Friday, June 28, 2024

2024 June Update: Summer



Hey everyone!

 Summer is here and often people ask what do you do in the summer? Well, there's still students around so there's still ministry to do! However, thank God that the pace is more relaxed than the school year. During the school year it can often feel like a sprint. You have 10 months to build a deep relationship with many of these students, and often by simply acting like Jesus you become the best friend they've ever had. By being purposeful in your questions and authentic in your care through the good and the bad, you become one of the closest confidantes for most students that come across your path. However, that requires a lot of time and energy. And it's meant to set the stage for them to see an example of Jesus like that and become that kind of an influence on others. So the summer comes as a change of pace, because it's impossible to grow at that pace forever. Just as God created the world to have seasons of growth, harvest, and rest, so do our lives. Summer is the chance for those relationships to rest in their growth, to enjoy the harvest after 10 months of growing, and for us ministers to rest a bit before getting up to do it again in just a little while. That doesn't mean I no longer meet with students! There are still a couple that I keep going in the summer because of their needs, and there are new students that I may not have gotten a chance to meet in the school year! But a lot of time becomes dedicated to support-raising and getting to catch up and visit with old friends and maintain the fields of my life that may have been left untended during the school year.

JaM Camp

Emily, William, and I were able to help out our church’s kids camp called JaM camp that is hosted in Oklahoma. It’s a long drive and a four-day trip so it was a commitment, but it was a great experience and ministry is more than just for college kids. 

Service

 Our college students still get opportunities to serve and be together over the summer. Here’s a crew that helped out a church take down VBS decorations. What college students lack in finances and experience they make up for with strong backs and willing hearts!

Thank you!

 Thank you for all your prayers, love, and support. It has been a sweet summer working on integrating my family and ministry so that I can continue to do what God has called me to as a college minister and now as a father. But it’s because of all of you that I get to continue this journey and be like Jesus to so many kids who need him. So thank you all so much!


 

 


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

2024 April Update: He's Here!

Unity in the Body

During Holy week, the week leading up to Easter, we put on an event with the other campus ministries as well as many of the churches in the area called Resurrection Fair. This is an opportunity to evangelize to the students on campus, bless them, and show the campus that we are united ministries and not competing ones. Though we may have slightly different doctrines, and meet on different days of the week, we all believe in the resurrection of Jesus and his saving power for us. 

Baptism

The baptism train is still rolling! We've had Kayla, Renae, Maddie, and Esther get baptized in the past month! God is still moving all the way to the end of the year, and we are so glad that he pursues us when we're lost. And we have such amazing student leaders who invest week in and week out into these students in friendship and leading them to Jesus. Their impact has eternal consequences because of their faithfulness this year!

William is Here!

The baby is here and I am so thankful for everyone's support! It was a relatively smooth pregnancy and delivery and he's been gaining weight like clockwork. Praise God for an easy first baby to convince us that we can handle more down the road!






Tuesday, March 26, 2024

2024 March Update: Baptisms Galore!


Ainsley being baptized!

Baptism!

Praise God, this past month or so, we've had so many baptisms! We believe that baptism is such a important part of a believer's life, a moment where we step out in obedience and choose to experience God's grace even deeper. We participate with Jesus in his death and resurrection as we die to our old self in the water and are raised to new life. And within our Focus on Jesus study that we aim to do with every student in our ministry that wants to study the Bible we have a lesson on baptism, repentance, and rebirth. It ensures that everyone gets the invitation to be baptized in Jesus Christ. Over the past two months, we've baptized Roger, Ainsley, Shree, Jared, Hannah, and Michael. We find pools on campus, pools in people's backyards, or the baptistery at a church. It's always such an encouraging time to hear of how Jesus has been transforming hearts and lives and how our community gets to be a part of that!

 

Pizza Theology!

Pizza Theology teaching

We also had our semesterly Pizza Theology! We get together for five hours to talk about a topic in-depth. This semester we did it on the Bible, bringing it back to the basics. Over 400 students came to deepen their understanding of how to read the Bible and listen to God through his word. 

Baby William

It's baby week! The baby is due on Saturday and latest he'll come out is Tuesday for the induction. So please pray as he could come at any moment! We're both very excited to see him!

Thank You!

Baptizing Jared!
Thank you for all your generosity, I couldn't do what I do without your support. Because of you I got to baptize Jared and watch Roger get baptized. Both of them were in my small group two years ago as young men and now they've grown so much. Roger was baptized by another one of the guys in that group I led that year. That year and those relationships we formed has been sharpening all of us and God has used us immensely to help each other grow. So, thank you for investing in this ministry and in guys like them! They get to experience Christ and show him to each other because of you.

This is Roger during our weekly Bible Study!

Michael getting baptized!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

February Update: Leadership Selection!

 

Leadership

Two student leaders I meet with!
It's leader time! This is the time when we're identifying and inviting potential student leaders to attend SICM, our leadership conference in the summer. They're making those decisions now on if they are willing to invest in their spiritual journey and maturity into leadership, so please pray that those who are called would make the decision to heed that calling!
 
We're also receiving applications for our 10-month apprenticeship for graduates and students who are set to graduate this May. So it really is leader time. We'll be interviewing them in March, and we are always seeking God's wisdom in who to select and how best to use this time to grow them into ministers who can be effective and faithful in any walk of life!
 
It feels like there's always more to do because there always is! When it comes to people, we're always growing, always changing, and there's no time to take a break. But we have to trust that God is the primary mover, who makes things happen and we're just the aides who get to participate in a small part of it. 
 

Holy Spirit

Class Discussion!
I've been teaching a Holy Spirit Class for our students to help them understand and ask the right questions about the third person of the Trinity. These students voluntarily signed up for a 2-hour a week class to learn more about the God we serve. It's been exciting to discuss with them and see how they are helping each other learn and be accountable to learning, and dive deep into their faith so that it can withstand the storms of life.
 

Life and Death

Nursery is ready!
In other news, it's just about a month until baby William is coming! For our firstborn son, we wanted to name him after both of our fathers who are both named William. I'm enjoying the last few weeks of being a non-father but also eager to start the next phase of life as a dad. Just as God gives life, he takes away as well. My first dog, Penny, passed away at home two weeks ago. She was almost nine, so we knew it would be coming sometime soon, but not quite this soon. It's been a time of grieving as she was the first dog I rescued about six years ago. We would appreciate prayers for all of life's transitions that we're going through.
 

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for supporting me, for caring for me. Without you, this life that God has called me to would not be quite as sweet. Thank you for your generosity and your continued prayers for me and my family!


Penny

Monday, January 8, 2024

January Ministry Update: Winter Retreat is Coming

Winter Retreat

The whole fam on Christmas!
Merry Christmas and happy new year! Hope you all had a great holiday season full of family, friends, and rest. Our semester is picking back up and we kick off the winter spring semester with our Winter Retreat every year. It's going to be this weekend, Jan 12-15, and our speaker is one of my seminary professors, Dr. Daniel Lee. He's coming to speak to our students about disruptive grace.

 

 

Theology of Grace


My niece hugging her unborn cousin!
When I took his class a while ago, it was his teaching on the theology of grace that finally made the gospel click for me. Having grown up in church, heard about God's grace, and learned the good news of the gospel, it just seemed like something that all Christians had to believe. And there was work to be done to spread the good news and teach others about the grace of God. But it was his lectures and readings on how crazy and backwards God's grace is, how extravagant it is, how free it is that finally turned the good news into actually good news. That there was no cost or payment plan that I needed to sign up for to receive God's grace. It's not a pyramid scheme or a wage garnishing method. God's love and grace are not contingent on my work or goodness. It freed me up to minister out of joy rather than expectation. And I hope it will do the same for our students and other ministers who suffer from the same internal battle of needing to be "good enough". So, please pray for Winter Retreat and that our students would get to know God as he really is!

 

Winter FOCUS

Teaching her early!
Our students have taken it upon themselves to keep meeting over the winter break. In Dallas and Austin, they've formed groups to keep each other pursuing God even when their school schedules and work schedules have shifted to relaxation mode. It reminds me of Hebrews 10:25, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another..." Our students have not neglected to keep meeting together and encouraging one another. I'm excited that our leaders have caught visions of continuing to ministers even when it's not part of their job description or title.  

Thank You!

I hope to be able to relay many more stories after Winter Retreat this weekend and pray that momentum is continued into next semester. Thank you so much for your continued support for me and God's work here at UTD!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Wrapping Up the Semester

With the semester coming to a close, we're seeing the momentum of the year start to pick up. The difficulty is trying to ensure we don't lose too much ground over the break and that we're able to pick up mostly where we left off when we hit spring semester.

Baptisms!

In great news, we have had two baptisms in the past month! Peyton and Savannah are two seniors who have been in our ministry for a little over a year. It's always so encouraging to see students take their faith seriously, take baptism seriously, and make the decision to commit to following Jesus for the rest of their lives. Sometimes we use the baptismal at church, but sometimes like the early church we find whatever body of water we can and do the baptism there. For Peyton and Savannah they chose pools on campus and in someone's backyard. It doesn't matter where, it matters that they make the decision, and acknowledge the transformational power of Jesus Christ in their lives. I truly believe that Jesus has the answer to so many of our life's challenges, if we only choose to humble ourselves and admit that we have so little control over or knowledge of what's best for us. He calls us to only what is good, even if it can be painful sometimes.

Learning

We had an awesome speaker, Dr. Iain Provan come and teach our students about Cuckoos in our Nest. He broke down the assumptions and ideas that have infiltrated the church from society just like cuckoos infiltrate the nests of other birds. He taught and brought us back to the Bible. God's fundamental purposes for us and creation should inform the whys of everything we do. For weeks afterwards, students were talking about it with and with each other. It's exciting to see them taking what they've heard and trying to process it. They're excited to know more about God and have him influence their lives and thoughts.

Fundraising and Thank You!

We have our Keep FOCUS Growing fundraising campaign going on right now. Thank you so much for all your support for me, I couldn't do what I do without you. If I could ask you to consider if God is calling you to invest in what we do as a whole, I would appreciate it! While each of our missionaries raise our own support, there is a whole slew of things that still need funding. Outreach, healthcare, campus plants, advertising, and more all cost money that we want to invest in to keep reaching more students and to keep our most experienced ministers able to raise families and live sustainably for the entire length of God's calling. So, if you or anyone you know might be excited to hear about what's going on and give, you can go to anyfocus.org/kfg or send them my way and I will always love talking about what God's doing and the good news of the kingdom. Thank you so much for all the ways you support me and look out for me!

Baby

As an aside, the baby is growing healthily! We just passed 22 weeks and had our anatomy scan where the doctor counted all ten fingers and all ten toes. No causes for concern! Please pray for our ministry and our baby as he keeps growing. (And yes, it's a boy!)








Thursday, October 26, 2023

October Ministry Update: Discipling and Outreach

Ministry in October

How do you describe ministry in October? It's no longer the beginning of the year with all its hecticness and excitement. But it's not far enough in for the relationships that have been built to be able to sustain their own momentum. The friendships are still new and the group culture is still being learned. However, it all competes with midterms and exams. College ministry doesn't change much from year to year, but the faces change a lot. Every year we have to disciple into what it looks like to place God first in your life and not academics, mostly to the younger students, but also to some of the older students as well. And like Jesus, it often falls on deaf ears, but we hope that seeds have been planted. And every year, we do see some of them grow up, take it to heart, and mature in their walk with Christ as they make the decision to put him first. Any ministry is just saying the same old truths to a new set of people

Outreach

In October, I was able to lead a small outreach/community-building event for our Asian and Asian American students. A stormy day worried me that no one would show up. But students braved the cold and the rain to come out and get involved in community. God is always at work and he was definitely working in these students that they would choose to each other over their own comfort. Pray that this continues to translate to students getting to know Christ!

Evangelism Class

Evangelism class has started for the apprentices and I get to be their teacher this year. I'm super excited to get to walk through this with them and help them grow as evangelists. Spreading the good news is so important, but oftentimes we use guilt to motivate ourselves rather than the grace and love of Jesus. I know for myself it took a long time to grow into an ease and comfort of threading the good news into my conversations consistently. When you've experienced Jesus for yourself, it's easy to include him in your stories and life because he's been there! Please pray for our apprentices and for me as we dive into what the good news is and how to spread it to our college campuses.

Thank You!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support through the years. Ministry has its ups and downs, and it is always an encouragement to know that there are people investing in the vision that God has for this place. Baby William is growing nice and healthy so far. We chose the name William because it's the name of my dad and Emily's dad. So please continue praying for Baby William and we hope that he gets to meet y'all soon!