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Monday, February 29, 2016

February Festivities!

Hello dear friends! I am excited to share some of the highlights from this last month with you and all that God continues to do through your prayers and gifts. 

Combined Worship Core
In our small groups, we try to touch on many different areas of following God, what it's like to have a relationship with God, and why that is important to do in a community of believers. This semester our core has been exploring more of what it means to worship God and how we can be expressive to God about the great things he is doing in our lives. On Wednesday night, both our core and a guy core meet so we thought it would be beneficial in many ways to combine cores for a worship night! We asked a few of our students to share how God has been working in or around them this semester, and a few students shared songs and what those mean to them. 

One of the girls in our core, Kirsten, shared about her first week at UTA as a freshman. She was at a school sponsored event and decided to leave and go back to her dorm. Kirsten would admit she is a quieter person and on the timid side, and as she was alone in her dorm room something was telling her to go back to the event she was at. This is very unlike Kirsten, but she did it anyway. Once she was back at the event, one of our leaders approached her and asked if she wanted to join us while watching the movie. Now some people might think this to be a coincidence, but Kirsten did something VERY uncharacteristic by going back to the event and I believe the Holy Spirit is the one who lead her back to the event. Because of that brief and seemingly small encounter with one of our leaders, Kirsten had no friends at UTA at the time and was the FIRST to show up to our first Focus meeting. Shortly after, her and I met up and started to study the bible where she has questioned a lot about the way she is living and learned about who God truly is. I could not be more proud of Kirsten. I think she is such a beautiful girl who is encountering God deeply for the first time. And this is just one example of the students we've met this semester...God is so good! Kirsten hasn't "done anything" to deserve God's activity in her life, but it just goes to show that God seeks us out and loves us...while we were still sinners. Grace is overflowing in our ministry and that is because of the God we serve!

Parent Night
What a joy this night was! It always amazes me how God shows up at this annual event we have with Focus. One of the many values I love of our ministry is the effort and care our leaders have for getting families involved in what we are doing on the campuses. Not only was it a joy to meet my new friends parents, but I got to tell them how much their child has grown and we all got to hear from some of them how their student have been a blessing to them in return! Our goal is that the life change the students are going through now would overflow into their families and their future families. There were quite a few tears as students and parents shared about how worried or alone they were at the beginning of the semester, and how the students in our community have welcomed them with open arms. Parents were in awe of how God has provided for their children and it was encouraging to me know that these students talk about all that they are learning within the direct realm of our influence. 

Spring Showcase
Lastly, I want to tell all of you about something that is coming up on April 2nd. This is a HUGE opportunity for our students. I really want you to consider and pray about what I am going to share with you.
Each year we send a group of our students to a campus ministry training up in Bellingham, Washington (it's called SICM). When I was 19, I was asked to attend this training and could not be more excited to learn more about college ministry because I had become a Christian through the Focus ministry when I was 18. Every year students go for a week to hear about how to lead a small group, how to make spiritual friendships, how to study the bible with students, how to counsel students, etc. The list could go on. One metaphor we use it that SICM is like a dixie cup under a fire hydrant. There is so much valuable information given to these students for those 7 days. 
Spring Showcase is an event we host every year to raise money to help send those students to this training. Because they are college students (and most work part time), they don't usually have the funds to pay fully for their trip. This concert and art sale is a way to support these students through a fun family friendly evening! 
The event will be held at North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship and tickets are $15 for students and $20 for adults. This will be a great date night event! Please pray and consider supporting our students through this fun opportunity. Tickets are available for purchase at www.anyfocus.org/showcasetickets

I love you all! Thank you for reading this and taking the time to hear about the movement of the Holy Spirit on the campus of UTA!
-April


Monday, February 1, 2016

2016: Off to a great start!

Happy February everyone! I pray you are doing well, both physically and spiritually (that flu season is kicking in, unfortunately).
Wow, this month has had so many new and awesome things happening! I wish all of you could be a fly on the wall in these God moments that have already happened. For now, photos and explanations will have to suffice :-)

Our core group on the way to camp!

WINTER CAMP 2016
Our UTA students got to go to our annual winter camp for the FIRST time!!! This is a big deal, because last year we announced that we would be planting a college ministry at UTA. All of our other campuses got to see how God has moved since last year when looking at all 38 of our students from UTA at winter camp. It was so fun to introduce our UTA friends to the other campuses and for them to get to see our community as a whole. Arlington is a little further away from most of the other campuses, so to have them integrated into the greater community was helpful in them seeing our values and vision outside of themselves. I believe they got to see how big our God is and how He moves on so many campuses and is doing things we don't even know about.

Rikk Watts leading us in a benediction

Rikk Watts from Regent College came to speak at our camp this year, which was a huge blessing because of how much we use his audio classes in the internship and throughout our ministry. Rikk is a very intelligent man but his emphasis was on how we have to go to God to have true life and how much God wants each of us to have that. A theme from the weekend came up rather spontaneously through one of our worship leaders. He was encouraging us to worship God freely and without caring what everyone else thinks and challenged us to "get over ourselves" This phrase stuck all weekend! Language is so important and really changed the way people experienced camp. Even this week at FOCUS on the UTA campus someone referenced it again while worshipping God. How neat!

The UTA FOCUS ministry at Winter Camp
One of our students from the UTA ministry is featured below. Her testimony is a testament to how impactful college ministry is and how God is moving on the UTA campus! Kate is one of the students we have invited to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry). Every year we look for students who show faithfulness to God and people, a teachable attitude, those who are available to what God is doing in and around them, students who take initiative, and those who have a heart for God. With those select students, we send them to Washington to visit one of our partner ministries that have been doing campus ministry quite longer than us, and they learn how to be affective disciples on the college campus. Our students that were invited are in the process of starting to raise money and one of the major ways we help raise money for them to attend this week long training is by hosting Spring Showcase. Mark your calendars for April 2nd at 7:30pm! This concert and art exhibition will raise money to send them to be trained disciples! Tickets will go on sale soon.

Visit www.anyfocus.org/updates to see more!
As promised, all of our campus staff did the #polarplunge when we raised $45,000 for the #itsworthit Keep Focus Growing Initiative! I will say it was quite cold (and I had a cold) but so fun haha. I really do want to thank all of you for your financial support. Any amount given is a huge blessing and to know all of you believe in and get the vision of what we are doing on college campuses is such an encouragement to keep going out there and loving students. God is working through y'all! 

video

Some prayer requests:
-We have started the semester with some new outreach ideas. We are focusing on friendship within outreach and eating lunch with random students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays every week. Will you pray that we meet the students we need to and are open to the Spirit leading us? It is good practice to meet new people, but the overall goal we have in outreach is to tell students the Good News of Jesus and show them Christ.
-Prayer that our students from last semester would take ownership of the ministry and reach out to the students in their classes. A goal we have for our students is to live a seamless life, and not multiple lives (spiritual vs. student vs. friend). We want them to be equipped through ministry to have conversations with people about all areas of their life and put God as number one of all things, not just some things. 

I love you all!
April