Sign up for my monthly blog posts

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What is God teaching you?

Hello friends! This month I wanted to feature some of the girls I am meeting with every week. They are learning so much about God, and I wanted you to see what areas He has been growing them in. These girls are my friends and I love them very much! I am so proud of them for seeking to understand the Lord and what He is doing in/around them.

Question: What is God teaching you?

Alexis (left) and Rachel, one of our student leaders (right)
"Mainly, the importance of both solitude and community. I need to go to God too and be disciplined in spending time with God and building that relationship. I am realizing that God is the one that created me, so I need to be going to Him with everything. He can see everything, so I don't need to stand before Him in shame. God needs to come before my relationships and my possessions/money, because He is the reason for having those very things and He has loved me by putting those things in my life. If I continue to have a relationship with Him, then I can have healthy and fruitful relationships with those around me."
-Alexis, junior, business major

"Since I’ve been growing up in a multicultural family, in a country were religion is not really practiced I had a rough but interesting time, starting to believe in god. My great bible study with April allowed me to ask question which I couldn’t ask in a german church. Going to core nights with the most lovely people Kelly and Rene showed me what community can be like. And slowly I started realizing that there is hope. Hope after death. Hope for the people who are suffering. Hope for the world to be a great place full of love. I’ve learned that there actually is such a thing like community were people take care of each other and that if this would exist all over the world, there wouldn’t be such a thing as poverty. That I can always be better than I am and that studying the bible with people explaining it is a great way to learn and have role models how to be better. That Religion isn’t actually just causing religious wars, that it is a way to end them, if you are open to understand what the Bible is really saying. God gives as hope and makes it so much easier to be a good person. Even tough I am not fully believing yet, I believe that understanding the bible makes us human."

-Dalia, exchange student from Germany, studying architecture

"God is teaching me that he is in control of my life. He has made me realize that I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, but I must trust in him and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. My life is going to be full of difficulties but as long as I keep trusting that he is in control then everything will work out the way he intended it to."
-April, freshman, nursing major

"I think what God is teaching me is that with failure, meets success. Now many how many times I fail, he has always been there, and will continue to be with me through my journey. He shows me that through hard work, and his trust, I can continue my passion for learning; something that is very valuable to me."
-Christian, junior, chemistry major

Right now our Keep Focus Growing initiative has started! Hopefully by now you have seen the posts on Facebook or emails from our admin team. This annual fundraiser helps our community to keep growing! Because we are at many campuses in the DFW area, we have many different needs that arise throughout the years. This fundraiser helps us to keep responding to God's call! Visit to see a video about potentially starting a new Focus ministry at SMU.

Here is how the funds from Keep Focus Growing were used last year:
  • Sponsored Welcome Week activities to empower our students to reach incoming freshmen.
  • Bought a faster (and continuously working!) copier for the FOCUS office to print pizza theology packets, corefa manuals, Focus on Jesus & Foundations of Faith booklets, training materials, and flyers to reach the student body. 
  • Made it possible for 10 underfunded campus pastors to be on campus full-time for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Helped us raise up 4 new talented and field-tested campus pastorsfrom our apprenticeship.
  • Allowed us to add a new director-level staff person to help prep us for expansion.
  • Are funding our applications for our own 501c3 ruling (separate from the group ruling we are under now) and for ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) certification to ensure we are poised for future growth with the highest standards and controls in place.
  • Flew in a top-notch speaker for our Pizza Theology on Hearing God's Voice. He ministered to 450 students last week and we are already hearing stories of how students' lives are being impacted.
  • Extended great southern hospitality to 26 students from WWU who traveled down for a week of evangelism on 8 campuses.
  • Funded continued improvement on our website and our donor experience.

Please consider giving to our fundraiser to keep Focus growing on college campuses in DFW! We want to answer the call to whatever God would have us do, and with your help we can continue to spread the good news to the college students around us!

I had the privilege of photographing some of the kiddos from our church who's parents are looking forward to the college community that is provided for them through Focus when they get to college. They may be class of 2022 or 2030, but what you invest in now impacts even the lives of the students in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pictures of Joy

Hello dear friends,

I am very excited to show you photographs from all of the events we got to do this past month! They aren't just events, but community celebrations of God working around us. I love our community, campus, the students, and all of you! As we enter a season of thankfulness, I wanted to say how thankful I am that you are invested in my life, the students lives, and the things of God. It's a mystery how God works, loves, and uses his Spirit to change lives, and what a beautiful mystery it is! He chooses people like us to work through because he loves his creation. I believe the Lord is beautiful and worthy of praise for all the things in this post!

These are all of the students that attended our Fall Camp this past month! Our goals for the weekend were to create a bond between students, laugh together, experience God together through prayer and worship, and to explore how we are being made new in Christ. We had an open sharing time during our evening session and we got to hear the students share their hearts and what God is doing in them. It was so insightful and the highlight of the weekend! We had worship stations set up that varied in their praise towards God. One of the stations was a sensory worship station where there was a rock, water, light, a fan, and bread. The elements had scriptures that went along with them and the students pondered how God compares himself to these things in the Bible. We got a lot of feedback that they had never done anything like that before and stretched them to see God in those different ways: as a sustainer, provider, light in the darkness, hope, fulfilling, solid, etc.

Playing rock, paper, scissors tournament at Fall Camp!
Playing crab soccer at Fall Camp!
This month we celebrated FOCUS being on the college campus for 20 years! This event was special because it brought people from all generations together to get to know one another to see who pioneered the growth of our ministries. I got to see all the people who have really helped shape my faith in one room and sing praises to God for that! It was a celebration no doubt! I am thankful to all of you who attended and continue to invest in what God is doing!

Something new happened this month: we had our first meeting as a potential Arlington church plant! The church I attend (Northeast Church) helped start up FOCUS 20 years ago, and we are praying about starting another church plant in Arlington! This would be so amazing because it would give a home community to our students when they graduate, and provide opportunity for our students to get to be around other generations and families who are trying to glorify God in how they live. I also have some neighbors and older friends who are looking for a church home! Please be in prayer for this church plant. We are currently praying for people from our other communities to move out here and help us launch it. You may be wondering why we are planting another church in a city where there are a lot of churches. The awesome thing about Northeast Church and the way we are structured is to pour into the college campuses to raise up disciples of Jesus while we are young. Not many churches have this structure to build from the ground up. It is our conviction to do one on one ministry and be living examples of Jesus!

Lastly, I can't make a blog post without mentioning that I am engaged! My sweet sweet boyfriend, now fiance, Grant Beall, asked me to marry him. Without hesitation I said yes!!! I sure do love him and to say I feel blessed by our relationship is an understatement. Wedding planning is underway!

I have just listed many many events we have done, but I will say that these are events to build community and unity among believers. They are important and it is scriptural to meet together and build one another up. On another level, our ministry is done one on one throughout the week. I wanted all of you to know that each of our student leaders officially/unofficially meets with 3 or 4 people a week from our community. That is where depth, love, and change really occur. We point one another to Jesus and I am extremely humbled by how loving, devoted, and sincere some of our students are. I would ask that you pray for them as they are trying to become new people of God and really pursue Him in all areas of their life. This can be extremely challenging in the college setting. They need us praying for them and interceding for them. I wish I could snapshot all of my one on one conversations so you could hear how God is working. I wish you could be a fly on the wall, because I know it would bring tears to your eyes. Trust me when I say, there is no one like our God and no one who works like Him. Next month I will be featuring some of the students I meet with every week! Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall! This weather is getting less and less sweaty by the day! Fall is my absolute favorite because of all the holidays coming up. It's fun to celebrate with the new students we have met!

It's not too late to RSVP for the 20 year celebration! FOCUS has been on college campuses in the DFW area the last 20 years and we are going to celebrate what He has done. Come celebrate with us!!! Here is our latest video of some people who have been impacted by God's work in FOCUS:

Commuter Core
I am so excited about our newest core addition this year: Commuter Core! We have smaller groups that meet throughout the week called "cores" and these are the 'core' of our ministry. It's where spiritual growth, deep friendship, serving the community, and love for God happen most! Last year, we met many people who commuted to UTA and we wanted to offer a core that accommodated their commuter schedule. This group meets on Wednesdays once a week during lunch for an hour. We have received a lot of gratitude from the students that our core exists within a time frame they can do. Austin (the other staff member who leads the group) and I pray this group will be an encouragement in these students' walk with God and that anyone seeking God or wanting to know more about Him would hear from him during our time together. Will you pray that God would lead this group of students into a deeper understanding of Him and that Austin and I would be obedient to what God is wanting us to do?
We asked the students in this picture to put any questions they had about spirituality or God into a jar. Austin and I wanted to do this to get a sense of what these students were learning and what they need. Here are the responses we received from our core:

“With the stress of college I feel like all of my thoughts revolve around school-I’m tired of it! How can I commune/always talk to God during school?”

“How to stop feeling like there is no point to life. You live, work, play only to die in the end.”

“How do you overcome a spirit of timidity?”

“How do we be a welcoming community in our lives? On or off campus”

Book Club
The name sounds kind of cheesy but it's very important! Once a week the first and second year staff members get together with our Director and discuss different books, parables, and topics. This class is an opportunity to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity. We recently read The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck and we are currently on The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. We were assigned to pray and meditate on what God is wanting us to grow in this year, and to meet with someone who has grown a lot in that specific area. It's been challenging, invigorating, thought provoking, and enjoyable because of the awesome team I work on!

Prayer Requests
  • My sister is having a baby, and I would greatly appreciate prayers for a safe delivery! He is due November 13th.
  • Our students will be attending Fall Camp on October 15th-16th. This is a major opportunity for them to make connections within the community. Please pray for students to have fun, get to know one another, and to experience the Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Go Team!

Wow! The students are back, FOCUS has started, and God is doing so much! Thank you all so much for your prayers this last month! God definitely heard them and I have a lot to share with you in this post about those wonderful things. Because I got my degree in photography, all my posts are organized around the pictures I took during the last month. These pictures bring me great joy when I look at them and I hope they do the same for you!

Corefa Prep Worship
Corefa Prep
Before the students came back to campus, we had a time of preparation for our student leaders. They came back to Arlington to get ready for what was about to happen on campus. We sang, we prayed, we cast a vision, and had fun. It's crucial that we did these things as a team so that we could build one another up and paint a picture for what Maverick Stampede was going to be like. It was a sweet time together! Corefa stands for "Core Facilitator" and Core refers to the smaller communities we have that meet throughout the week. This is where real friendship and pursuing God together takes place. It is the "core" of our ministry and what we do. Our students become corefa's in order to facilitate a time of scripture reading and discernment, service to one another and the community, worshipping the Lord, and sharing our lives with one another. It's a big task but they are asking for God's help and our staff will be meeting with them weekly. Please pray for them!

Our student leaders getting ready to help people move in!
Maverick Stampede
UTA provides a lot of events for students starting the second they arrive on campus. The students who live in the dorms arrived on Monday, August 22nd, and our student leaders served them by helping them move in! This kicked off TWO WEEKS full of events on campus. I have to mention that our student leaders are serious rockstars. They loved the students, served them, sweated with them, laughed with them, and didn't complain through it all. They take living like Jesus seriously and wanted to be open to God working around them. I really love them so much! God has blessed us with such a great team.

Dancing. Free food. Laughter. Questions. Free t-shirts. Dancing. Games. Laughing. Praise. Those are words I would use to describe the last two weeks. We ate free waffles, learned how to do Indian dances, played water balloon dodgeball, went on campus tours, pet therapy dogs, and in ALL of this our goal was to meet students and offer them real friendship. Because of how Jesus has changed our lives, we want that for everyone we encounter and we believe that is done through relationships.

Playing a game called "Ninja" at Waffleopolois!

Took my new friend Sumbal shopping for clothes, while getting to learn about life in Pakistan.

Volleyball on campus with new friends. 
FOCUS board game night was a hit! Many students came to play and make new friends.

Thursday Night Fellowship
We had our first large group meeting last Thursday, where we invited everyone we met the last two weeks on campus. An axiom we use is, "Don't say someone's no for them" and we didn't want to say no for any students of the students we met. Right before our first TNF meeting, we had some room reservations mix up and for 30 minutes we did not have a room to meet in. After my heart felt like it was in my throat, God of course pulled through and we got a room! We did not know who would show up but we trusted that God would bring whoever needed to be there and many many students we met over the last two weeks came! It was a blessing to see. Will you please pray for these students as the school year continues? Pray that they will get connected, and pursue God. Life tends to get in the way, classes get busy, exams happen, but we are on the college campus to pursue God in the midst of that.
Over 100 students attended our first meeting!

Sarah giving a message on Jesus being the motivation behind what we are doing on campus.

Lastly, I wanted to invite all of you to our 20 Year Celebration! Focus will be celebrating 20 years of working on college campuses and this is a major thing to celebrate! God has done so much already and on the night of October 8th we want to look back on what God has done, what God is doing, and what the future holds. Will you RSVP for this event if you are interested in joining us? All people are welcome. This is not a student specific event. It's because of people like you that Focus is able to operate and bless college students. Come celebrate with us! *We are changing the location, but if you RSVP we will send you the new location*

Date: October 8th
Time: 4:00pm-7:00pm
Location: TBD

Saturday, August 6, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like the school year!

Hello dear friends,

First off, thank you all so so much for your prayerful support and financial support!! I am currently at $2,000 a month and only need $200 more! I would not be able to do this without you all and I am so excited to be used by God this coming year at UTA.

This was one of our evangelism displays from this summer!
At this time next month, our new students will be in class again on the UTA campus! These next three weeks are full of preparation for those students and this month will be a month of meeting people and casting our nets wide! I could not be more excited for everyone to be back in Arlington and for us to get the ball rolling again.

This summer has been much different than last summer. We spent time each week on the UTA campus trying to reach the summer school students and let them know about our ministry, whereas last year we ourselves were getting to know the city and the campus before students arrived. We did prayer walks, played outdoor and indoor games, we displayed spiritual questions, and ate popsicles! Here are some responses from one of our evangelism displays where we asked the students to describe God using one word:

This summer was unique because the Pokemon Go game came out and we saw students swarming the campus. We got to interact with students we wouldn't normally get to talk with because the game requires you to actually walk around to collect Pokemon. The video game culture is very private and dark in some ways, so we got to talk to many students about their beliefs as they walked around campus. It was a unique summer because of this game, and in a weird way I am thankful to God that he has chosen to use something like a phone game to connect us with a difficult to reach student group. One of our staff members, Austin, actually met a guy on campus while playing Pokemon Go and now they are studying the bible once a week together!

Last month, we had an ordination ceremony for our staff which was new this year. We read commitments to our community and promised them we would serve God faithfully and serve our community faithfully. I'm officially an ordained minister for one year!

Our staff at the Ordination Ceremony on July 7th.

With the school year coming up so quickly I want to invite you to pray with our staff. Would you pray for the following things?

  • Incoming freshman. This is a major life changing year for them and we want to be by their side as they adjust to college life. Please pray that we meet the students God would have us meet and that we would serve them faithfully and show them God's love and saving grace!
  • Our student leaders. Our student leaders do A LOT this next month and a half. They are the ones that are in class with the students, eating lunch with people, etc. They need prayer to be bold about their love for God and to invite willing students into their lives. We cannot force friendship on people, but please pray our students would be the best of friends to people on campus as we get going and that they wouldn't get discouraged or too tired early on. We love our student leaders and they are the ones that God really works through to show his love!
  • Our staff. We want and plan to be people who listen to the Holy Spirit's guiding as we are planning for this coming year. I ask that you pray for us. That we would be able to hear God, listen, and obey. That we would love well, encourage well, challenge well, and direct our community into God's presence. It's no secret that community leaders are held to a higher standard and we take that seriously. We want to please God in what we do, and want to speak his words when we speak and live like Jesus while encouraging those around us to do the same.
  • Other campus ministries. One of the many beautiful things God has done since arriving at UTA is create a unity between FOCUS and the other campus ministries. They have been so welcoming and have said, "We are on the same team." Please pray they would follow God in what they do and love like Jesus, and that God would protect them from anything Satan would try and do to disrupt God's plan.

Lastly, I did want to make a few comments on what happened this last week in my family. For those of you who do not have Facebook, we were looking for my dad last week. I used Facebook to announce that because it seems to reach a wide range of people the fastest. I do apologize if anyone felt hurt or neglected this last week by me not being able to personally contact you or respond to a text or call. 
Looking back on what happened on Thursday when we found my dad, all I can see is God working in perfect timing. My dad was at a hospital last week (that I had never heard of). I made numerous phone calls looking for him and all the pieces fell into place for me to find him getting out of a cab trying to walk to his car after leaving the hospital. It could not have been more perfect timing. 
Obviously Thursday was upsetting for me, but I want to share with you something the Holy Spirit did. I was driving back to Arlington Thursday night with a lot of different emotions and thoughts, but also just wanted to yell and cry at the same time. The emotions I was feeling were powerful. I had just gone on FOCUS staff retreat this week and as I was driving home two lines from a song we sang multiple times at the retreat came into my mind:

"I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open. 
There's nothing I hold on to."

As I drove home and sang those words in my head, the Holy Spirit helped me regain my emotions and see clearly that I need to continue to trust God. I don't need to hold onto what has gone wrong in my life, or how I feel, but I need to give those things to God and surrender to Him. I can't control other people and as hurt as I am by what I saw Thursday night God is just as hurt if not more. I am so glad that you are relatable Lord and that you cry with us and grieve with us. Thank you to everyone who contacted me and prayed for my Dad.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summertime Update!

Hello my dear friends,

Happy summer to all of you! It sure is a hot one out here in Arlington! I pray you all are finding time for some rest, relaxation, and family time. I bet you are wondering, "April, what does a college missionary like yourself do over the summer when the students aren't in school?" Great question!

Here are a few of the things a campus missionary does during the summer:

  • FUNDRAISING! This is the main goal of our summer break. To continue to raise support for the coming school year and expand our support teams. If you have been on my support team this last year or just joined, THANK YOU! All of the posts on this blog are stories of how you made it possible for me to be at UTA this last year sharing the love of Christ with students. If you are currently not on my financial support team, would you pray about supporting me financially this coming year as I continue to minister to college students? I am currently at 50% of my fundraising goal and once August 1 comes we hit the ground running, so I only have one more month to expand my support team by God's grace! Please pray and consider this great opportunity to eternally impact the lives of college students, and also pray I meet others who believe in what God is doing at UTA! One of my supporters from this last year sent this message to me this last week that left me feeling encouraged: 
"We just told our kids about your group
and that when they get to college they need to find a group like focus."

When I read that message I was so excited that they see the vision of what we are doing and how communities like FOCUS can impact the generations to come!
All the campuses come together over the summer to worship God every Thursday night at 7:30PM
  • Spending time learning about God and practicing spiritual disciplines. This summer I have finished up a book called Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf, where she makes the connection between how/what we think about affects the structure of our brain. I love that there is a Christian out there who is trying to connect science with God's creation! One of her tag lines in her book is that "science is finally catching up with the bible." I loved that! It was a very useful tool to help me look at what I am thinking about and how it affects me physically, and how our brains are wired in a way to receive grace. I have started a book called The Cultivated Life: From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy by Susan Phillips. I'm at the beginning of this book but am reading it with the intention of growing in how to rest with God and how to just 'be' in Sabbath time. I look forward to learning from this book and making a plan for having a healthy Sabbath time this year. Lastly, I will be listening to an audio class on New Testament Foundations by Rikk Watts from Regent College to grow in my understanding of the New Testament. This last year I had the opportunity to listen to the Old Testament Foundations class and it helped me piece together overall themes from scripture. Super exciting and helpful!
    Kassidy and I drove out to Canton to meet one of our core girls from last year (Kirsten) who is from the Tyler area!
  • Spending time with students in Arlington! We have around 10 students who are from the area and we get to spend quality time with them this summer without the stress of school. I have been studying Focus On Jesus (our one on one bible study) with one student I met from UTA last year, because she has time off from class to devote to learning the scriptures, as well as, going through Experiencing God with another student I connected with this summer. We are hosting a few on campus events for the summer school students, as well as working orientations for the incoming students. Will you pray for the students we will meet during these events this summer? Because it's summertime doesn't mean God stops working! Please pray that we would have eyes to see who God wants us to meet and impact.
One of our very own UTA students is on the website this month! Check out what Brooklyn has to say about how college ministry has impacted her:

Thank you all for reading and keeping up with what God is doing! I will be contacting you again soon!

With love,

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The end is not the end!

Hello dearest friends and supporters,

The internship officially ended on May 31st and now I am transitioning to Associate Staff at UTA! I wanted this blog post to be a reflection on what I shared in my last intern sermon: three important areas I've seen God work this year.

All of the FOCUS interns from 2015-2016 and our Pastor Ronnie

I want all of you to know that none of the things written on this blog could have been possible without you. I mean that! Thank you for giving your time, prayers, and money to God's work. One of our axioms in our community is, "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called" and that has been so true this year. I am a flawed person, but God chose to work through your gifts, through my flawed self, and so many others to change people's lives for the rest of eternity. How amazing! Thank you all dearly.

The UTA FOCUS staff from 2015-2016 (Krysten, Sarah, Nathan, Myself, and Austin)

#1 Through this internship God has been showing me it's important to know about yourself. What I mean is we need people in our lives to help us see who we are, the good and the bad. There are many times (sometime daily) where I forget how far I've come because of God, or the work He is doing in me. There are other times when I don't see how I'm acting affects others negatively or how I am being prideful. God has given us community to continue to shape us into who we truly are as redeemed people of Christ.

#2 Through this internship God has been showing me the importance of being present. There is a temptation for everyone to think too much in the past and too much in the future. I tend to think on the past a lot, because I get fixated on my shortcomings and worries instead of giving them to the Lord. I will then focus too much on future events, homework assignments, chores, etc. and miss what is going on around me. There needs to be a healthy balance here. Be present. When we are present we can really bless people around us and show them the value they deserve.

#3 Through this internship God has been showing me the importance of hope and grace. We can't give others what we don't have. If I am not constantly remembering God for who He is and the truth He has spoken to us through scripture, the world and Satan are going to start writing new tapes to play in my head. There is huge significance to remembering the hope and grace we undeservingly live in. If we start to get this, then we can share this with others and extend hope and grace to others as well. Believing I have received grace should make it easier to extend grace, because when we see a need for it in our own lives then we see ourselves for how we really are: fallen and imperfect people. So why should we be so critical of others? Well, that is what God is showing me at least.

The beautiful ladies from Kassidy and I's core this past year during our Focus Formal.

Most recently we had a group of over 100 students travel to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) to learn how to disciple others and live like Christ on the college campus. One of our UTA students named Hallie was able to join us this year. Hallie is a sweet, authentic, and funny woman of God. She is also from Vietnam! To our surprise, when we arrived in Bellingham, Washington, Hallie saw a friend there that she knew from Vietnam who is one of the student leaders with the ministry that hosted us! Out of all of the places in the world, both Hallie and Tri reconnected in Washington state and have a relationship with Jesus. How amazing is our God!

Hallie and Tri at Western Washington University
SICM students praying for each other to impact their home campuses
Some of our students in Seattle!
Rachel, another UTA student, was able to attend SICM this year and had this to say about her experience: 

"God worked in mighty ways this past week, showing all of us His power and goodness. I am so grateful for the amazing conversations, friendships, and growth that happened in this past week. God is good & He is faithful. SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) is a life changing experience that really challenges us to be true disciples and know our purpose of making more disciples as we are commanded to do. Very blessed by everything that happened this week, words do it justice except the fact that...Wow, God is good & He is beyond amazing to us and is always in a constant pursuit of His people, trying to change hearts for Him and give us true life.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV"

Rachel and I on our flight to Seattle at 5am
Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for all of the staff and new interns as we fundraise this summer. It is a stretching experience and can cause many people anxiety, but we are working to trust God is in control and will provide for us. Please pray we would get connected with people who can see the vision of college ministry. 
  • Our students as they are at home with their families or traveling. Summer seems like it could be a really exciting restful time, but a lot of our students (myself included) get in funky places emotionally over the summer when there isn't a lot going on and they aren't as connected to community. Please pray God would protect them from discouragement and lies, and that they would grow in communion with God while they are out of school.
  • My old stepdad, Bob. He had a stroke back in April and is still trying to recover. He has lost mobility on his left side and his speech comes and goes. Bob loved working out and being with people, so this has been a difficult time for him. Prayers that he would gain some mobility again and show progress, and for the doctors and nurses as they work with him and decide what treatment is best.
Thank you all so much! I look forward to talking with you this summer as I continue fundraising!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Celebrate the Growth!

Hello Everyone!
Please take a few minutes to watch the video below. Austin, one of our interns, made this video for our Focus Formal this past Sunday night. I wanted to share it because the students shared what our vision has been for the UTA campus and it shows how God worked this year. Four of the six students featured in the video started coming to our ministry THIS year and have already been impacted greatly. What the students share in the video is because of people like you investing in a greater vision that God had for them this year. Thank you all so much! Let's praise God together for what He has done!

The Big Event
This last month our students signed up to help volunteer around the Arlington area. UTA hosts The Big Event once a year and any students or community members can sign up to serve those in need. We had around 30 students sign up to spend a Saturday serving others! I was so glad to get to partner with the university on something we value as a community and on something that is very important to God. Our students had positive attitudes and served with joy, even while cleaning out a dirty creek! Memories were made that day with one another and we have formed some relationships with surrounding organizations we hope to work with in the future.
Spring Showcase

Every year we have a fundraiser for our students we send to a campus ministry training in Bellingham, Washington called SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry).
This year we were able to raise the funds to help our students get to this amazing opportunity! Your generosity and support at this event was extremely encouraging. Our performers were off the charts awesome, the art was very impressive, and the fellowship was a joy! Thank you for continually helping our students and seeing the bigger picture of what God is doing on college campuses!

One one One Bible Studies
One of the highlights of campus ministry every year is studying the bible one on one with our students. I've had the privilege to study the bible with three of my core girls, one of them being Bridgette. Bridgette and I went through the Focus On Jesus bible study we offer that goes over many topics from the New Testament and is a launching point for understanding Christ better and spending time with Him. I have loved meeting with Bridgette every week, because I have been able to witness God changing her before my eyes. She has said some profound things this year and, with Bridgette's permission, I posted an answer from one of the lessons in Focus On Jesus. It really sums up her year and how God is moving her closer to living a life completely for Him! This model we use ("One on one is how it's done") is something I really believe in and doing this bible study changed my life my freshman year of college. It was the first time I got to study scripture with someone and ask the questions I had been wondering. This tool is a major way students start to take knowing God seriously and actually get to read about who God is!

Focus On Jesus-Sent Into The World Homework
The primary difference between Jesus and any other "good" person was his purpose. Are you living your life on purpose? How does that line up with His? How is that demonstrated in your life?

"It has been a long journey trying to figure out my purpose in life. My life as of now is only at the first step, which is identifying how Jesus lived his life. The next stage of my life is to be able to use this knowledge to align my purpose with God. For me to sell my worldly possessions to gain the opportunity to live for something greater than myself."

Sermon at TNF
I had the honor and privilege of giving a sermon during our Thursday Night Fellowship meeting last month. I was asked to preach on a scripture that has profoundly impacted my life and still does to this very moment. Philippians 4:4-9 pretty much sums up how God has started to work in me and continues to do so. I was pumped to share the thoughts I have heard over the years on this passage and help our students get to a better place mentally, and to get our students thinking about how and why our thoughts matter. It was so fun and such a blessing to share, because remembering what God has done in my life is putting these verses into action. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
After we focused in on the scripture for a while, I asked the students to write down true, lovely, and praiseworthy things they had learned about God this year. Here are some of the responses our students wrote:

I want to encourage you to write things down that are true and praiseworthy about God. These things are so good to go back and reflect on, especially when things get hard or seem funky. 
Prayer requests:
1. Please pray that our travel to Seattle and Bellingham next week would be safe and that the students would absorb the wisdom they will hear from other campus pastors on how to be the best ministers they can be on their campus.
2. Our students have finals next week and this is a very high anxiety time in our students' live. Will you pray our students stay calm, study well, and do their best?
3. I have yet to post about this. I am staying on staff for one more year with UTA Focus! I will be an associate staff member for the next year. As I was praying about what to do next year, God reminded me that I moved out here for these students and to show them the love He has for them. These students have blessed me, changed me, and encouraged me all year. I can't wait to do another year with them! I have started calling a lot of you about continuing to support me next year financially and in prayer. Would you pray about continuing your support next year? I will be in contact with you all soon and would love to have your support in this next year of ministry!