Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Camp! Wow!

Wow!  January was an exciting month, and I have some tremendous news to share with all of you!

From January 16-19, our entire Focus community learned, worshipped, and played together at Winter Camp.  Thank you for bathing this big event in prayer; it paid off!  God blessed us with great weather, safe travel, and an event that ran smoothly.  Almost five hundred people attended Winter Camp - current students, staff, a handful of alumni, and even a few family members of students.  

Worship at Winter Camp, led by many of our talented students
Dr. Iain Provan brought a powerful message to our community.  He taught on this year’s theme, Words of Life.  Dr. Provan’s expertise is in Old Testament studies, so he educated our students on how God’s story flows through the Old Testament, the New Testament, and into our lives today.  Many of our students were unaccustomed to thinking about biblical topics at a highly intellectual level; Dr. Provan’s lessons pushed them to “love the Lord with all their minds.”  What a privilege we have to study our great God at the same academic level we study topics in our college majors.

Everyone who committed themselves to paying attention during the lessons walked away with new information and a deeper understanding of God’s activity in our world, but don’t think that the whole camp was solely focused on listening to lectures.  Our students also developed new friendships and deepened existing ones.  At UTD’s first Friday Night Focus of the semester, a few days after we returned from Winter Camp, we opened the floor and asked our students to share about their experiences at camp.  Two students stood and shared stories that I now want to share with you.

Henry is a Richland student (Richland students are now joining with UTD on Friday nights, and we are thrilled to have them!).  I met him at Winter Camp when he came to my registration table to sign in.  He seemed happy to be there, but he didn’t know many people.  At our open mic time after camp, he shared about his struggle with autism and how he had trouble making friends.  He said that Winter Camp was an amazing time for him because so many people wanted to meet him, spend time with him, and become his friend.  Praise God!

Hunter is a UTD student who recently joined Focus.  While playing a game at camp, he fell and twisted his ankle.  He had to spend much of camp resting in the cabin instead of outside running around with friends.  At the open mic time, he shared how encouraged he was when many of his Core members spent their time in the cabin talking with him.  They sacrificed the fun of being outdoors to make sure that one of their brothers could share in an enjoyable camp experience.  Amen!

UTD students, a few alumni, and even a future Comet at bottom right!

These are just a few of the small but amazing stories that happened at Winter Camp.  If you talked to all of the students who attended, I’m sure you would hear hundreds more!

After Winter Camp, our staff starts looking toward the future, and that means selecting a new class of interns for the 2015-2016 school year.  We had our Internship Interest Session on a Sunday afternoon, and twenty people expressed their interest in applying for the internship.  Some plan to apply for this coming year, while others wanted to get some more information as they consider doing the internship in future years.  Everyone who expressed their interest is someone who has been a consistent, contributing member of our community, and any of them would make great interns.  Our challenge as a staff is now to decide who will join our team next school year and which campuses they will be assigned to.  Please pray for wisdom for us and the applicants as we consider this important decision!

Finally, I am excited to announce a big decision I’ve recently made.  As of today, I am officially a full-time staff minister for Focus!  Previously, my commitment to Focus was on a part-time basis, and I also worked full time at Alpha Omega Insurance Agency.  I am grateful for the time I had at Alpha Omega, and it was a tough decision to leave.  Many of my coworkers there have become like family to me, and I always enjoyed the challenge of the work I did there.  But I believe God has called me to serve our campus communities through Focus, and I am ready to begin!  I  know you are probably wondering what I will be doing with more time to devote to ministry.  My role as the internship coordinator will expand as we accept more interns and train them to be effective, powerful leaders.  I will also have more time to devote to teaching the Bible to international students at UTD, and I will begin planning more organized efforts to get our current Focus students reaching out to those international students.  Over time, I will also have the opportunity to mentor more of our student leaders.  I am thrilled about all of these developments!

As I transition to a full-time schedule, raising my support will become even more vital.  Please pray for me as my role with Focus expands and as I raise the funds to power my ministry.  Your prayers are crucial to my success in this area!  If you are able to commit to a monthly donation (or increase the current amount of your donation), please talk to me.  Your support means I and the other Focus ministers can continue to build God’s Kingdom on our campuses by making disciples and training leaders!

Thank you so much for the love and support you have shown me!

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