Monday, November 3, 2014

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Thank you all for your prayers, donations, and continued support for what God is doing through campus ministry!  October was a busy month of starting new friendships and celebrating old ones, and now we are preparing for some exciting events during the second half of Fall Semester.

At the beginning of October, I busily prepared for the wedding of two dear friends, Danni and Ryan.  I've mentioned Danni in my blog before, but just to remind you, she came to the US as an international student from China.  I met Ryan when we were both students in FOCUS.  I introduced Ryan and Danni, and they started dating pretty quickly.  They went through Pre-Engagement Counseling together, where they worked through marriage issues ranging from family roles to sex to money.  In FOCUS and our churches, we encourage couples who have been dating exclusively for a while and considering marriage to go through this counseling with an older, married couple as their guide.  We do it "pre-engagement" instead of "pre-marital" because this allows the couple to really consider these serious issues before a ring has been bought, a date has been set, and the stress of planning a wedding has set in.  Anyway, Ryan & Danni celebrated their marriage in a beautiful, intimate ceremony that I got to share with them.  I rejoice to know that each of them has married someone fully committed to following Christ, because the Lord is the only trustworthy foundation for a marriage, or truly for a life at all.

Two of my dearest friends got married in October!
October was also a big month for the International Friendship Partner Program.  This program pairs international students from UTD with Americans who are out of school.  The partners get together regularly to share their cultures with each other and develop a meaningful friendship.  Holidays like Halloween are an exciting part of American culture that we get to share with these international students, so we held a Pumpkin Carving Party for them.  It was a new experience for most of the students and a fun time for the Friendship Partners to get to know each other.  Carving a pumpkin may seem silly to those of us who are inundated with Halloween-themed products and advertisements every October, but it can become a cherished memory for someone who is experiencing this American tradition for the first time.

Two Chinese students carving a pumpkin for the first time
Some of our American Friendship Partners, Ken and Ann, also hosted a group of Americans and internationals at their home for an American-style potluck dinner.  We brought classic American dishes, like mac-and-cheese and meatloaf, to share with students from around the world.  After dinner, we played board games together and had a great time.  Thanks Ann and Ken for opening your home to these young people and showing them what a real American family can be!

On October 25, all of the FOCUS campuses, along with our three churches in Garland, Wylie, and Denton, met together for our annual Leadership Conference.  Anyone who leads in worship, in small groups, in Cores, or in one-on-one studies was invited to this event.  I was amazed to see how many people showed up and declared their intention to be leaders in our kingdom mission!  Our theme for the day was Vision.  Different speakers from our churches and campuses shared how they caught the vision for ministry and how we can effectively share that vision with others.  It was an inspiring day spent together with some amazing leaders.  We ended the day by sharing our prayers for God to inspire us with His vision and clear away the barriers that keep us from pursuing that vision.

One of our interns, Sarah, shared a poem at the Leadership Conference.

A Leadership Conference selfie with interns Cody and Rachel
Finally, in October I shared an accomplishment with another FOCUS staff member, Melissa: we finished a half marathon together!  It was a challenge for both of us, but facing challenges makes us stronger.  It was also a great time to talk and laugh with my wonderful sister in Christ.

Mile 9 and still going strong!
Thanks to all of you for your love and encouragement as we strive to make disciples on our campuses.  Please pray for us as we plan our upcoming events and continue to reach out and teach students to follow Jesus.