a bit more by asking questions like "Do you think he cares about some things more than others? What about humor? Does he care about that as much as social justice?", people realized that it wasn't an easy question to answer. One memorable conversation I had was with a student at TWU. He told me that he grew up in the church but after years of research and personal questioning, he decided to identify himself as agnostic. He said that it was easy for him to get on board with Jesus but the God of the Old Testament was hard to understand. Why did God allow genocide? Why did God kill people that disobeyed Him? Is that loving? 

As interns we have been studying the Old Testament very intensively and have run into some of the same questions. Ultimately though, we are learning that we can never understand everything about God. We won't have all the answers. We're not meant to! But God's got it. He will take care of it. All we have to do is have faith and trust that his ways are better than our ways. This TWU student was very impressed with the fact that we, as Christians, were willing to admit that we didn't have all the answers. We still question these things too. Anyway, that conversation turned into an opportunity for me to invite him to Denton North Church, which is meeting for the third time this Sunday. He, and several other students, said they would come! 

My friend Albert, who is a student at TWU, talking to another student

This is me talking with a TWU student!

Please continue to be in prayer for our evangelism efforts and for the students on college campuses in the DFW metroplex. God is doing amazing things in the lives of young people on campus and I am so thrilled to be a part of it! I'll keep you updated on what we're doing next month!

Last week my fellow intern Sarah and I preached our first sermon at our large group meeting for the UNT students. Our topic was centered around our theme of "Break Every Chain." We talked about how to break free from our thoughts about ourselves, others, and our circumstances. Thankfully this sermon was recorded and will hopefully be online very soon! As soon as it's up, I'll be sure to send and/or post the link!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Your help is making a difference in more ways than I can even write in this blog! Much love to you!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Update

October is one of my favorite months of the year! The weather starts to change, the school semester is halfway through, and I get to drink lots of pumpkin flavored beverages. This past month our community has had a lot to be excited about. Our Denton church plant, Denton North Church, had its first official meeting on the first Sunday in September. We met on the UNT campus and about  100 people showed up! Many of the students in our ministry drive an hour each way every Sunday to go to church in Wylie, so having a church family that's close to home is very exciting! For the first few months, Denton North Church will be meeting once a month on campus to determine if this is where God wants us. Our next meeting is this Sunday, October 6th, so please be praying that God will give us direction and a vision for what He wants this church to look like.

Denton North Church 

A few weeks ago was Fall Park Day, a FOCUS event aimed at integrating the new students into our community through fun and fellowship. God blessed us with some beautiful weather, even though it had been storming the day before! We played some active and silly get-to-know-you games, volleyball, kickball, speedball, a bananagrams tournament, and tie-dyed t-shirts.

Students at Fall Park Day

Students had the opportunity to "walk and talk" with someone they didn't know to build new friendships. We grilled hot dogs for dinner and afterward spent some time in praise and worship to God while the sun was setting. We asked four students to share with the group what they value about our community. It was so encouraging to see nods of agreement from the new students who are already experiencing those things here. 

Praise and Worship

Our small groups have been going strong for a few weeks now and so far we have about six to ten students in each of our 19 cores. We also have students initiating one-on-one Bible studies with Christians and pre-Christians from these small groups. Please be praying for our student leaders as they facilitate friendships, discipleship, and a deep love for Jesus!

This coming month is full of events for us: weekly evangelism campaigns on the UNT and TWU campuses; weekly discipleship classes for students who want to grow in their faith; and a Halloween party! Check in next month for an update on all these!

Thank you so much for your continued prayer and support for our ministry to the campuses. We couldn't do this without you!  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Harvest is Plentiful

August has come and gone so quickly! The past two weeks have been incredibly busy but so encouraging. Our main focus at the start of the semester has been to meet as many students as possible on the UNT & TWU campuses. Although my main ministry is at the UNT campus, I've been able to work a bit with my fellow intern Sarah King in reaching out to the TWU students.

The University of North Texas
Texas Woman's University

I had the opportunity to meet new students on move-in day at both campuses. A lot of students had to move into the dorms during the heat of the day with their parents, making multiple trips to and from their cars. A group of FOCUS students volunteered their time to help students move and welcome them to the university, which was such a great way to meet lots of new people all at once. It was really exciting getting to hear stories of where people came from and how they ended up in Denton for school. I could relate--I had just finished moving too!

After move-in, UNT kicked off "Welcome Week" which is devoted to getting students involved in events on campus and meeting new people. FOCUS organized two events called "Capture the Flag" and we had about 200 people show up to play on the first night! Our student leaders were working so hard to make lots of new friends and to invite them to everything. We got to see the results of this hard work at our first official large group meeting of the semester on Friday night (which we call Friday Night Fellowship). Many new students expressed interest in getting involved in the heart of our ministry, small groups we call "Core." Each week, gender-specific small groups meet on or near campus to develop deep friendships, learn about discipleship, and grow in relationship with Christ. Our cores are officially starting to meet this week, so please be in prayer for the students that God is preparing to bring to these meetings.

Friday Night Fellowship

This past weekend we wrapped up August by taking our "Corefas" (small group leaders and facilitators) on retreat. It was really so crazy to see how many students we have from all five campuses (UTD, UNT, Collin College, TWU, & Richland) who are committing to lead students to Jesus this year. One of the goals we have as a staff is for our student leaders to develop personal and spiritual depth. We spent time discussing how to be effective leaders and disciple-makers that have hearts for God and people. One of the topics we discussed was vulnerability, and how making ourselves vulnerable to people we reach out to is an act of courage, not weakness. I was personally challenged by this thought, especially because I have experienced heartbreak in making myself vulnerable to the people I've ministered to.

Please pray for our ministry as we continue to reach out to students, Christian and pre-Christian. Pray for growth and depth for our student leaders. Also pray for me and my fellow interns in our studies, that we can balance our work load and projects with our time to be with students. Thank you all for your prayers and support! God is working through you to reach many people for His kingdom! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August Update

We're only halfway through August and it feels like I've done so much! Our first assignment as interns was to read the entire Old Testament in chronological order in two weeks. At first this task seemed a bit daunting, but since all nine of the interns were doing it at the same time, it turned into a really special project. We were able to read and discuss all the neat things we were learning about God's character and his love for people. We serve an awesome God who continues to pour out his love and mercy, even when we have done nothing to deserve it. I have such a different perspective on the story of Jesus now that I've read it from the beginning!

This past weekend I moved into my new apartment in Denton. Thankfully, we're located very close to campus! My next task is to take a walk around the campus to get acquainted with it and to pray for the students before classes start on the 28th. We also had our leader retreat this weekend where we prepared our new team of leaders for the upcoming year. There are 36 students that committed to be leaders to facilitate small groups and one-on-one Bible studies, and they're a fantastic group of people! At the retreat we shared our visions for the campus and our ministry, encouraged each other, and discussed our theme for the year. This year's theme is "Break Every Chain" based on Psalm 107:14, 

"He brought them out of darkness, 
the utter darkness, and broke away their chains."

Our UNT staff decided to tie bricks around the student leaders' wrists (that they had to carry with them all day) to symbolize the "chains" that enslave us from true freedom in Christ. 

At the end of the night we cut off each other's chains with the words "The Lord has snapped your chains! Let us give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and the wonderful things he does for you and me!" Please pray that this year God would break the chains that keep us from completely following and trusting in Him! 

I'm so excited about this year and all of the students that God is bringing our way. Pray that we would have boldness to step out of our comfort zones to meet new people and invite them into our lives. Pray for opportunities to reach the lost students on the campus. Pray that God would guide us to those that are lonely, hurting, and seeking true friendships. Freshman move-in and Welcome Week are coming up, so I'll be updating you again soon. Pray for perseverance as we go through these next three weeks of purposeful time and service for the new students! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

From the Beginning

Hello family, friends, and supporters! I have never written a blog before but this year I'm going to have lots of "firsts." I can't believe that July is coming to a close, and I'm about to start my internship with FOCUS in less than a week! I'm so excited for this new step in my life and am glad that you'll be a part of it as well!

To give a brief history of where I started and how I got here, I have to preface it with: I never imagined this. I graduated from UTD with my master's in Communication Disorders in 2011 after having been involved with FOCUS for 4 years. This idea of applying for the campus ministry internship had planted itself in my brain soon after graduating, but after some prayer and important conversations, I decided at the time that it wasn't the right choice for me. So I went to work full time as a Speech-Language Pathologist and experienced the "real world" outside of college. A year and a half went by and I thought I was done with campus ministry forever. However, God had different plans! During the time that I was working, God placed the city of Denton in my head. I didn't know why, but I kept it on the shelf and went about my business. The church that I attend, The Northeast Church, had been talking about planting a new church in Denton and encouraged us to consider moving up there to help. Month after month, I kept receiving little nudges from God to do just that. When I finally spoke with one of my mentors, Mandy, about this idea, she immediately offered me the opportunity to help the leaders of FOCUS at the University of North Texas campus in Denton. This gave me a chance to get involved, make some friends, and decide whether or not moving to Denton was really something I could do. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it. I got to know some great people, worked with some awesome leaders, and learned a lot about ministry. The experience reminded me of how much I love campus ministry and couldn't stand to be away for very long! So the campus ministry internship became the natural next step for me. Although I was worried about quitting my job and pressing pause on my career, I knew it was something God wanted me to do. 

So here I am, getting ready to move to Denton and start this crazy journey. As it turns out, I won't have to quit my job and I still get to work several hours a week to keep up with my profession. GOD IS SO GOOD! He continues to provide for me in so many ways and I am so pumped to devote this next year to God and His people. Please keep me and the students of UNT in your prayers! I know God will do awesome things!