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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Season of Thanks

Hello ministry partners!
Myself, Ira, Erin, and Krysten at our FOCUS Thanksgiving Potluck!

The first semester of UTA FOCUS is coming to a close. How crazy! I love this time of year, because of how it causes me to stop and reflect. Thanksgiving has turned into a holiday of appreciation and thanks for what God has done in our lives and around us. I am so thankful for all of you and how you have sacrificed financially to support what God is doing here on the UTA campus! This semester would not be possible without you, so thank YOU!

A huge prayer request: FOCUS does a fundraiser every year around this time to keep things going and growing through the ministry. This year our goal is $45,000 by December 9th. Last year we met our goal with flying colors! This year we are behind on donations. The money raised goes towards many things but to name a few: materials to study the bible with students, advertisement on campus, and a new part time administrative position. We need your help to keep things going! I hope you've seen that God is continually working on college campuses and how impactful your gifts have been. Will you pray and consider giving a financial gift to our 2nd Annual FOCUS Initiative? It is totally worth it! Here are a few things to consider in how your money could impact the college campus for Christ:

    If 100 people gave $5 donations, we'd have enough materials to study the bible with 200 students.
    If 100 people gave $50 donations, we'd be able to afford 100 counseling hours.
    If 10 people gave $200 donations, we could afford advertising on all of our campuses for an entire school year.
    If 20 people gave $1000 donations, we could afford a new administrative position.  

Visit www.anyfocus.org/itsworthit to give financially today! Thank you for praying and supporting campus ministry!

 
Great friends and great food!
First UTA FOCUS Thanksgiving Potluck!

This was such a blast!!! I cannot express enough how much I loved seeing our new friends this semester come and try traditional American Thanksgiving food for the FIRST time. We did this for our students for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is a lot of these students don't get invited into American homes on Thanksgiving and don't have anywhere to go for the holiday. We wanted them to be able to experience something new from our culture, but also to show them the love of Christ through fellowship and food. We talked about the meaning of Thanksgiving and how it's a time to reflect and thank God for the blessings he has given us in our lives. We shared what we were thankful for and a theme stood out to me as our international friends were sharing. At least the four that I asked what they were thankful for said they were thankful for the community of FOCUS and how we have invited them into what we are doing. They miss home a little less because they have found comfort and acceptance through our community. What an answered prayer! This was the highlight of my night for sure. I love these guys! The countries represented that night were India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran, Ghana, and China.
Our first Campus Conversations display!
Ask a spiritual question, get a hot chocolate!
That was the question we posted on campus this week for our Campus Conversations display. About once a semester we set up a display instead of going around asking students spiritual questions. Because of the weather, we thought it would be nice to have hot chocolate for the students who stood outside to talk to us about their questions. It was a great experience and I think the students on campus liked seeing that we were asking questions instead of giving direct answers. Asking questions opens the conversation up and helps us get to know students on campus. Not only does it enlighten us on what the students are thinking about, we are able to have healthy conversations about spiritual things. Many students that approached us didn't know what to write because they hadn't been thinking of spiritual things as of lately, so it got them thinking deeper. Other students who had questions felt safe asking them and we were able to ask them what they thought about the questions they asked. Our students helped talk to students as they came up to our table and they did an excellent job!! Some of the questions from the display were:
Is God a good? 
How can you identify a spiritual person? 
What is the purpose of life? 
Who is the Holy Spirit?

Prayer Requests
-Will you pray with me for our students as they end the semester? They get overwhelmed and easily consumed by their grades and performing well. We want to be a source of encouragement for them to finish the semester strong!
-Will you pray with me for the Christmas break? Our students go home and aren't around the community we have built here. Not all of their homes welcome Christ and it is easy to slide back into unhealthy habbits.


Thank you again so so much. You are the best support team there is! I feel your prayers and see God working through them. I love all of you and will be talking with you soon!

Friends at the Potluck!
Dallas Mavericks game thanks to one of our supporters!
Homework and movie night with our core!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fall Fellowship

Hello dearest friends!

"Campfire" stories about Jesus during Fall Camp!

I pray this blog finds you well, all snuggled up on your couch with a hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and a roaring fireplace (just kidding, but I am so excited for cold weather!). I am tempted to start this blog the same way I have started my other entries with something along the lines of, "Wow! So much has happened this month, I can't believe time has gone by this quickly, and God has already done so much." I have a sneaky suspicion I will want to express that each month for this school year, because it IS true! God is at work around us! When we take time to reflect and think on those things, I believe we can see more of what God is up to. I am thankful for this time of reflection and time of praise I get to share with you.

Our first official UTA Fall Camp happened at the beginning of October! This is one of the things I get super stoked about, because I know the goals and outcome of an event like this. I got to see it's purpose as a student and now as an intern, and both experiences have had major impact in my life. We do a fall camp at all of our campuses to spend devoted time together for 24 hours straight. We laugh, we pray, we share, and mostly we grow closer to one another. This camp experience always brings our students closer together. I believe that God was working in our laughter during the games, in our songs during worship, and in the conversations that happened in between. Some very sweet friends of mine shared their thoughts during a reflection time on how college ministry has impacted them. Through their tears they talked about never having this many people be interested in who they are until now, and how this experience after a month and a half is already changing who they are and how they see God. This was tremendously encouraging for me to hear. When you are pouring into students, planning events, praying for the ministry, etc. you usually wonder if what you are doing is making a difference. That weekend was confirmation for me that God is moving in the hearts of our students, and what a great reminder that was!
We started a group within our ministry called Campus Mission Teams (CMTs) to get our students exposed to having spiritual conversations with people on campus. We meet up once a week and pair up to go around asking spiritual questions and to learn more about where people are at spiritually on the UTA campus. We want our students to learn how to be good listeners and how to ask uncomfortable questions. Some questions we have asked over the last couple weeks are:
  • How has Christianity impacted the world?
  • What do you fear or what holds you back?
  • We also asked people if we could pray for them
  • If you believe God exists, what do you think he cares about?
These conversations have been very insightful and, regardless of being Christian or not, most students are appreciative that we are going around starting these conversations on campus. Our students have commented that it's not so scary to go up to strangers and to put yourself out there. I love seeing them be bold!






"I love being in CMTs! I really love watching and learning from the leaders in our community on how to have spiritual conversations and seeing the impact it can have in people's lives."-Brooklyn, one of our CMT girls in the picture to the left.

I have shared a lot about our students in the ministry and how they have grown, but I also on a personal level have grown a ton through this experience. I have had the opportunity so far to learn more about the Bible than I ever have through our Focus Internship classes we have four times a week. We have class with very wise and godly people who ask us deep questions about scripture and life, to get us thinking about what we believe and why. I have seen God in new ways in the Old Testament class, and it has increased my belief that our God is a good God, even when I don't understand everything! This internship has challenged how I try to take control of things and do things my way, but I see more and more why we need to rely on God to guide us. HE is the one who is going to change hearts. HE is the one who defines success.
Everyone at Fall Camp 2015!

Please let me know how God is working around you as well! College ministry is a huge (if not the biggest) mission field we have in the U.S. but I believe God is working in your work places, your families, and the random encounters you have throughout your day.

Would you pray with me for these things within our ministry?
-Pizza Theology. Once a semester we have a topic we study in depth with our students for four hours on the weekend. It is a great opportunity to learn from wise people on difficult topics. Would you pray that it leads people to a deeper understanding of God and how we should live as his children?
-My sermon I am doing on Thursday, November 5th with another intern Austin. We want to speak God's truth to our students and show them more of who God is.
-The students in our ministry are at some major turning points in their lives. Trusting God with new things and learning new ways of thinking and living. Would you pray for them and that they continue to seek God, even when it is hard? 

Our ministry is so excited for what God's been doing in the lives of our students and alumn and look forward to sharing some of their testimonies with you in the upcoming FOCUS Fundraiser video series on November 14th. Be on the lookout for a preview of 1 of the 5 interviews in an upcoming email in the next week and for the full campaign on your Facebook news feed! Also, if you haven't already please go and like our FOCUS Facebook page for fundraiser updates and exciting news during this next month.

With Love,
April

Friday, October 2, 2015

FALL-ing into Place

Wow! How do I even begin this blog post?! This month has been full of what we have been preparing for and anticipating for quite some time now, while trusting God's guidance. Since my last post we have started our big Thursday night meetings called Thursday Night Fellowship (TNF), started our small groups called Cores, and started studying the bible with students one on one. We have learned so much about our campus in such a short amount of time. I want to share with you a few great things God has been doing in our ministry around the UTA campus!

Our first ever TNF at UTA is the top right photo!! What a blessing this was to see all these students show up to learn more about Jesus. We were located outside for the first three TNF meetings, but recently moved into a classroom that is shown below.

I have seen God answer many prayers so far in this internship. It's quite baffling and humbling to be honest. I ended up reaching my fundraising goal around the end of August, which is a huge blessing and such a testament to God's faithfulness on this journey! It's funny because many students here at UTA have asked why I left teaching. I love when they ask me that question, because I get the chance to tell them how God worked in my life up to this point and while I loved my job and where I worked I wanted to be obedient to what God was calling me to do. I have noticed the students at UTA being very studious and serious about their studies, and advancing in their degree plans. Many students are from all over the world and spend so much money to be here. To them it sounds crazy that I would do something like this (haha it kind of is isn't it?), but I am so so confident in God and what I am doing here. I see it on Thursday nights when I look around the room and see students from India singing songs to God. I see it in my core group when girls pray and ask God to help them love other people like Jesus does. I see it when I meet a random student on campus who already met someone from Focus prior to meeting me when there are 38,000 students on campus, and we continue to run into each other throughout the week. I see it when I look at our student leaders driving students to the grocery store and asking them about their lives. I am overwhelmed by God's presence here at UTA.


Our Core group photo is to the right! Kassidy and I lead a group once a week at my apartment called Core. We pray together, laugh together, get to know about everyone's backgrounds and ideas, read about Jesus together, and talk about how to live like Jesus does.


Our core did a neat activity last night where we wrote down prayers to God on a notecard that related to the scripture we were studying about God's purpose for our lives. It touched my heart to hear their prayers and what they had learned, so much so that I wanted to share three of those with y'all. It's a small glimpse at what God is doing at the heart level in the new students in Focus. 


"God, you are so good. Thank you for placing people in my life that helped me see I was placing my worth in earthly things, instead of in you. I am so thankful for the way that you love your people and that you never change. Amen."

"God, please help me to remember that I need to work on putting my worth in you. Tonight I learned that I need to put my worth in you, not in other people, and that you see me as worth something even if I don't believe in myself."

 "I hope to find my worth in God, because he finds worth in me-even when I don't."
 
 
Our fall camp is coming up this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. We would love for you to pray that we bond as a community of believers this weekend! It is so important to have that at the beginning of this ministry. We want to be united in vision for the UTA campus and that can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. Will you pray with us for that to happen this weekend?

When you look at these photos, I hope you see how your faithfulness and sacrifice have helped this happen. God has worked through you to bring the people in these pictures into a community that is going to spur them on toward Christ. Their lives have the potential to change forever, because of what God is doing through your support! 

I love all of you and am thankful to have you in my life! God is too good to me.
-April





















Monday, August 31, 2015

A September to Remember!

Wow! There are so many things I want to write about on here that have happened this last month. God has been doing amazing things and it's hard to put into words, but I will do my best!
Our UTA leader team! These are the people that have committed the next school year to making and maturing disciples. These are students who transferred from our other campuses, interns, and staff.

In my last post I mentioned going on a staff retreat and a week after that post we went on an exclusive UTA leader retreat. This was HUGE for our ministry at UTA, since we didn't know one another super well before diving into the crazy world of campus ministry. This retreat made it very evident to me that God has called each one of us to the UTA campus and is going to use our unique gifts to bring people into a relationship with Him. One day during the retreat I spent time walking around the river and asking the Lord what was one thing I could share during our worship time that would encourage our team. The idea of a "godly community is a community that remembers" came to mind. We are to be people who remember what Christ did for everyone on the cross, we remember where He brought us from, and where He is taking this community. That is a reoccurring theme that I have seen come up during our Old Testament Foundations class (one of our internship classes). God's people continually forgot the things he for them while they were in the wilderness or surrounded by difficulty. We want to be a community that remembers who God truly is and what he has done for us!

Kaylee, Erin, Kassidy, and I on move-in day!

UTA freshman moved into the dorms on August 24th, and we walked on campus that day not knowing who we would meet or what to expect, other than God was going to do awesome things. We had prayed and prayed for this day, because of how important this time of year is for meeting students and how open minded they are to starting something new. Some students are lonely, scared, excited, nervous, etc. We wanted to be there for anyone who needed a hand moving in or to feel welcomed to the campus. It was an AWESOME day! The number of people we met and were able to serve is endless. We got people's phone numbers to invite them to our events and other campus events, and most of all to get to know them better. One really great God moment was when I met a counselor from the UTA counseling center and got to talk to her about how God called us here to Arlington. She then shared how she is apart of church planting in the Ft. Worth area and loves the Lord. This was really neat, because one of our campus pastors prayed the DAY before for someone to lead students to Christ in the counseling center on campus. What an answered prayer and a great connection to have for our community!

Our first official FOCUS event! Board game night in the cafeteria!
Wow, this was a highlight of last week! We had been meeting people for three days straight and invited tons of students to join us for some fun in the cafeteria. We had about 50-60 students show up that night! How cool! It was a great time to get to know each other casually and to enjoy being silly together.

All Corefa Meeting
This last picture is from our All Corefa Meeting this past Saturday. I wanted to share this photo with all of you, so you can be in prayer for the people in this picture. Our small group leaders are called Core Facilitators (Corefas) and these are the students who are involved with Focus and impact those on campus the most. These are people from ages 18-23(ish) who have committed to leading students into a relationship with Christ at all of our campuses in the DFW area. Please pray for them to be obedient to the Holy Spirit as they are on campus for the next 9 months.

As always, thank you so much for taking time to read this blog. I really could go on and on with funny stories and God stories from this last week of meeting the students at UTA. One thing I like to remember often is how much God LOVES all of these students, and how important it is that I see them how God does. We are going to start meeting in our big group for FOCUS this week and our small groups start next week, as well as our one-on-one bible studies. Please pray for those things to be full of Christ. Let me know how I can partner with you in prayer as well!

April

Here are a few more photos for your enjoyment!
First day of school at UTA!

Games at a Target event for UTA students!

Myself with new friends waiting to get into the Target event!
Pie Five with new students we had just met that day during move-in!
Kaylee and I during freshman move-in! Kaylee is one of our student leaders and I had the privilege to study the bible with her two years ago!


Friday, August 7, 2015

August Excitement!


Myself, Tana Worsham (my Pastoral Supervisor), and Sarah King (UTA Campus Director)

I am so excited that August is finally here! I feel like the interns have been building up to this month for a while now and it feels good to be here. Fundraising over the summer was a challenging and great experience. I really had to learn to let down any fears or reservations I had to see God work. I learned to be bold when I was scared, and I learned to trust God even when things seemed impossible. God is always at work around us (and is working in other ministries as well!), but I am thankful to our Lord to have a wonderful support team like all of you. I truly believe that God works all of this out so we can bless one another and be supporting one another. That is community after all! Please let me know this next year how I can be praying for you all and supporting you through this partnership. I really mean that!

Our reading material for the year! (This photo is for you Renee and Kevin)

I cannot wait to meet the students here at UTA! They start to move in on August 24th. That week is so crucial for what we are doing here on campus. Freshman are away from their parents for the first time, class hasn't started, and they probably don't know anyone! Please pray that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading us to the students who need Christ most. It can be a scary and exciting time for new students, and we want to be there for them.

FOCUS Staff 2015-2016 (all campuses)

Our staff had the privilege to go to Port Aransas this week! We got to bond as a new staff and learn about each others stories. My favorite parts of the retreat had to be sharing how we all got involved in Focus and how all of those stories tie together to create God's story. What was most powerful to me during that sharing time is the fact that God worked through our weaknesses as new leaders. I can remember leading a small group for the first time in 2008 and feeling like I didn't know what I was doing and how I still needed God to develop some fundamental parts of my character. Even though I made a lot of mistakes, God still used me (and many others) to impact his Kingdom. That ties into the reading we have been doing as an intern group, because I see through Genesis to Judges so much failure from the Israelites and the mistakes Moses, Aaron, etc. made while trying to follow God...yet God still used them and had grace on them! Time after time God had grace on them. Don't get me wrong, I do see God's wrath and justice in the Old Testament, but what I also see is God not giving up on his people. God has not given up on me or you, and he loves us and uses us regardless of our short comings.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's about to begin!

Hello fabulous supporters,

This is my blog where I will be posting updates throughout the school year! I am so excited to write on here what God is going to do and none of it would be possible without your support! Thank you for partnering with me through this new journey! 

Summer break started out by me packing and packing and selling and adjusting so that I could move to an apartment in Arlington. I am finally here and settled! It feels great to be here, because it makes it feel more real. One of my roommates is also a FOCUS intern next year (Krysten Williams) and it's been great to get to know one another and encourage each other while support raising.
Kassidy (transfer student), Grant (former student), and Travis (campus pastor)

This is a photo of the first orientation I was able to help out with at UTA! It was so exciting to talk to students about our ministry. I haven't worked an orientation for FOCUS in four years! It felt like home :-). I could see God working already by making connections with students and getting them excited about what we are doing on campus.

Fundraising update: I am at 75%! I need to reach 100% by August 1st. Please pray that I will continue to be lead to the people God has for my support team and that I would remember God is faithful!

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" 1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Love y'all!