Welcome Week Wonders

     I can't believe it's already been one month into the year. Thank you all for making this possible through your support and prayers! This month, we really hit the ground running, trying to capitalize on people's eagerness to meet others and be back on campus in person. The Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM) conference was an amazing team building and leadership training experience. Our welcome week events were great hits, and our first small groups and large group fellowship nights are off to a strong start!

    If you're unfamiliar with SICM, it is a conference we take many of our students to in order to train everyone in leading small groups, in relational discipleship, and in inviting students into Jesus loving community. This year, FOCUS hosted our own at Camp Eagle in southwest Texas, and it was such a blast! We had sessions in the morning and all afternoon, and in the evenings, we got to enjoy the camp's incredible activities (such as lakefront activities, ropes courses, and campfire hikes). I got to spend some quality time with the students who will be in Denton, such as Justus, Isaac, Garrett, Nathan, Brandon, and others, which helped us get ready for working together as soon as the school year started! A bunch of us got to go underground cave exploring and found ourselves in a completely enclosed, pitch black (without flashlights), cave where we read scripture and shared our thoughts about the conference and hopes for the coming year.

The Cave Exploring crew at SICM!

    Once we got back, we pretty much went straight into Welcome Week events as students started moving into their dorms. The first two weeks that we were on campus were filled with events that FOCUS put on, events that UNT and TWU put on that we attended, and times when we went into the student union and dorms to meet students when they were getting food or walking to and from their rooms. It is the time of the year that we really put out the biggest outreaching effort and encourage our student leaders to do the same. Those were probably two of the most exhausting weeks I've ever had, but they are so important because it's the best time to find people looking for friends and seeking community before their classes start occupying more of their time.

    We had some awesome turnouts to our events. A whole building was pretty much sprawling with people playing Zombie Tag with us, and dozens of students were running around late into the night during our glow-in-the-dark Capture the Flag. There were many more events like this, and we got connected to so many students who we started inviting to our small groups and large group spiritual events.

One of our campus pastors, Drew, choosing some zombies for Zombie Tag!

    Soon after, we started up our small groups, which we call Cores (because they are the 'core' of our ministry), and our large group, called Thursday Night Fellowship (TNF), and we already have so many cool stories to share. Ask me about them if you want to hear more! I am facilitating a Core with a student named Waylen this year who's training to be a fireman! We had a great group of guys who were vulnerable with each other, willing to speak up during our discussions, and had a lot of fun getting to know each other! Our first TNFs were completely packed out, and so many people came to our after-events to hang out. Thanks for praying for us that we would be able to impact students this year, because we have already seen God moving in so many people!

Our Denton FOCUS director, Ryan, preaching at TNF!

    Please be praying for one of the students I met this month. We'll call him A. He opened up to me about wanting to make friends since he is new to college, and he was afraid of remaining alone during this new phase in life. He told me about times that he had tried bonding with his roommate but had little success, and I told A that he's gotta come to Core because it's where he can find the kind of real friendships he's looking for. He's not a Christian, but he came to Core one week and TNF another, and I pray that he continues coming so he can make some real connections that draw him towards Jesus.

    Again, let me know if there's anything you need prayer for, and, sincerely, I thank you for being on my support team. I'm so grateful that I get to be a part of what God is doing on these college campuses and I'm glad you wanted to be as well!

Your friend,