Friday, September 8, 2017

Can Ever Pluck Me From His Hand

It has definitely been a whirlwind of activity these past few weeks. The start of the year is always so busy, students moving in, ready for new friends. Here's a story from one of the guys I know personally!






Welcome Week


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4


First Fellowship Night!

After-FOCUS Games!
I have absolutely loved welcome week this year. Every year I love reaching out to new people and building new relationships. Although after a long summer of fundraising, getting back into the swing of things was a little nerve-wracking. It's never fun to put yourself out there and be rejected, but you just have to accept that it's going to happen and do it anyways. We would just interject with people passing by and ask them, "Do you want to play with us?" I'd estimate we had about a 50% success rate. But this year has been my favorite so far because I love my job when I get to be the boots on the ground, one of the people just meeting people, not having to coordinate massive events of hundreds of people, just me and someone else having a deep conversation. I sometimes enjoy coordinating those events, I know their benefits and the impact they have in spreading the Gospel, but the reason I do this as a vocation is because of the personal impact the Gospel can have in one-on-one relationships. So I was so glad that I got to do that this year, along with the large coordinated events.


Hangout at the Park
We tried some new things this year, the biggest among them was a board game and Frisbee night three nights in a row outside the freshmen residence halls. Since freshmen move in before everyone else does it was a low-key, easy event that we could really establish a new normal for the incoming students. One of those nights I ran into a freshman I had played Frisbee with on his way back from a school event. At that point there were only a few of us outside throwing the Frisbee around, not enough for a game of ultimate Frisbee. So I asked him if he wanted to join, and he asked, "Are we playing a game?" I responded saying that we didn't have enough people so we were just practicing throwing the Frisbee around. He told me, "hold on, I have a friend waiting for me, I think he'll want to play." Five minutes later he comes back with about 10 people in tow and asks, "I've got people, can we play?" He was already reaching out for us! After the game I was making dash to get everyone's numbers, and as I was doing it they seemed to pick up on the practice of getting someone's number the first time you meet them. So here's a crowd of 10-15 freshmen all exchanging numbers, all making plans to play together more. And if that's not what being a light to the world is about, I don't know what is. Even if most of them don't join our community, they'll at least have friends so they don't have to go through college alone.





Thank You!



"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26


Laughing with my Intern Class

Thank you all so much for your support. Because of you I get to build these meaningful relationships with these college students. Their lives right now are changing so much, and I want to make sure God is a part of that. Because of you I exceeded my fundraising goal this year! It was close, and I thought it would take a lot more time to reach my goal this year, but God knew what He was doing and put obstacles in my way to make me work harder, to lean on Him more, to know who really is in control of all this. So thank you guys so much for listening to His calling, and following your convictions. I hope to share with you many stories this year of how God is working here in Dallas!




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Till He Returns Or Calls Me Home

Staff Retreat


So the year has officially begun. As we enter into August we're kicking things into high gear for the beginning of the school year. All the students are filing in slowly, moving into their new places, and pretty soon Welcome Week will be upon us. Our staff went on a four-day retreat to prepare for the upcoming year and to welcome in our new apprentices for the year. Please pray for extra energy for us and all our students for the first two weeks of school, and that we would be attentive to the people God puts in our path.

Fundraising Season


With school starting up, that means fundraising season is coming to a close. It has been quite the summer! Every year God always shows up and provides, this year I thought that His timing was going to be slower than mine. But he showed up as He has always done, and He has provided me with 100% of my goal this year!

Thank You!


Because of faithful disciples like you, I am able to answer His call here in Dallas to make and mature disciples. Thank you so much for all your support. Every summer I am so encouraged meeting up with many of you. And even those who I am unable to see, your support means even more. Thank you all so much!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Here in the Pow’r of Christ I’ll Stand

Laments


"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

Two weeks ago I did my first worship service of the summer. Our director, Brandon, has been hitting the drum of laments for a few years and we've made some small steps in implementing times for our students to lament rather than celebrate. Not every student is happy every week, and while it is a joy to be able to be with our brothers and sisters, it doesn't always nullify the pain of life. So I planned a worship service that was what I consider "lament-lite", not a full night of lamenting, but a window of time set aside for those with laments to share and open up. I told them that it's OK to not be OK, that life has pain and God has not promised us an easy life, but He has promised that He will always be there. It's a refrain that I've repeated many different ways over the past few years, and yet many of us Christians, myself included, need to be reminded that it's OK to not be OK. After the service, I had a girl in our ministry come and give me a hug saying that that message had really helped her give up some burdensome thoughts that had no value but that she had insisted in wallowing in for some time. Another texted me the next day expressing appreciation for letting her not be OK. Many of our staff mentioned that students shared with them vulnerable stories and they were able to pray with them and minister to them. This is all to say, it is OK for you to not be OK as well. If there is ever anything that you need to talk about, I may not be the first on your list, but I want to be on your list. There have been times when I thought I had no one to talk to, and it is a difficult and lonely existence. As we enter our second-to-last Summer FOCUS meeting, we are planning an entire night to laments, to "mourn with those who mourn". Please pray for openness in our students, for revival in them, for deeper relationships with each other and with God.

Student Testimony


"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Revelation 12:11

One of my good friends from UNT, Ismael has a great testimony regarding the real relationships that occur in our ministry (he's also a great drummer!):
"Growing up, I knew there was a God, but I viewed church as a place for people who were “good”, and I did not fit the bill. As a result, I was guarded in my friendships and viewed vulnerability with people as a weakness. Entering college, I suffered from severe depression because of the college drinking culture and a very unhealthy relationship, which ultimately led me to taking a year off of school. During that year I decided to work at a penitentiary to make ends meet. In prison, you fight for respect daily and often look behind your back in case you’d stepped on someone's toes and forgot. This is true for both for the inmates and the officers. As an officer, I learned a lot about the harsh reality of life but I also learned about the consistent presence of God. Once I went into a dorm full of inmates and had to settle down an altercation. One of the inmates said to me, 'This is our home, and you only leave at the end of the day because we let you.' At nineteen years old I had seen and felt pain that most people my age would not experience for a long time, if ever. Those experiences only brought me closer to God. During that year one of my peers and friends from FOCUS, Kurt Doty, never lost touch with me and checked up on me regularly. I find it funny that when I had real questions to ask about faith and religion, God provided me a friend who could help me. God has always met me where I was, and although I could not see it until I started searching, I think the patience in the people God has blessed me with has truly exhibited what the Church is meant to be."


Thank You!


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

It's because of you that I get to have these stories and get to witness God's very real work in the lives of these students. It is a privilege to have your trust and to be working for our great God. Thank you so much for all your support!




Monday, June 19, 2017

I'll Praise The One Who Died For Me

Traveling!


Well, it's been quite the month for me. I've spent nearly all of it away from my little home of Dallas, Texas. First off there was SICM, as most of you read in my last blog post. And then straight from there, I went down to my hometown of Vancouver, Washington to see all my supporters from my home church. Many of you were among that number, and I was extremely excited to be able to catch up with you! I also got the chance to have a reunion with some friends from high school. Some I haven't even seen for years, much less get time to hang out with them. It was such a refreshing time to be able to share lives with them, even to share the gospel with them. 

End of the Year


After that trip I made a brief pit stop back in Dallas to listen to our apprentices' last sermons talking about the things they were taking away from their yearlong experience and how they've grown and changed over the past year. We heard messages of how people have proven their love through difficult times, how other staff members believed in an apprentice's potential to grow, and how an apprentice has been able to unpack past hurts and learn to forgive. This year of intense work and pressure really produces amazing fruit in these lives, just as it did mine last year. And it's because of hundreds of donors like you that we get an opportunity like this. We topped it all off with an end-of-year staff party to celebrate all that God has done this year. 

The Motherland



And finally to wrap up the month of travel, I took a little trip back to the motherland of Taiwan, meeting all three of my siblings there, two of my cousins, and my mom. To celebrate the littlest sister graduating high school, all us kids decided to have a reunion shebang in Taiwan. I had forgotten what a different culture it is back there, from the weather to the pedestrian culture, it was a jarring experience but packed with fun and food. Of course we hit up the night markets almost every night just to see all the big lights and eat the cart food. While there I had to have good conversations with a few of them on how life has been going and where they are in their walk. Sometimes family is the hardest to get to open up, but the ones you care most deeply about. Please pray for them that God would reveal more of Himself to them and that would seek Him earnestly.

Thank You!


It's definitely been a very different month! Not a whole lot of student ministry, but as disciples, our ministry is not confined to only one area. We are disciples of Christ in all areas of life, and it has been a blast to continue to be a part of people's lives long after we have left the same geographical area. Thank you all so much for your support in all aspects of my ministry, and I hope to see many of you soon!





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Now and Throughout Eternity

End of the Year


"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

Dang, so we got to the end of the year! It's been a year full of new challenges and new joys. We had our end-of-year party to celebrate all that God has done this year in our community. We had a time of worship, posters that honored all of our cores and core members, a time to honor our corefas and seniors, and a surprise video that thanked us staff by our students! It was such a sweet time to get the community together for a last hurrah and remember all that God has done this past year.

Seattle


"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Me, Connie, and Gerald
At the Fremont Troll!
Right after the last finals of school we gear up for our trip to Washington to attend the Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM). We take our students to Seattle to sight-see and then Bellingham to Western Washington University and Hillcrest Chapel where they have classes Monday through Friday to learn strategies on how to do campus ministry. As many of you know, I grew up in Washington and still have many friends and supporters there. While in Seattle I got to catch up with Connie and Gerald, my first two worship leaders who took a chance on a little 13-year-old who could just barely hit a beat on the drum kit. All the time we had together on the worship team, all the conversations and walks, the friendships we built, it was all part of the shaping of who I am and what I do today.



SICM


"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9


Students eating lunch at the Stairs to Nowhere
So we brought almost 90 students to SICM this year. These students are ones whom their corefas have determined as having leadership potential. You can imagine the time and effort involved in trying to ship all these warm bodies halfway across the country in one piece. But they always have such a great time seeing the ocean, the trees, the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest. I had a student come up to me at the end of the trip and say that the entire experience was amazing. Not just because of the beautiful nature around him, but because of the amazing people he got to know there. He was so excited to be able to see many of them during Summer FOCUS. And that is the basis of our ministry, the relationships. God works wonders through His people, broken and fallen but still his children. I cannot wait to see what He has in store for next year.


Thank You!


"For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." Matthew 18:20


View from Gasworks Public Park
And thank you all so much for supporting me. Every time I write one of these I'm reminded of how much gratitude I have for each and every one of you. These experiences, these conversations, these encouragements I get to have because you have believed in me and in the work God is doing in these students' lives. As we enter into summer, we're also entering into the fundraising season. I absolutely love getting the time and opportunity to meet with many of you again, catching up on what God has been doing in your lives! Can't wait to see all of you!






Saturday, March 25, 2017

His Crown and Kingdom Never End

Hey all! Per usual, it's been another busy month! But it has been full of amazing experiences and new relationships. Above is our student testimony from Hallie, a student from UT Arlington. Her story is so powerful, one that really exemplifies Jesus' call for us to drop our nets, or sell all our possessions, or pick up whatever your cross may be, and follow Him. 

Pizza Theology


"Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives." Titus 3:14

Hallie shared her powerful testimony at length at our Pizza Theology. Pizza Theology is a four hour session of intense teaching about one particular topic with a one hour break in between for pizza! This semester we dived into the topic of race. I got to speak the first part: The Biblical Vision for Race and laid out the groundwork of reading and interpreting God's Word and seeing His plan for humanity including its different races, cultures, and languages. If you'd like to hear it, or any of the talks or student testimonies, go here. Even four hours is not enough to get through a fraction of the topic, but it's more than we could do in a typical 30 minute sermon. And our students come out in droves, eager to learn more!

Reunions


"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13

This doesn't have much to do with work, but it was an encouraging time for me. I got to hang out with some friends that I had made in Austin, TX when I worked there for the government during my undergrad years. These friends welcomed me into their campus ministry, Epic, and became fast friends in my very short eight-month stint there in 2013. They were a big part in shaping my view of Christian community, and a shining Godsend during a difficult period of life. Now we're all graduated and doing our separate things, but seeing us all back together again was life-giving and reminded me what Christian community is all about. I recently heard in a sermon that there are only two things God's Word commands us to do daily: to take up our cross and to encourage one another. And these men have been a great encouragement in my life. 


Spring Student Impact (SSI)


"Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction." 2 Timothy 4:2

Now for what I've been going this past week. I've been waking up doing outreach, debriefing, outreach, dinner, then outreach again, almost daily for this past week. Every year for one week we have students from Western Washington University come down who have signed up to use their spring break to evangelize at another university campus, what they call SSI. This year, Sarah and I had the pleasure of planning and running their times of outreach on campus. We've been moving our students to view outreach as a part of their lifestyle as a disciple and not an events-based part of their life where they only talk about the gospel when we put on an event to draw people. We want disciples to be ready and able to talk about Jesus whenever the opportunity arises. Part of that is being to talk to people, to invite people into your life, and build a relationship where those conversations and a walk towards Christ can happen. And even though these students were only here for a week, they were amazing in making those relationships. Some of them built relationships, many of them made connections accepting the fact that they wouldn't be able to walk with  many of these people from beginning to end, but could link them up with one of our students who might be able to continue that journey with them. These students come to grow in their ability to reach out, but they also have encouraged and reminded me of my purpose here as a disciple of Christ. They've reminded me of the bread of life that I receive from Christ and the fulfillment that comes with pursuing Him with every waking moment. They gave up their break to be exhausted for the cause of Christ and every time I asked any of them what their favorite part of the trip was, it was always one of the conversations they had or relationships they developed. I can't wait to see them on their home turf in a few months!

Thank You!


"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

And as always, thank you for your support! These blogs remind me that God has truly blessed me with the privilege of working as a full-time minister. Even when I'm stressed and busy beyond belief, what I get to do is unbelievably rewarding and I would never trade it for a cushier job, a bigger paycheck, or an easier workload. My heart is so full even when I'm mentally and physically drained. I cannot wait to see many of you soon and be able to talk face-to-face about what God is doing here and in my life!



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Praise to the King, His Throne Transcends


So the past month has been a busy one! (Has there been a laid-back one yet?) Three of my coworkers have gotten married (two to each other) and it's been an exciting season of change for the staff. Above is one of our student testimonies that we do every month. Josh is one of the students that I lead a core group with when I was a student! He is such a sweet guy, servant-hearted, and concerned for the things of God. 


SMU Prayer Meeting


"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." 1 John 5:14

It finally happened! We kicked off our first meeting at Southern Methodist University this month. We had a small gathering of students from our communities bringing friends they knew attending SMU and we had a night of casting the vision, worship, and prayer. Please continue to pray as we follow God's hand faithfully at this new campus. 


Future Student Leaders!


"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

We've poured in a lot of energy this past month into identifying and inviting students who we see God powerfully shaping into potential student leaders. It has been so fun to meet and get to know these students that our current student leaders have been so excited about. Please pray that God continues to provide workers for his harvest here at UTD, and that we are attentive to who he is calling. 

Keep FOCUS Growing


"For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever, and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually." 2 Chronicles 7:16

We wrapped up our Keep FOCUS Growing campaign for this year and made $48,000 of our $55,000 goal! It has been such a nice change of pace to work on this campaign this year. I have enjoyed learning how to direct and shoot videos, how to edit and produce them, and just hearing the stories that are happening on our other campuses and how they've impacted donors has been such a blessing. Big shout out to my work buddy, Sarah Hubbard (now Glenesk) for directing them with me, and my very good friend Sean Do for volunteering so many hours to come with us to shoot and edit these videos! Be sure to watch our thank you video here. I'm very proud of this one!

Thank You!


"May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy," Philippians 1:2-4

A lot of what I've done this month has just been mundane but tiring kingdom work. Nothing flashy, nothing that has quantifiable numbers to prove its success, no big story to write home about. However, it has been such a joy to meet so many new guys who are excited about being a part of campus ministry. So often I've heard people say that they're experiencing community like they've never experienced in their life before. This is why we do it. This is why I do it. Because I've experienced the love of Christ so much in this community. Through surprise birthday parties, massive birthday parties, weddings, Chinese new year parties, celebrating other cultures, making new friends and being able to catch up with old, watching people grow as men and women of god, watching people grow as husbands and wives, as servants and disciples, to see them think differently about life and choose Jesus, and to watch all of that in myself as well. There is nothing that could make me think that this wasn't worth it. So thank you all so much for being a part of this, for allowing me to be able to witness this and be a part of God's work here. Thank you for your faithfulness, your love and support, and your friendship. You all mean so much to me, and I hope I'm able to continue to communicate that to you as long as I am able.