Saturday, October 21, 2017

No Power of Hell, No Sin of Man

Fall Camp
"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry." Psalm 34:15


So over a weekend we had our 2017 Fall Camp! For just two days and a night, our students retreat from their school stresses and everyday life things and spend some quality time with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Fall Camp is always a good way to cast a vision for our students on what this community is like and how they can be a part of it. It's especially great for our smaller campuses in the Dallas area, Richland, TWU Dallas, and now SMU, to physically see that Christ's family is bigger than what they may see on just their one campus. We had multiple students share their testimonies on how God has shaped and changed their view of being a Christian, a disciple. A common thread throughout the testimonies was that we often get comfortable and complacent on who's "in" and who's "out" when really our God is not as concerned about these trivial things we seem to be concerned about. What we need to concern ourselves with is making Jesus the Lord of my life. 


Worship Night and Outreach

"And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation...'" Mark 16:15


We also had our first week of concerted outreach  (after welcome week of course!) We started it off with a worship night to get our hearts and minds in the right place cast a vision for our students. We firmly believe that relationship and sharing life is the best way to introduce people to God, though we have no doubt that our one-off conversations and brief interactions are part of the watering process as well. We started each day of outreach off with campus conversations, sending our students off in pairs to talk to people, start conversations, relationships, and invite them to the things we were doing so we could share life together. This is the most intimidating thing for our students as you can imagine. Spreading the gospel and speaking to strangers has easily been one of the big fears in all Christian communities. But we encouraged them to invite the people they talked to to hang out with us int he afternoon and then have dinner with us that night. I personally met and got five students' numbers. Please pray as I continue to invite them to join our community and our lives.


Thank You!

"This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:29


Thank you so much for your continued support of me and this ministry. It's because of you and our God that I get to spend time with amazing men and women who are dedicated to making His name known here at UTD. Please continue to pray as our ministry continues to grow, that we may include and integrate these enthusiastic new disciples, and as our ministry faces some tough challenges from the enemy in people who want to divide and sow enmity in the community. Your prayers mean the world to me, and I hope to always show my gratitude for your support!




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!