Hey everyone, hope you all are doing well! We are off to such a good start. Now that we've been able to settle into a rhythm with our events, it seems like I've been able to slow down and really learn about people's story and what they need in their spiritual lives. Thanks for praying for the student I mentioned last month. He's been enjoying getting to hang out and have friends in our community, but because of his Islamic faith and the various clubs he joined, he's unsure about making a commitment to our faith-related events (like fellowship night and bible study). Please keep praying for him!
Over the last month and a half or so, I've been able to start building real relationships with the students in my small group as well as students already in the Denton community. Over the last month, I've started three 1-on-1 Bible studies with the students who are new to FOCUS, and I have plans to start at least two more! Sometimes I can go into these studies not knowing what to expect, because sometimes students aren't really that interested, or don't do the pre-reading between meetings, or even eventually quit. However, this year, the people I'm studying with have really reinvigorated my excitement for doing these 1-on-1. One of them is Tim. He has been such a blessing to our group this year. He is someone who works 30 hours a week and also takes classes at UNT, but always shows up to small group and our bible study excited and ready to learn. He says he's really thankful to have a group of Christians to relax and spend some time with on his day off, because originally, he was worried he would burn out from just having work and school in his week.
Another really great thing we got to do earlier this month was spend a weekend strengthening the bonds of our leader team. Our director encouraged the staff to do some retreat-like event for the leaders, and the guys side of our leader team went on an overnight trip to Oklahoma to get some quality time for connecting and resting with each other. It was so great getting to walk around the beautiful state park in Broken Bow and have fun in the river rapids, but it was also a great way to slow down and talk and reflect with the guy leaders in our community. These guys volunteer so much of their time to invest in students and lead small groups and events for FOCUS!
One really cool thing I want to share is about a guy in our small group named Ben! He is our rockstar helper. He's been looking for ways to help make small group successful, whether it's help cook dinner, encourage everyone to stay after to hang out and play board games, or spend time with newer members one-on-one to really start making our group a tight-knit family. All of this he did without our asking, so when my co-leader, Waylen, had to be absent for two weeks because of his Fire Academy training, we knew he would be the perfect person to step in and help facilitate discussion. Ben didn't get to go to our leadership training conference or anything, but he did an amazing job co-leading small group! I am also going to be starting a 1-on-1 Bible study with a student that Ben can sit in on so he can start learning to lead a 1-on-1 Bible study (I guess it will actually be a 2-on-1 haha).
Please be praying for our upcoming Fall Camp! It's the big event of the first semester where everyone from the Denton community gets to go to a retreat site and spend a whole day together without the worries and stresses of academics and work. It's a time that some students get to share about their decision to follow Christ, why they joined FOCUS, or why they chose a particular path for their life. We also have people (usually in the same small group) pair off to talk and reflect on a theme that was chosen for the weekend's sermons and worship. Pray that the weekend would be free of any logistical or weather related problems so we can have a smooth and fun time, and that our students would be able to make it a meaningful trip.
Don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything I can be praying for you for! Thanks again for making all this possible. You all have been a true blessing to me and our ministry.
Sorry for not having as many pictures this time; I've never been great about taking pictures. I'll make sure to get plenty for next month! Also, here's a Student Testimony from one of the students at our Richland community!