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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Finish Well

Hello Everyone! I hope you are enjoying your May!

Commuter Core at our End of the Year Formal!

Things are winding down for the semester at UTA. Our students are taking finals this week and they need your prayers! Please pray for them to remember the material they studied, that anxiety wouldn't own their life, and that they finish well. We use this axiom "Finish Well" from Bill Hybels axioms book on leadership. We believe that most people remember how we ended. That is the last thing they remember about us. How we finish a job, a class, a season of life is what impression is most prevalent in someone's mind. Our Lord finished his mission well and we should too!

With the axiom "Finish well" in mind, I wanted to update all of you that I won't be returning as a campus minister with FOCUS next year. After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to take a step back and pursue another vocation. My husband and I will still be living in Arlington and attending our Thursday night meetings to continue relationships built here. I do want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me during these last two years of ministry! Because of you I was able to move to Arlington and pour into students for the last two school years. I believe that God has worked and built something special here and will continue to do so next year through the remaining staff and the two apprentices that will be joining the staff team in Arlington.

With that said, will you be in prayer with me for the following:
-For the UTA staff. That they would be able to navigate our community next year and that they would grow close with one another as two others are added to the team.
-For the two apprentices that are dedicating a year of their life to ministry at UTA, that they would be affective for the Gospel and that their relationship with the Lord would be strengthened. For their fundraising as they are gearing up for the fall and that the Lord would work through people like you all to support them in finances and prayers.
-For myself, that I would be able to discern what my next steps are in working full or part time. This is the first time I don't have a next move/step set up so my anxiety tends to peak during these transition times.

Thank you all in advance for your prayers! I know God has heard them and will continue to answer them. I will be contacting all of you individually over the next two weeks. My last official day as a campus minister is May 31st.

Alexis getting baptized

Monique getting baptized

Like I mentioned, God is moving and has a plan of his own! Two of my friends, sisters in Christ, and students in the ministry got baptized this month! This was a blessing to witness because I got to see God at work. It's nothing of our own doing, but all of God's doing. The love we share for one another is because of the love we first have in Christ, and I feel honored to get to witness this change and transformation in Alexis and Monique. They both believe that Jesus is Lord and they want Him to be Lord of their life for the rest of their lives! Both girls had their families and friends present to witness the testimony of Christ changing lives. I believe God will work through them!!

One goal we had as finals started approaching is that we could bless the students on the UTA campus. We bought pencils, scantrons, and blue books to pass out to students, while holding funny/punny posters we made. I must admit...that was the most I have seen people on this campus laugh and smile!!! It was so exciting to make them laugh during such a serious and stressful times in their lives. People seemed to appreciate our encouragements and free items! They were blessed indeed and we felt blessed doing it. Plus, we made it onto the UTA Instagram account! We are basically famous (just kidding).

Our End of the Year Formal happened last week and it was an encouraging celebration! We ate tasty desserts, danced, watched a video of the year, heard from Sarah on how to have a good summer, and took a lot of cute pictures! I wanted to share some photos from that, so you can put a face to the name with some of our students. Plus, we looked really sharp so I need to brag on a few people :-). Below are pictures of the core groups (small groups) that met all year! These students committed to the community and to learning more about God. It is such a special thing to be involved in a core because of how close you become and how you pursue God together.

Men's Tuesday Core

Women's Tuesday Core

Women's Sunday Core

Women's Wednesday Core

Men's Sunday Core

Thank you all so much for such a wonderful school year and for investing in these students! God is so good to us.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Partnership in the Gospel

Hello my friends! It's April and I'm April. It's a confusing month for me, but don't worry...I'll make it through =] I didn't have anyone make fun of my name yesterday so we are off to a good start!
Here are the highlights from the last month of ministry:

SSI Teams
Questions on display at UNT!
This month we had two teams come down from Washington state to spend their spring breaks reaching out to students on our campuses in the DFW area. We have a relationship with a college ministry up in Washington called Campus Christian Fellowship, and we feel honored and blessed to partner with them in the gospel. 

Washington is quite different from Texas, so as the students engaged in spiritual conversations they got to hear and see a lot of the bible belt influence in the south that doesn't really exist on their college campuses. We posted questions on display boards at University of North Texas as well as at Collin College. One of the questions we asked was, "If you could ask or say one thing to God what would it be?" This question really stopped people in their tracks. It took some serious thinking for some. A lot of questions revolved around what happens after we die, why evil exists, and wanting to know reasons behind why God did ______. These were all tough questions and I still have some questions about these things. Something I wanted to communicate to the people I talked to was that questions aren't always a bad thing. Yeah, sometimes there is outright disobedience in the form of questioning and pride in thinking we know better than God. But also, people have swung too far over to the other side and say that Christian don't have any questions about God and/or have all the answers. I do ask God why certain things happen, or why innocent people die, or what heaven is like. But while I am doing that I am also trusting in a Savior that knows what is best for me, and sometimes that isn't getting an answer. As we approach God in a relationship I think part of that is telling Him what is on our minds, but like David did in the Psalms we end with praise and trust in Him. 

It was such a blessing these last two weeks to see these students pray and ask God to guide them in their conversations with students and to make Jesus known to people. They were led by the Holy Spirit into conversations that only happen through the Spirit's working. I believe the Washington students encouraged our students in FOCUS and vice versa. Seeing their teams at work gave energy and encouragement to our teams. Go God!

Spring Showcase
WOW! Thank you so much to my friends and donors for participating, buy tickets, selling tickets, etc. This night was such a blessing and will help send our students to a campus ministry training this May! Truly, it is humbling to see God provide so much. We believe this is worth investing in and the students lives will be forever changed by the impact of SICM (Student Institute for Campus Ministry). The staff who runs SICM are such a blessing to spend time with and the wisdom God has given them rubs off onto our students. SICM is just the beginning of their journey in following God on the college campus, but it has the potential to impact their future families, workplaces, friendships, and much more! Here is a testimony from a student who attended SICM:

"SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) is where I encountered God in a way I didn't even think was possible. I saw that I could be a part of His Kingdom work on my own campus and all over the world, and I built friendships that have lasted for years and will, hopefully, last for many more to come. It's amazing to fall in love with and learn about doing ministry together, and then take what we learned and apply it back at our campuses together. I found my community and my family on that trip, and I fell in love with my sweet Lord all over again. My ministry was forever impacted by SICM and has changed my outlook from "What can I get out of my life?" to "What does God want for in my life?" 
-Darby Moran

Please be in prayer for these students as they prepare to go to SICM the second week of May! Pray the Lord would get them excited, mentally prepared, and focused on the things of God. 

Photo credit: Sean Do

Commuter Core
I wanted to update you all on how our Commuter Core has been going this year! Last year I met many students on campus during our outreach time that commute to UTA and were interested in one of our cores. I felt convicted to start Commuter Core this year because I wanted to have something available for the non-traditional college student. It has been a blessing in the middle of a busy day! We meet on Wednesdays from 12:00-12:50pm so it is a shorter core than normal. It's been so neat to see who God has brought to our sweet group of friends over this last school year. I've seen God really help some of our friends open themselves up to the group, worship God together through songs and scriptures, encourage one another, befriend people they wouldn't normally be friends with, and get excited about learning about God. One thing we have added recently is reading from a pocket prayer book I bought at Barnes & Nobles. It has scriptures and prayers from the forefathers of our faith. We chose to pass the book around the group every week and have a friend pick a prayer to read at the beginning or end of our core. It has given new language and words to praising God, which has excited my prayer life personally and helps our friends minister to one another in prayer. Also, we have been going through the book of Ephesians and reflecting on the grace of God in our core and Thursday Night meetings. Here is a prayer that one of our core members, Jacob, shared with us last week in reflecting on the grace of God:

"Lord Jesus Christ; Let me seek you by desiring you, and let me desire you by seeking you. 
Let me find you by loving you, and love you in finding you. I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving, that you have made me in your image. So that I can remember you, think of you, and love you. But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults, and darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do that for which it was made, unless you renew and refashion it. 
Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your height, for my understanding is in no way equal to that. But I do desire to understand a little of your truth which my heart already believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I can believe, but I believe so that I may understand. And what is more, I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand."
-Saint Anselm 

Thank you friends for your love and support! Please let me know how I can be praying for you.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Race and Dating: Two Hot Topics

Happy March! I'm excited to share with you all two main things that happened this month! We focused in on race and dating this month, and it has been quite the journey.

Pizza Theology
Like I mentioned in my last blog, every semester we host an evening of learning about a relevant topic in our society. It's four hours of teaching/learning devoted to going deeper on a specific topic. This month we did race. This pizza theology was a little different than others, because the goal wasn't to bring opinions or teach if someone is right or wrong on their view of race and racism in America. Rather, it was about learning about one another and what God says about race. Two of our staff members, Peter and Sirak, did an EXCELLENT job teaching on the topic. I highly recommend listening to the Pizza Theology audio on our website
If you listen to the audio, you will also get to hear what we call Voices from our Community. Students and alumni shared about their experiences with racism. I can't tell you how helpful it was to hear about their experiences, because as a white middle class woman I do not have these same experiences. Here is a sample of what was shared at Pizza Theology.

"The people I bonded the most with were Latinos because they

were my neighbors. Their culture reflected mine more than the kids that looked like me.

In school I wasn’t black enough for the black kids, not African enough for the Africans,

and obviously not white enough for the white kids. Latinos were kind of my safe place. I

was almost enough around them, at least until middle school. My lack of enoughness

was not always communicated blatantly. It was subtle. Often through added disclaimers

“ for a black girl” and “... but you’re African”. Insider language was used to make it

clear that I was an outsider."

One of my dearest and closest friends shared this part of her story with us. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to ask people about their experiences with race. We need to practice listening in our culture, more than correction or rejection. If we are to live and love like Jesus, then I believe we are to do that with all races and ethnic groups. But it starts with listening.

The students who attended Pizza Theology!

Dating Series
Austin Gage and I had the opportunity to tackle the topic of dating at our UTA campus. Every year we spend a few hours discussing dating because of how relevant it is to their stage of life. While Austin and I are not experts on dating, we wanted to give our students some things to think about in dating. Mainly, why would we pursue Christ and want to be like Him in all areas of our life but make our own decisions and focus on ourself while dating? Dating in scripture isn't mentioned per se, but how we treat one another is. Many times. So we presented our students with scriptures and biblical principles on how to treat one another. It's a big deal to God how we treat one another and how we serve one another. While talking about how we treat one another, we challenged students to ask God what is important to find in a significant other. The world is training us to seek out what makes us feel good, what looks good, and to date quickly. While as disciples we need to be trained by God in selflessness and wisdom. These sermons have struck up great conversations on our campus that are getting our students to think deeply about how they treat one another, what they are looking for in a mate, how they spend their time, and what they talk about. We want our students to have happy marriages (someday and if it is God's will) and we discuss this topic to set them up for success. Our prayer is that our students would seek God first and love one another above themselves. 

One of our students, Hallie, is featured this month on our student testimony from the website! Hallie also shared part of her story at Pizza Theology. God is working in her to bless many and she is gifted in service. I love Hallie and feel blessed to know her and see her grow!

One last thing...
One of our students, Caitlin, got baptized this month!! We love Caitlin and see God working in her life. I'm so excited she made this commitment to follow Jesus and I definitely see her living like him on campus. Please pray for Caitlin!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Beginnings

Hello everyone! This blog post is coming to you a little late because I got married at the end of January! I was soaking up the sun on the island of Kauai last week :-) It really has been a fast and furious month. As you know, weddings take some serious planning. Grant and I were tremendously blessed by the people who prayed for us, came to the wedding, gave wedding gifts, and celebrated with us. During our wedding ceremony, we decided to sing "Great Are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters because it represented how we felt that day. It is because of the Lord that Grant and I got married and we wanted to honor Him on that special day. I attached the lyrics below so this song could be your prayer and worship today.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

One of the other perks of having the wedding this last month is I got to meet my nephew for the first time!!! Judd Proctor was such a blessing to have at the wedding and such cute entertainment :-) It's so neat to see my sister and her husband love on this little human. When I look at him, it affirms that God gives us good gifts that we don't deserve.

Winter Camp
One of our biggest events of the year happened earlier in January. Students came back a week early to attend our annual Winter Camp in Van, Texas. I know some of you were praying for this event and I am so thankful for that! God heard your prayers because our UTA ministry bonded deeply with one another and with the Lord. Our goal going into this event is that our students would learn more about God and to feel like they are apart of something bigger than themselves. We want them to experience love, unity, the Spirit moving, and wisdom from above. Those things happened!!! It is incredible to see how God uses something like a weekend in Van, Texas to get our students excited during the spring semester. Our newest students are taking ownership of this community by encouraging one another, inviting people to play games and eat lunch, and they are more open with people in their life about how God is working in their life and around them. We are seeing the fruit of Winter Camp already and as a staff person it is such an encouragement. We obviously value community and what we are doing here on campus, and to see 18 year olds get excited about loving people and telling them about Jesus is an incredible blessing.
Our UTA campus at Winter Camp!

Over 600 students attended Winter Camp this year from all of our campus ministry!

Prayer Requests

  • This month we are going to discuss dating at all of our campuses. This is a hot topic for students, but our goal is to get students to think about what it means to date while living like Jesus. There are a lot of gray areas in dating, but would you pray that God would guide us in what to say to our students in regards to this big part of their life and our culture? Our desire is that our students would live like Jesus in all areas of their life, even in dating.
  • Also, this month we have what we call Pizza Theology. Every semester we spend four hours teaching on a relevant topic. The topic for this semester is race. As you have seen and heard, this is something our culture is talking about and we are wanting to open a dialogue about it within our community. Please pray that it would be a time for students to learn about race and others experiences. We value all life, races, cultures, and ethnicities like Christ did and we want our students to be open to learning. 

Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers! God hears them and it is a joy to partner with you in this ministry. You make the difference in the lives of these students!
-April Beall

Monday, January 9, 2017

Better late than never

Hello dear friends! Happy 2017! I can't believe 2016 is already over. I'm pretty sure the older I get the faster time flies by.

The Signature of Jesus
I pray your 2017 has started off well! Our staff got back from our annual staff retreat this week and I am going to share with you some excerpts from the book we read. The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning was such a refreshing, challenging, and eye opening book to what God is wanting to work on in me. It was such a joy to read this book together as a staff and then discuss the take aways we all got from it. I pray that sharing some of these nuggets of truth with help spur you on in your understanding of who Jesus is and how we are to relate to Him and live like Him.

One of our staff members named Sirak shared some thoughts with us during our times of worship on our staff retreat. Sirak shared a portion of the book that I think speaks to the theme of the book and a theme we see in Christian American culture. It is a long excerpt but bare with's worth the read!

"Naturally the countercultural lifestyle-simplicity of life, purity of heart, and obedience to the gospel-will take us to the same place that it took Jesus: the Cross. All roads lead to Calvary, for we preach Jesus Christ crucified-a stumbling block to the Jews, an absurdity to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Christ the power and the wisdom of God.
Simplicity, purity, and obedience to the Word will leave us weak and powerless in the world's eyes because we no longer can call upon our possessions and privileged positions as security. We will be subject to derision and outrage because authentic discipleship is a life of sublime madness. Injury and insult are promised to those who labor for the sake of righteousness. Paul's word to the Galatians is utter folly to our American culture: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Galatians 6:14 KJV).  A Christian living in the world but not of the world is a sign of contradiction to the compromises that many within the church have settled for. The disciple of Jesus will be made to look and feel like a fool. Yet fools for Christ formed the early church. And as that tiny band of believers grew, the world witnessed the power in such foolishness...Easter morning vindicated the way of Jesus and validated the authority of his lordship. The master told us never to underestimate the power of our culture. Our world, full of incredible foolishness, will insist that we are the fools. Yet Easter convinces us of God's wisdom and his power to transform our world. Our faith in the risen Jesus is the power that overcomes ourselves, our culture, and our world. In the words of Paul in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will." 
(p. 81-83, Manning)
Purchase Signature of Jesus HERE

These words were very encouraging to hear as we are about to go back on campus this month. It does seem foolish to the world for me to spend time every week in a salary raised job, reading the bible with a bunch of 18 year olds. But we are fools for Christ's sake! And all of it to the glory of God and for his kingdom. I believe that what we do as fools for Christ is what He uses to draw people to himself. Why should we become fools? Because of the love and grace God has for us and because of the faith we have in him, regardless of our circumstances. Because of what we believe about Him and the promises he offers to those who follow Him. Why should I not spend my life serving and praising the God who saved my life? Any answer to that stems from a place of selfishness, which is what this book showed me I still have in my life. It means I know that I need a Savior and I am wanting others to know about His grace for us. We minister out of our weaknesses and imperfections.

Winter Camp 2017
Focus winter camp is THIS WEEKEND! We are so excited to have students from all of the campuses come to Sky Ranch for a weekend of deepening our relationship with God and with one another. God has used this camp for many years to move students towards a committed relationship to Him, where they begin to ask the tough questions like, "What should my major be? Am I pursuing what I want or what God wants? How can I serve him in all areas of my life?" etc. Please pray for the students to move to a place of commitment and faithfulness in God. It is also an encouragement to tell them how many people are praying for them. A lot of times they don't even realize how many of you care about them, without even knowing them! I am so thankful for all of you and how God's community expands all over the United States and all over the world. It's because of those prayers that lives are changed.

Lastly, I am getting married at the end of this month! A lot of new and awesome changes have been happening and will continue to happen. As my friend, will you pray for me and Grant as we make these new transitions? We appreciate you all!