Thursday, October 1, 2015

Danielle's October Update

September was a bit of a challenging month for our ministry. The staff was busy putting out "fires," especially in these past few weeks. Garrett and I had been fervently praying since the beginning of the semester that our student leaders (corefas) would grow in depth, spiritual maturity, and discernment; God has definitely provided our leaders with opportunity! Our corefas are discovering what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. I am learning that FOCUS is a magnet for people who are lost and hurting. Our community is probably the safest place for them, where people will not only accept them, but do what's best for them. Often this "tough" love is harder to give than the easy, nice way that we are accustomed to. But Jesus was bold. He had harsh words for those that resisted truth and grace for those full of repentance. 

Our sermon series these past two months was centered around the first five chapters of the book of Acts. Our main topics of discussion have been prayer, repentance, community, and the kingdom of God. We have made a big push for our community to grow in prayer, as this is one area where many of them lack discipline and consistency. We have been using the Lord's Prayer as a starting point to teach our students how to pray as Jesus did. We've also planned to have our corefas teach a lesson in prayer in their small groups next week. This has been a big blessing for me because it's caused me to increase my prayer life as well. The staff started a new tradition after our large group fellowship on Thursday nights: we are taking turns standing in the back after the service to be available for any student who needs prayer, confession, or advice. One night in particular we had at least ten students come for prayer and confession. 

Needless to say, God has been answering our prayers and deliberately strengthening our community. So even though this past month had its challenges, overall it has been a huge blessing. God always makes things work together for the good of those who love him. October is going to be a busy month for FOCUS: next weekend we have Fall Park Day and the weekend after that we have a Church Leadership Conference. I'm excited that we'll get a chance to have some fun with our students at the park next weekend, to hang out and enjoy this wonderful cool weather! 

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support. We have seen the effect that your prayers are having! Please continue to pray for discipline and discernment for all of our students. Thank you for caring about the details of our ministry and the lives of our students. I'm so grateful for your support that allows me to minister to college students that are seeking after Jesus! 

One last thing I'd like to mention for those of you who were on my support team last year: here is an excerpt from Brandon's blog with the breakdown of the money donated to the #FOCUS140 Campaign. 

So almost a year ago we launched our 1st Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative (#FOCUS140) and raised $31,000 to keep FOCUS going and growing!

In the 10 months since then, so much has happened. Together with your help, we:

  • Established a major new ministry at UT Arlington and started groups at both NCTC and TWU Dallas as well. This means we are reaching students on 9 campuses now!
  • Finished establishing FOCUS as a separate church legally, which protects our assets and ensures they will be used for campus missions in the years to come. It also gives us increased flexibility to meet the specific needs of our mission field. 
  • Launched a new website to meet administrative needs and better communicate with incoming students.  
  • Welcomed 14 new full-time interns, our largest class to date.
  • Trained more than 150 student small group leaders to be missionaries to their campuses!
We are poised and ready for future opportunities because of those generous gifts. I've outlined below (in rounded numbers) how we spent that money. I tried to keep it general, but I'm happy to answer more specific questions as needed.

UTA launch expenses (leader retreat, moving expenses, sound equipment, etc)$5,200.00
Outreach and advertising to new students (for 9 campuses)$4,500.00
Printing FOJ books for the new year (enough for 675 one-on-one studies!)$900.00
Staff development (seminary coursework and staff prep days)$4,300.00
Paying for counseling for students (who need it but can't afford it)$1,400.00
New website (design, launch, and first year)$1,400.00
Internship expenses to help fund 14 interns (books, event costs, etc)$9,000.00
Legal expenses and fees as we finalized our new corporation$2,800.00
Prepping 150+ student leaders for the year (materials and meals)$1,500.00

A special "Thank You!" to all of you who gave. Our 2nd Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative will launch in November!