Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Prayer Requests

Hello,

Christmas is right around the corner, and this semester is pretty much done. Normally I try to do some pictures in my blogs, but this month I don't have any. Instead, I have two ministry situations that I'd like you all to be praying over. They're both just sitting kind of heavy on my heart, and I'd like you to join me in praying for these woman!

Prayer Requests

Within the past month or two, we've had some pretty challenging ministry situations occur. The first has pretty much kind of worked out, but I would still really appreciate some prayers. I'm studying the Bible with a girl, and for a few weeks we struggled to meet with each other because I had a big ministry situation that I was dealing with and had to go to a core during our FOJ time a few times. Then she kind of cancelled on me and before you know it, it's Thanksgiving break. After I came back from break I begin finding out from other people that she's stopped coming to things. I had her boss call me and ask me about her, old roommates, and her core facilitator. I was pretty shocked! This just did not seem like the girl to disappear on people and responsibilities. And I was sad because I had neglected her and didn't even realize that she was struggling. About a week after Thanksgiving, she started responding to people, and I was able to meet with her and talk to her about what happened. She's seeing a counselor now and working through some stuff. She's trying to get more involved in community and spend more time with God. I'm so excited that she's doing better, and I would definitely appreciate prayers for her. It's hard when things like this happen so close to a break because people don't have much of a chance to make changes. They go home, they rest, and sometimes they forget. They come back and what had seemed so real, now seems like a dream. The change that really needed to happen gets pushed off. I don't want that for her! So please pray for her and for her break.

This capriciousness is normal for college students which is the crazy thing! You can be working with someone and feel really good about them, and the next day or maybe even a few hours later, they can be in crisis. So much can happen in such a short time! It's hard not to want to feel the weight of that sometimes. It's times like these where I just have to remember that God is the one in control; I can try to lead people to Him, but only He is capable of really changing people.

The second situation is what I was dealing with that made it hard to meet with the previous girl, and this one is still kind of working itself out. We've had people that don't go to college, who never plan on going to college, come to cores before. It's normally not a big deal. This year we had two non-students going to one of our woman's cores, and we saw that it was becoming a big deal. These two girls were just kind of hijacking the core. One girl specifically would be playing on her phone during the scripture discussion, then make any of the conversations about herself. It was really hard for the corefas to cut her off for a number of reasons, but they would try their best. That core had mostly freshman girls, and they were all inconsistent. The corefas went and talked to the girls, asking about their experience in core, and several of them brought up how easily the core would get sidetracked. Gosh I did not know what to do, and these corefas were also new! I should also mention that for sake of time, privacy, and length I'm leaving out a lot of details, so the situation may not seem as complicated or difficult as it really was. Anyway, Mandy and I brought the situation to our staff, and we decided that we needed to ask these woman to leave our ministry. We are a campus ministry, and what they both needed was a more long-term ministry, where they could meet people who could pour into them and had resources that we just don't have. So I went and had those conversations, and I promise you there is no good way to say we want you to leave our ministry and transition to church ministry. Those two woman were so hurt and angry. I had a 45 minute phone conversation (after I had talked to this girl in person) where she just ranted again me, saying we had no grounds to do this, we were being controlling, ministry should be open to everyone, etc. The crazy thing is that we don't always think that. We wouldn't say it's appropriate for a teenager to keep going to children's ministry. Or for someone in college to keep going to their youth group. At some point, we have to move forward. But she was not on the phone with me to discuss anything; she just wanted to be heard.  Anyway now their trying to go over our heads, and I think get Mandy and myself in trouble. It's just kind of a mess of a situation.

Gosh I don't even know really what to say about this situation. Honestly it just makes me sad more than anything else. Asking them to leave was a hard decision to make, and it lead to probably some of the hardest conversations I've had to have. I just look at how both woman reacted, and I look at the lives their both living and can't help but feel sad for both of them. I should also say that both woman are Christian and have a church home. We were not leaving these woman high and dry, and I offered to go visit other adult small groups with them if they didn't like what their church had to offer. But they both took being asked to transition so hard and very personal. I really do want what is best for these woman, and I want them to know Jesus. I guess that is my prayer request for this situation. It's such a sticky situation, and I pray that God would do what is best, both for the woman in that core and for these two woman. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for all your prayers! And for reading all of that. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and enjoy being with your families.

Student Testimony


Thursday, November 15, 2018

October Update

Hello,

I hope you are all doing well. I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving! I'm so excited; Laurence and I will be going to Amarillo to see my family. Prayers for safe travel would be appreciate:)

I'm going to jump into my cool story! One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. I'm not really sure why. It's one of the few holidays my family celebrated, so maybe that's why it has a special place in my heart. I also know celebrating Halloween can be controversial for some christians, but every year I like to make sure FOCUS throws a Halloween Party, and we use it as an outreach event. I think it's just a great opportunity to invite non-christians to something, and it shows them that you can have fun without having alcohol. This year we have more people working on outreach at UTD, so we stepped up our game. We decided to have this huge outdoor event. We were going to have dancing, face painting, 9-square-in-the-air, and giant jenga. We had some businesses donate some prizes, so we had a costume contest and a raffle where people could put their names in if they brought a friend. We advertised all of campus, and I was so excited! As the event grew closer, the weather grew tempestuous. It got cold and rainy, and our outdoor event became unlikely to happen. I started working on a back up plan, but it's really hard to get room reservations on campus. We were asking last minute, so there was little to no chance that we were going to be able to just move inside. Moving off campus wasn't a great idea either because this was an outreach event. People who don't go to our organization don't want to drive off campus to go to something. Anyway, I had our officers check into getting a room, just in case, and God worked a miracle! We were able to get a large space on campus, inside, last minute! We had to change some of what we did, but all in all I think the event was a success. The coolest thing about it was seeing how God worked throughout the situation. He really did provide for us. One of our staff was talking to some students who weren't a part of our ministry, and they told him that they didn't know Christians could have that much fun. I should also mention that we were really nervous about how face painting would go, but it was a huge hit! Mostly for international students. They were lined up the whole night to get their faces painted! Most of them said this was their first time celebrating Halloween, and they were so excited to get to do something. 





Keep FOCUS Growing

It's that time of year again! Our Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser is about to start. If you aren't familiar with this fundraiser, we use this money for a lot of essential things. This money goes towards paying our administrative teams salaries and the salaries of staff members who didn't get fully fundraised. We use this money to buy outreach materials for the different campus. We have used money that comes from this in the past to plant the UTA and SMU ministries. This fundraiser has been so helpful for making sure we're set up as a ministry to be around long-term!

This year people have been extremely generous and agreed to match donations! We have a total of $33,000 of funds that people have agreed to match. That means that your donation, up to $5,000, will be doubled!!!! 

If you're interested in giving to it (which I really hope you are!), then here are some different options for you to give. You can go to our website - anyfocus.org/kfg - and donate that way. If you would like to give without any credit card fees being taken out of your donation, you can give to us through facebook. Find as at FOCUS - Fellowship of Christian University Students. You can also send a check to us, and you can find the information for where to send that on our website -anyfocus.org/donate.

On Tuesday, November 27th (or giving tuesday), we'll be doing a special KFG push through and Facebook will also be matching donations! 

I really can't mention KFG without thanking all of you for your support. It's crazy to think that FOCUS has already been around for 20 years, and the only reason it's been able to last that long and look the way it does now is because people, like you, have been so incredibly generous! I'm just blown away and can't ever say thank you enough. I hope the student testimony is encouraging to you and shows you how crazy cool the impact your faithfulness is having on these campuses!

 Student Testimony







Friday, October 5, 2018

September Update


Hello,

I hope you've had a great September. On a non-ministry note, my sister-in-law is pregnant, and I'm so excited! This will be the first baby in one of Laurence and I's immediate families, and everyone is brimming with excitement. This past weekend she revealed the gender, and it's going to be a baby girl! I also just wanted to ask for prayer for a safe pregnancy.

Outreach

What's been going on in FOCUS has been just as exciting. Last week we set up display boards on campus and asked passing people to engage in conversation with us. Our display boards had a few questions on them and quotes, and we just asked students to respond. I have some pictures below of what we asked and a photo of the displays. You'll see we were/are asking about happiness, and we decided to do a display on this because of a Princeton Review Top 20 list. The list rated the Top 20 school that had the least happy students, and the University of Texas at Dallas rated fourth!!! Our staff were just shocked by how highly we had rated, and we wanted to go out on campus and talk to people about their experience. The conversations went really well, and it seemed like most people were open to discussing happiness and their thoughts on how religion influenced it. We'll be doing these same displays next week, so it would be awesome if you could be praying that God use this to impact our campus for Him.

Fall Camp

In September we also had our Fall Camp. I just wanted to share how great the camp went! One reason we do Fall Camp is to give an opportunity for more bonding. There are chunks of free time and discussion sections, so the cores end up getting several hours of bonding time. We see every year that having that time helps cores feel more comfortable and vulnerable with each other.  Our theme of camp was around community, and we had students sharing throughout the camp about their experiences with community. We had people share about how community has ministered to them, and also the costs that can come with being involved in community. The student sharing was so powerful. We also had posters around the room with one another passages from the Bible, and the students were encouraged to go write someone they've seen practice that passage. It was so encouraging all the things and names that people wrote on the posters! It was just so neat getting to hear stories of how people have been impacted by community and see our community encouraging one another. This was probably my favorite Fall Camp!


Thanks for praying for our ministry and for investing in what is happening on these campuses. I wish I had time to tell you all the cool things that are happening this year, and I know that none of these things would happening with out your faithfulness. Let me know if there is anything I can be praying for you about! As always I'm going to end with a student testimony. 

Student Testimony



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Back At It Again

Hello,

I hope you're doing well. I have so many exciting things to share with you this month! First I want to thank you for all your prayers for our welcome week and beginning the new school year on a positive note. I really do believe they helped so much!

Welcome Week

Games going on in the Residence Hall
The Residence Halls mainly have freshman in them,
so we met a lot of new students who had moved in earlier that day! 
Our welcome week went so well. Our students did such a great job of meeting new people. We started out our welcome week meeting students in the dorms, and it was so encouraging looking around, seeing so many of our corefas and returners there. We needed that many people there, too, because there were so many new people that needed to be met. It's been so encouraging to see people we met at different events coming to the rest of the events, showing up to FNF, and going to cores. I added some pictures of the different events we had. 
United Worship
The different Christian organizations on campus get together to worship God and meet Christians who are interested in community


Zombie Tag
We invited the people we'd been meeting for the past couple days to come play. Some of corefa's realized it was one of the new girls birthdays, and they brought cupcakes and got everyone to sign that girl happy birthday!

Fellowship Meetings

I'm sure you could have guessed this based on how I said our welcome week went, but our kickoff Friday Night Fellowship was completely filled! It was great getting to see some students who have been gone all summer and catch up with some returning students, to see some new faces we've been meeting at our events, and to see people I don't think I'd seen before at all. 

 I don't think I shared this in my past blog, but this year we started a new fellowship meeting that meets on Tuesday nights. I've been leading that, and I wasn't sure what to expect from it. It was new, so I knew not that many people would come. It was meeting at 8pm on a Tuesday, so I wasn't sure very many students would want to come to it. The first night we had around 50 people come, and I was shocked by that! I had figured we'd have somewhere around 20-30 people. The next week I also had pretty low expectations for how many people would show up. I knew several people had come because they were interested in seeing our new service and wouldn't be back again the next week. We had 50 people show up again though! Those people hadn't come back; new people had come. So for the third week, I expected about 50 people to show up again, but instead we had 70 people come! It's been so great just seeing how our students are inviting new people. Numbers don't matter, and I would have been excited if we had fewer people come. The reason why it's so exciting that we've had more people is because I can see how hard our students have been working on meeting new people and inviting those people into community and a relationship with God! Our theme this year is "All In." It has two different meanings: 1. we believe that everyone is welcome in the community, and we want our outreach to reflect that, and 2. we want people to be all in for Jesus, and I truly believe I've been seeing our students reflect both meanings of our theme!
TNF service

First FNF service of the school year

Thank you again for all your support and prayers. None of these exciting things could happen with out those things! I hope this was encouraging to hear, and like always, I'm going to end with our student testimony.

Student Testimony

Ulises Solis 
Accounting
UT Arlington
Senior
"In high school and throughout my early college career, I was someone who would call myself a Christian but was not living my life as a follower of Christ. My life revolved around getting drunk most weekends and I would sometimes even go to church on Sundays with a hangover. There were a few moments during that time of my life that made me want to quit what I was doing, but I felt like God wouldn’t forgive me. When I transferred to UTA during my junior year, I felt lost and didn't know what I wanted in life. I just knew that I didn't want to keep living the life I had been living up to that point. During my first week at UTA, I was biking around campus and accidentally ended up at the first Thursday Night Fellowship of the year. I met so many welcoming people that night. I was invited to a core and my friend Cole asked to study the Bible with me. Before FOJ, I truly thought that there was no way I could be forgiven. But as the study progressed I learned about how much God loves us and how much grace he has for us. That's what led me to be baptized, which was the best decision I've ever made. I feel like God used FOCUS and all the people within the ministry to reconnect me with him. If it wasn't for me accidentally going to a fellowship night, I don't know what I would be doing with my life right now. Now I'm starting my first year as a student leader with FOCUS, and I'm praying that God works through me the same way he worked through my leaders last year so I can help other students who are lost like I was."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August Rush


Hello,

I hope you're all doing well. I can't believe August is already here and the school year is about to start! We are having our Corefa Prep this weekend, and I would really appreciate your prayers. If you don't know what Corefa Prep is, we have all of our corefas come to this. This kicks off our time together serving the UTD campus for the year. We learn who the other people on the team are; we have some leadership development time where we talk about the way we do ministry and some different axioms that help them in their ministry. And we help get them excited for meeting new students and equip them with some ways to do that effectively. We'll also be inviting students in our ministry who won't be leading a core to a portion of this to help equip them to meet students as well. We could use prayers that this kicks off our year in a really positive way, it gets the students pumped up to meet new people, and for safe travels for everyone who are having to drive in for this!

On another note, a girl I've been meeting with this past year made the decision to be baptized!!!! She's been in our ministry for a few years and first got plugged in at Collin College, and she decided that she was finally in a place where she could fully commit her life to God. She had her first corefas do the baptism, and they were so blessed by the experience to get to do that. I attached a video of the event, and I hope it encourages you.




Student Testimony

Pita Lerma 
General Studies/Psychology
North Central Texas College
Junior
"My first year at North Central Texas College, I felt insecure and ashamed that I couldn’t go straight into a four year university like my other friends. I walked the halls with a “get in and get out” mentality, and went on like this for almost a year. I believed that I was a Christian, yet lived a complacent and distant life from anyone who challenged the walls I built around myself. I put on a face that told the world I was self-sufficient and feared the day that someone would know the truth of the hollow life I led. My second year at NCTC, I was plugged into FOCUS by a friend who knew that what I needed was a strong community in order to flourish. I attended a fellowship night where I was quickly embraced by a number of people who seemed eager and genuinely interested in getting to know me. Before I knew it, I was invited into homes, movie nights, a one-on-one bible study, and countless other opportunities that tore down the walls I built. Over the next couple of years, I grew in vulnerability, friendship, joy, and fell absolutely in love with Jesus and his people. Through this ministry, I not only met the man I get to marry, but also gained strong and sweet friendships that push me to love God and people deeply and intentionally."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Prayer Requests

I hope you are all doing well!

Mandy, Dawn, Sandra, and I have almost finished finalizing the woman's leader team at UTD next year! Which is a huge relief and blessing. Thank you so much for your prayers!!

If you could keep our staff's fundraising in your prayers, that would be amazing! I still have about $300 of monthly donation's I'm trying to fundraise; It seems like we're in a good place as a staff, but August is quickly approaching. I know that God is more than capable and big enough to meet our needs as a staff. The biggest way He works is through people, so I wanted to invite you to be thinking and praying about whether you know of anyone who would be excited about supporting this campus ministry! Just email me if you can think of anyone.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!

Student Testimony

Harrison Wijaya
Collin College - Spring Creek
Finance
Freshman
When I came to the United States from Indonesia, I was pretty concerned about what life would be like. I immediately assumed I’d have a pretty lonely time at Collin. I heard about FOCUS but wasn’t really interested since I didn’t have a connection point. Interacting with strangers had never been my strong suit. Little did I know that God was listening and was ready to meet my needs. My first day on campus I met Graham, who told me about his involvement with FOCUS and introduced me to his friends. He followed up with me, and that was a huge way God started giving me a vision for what my life could look like.

Through one-on-ones and pastoral messages, this community has taught me the impact of reflecting Christ in every word I speak and action I take. Through my 
friendships, I’ve been shown how we can best love one another by putting all our efforts into blessing strangers like me. I've also had the opportunity to honor God at home by getting to live with five other guys from our community. Being in FOCUS, I’ve learned that God wants to open my eyes and heart to truly be shaped into someone who loves Him and those around me in all areas of my life.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SICM update!

Hello friends,

I hope your summer is going well. I know for some people, the summer can get really busy and crazy, so if that's you, I hope you still find some rest and joy in the craziness! Summer for us can be a more restful time where we can spend more time connecting with students and with God. There's a lot of time spend in prayer planning for the upcoming year, and it's a much needed change of pace.

SICM

I wanted to update you on how SICM went! I think the students were really impacted by the experience; I keep hearing really great feedback! We were able to go to their large group meeting twice which was neat. They had some of a senior preach each night on a passage of Colossians, and I think it was powerful for our students to see other students preaching. I think it just broadens what they feel God could be calling them to do or to think about.

For most of the week, we were in classes from 10 am to 5pm with an hour and a half break for lunch. We started the morning off with worship and had a worship night one of the evenings. It seemed like every one of our students LOVED the morning worship and worship night. One of the worship morning times, we read the story of how a few common hymns were inspired, then we sang the hymn. That was just a really powerful activity that I think gives more life and gravity to the songs we were singing! Another common thing students expressed was really impactful was the evangelism day. Most of them were really nervous or even scared to go out on the Western Washington campus and try to talk to strangers. They realized after they had done it, though, that there wasn't as much to fear as they first believed. The people they talked to were pretty willing to talk and share their opinions, even if they don't believe in God. 



At the end of the week, we celebrate by going to a beautiful forested area by the water. The students can go explore, play on the water, play volleyball, or just sit and hangout for a little bit, then we gather them together and give them certificates of completion. It's a time where we give everyone from a specific campus those certificates, then pray for them and their ministry. 

This year at the end, we also had two baptisms! Both guys had grown up in the church, but hadn't been living their lives for Jesus. They wanted to take the opportunity to recommit their lives to Him in front of the entire community! 


Thank you so much for praying for this and for donating to send students to go. Since I've come back, I've been having conversations with students about being a core facilitator this next school year, and the people who have gone have all felt lead to be one because of how SICM showed them they don't have to be "ready" to serve, they just have to be "willing." They are excited to go back on their campuses and work hard to serve the Lord and make disciples!

On that note, though, it would be so helpful if you could keep our corefa conversations in your prayers! Thanks again for making all this possible!

Student Testimony



Javiera Pinochet
Richland Community College
Social Work
Sophomore
"I was very hopeful for what God was going to do during my first semester in college. I did, however, have a lot of anxiety about my professors, whether or not I would build Godly friendships, and how I would find a good Christian community. In the past, I’ve struggled with making friends--I think because I feared rejection. My fears made it hard for me to actually open up and connect with others, either in a spiritual or non-spiritual way. When the Club Fair came around at Richland, I went up to the FOCUS booth and talked to Sandra, one of the campus ministers at Richland. I found what I was looking for! I have built spiritual relationships that have become a second family to me. I have made unexpected friendships through serving on the worship team at UTD and doing a one-on-one Bible study. That’s the beauty of FOCUS--they love on you and challenge you to be more like Jesus. This year, the theme was ‘'Send Me'. This has become a theme for my life because I feel the need to share the love of Christ. Thankfully, I was able to attend SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) where I was trained to do just that! Top-notch teachers taught us all sorts of things about what it looks like to be a missionary to our campuses. I want to thank FOCUS for believing in me and equipping me to be a “sent-one!”

Saturday, May 5, 2018

End of Another School Year

Hello,

I can't believe another school year has come and gone! It seems like yesterday we were beginning this semester and last night we just had our final FOCUS event for this semester. Now it's time for SICM, and I'm so excited. This is a trip I look forward to all year! It's so amazing seeing how these students lives' are impacted from taking a week of their lives and devoting it to learning about God and experiencing Him.

We leave for Seattle on Thursday, so I would appreciate prayers for safe travel and that God would reveal himself to these students and the staff in powerful ways.

Thank You!

I also can't talk about SICM without thanking you! So many of you invested in our next generation of student leaders through the Spring Showcase or otherwise giving scholarships for SICM. The Showcase raised $17,759.20in one day! We should be in great shape paying for everyone who needed help.

I am constantly blown away by the generosity people show. It's such an amazing example of the generosity God shows to us, and it makes me want to be just as giving. 

I can't wait to send lots of pictures of the trip in my next blog!!!!

Baptism Galore!


I'm so excited to share that this year we've had several women commit their lives to Jesus! This semester we've had 5 women decide to take this step. Sadly I didn't take a picture of all of them, but I did take a picture of a few. 

The picture on the left is a picture of Dawn (the one in a black t-shirt) baptizing Candace (the one in the red t-shirt). Dawn is one of our apprentices this year, and she has been working with Laurence at SMU this year. Candace is a girl they met at one of their outreach events they put on, and her and Dawn have been studying the bible together. The ministry at SMU is still in its early stages, but as you can see, God is moving powerfully in that ministry. It is so exciting to see, and I can't wait to see how God continues growing and developing FOCUS there. 

The photo on the right is a picture of Siena Walter being baptized by Erin Ihnen. Last summer, Mandy, Sandra, and I were praying for more women leaders, and this is a cool example of how God has answered our prayers. At the beginning of this school year, we did outreach in the freshman dorms where we met Siena. Siena grew up a christian, but wasn't really living her life for Jesus. After doing a one on one bible study, she decided to fully commit to living for Him. She has so much leadership potential, and I'm so excited to see how God uses her this next year! This is just one story of the women that God brought into our ministry. 

Both of these women will be going to SICM this year as well where they will learn more about how to be disciples on their campuses. They're among the people you've been praying for all semester! Your prayers have been working :)

Thank You Again!

To end I just want to thank you again. I don't think I could ever thank you enough. I can't describe how blessed I feel to have the opportunity to work with these women, to see first hand how God is working in their lives, to get to take classes learning more about God, and all the other things I get to do while working on staff. I feel deeply indebted to you for this experience, and I hope you see how valuable your partnership is. Your generosity is changing lives! Not just these students, but mine as well. I wish I could tell you all the ways that I've changed from how I started my apprenticeship to now, but that blog would be too lengthy! Suffice it to say that God has been humbling me, helping me to love more like Him, and to learn what it really means to be the servant of all. Thank you so much!


Student Testimony

Bekwele Wodi
Texas Woman’s University
Psychology
Sophomore
As always I'd like to end with the student testimony. I hope you've been encouraged by this blog. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

"I first became involved with FOCUS when I was just starting out at Collin College. I had been living in Nigeria for a few years, so I was walking into a college experience where I didn’t know anyone. I worried a lot about not being able to find any meaningful friendships while I was there. So it came as a surprise when some old friends of mine, LorĂ© and Gibby Yessuff, invited me to a Thursday Night Fellowship. From that first night of fellowship, I made more friends than I could have prayed for. People asked me to sit with them, scheduled time to hang out with me, got to know me, and challenged me as a disciple. It became clear to me that this was not only an example of authentic Christian community; this was the way Jesus called us to do friendships—intentional, genuine and loving.

Through the many friendships I’ve been blessed with in FOCUS, God has changed my fear and worry of not having any friends into a desire to grow and develop friendships at TWU. I am beyond thankful when I see what he is doing in the lives of students here and for the example of Christian friendship that I’m now able to extend to others."




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

March Update

Hello,

I hope you're enjoying spring as much as I am! I love it when everything begins growing again after winter. It's just such a beautiful time of year, and the weather is some of my favorite.

Anyway, I wanted to update you on how SSI went. Every year we have students come down from Washington during their spring break to do evangelism on our campuses. By the way, this is the same ministry that hosts SICM - the ministry conference we're sending students to in May. We had a group of 11 people come here. We were a little worried at the beginning of the week because it was supposed to rain all week, and most of our outreach plans had us outside. Luckily, we only had to move inside one day because of the rain. The rest of the days had pretty great weather which made being outside for hours feel great! I think our 4 days of doing outreach for 6 hours did pay off, too. I saw some people at our large group meeting that Friday I know we had met doing outreach that week. At the end of the week, we went and had a fun day where we took them to the Aquarium and to Clyde Warren Park in Dallas. They had a lot of fun.

I'm so glad that we have these students come down every year because I think it sets a great example for our students of stepping out on faith for God. It's scary to do outreach, and it's even scarier to go some where you aren't comfortable with to do outreach. But every year the ministry in Washington has students who are willing to come! These students spent over 25 hours last week on the UTD campus last week trying to have conversations with people. And they made relationships, and invited people they had met throughout the week to things we were doing. I saw people they had invited show up to things too! What a neat time to see God work. Every year it just proves to me how big God really is!

Spring Showcase

This is going to be an amazing show! If you can make it, then you should come. There will be singing, dancing, and even some improv. The art sale will have canvas art, candles, photographs, and so much more! It's this Saturday, so buy your ticket now if you haven't already!



I'm going to finish with the student testimony, but I just wanted to thank you. I really appreciate you reading this and praying for our ministry. We could not do what we do without your faithful support! I'm just so grateful for you:)

Student Testimony

"When I first came to college, I was worried about finding a good, Christian community on campus. Luckily, I had a friend from home invite me to FOCUS at the beginning of the year, introducing me to a community that radiated acceptance and spread God’s light throughout campus.

Right away, I felt immediately included and got involved in a small group, which provided me a great community of believers and friends. Establishing this strong base at the beginning of the year eventually helped me through the tough times I faced later on; I was confronted with many things I had never been tempted with before during my first semester. That semester, while in a musical, I was around many older people who frequently drank. I drank a couple of times and justified my underage drinking while judging others for falling short in the same way. In my family and high school, I had been labeled the “good kid”.  I had never built up the self-control against these inclinations and felt ashamed when I gave in to temptation. However, with the help of my Corefas and friends in FOCUS, I was able to stop these bad habits before they became too serious and find forgiveness through Christ. Now, rather than judging others who struggle with that temptation, I can empathize with them and share how God used FOCUS to help me overcome my own obstacles!"

Sienna Walter
UT Dallas
Business Administration
Freshman



Saturday, March 3, 2018

February Update!

Hello again,

I was thinking and praying about what I should include in this months update, and I realized I've never introduced you to the girls I've been mentoring this year!

Back row, left to right: Laura Daigh, Cristina Cisneros, Jennifer Ruppi, Me, Ashlyn Sauer
Front row, left to right: Hope Shaw, Amber Loflin, Irina Brock, Darby James
Photoshopped small head: Davina Dhani


Laura Daigh: She will be graduating soon with her undergrad in Biochemistry and is applying to graduate schools. She's bright, funny, and fiesty. I got the pleasure to begin spending time with her regularly last spring. When we met, she was in the process of decided whether she wanted to make major life decisions based on Jesus and what He's said is true. It's been really cool getting to see God work in her and through her. By the end of last spring semester, she decided that she was all in, and I watched her work hard changing her life to look more like what God wants for her.

Irina: She graduated last year with a degree in Speech Pathology. She was also a core facilitator last year. I didn't know her before we met at our core facilitator training in August. She has some trust issues, but loves people deeply. She is easily one of the most servant hearted people I know. Through my time working with her, I've just seen God working in her, healing her of past hurts and opening her up to deeper relationships with Him and others. (Laura and Irina lead one of our cores together)

Cristina Cisneros: She is in the process of getting a nursing degree from TWU Dallas. She is quirky, reserved, and calm. I think she brings a balance to the school that is vital. The overall vibe of this nursing school is stress. Students are overwhelmed by everything they have to do and worried about failing out. Many of the students there are overly anxious. Cristina's personality and demeanor brings a calm amidst that storm of emotions.

Hope Shaw: She has graduated from TWU Dallas' nursing school and is currently working night shifts as an ER nurse. She has a bubbly personality that instantly makes you feel like you're friends immediately. I also think she brings something vital to the nursing school. The nursing school community is one that doesn't invest in many deep friendships because they're stressed. Her personality brings people together and lightens up the school with her humor.

Amber Loflin: She has graduated from TWU Dallas' nursing school and is currently working in the ICU. She is the engine that keeps our organization going at TWU. One of the reasons we planted a ministry there is because she pushed for it to happen. She has a big heart for that campus and is continually thinking and planning on how to make Him known more there. (Cristina, Hope, Amber lead our core at TWU Dallas)

Jennifer Ruppi: She is currently working on her undergraduate degree in Emerging Media. She has a huge heart for people. She's very into gaming and has a community of people she plays with. The friends she's met through that often go to her for advice and help. One of the things I would like to see God grow in her is depth of relationship with people in His community.

Ashlyn Sauer: She is currently working on her undergraduate degree in Accounting. Working with her is so fun. She thinks deeply about things, and it's easy to see that she wants to be more like God. She is also one of the most consistent and disciplined people. Her and Jennifer are both first time corefa's, but I've been so impressed with how bold they've been going out and meeting people (Ashlyn and Jennifer are leading a core together)

Darby James: She is almost done with her undergraduate degree in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. She has one of the biggest hearts! She cares so much for people which conversely leads to some anxiety. It's been cool to see how God is working to free her from that. Her and her fiance are applying to do the FOCUS apprenticeship together next year! Their interviews will be this week, and they should find out whether they got it and what campus they'll be at by next week.

Davina Dhani: She is currently working on her graduate degree in Business Analytics. Through some unfortunate experiences when she was younger, she had left the church and begun doubting God's goodness. Since coming into our community, God has been revealing a different side of Himself to her. (Darby and Davina are leading a core together)

In each of these woman's lives, I can easily see God working in them, changing them, and revealing Himself to them. I ask that you continue to pray for them and what they're doing on the UTD and TWU Dallas Campuses!

Before I end, I wanted to tell you about Spring Showcase! This is an event we do every year in order to raise money to send students to Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM). This is a week long campus ministry leadership development conference we bring potential leaders to in May. This is a life changing experience for students, and I'm so excited already to bring this group of students we have! Dallas has 48 students registered to go, more than any other region. That includes people from TWU Dallas, SMU, UTD, and Richland.

Spring Showcase is an evening concert and art show featuring many of our students and alumni. All proceeds from ticket and art sales go towards scholarships for students in need of financial assistance to make the trip.
  • April 7, 2018
  • Matinee Show: Doors open at 2:30 pm; Show begins at 3:00 pm
  • Art Show: 5:30 – 7:00 pm
  • Evening Show: Show begins at 7:00 pm
  • Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church, Bent Tree Family Theater – map
    •  4141 International Pkwy, Carrollton, TX 75007

If you would like to come and support, you can click here to purchase a ticket.

Student Testimony

"When I was growing up, I was too afraid, timid and shy to make many friends. My parents encouraged me to join the swim team in high school, and I finally found a group of consistent friends there. That time brought a lot of confusion about my own sexuality. My attempts to figure out my own sexuality caused me to have a selfish outlook on those friendships. I had a group of friends that I was grateful for, but I still never experienced deep and true relationships. My main goal as I began college was to make new friends. During my first week at UNT, Pedro Paz befriended me and started to build a relationship with me while introducing me to the FOCUS community. My desire to find friends kept me coming back to different FOCUS events, and I began to see God work in my life. Even though I didn’t know Him at the time, God was chasing after me. I saw myself start to change as I obtained a new understanding of friendship and sexuality. I saw God use people like Matt Clark, who was shy like me, to impact hundreds of people. God taught me how to be expressive while still using my quiet nature as a tool for discipleship. I have friends that have sacrificed so much to help me through my struggles. God’s love shone through these people and I was able to see that my own desires, deriving from my sexuality, would not bring the joy I searched for. I realized that I was searching for love, but God was always with me. He offers the most intimate and greatest love."

Devin Rardin
University of North Texas
Journalism
Junior





Thursday, February 1, 2018

January Update!

Hello friends,

I hope the new year has been kind to you. I can't believe it's February already! That's mind blowing to me for two reasons: 1. It seems like it was just the 1st and 2. I got married almost a full year ago now! Laurence and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary on February 11th. It always shocks me how fast one year can go, and I'm so excited for all the rest of the years.

I wanted to update you on a few of the things I asked you to pray for last week:

1. UTD, Richland, TWU Dallas, and SMU are collectively inviting 82 people!

I say that not to boast in numbers. The point I wanted to make and share with you is the fact that God has answered some prayers. We've been praying that God would give us more people for the harvest, and He has given us 82 potential leaders! We aren't sure how many of those people will be able to go, but I'm already looking forward to next year and to see how those students try to be disciple makers on their campuses.

2. Winter Camp went so well. No one got into any accidents on the way to and from camp. Our students seemed to really be impacted by Geoff and Jessica Mumley's talks. I'm still hearing stories about how students were impacted by the weekend.

One of our University of Texas at Arlington made a video with clips of Winter Camp. I hope you enjoy it!



3. This semester has been going by so fast, but the students seem to be adjusting well to being back at school!

Thank you so much for all your prayers! I hope hearing how God has answered them is encouraging to you:)

Student Testimony

This past semester, I was a 17-year-old girl who felt very overwhelmed with all that college had to offer. I deal with depression and anxiety. Throughout high school, these disorders tore me apart and made it extremely easy to block out my friends, my family, and God. I was going down a destructive path and, frankly, it’s by the grace and love of God that I am even alive. FOCUS has given me a community where I’m allowed to be vulnerable and transparent. FOCUS has helped me emphasize my personal relationship with God; now I’m sure to let him know how I’m feeling (something I couldn’t accomplish in high school). Due to my growing relationship with God, I’ve been able to see a clear and healthy path towards dealing with my depression and anxiety where He is a part of my journey. PRAISE God! Whether it's lying on the floor listening to “Build My Life” by Housefires, writing out my negative thoughts and turning them into positive ones, or calling my mom to tell her how I’m feeling, I remember the Spirit is with me to give me strength.

Candice Fudzie
Southern Methodist University
Math, Environmental Engineering, and Sociology 
Freshman

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January Prayer Requests

Hello friends,

I hope you had a restful break with your families! Laurence and I certainly did. We were able to spend a good chunk of time with both of our families for the holiday which was a lot of fun. Now we're both ready and excited to begin a new semester!

I have a few things I'd like you to be praying for this month. 

1. We're in the process of deciding who we'll be sending to Student Institute of Campus Ministry or SICM this year. If you don't know, this is week long campus ministry/discipleship conference in Washington we take potential leaders to. This is always a really impactful experience for our students, but as our ministry grows we can't take all the students. We've had to become a little bit more selective and there is always a danger in that. We just ask that you be praying for wisdom for us in this decision making process. 

2. We're gearing up to leave for Winter Camp on Friday, so please be praying for that event. This is also a game changing experience for our students. This camp tends to fire up and draw in students that were otherwise on the outskirts of community. Brief aside, I found out yesterday that two TWU Dallas students are coming to this! That doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm honestly a little shocked that that many are coming. This year we've really struggled building community over there. The nursing students are so overwhelmed by school, clinicals, and work that they won't commit to very much. So having two of them come for an entire weekend is a really awesome sign. I'm sure I'll have more to report on camp after the fact. 

3. We could really use prayers for getting into the swing of the semester. Beginning a new semester can be a bit of a shock. It's hard to switch from break brain to school brain, but we don't have very much time for transition. Our UTD students really have to hit the ground running. 

Lastly before I get to the student testimony I just wanted to let you know our Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser was a huge success! Thank you to all of you who participated and spread the word. We have such generous and passionate donors! 


Student Testimony

Graham Spencer
Collin College, Spring Creek
Illustration
Sophomore
"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."