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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.

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