Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Problems are opportunities

February was a month of changes and challenges for our Focus staff, but in those challenges God has shown His graceful providence for us.  Brandon recently said in one of our meetings that problems are opportunities; I think that our students and staff have seen those opportunities presented to us and done great things for God and His people.

A few weeks ago, our UTD staff discovered at the last moment that we would not have access to a suitable room on campus for our Friday night fellowship.  Where would we put our 150+ students who would soon be gathering to worship God together?  A local church in Richardson, the Episcopal Church of The Epiphany, graciously opened their doors for our students.  Focus had never met there before or had any previous relationship to this congregation, but Sirak, one of our UTD ministers, had met Rev. Betsy Randall, one of the rectors at Epiphany, just once before.  When they met, she said how excited she was to see a thriving campus ministry and offered to assist Focus.  She probably didn't know we would be calling on her for assistance so soon, but what a blessing to both our communities that we were able to meet at Epiphany.  Our students were blessed to be received into a welcoming environment, and Epiphany has been blessed by some of our students who have since participated as singers and readers at Epiphany's Saturday worship services.  Thanks to this generous, welcoming congregation, a problem turned into an opportunity for blessing!

UTD Focus students worshiping at the Episcopal Church of The Epiphany
In addition to logistical problems like finding a place to meet, our staff struggled last month with a new need for a female staff person at UNT to mentor student leaders.  As a result of these rearrangements on our staff, I am now a Peer Team Leader to six Corefas at UNT.  Corefas are students who lead weekly Core group meetings of anywhere from three or four to as many as fifteen other students.  Those Corefas work hard to plan lessons and meet one-on-one with every member of their Core.  As a Peer Team Leader, I meet regularly with my six Corefas to encourage and support them and coach them in their ministry.  These amazing young women love God and His people.  Although they are taking classes and working, they have committed many hours of their time each week to invest in making and maturing disciples.  Their devotion to Jesus and His mission is inspiring! It has been a challenge coming into my Peer Team late in the school year, but I have loved getting to know these girls and participating with them in the work of sharing the gospel with students at UNT.

Me and Hannah, a UNT Corefa, taking a selfie during one of our meetings
Finally, we have a very exciting challenge ahead of us as a staff: selecting a new class of interns!  I mentioned in my previous post that we had a large turnout at our information session for the internship.  A total of thirteen people applied for the internship, and we are almost finished interviewing them all.  All of these applicants have been committed members of Focus; they have led others in our community through their Christlike influence and example.  Most of them are graduating from college this May, but a handful have applied for this ministry internship after spending a year or more pursuing other careers: teaching, software design, and even film.  Our applicants are more diverse than ever; some grew up in other states and even other countries.  I am so encouraged to see the passion and commitment these applicants have for reaching out to college students.  I and the other staff are also daunted as we consider accepting all thirteen applicants.  Where will we assign them?  Who will supervise them?  How will we accommodate our growing staff in our meetings and retreats?  These questions will be hard to answer, but I can't think of a better problem to have!  Please pray for our staff in the coming weeks as we finish the intern selection process and determine campus assignments for next year.  We need the Spirit's wisdom to know where each new intern will thrive personally and have a powerful, effective ministry.

April, one of our applicants for the internship.  She and I visited UTA to pray for this campus as we prepare to start Focus there!
Last month was tough, but God is good.  He shows us opportunities where we see problems.  When we trust Him and listen to His guidance, great things happen no matter the circumstances!  Thank you for your prayers and support that help us keep going and growing in the challenges that we face!

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