March Mellow-ness

     Hey everyone, I hope you had a good March! This month was probably one of the more relaxed months in terms of community wide events that we've had in Denton, though there were certainly plenty of amazing things God was doing. For one, I've been seeing our small group leader team on the guys side really growing closer together. These guys are all busy college students who volunteer a lot of their time to lead bible studies and set examples to the community of what passionate, involved disciples look like in college. Roughly once a week (a little less because sometimes we have large leader meeting) all the guys who help lead small groups meet together so our staff can speak pastorally into their lives and ministry. We spend a lot of that time developing their intimacy with God and the Word and their skills in leadership, but we also like having that time to bond the leader team, because we believe the closeness of the leaders will reflect very strongly into the health of our community and its closeness. As the school year is approaching the last month for our students, we spent some time one of the recent weeks reflecting on the year and sharing stories and thoughts about the year. I've really seen these guys speaking and working in the lives of each other, and it's clear they value the friendships they have with each other.

UNT men's small group leader team hanging out and messing around after our leader meeting!

    Earlier in the year, we had trouble reserving rooms at The University of North Texas for our large group fellowship nights, but we were able to get a room at Texas Women's University, where about a third of the students in our ministry attend. They were all super excited to finally get to show their UNT friends their home school. In related matters, this last month, I gave my first sermon to our community! We were in our sermon series about the Holy Spirit, and I co-preached the last sermon with one of our senior staff members, Shayla, about how the Spirit helps Christians in the mission of preaching the gospel. I wish I had a picture of me up there! but I forgot to ask my friend to take it for me.

Thursday Night Fellowship at TWU!

    Some more personal stories! I've seen some amazing growth out of the students this semester. Thank you everyone who prayed for the guy I referred to as F in one of my previous updates. He's been very happy to be connected with our guys now, and although he's not a Christian, he is studying the Bible with me weekly! We had some serious conversations about his past as well as his current identity and how that had clashed with Christians, but he's now much more open to talking about God and is learning about who God is. I can see that at some level, he really connects with Jesus and His message, but isn't quite ready to call Him Lord.

    We've also been encouraging students to be more creative with different events and hang outs to really bless our community with. Often people get people together to go to restaurants together after our weekly fellowship meetings, but some of our guys, Wilson, Isaac, and Garrett, put together a Jazz concert-like night at one of our ministry houses. Another week, Katherine and Brandon invited people to that same ministry house to learn how to dance and they hosted a dance part! It's been really cool seeing our community enjoying life together beyond the scope of students and Bible study members.

Jazz Party at "The Den" (A Mens Ministry house)

    Lately, we've been pushing our students to be more involved in evangelism with us, and I've seen these two guys, Stephen and Ty really take that to heart. They both were terrified at first, but were willing to step out and be faithful to God. They went to the Student Union at the same time a lot of our staff were there doing outreach, and they also individually approached people to share about FOCUS and Jesus, and they were able to get some neat conversations going, even invite people to our events!

    Another outreach related update that is cool: not our campus, but our ministries at UT Dallas (my alma mater!) and Collin College had our annual SSI week, which is an incredible, intensive, full week of helping students from another college ministry from Washington State learn and practice ministry. They hosted those students in their homes and went alongside them as they were trained and then went out for hours each day to outreach and evangelize on our campuses. My friends who worked with them talked about what a blessing it was to see people so on fire for God and willing to go all over the US to join in mission with other believers to spread the good news of Jesus.

A few of our friends from Washington evangelizing with us at UTD!

    Our Student Testimony this month is actually from one of our Alumni! This way, you get to hear not only from people who are currently in our ministry, but also people who have gone through FOCUS in the past and have seen the ways God has blessed them long term. Also, it's always great to see people faithfully living out the gospel long after gone off in different directions. It's a nice reminder that what we're doing is bigger than just blessing people for a few years while they're in school, but we're shaping how they live and think about following Jesus in their future.

    Thank you again so much for being so generous and supporting me with prayers, please let me know if there's something I can do for you or ways I can be praying for you and your family. I'm so blessed to have been given this opportunity to learn and do ministry, and I look forward to finishing out this year strong and then continuing on as a full time staff member!

with love,