Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Beginnings

Hey everybody! It's been a crazy beginning of the year, it feels like I'm on a train that's going 100 mph and there's no sign of stopping!

SICM

We did our first Texas SICM right before school! We had a whole week of training in Camp Eagle right outside San Antonio. About 150 students came to be trained on how to be small group leaders and disciple-makers on campus. What a drastic difference it made to be able to meet together, worship together, and learn together again!

Welcome Week

Which led straight into two weeks of welcome week. For years now welcome week has become weeks of welcome because it takes that long to move everyone in and to put on events for them! It gives us more time to meet people, but it means we have to keep going for longer! Campus is, for the most part, back to normal. Classes are going on in-person, on-campus housing is filled back up, hundreds of people are outside at any given time. There's definitely safety measures begin taken, especially inside, masks and social distancing, but the students are here and they are back in full force. After three weeks of reaching out to students I was able to personally meet and invite over 130 students. Of that 130, about 40 tried out a small group. Of that 40 about 25 are still attending in a somewhat consistent fashion. So about 1 in 5 students have chosen to pursue Jesus in community when they were given the opportunity. Obviously this is just my experience and from my perspective. God is working in people's hearts without us, and I don't get to know whether someone is pursuing him outside of my window into their life. However, it's nice to see how God is blessing the effort that we put in and allowing us to participate in what he's doing! 

Thank You!


This year, I have a core small group of about 10 guys who are the ones I'll be investing in. Thank you so much for your prayers for them. I know that made a difference. I'm excited to be studying the Bible with them. I've already had two say yes to me and I'm going to ask a third tomorrow! Please be praying for these studies as well as our fall retreat this weekend where we'll be getting significant time together. Thank you so much for all your support!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Summer is Ending!

With the old 2007-08 CECV Worship Team!


Visiting some FOCUS alums!

Summer

Hey everybody! Summer is coming to a close! I know for many of you that summer is not much different than the rest of the year. Once you're out of school and/or you have no kids in school, nothing really changes about summer. There's no break, no enforced vacation, no excitement that comes with a break to the school year. 

For us campus ministers, summer isn't a break from work, but it is a drastic change in work! From having meetings and Bible studies with students every day, teaching them about Jesus or building up their leadership, to spending a lot more time preparing for the new school year, planning welcome week and events, raising support, and dreaming/preparing for what God might do this next year. 

It has been a blast getting to see so many of you this summer. With COVID, last year was a bit of a bummer not getting to travel and see you guys. But I'm so glad that this year worked out. Hopefully as things get better, I'll be able to catch up with so many more of you! Summer is really the time to spend time investing in relationships that I don't normally get to in the school year. So much time and energy is invested in these students to prepare them for their year of ministry and for ministry beyond college, that little is left over for the ones outside my immediate sphere. That's why I love the summer, I get to see old friends, catch up with you guys, and see how you're doing. 

SICM

With summer ending, we're fast approaching our very first SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) in Texas! Many of you know that we go to Bellingham, Washington every year to train our students in campus ministry skills and leadership. Unfortunately, that was canceled for this year as well. But we're excited to put one on ourselves for our students this year! But instead of doing it in May, we're doing it in August! We hope that this will bring momentum into the school year and that we'll be able to hit the first weeks of school hard in terms of meeting new students and befriending them! 

Pray

Please pray for the beginning of this school year. It could go any number of ways. UTD is fully open and we are praying for safety and for renewed student life. This past year was a downer for so many of us, and we hope that the incoming students of last year and this year are excited to get involved. Please pray for open hearts and a big sowing season for us. We want students here, and we want a lot of them! 

Thank You!

First time with my niece, Nora!

Thank you guys so much for all your support. Some of you it's your first year supporting me, and I'm so thankful for willingness to start! For some of you it's been many years, and I'm so thankful for your faithfulness. We couldn't do what we do here without you. I couldn't do what I do without you. God is moving here, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. Visiting with you guys is always such an encouragement to me. Your hearts for Jesus, and your relationship with me fills me up as the next school year approaches. I hope you are doing well, and please let me know if there's anything I can do for you or pray for you about!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Life Updates!

 

Hey everybody, so Summer FOCUS is going swimmingly, it's so nice to see people in-person again! Ministry is trucking along, and fundraising has been going. So in lieu of some big ministry update, here's some life updates that I've forgotten to share about!

Uncle

I'm a new uncle! My older sister had her new baby just two months ago. Little baby Nora. I'll be heading back to see her in early July, and any tips on being a funcle (fun uncle) would be welcome!

Dating

Emily and I just crested two years of dating! It's been a great two years of being with her, and I've grown so much in the process. I believe I've become a better minister because of my relationship with her. Please pray for us as we explore the possibility of marriage through FOCUS's pre-engagement counseling. 

Sister

And lastly, my little sister has come to Texas! She'll be doing a summer internship with FOCUS and learning about ministry and administration. I've slowly imported my sibling one-by-one, and it's been such a blessing by God to be joined here in Texas with my family. I always thought I'd be the only one out here, but now it's 50/50 split between Texas and California! (or 43/57 if we're counting Nora). 

Thank You!

Thank you guys so much. Your support for me and God's mission here on these college campuses have blessed me beyond just what I get to do as a job. It has blessed my family and all aspects of my life. I wouldn't have any parts of the life I get to have out here including having my brother and sister here with me if it wasn't for God setting the path and you guys supporting me along it. So thank you so, so much!



Monday, May 24, 2021

End of an Era

 

End of an Era


Hey everybody! It's time for another update! The end of the year has been bittersweet as it usually is. It's been a tough year in many ways and we're all ready to get out of it, but we also feel a sense of solidarity that we all did ministry despite the challenges this year. We ended on some really high notes. We had our second annual Parking Lot Graduation. Last year, right after a very distanced worship night in a Walmart parking lot we had a little impromptu graduation ceremony for the seniors that were there who would not be able to walk for their graduation. This year we upped our game and made it official and invited people's parents and friends. It was such a sweet time to see our seniors honored in front of their community. So many families showed up as well. As opposed to a graduation ceremony where you are one of hundreds in front of thousands of strangers, this small FOCUS graduation ceremony meant that all of your loved ones could show up and everybody clapping knew you at least a little bit. I'll admit I wasn't convinced that it was going to be that special. But once I heard the love that the community poured out on these seniors and watched these seniors walk I knew it was special. I've watched them all grow up over the past four to six years and getting to see the appreciation in their eyes was the cherry on top of a long journey.

Brotherhood

My last year's small group got together and took a daytrip down to Austin to visit some of our members who had been taking online school down there all year. We got to catch up together and share how our years had been. We have a tradition we call "Mad, Glad, Dad" which is a low point, a high point, and how you see God in all of that. It was such a good time to see them again, not only the Austin guys, but that our Dallas guys were willing to take a 7-hour roundtrip to see them for a few hours that day. That's Christian brotherhood.

Summer

It's crazy to think that I've been doing this for six years now. I've watched everyone that grew up with me in ministry graduate and move on and now an entire other generation of students graduate and move on. It never gets easier, but it's always worth it. Now as we head into summer, we're testing the waters on being back in person. We want to respect people's choices to be socially-distanced but also recognize that many are now vaccinated and we need that close community. Pray as we continue to navigate what's best for our students and as we head into the next school year!

Support-Raising

Also because it's summer, it's support-raising season. Many of you have been through this with me many times before, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that I'll be reaching out and trying to get some time to talk to all of you. Summer comes with it less demands so I get to spend that extra time with you guys! I'm always so excited to get to see many of you and talk to many of you, so I'll be in touch soon. Thank you for all that you do, for me and for God's kingdom. Love you!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Hold On To Your Hats!

Oh boy, has it been a crazy season!

Spring Semester

What does spring semester hold for campus ministers? A ride that goes from 0-60 in seconds and doesn't slow down. It's leadership selection season and so we're in full swing of raising money for leadership development, inviting students to become leaders in our ministry, and investing in them now and casting a vision for them as leaders.

SICM

This year it's going to look different! Usually, we would be sending our students to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry), a leadership conference in Bellingham, WA. But with COVID still disrupting thing, SICM won't be happening in-person. As we contemplated what we wanted to do, we knew that our students would not be getting the most out of the experience by sitting on zoom for 6-8 hours a day for five days. So instead, we're putting on our own SICM conference here in Texas from August 8-13! We've looked at multiple camps and settled on Camp Eagle west of San Antonio. But just as we raise money for sending students to SICM in Washington, we need to now raise money for students going to SICM in Texas. Thankfully, it won't cost as much, but we want to come out of the pandemic swinging with as many capable student leaders as possible! Like most churches, ministries, and businesses, this pandemic has curbed our momentum, but with God's grace it hasn't done as much damage as we feared it would. But we hope with SICM, we can develop leaders who haven't gotten the full ministry experience this past year and teach them to live out the values of a disciple of Jesus, and then we can start next year with a bang.

Showcase

So to raise money, we are still having our annual Showcase fundraiser this year! Every previous year, it's been a live concert, but this year we've moved our talents online. This will be my sixth year running the show, and let me tell you, it's only gotten better and better each year. I definitely did not enter campus ministry looking to be a music video producer, but to raise money for student leaders, we're going to make the best music video-esque live concert we can. So I'm super excited to put it on. I hope you'll tune in wherever you are! It's going to be live at 6:30pm Central Time at anyfocus.org/showcase! Pre-show starts at 6:00pm! You'll be able to catch a brief interview with me if you tune in for the pre-show!

Thank You!

I was able to volunteer at our vaccine mega-center for two full days and received my first dose of the vaccine. I'm hopeful that this summer I'll be able to visit many of you! It was such a discouragement to not get to see so many of your faces last year. But you guys have been so faithful and continued giving even when things looked tight, the future was uncertain, and how ministry would work was unclear. But this past year, I trust that God has been doing something else, something more important than just continued numbers growth. And I thank you guys so much for being so generous and allowing me to continue working for God's kingdom here in Texas. 

A Little Story


This past week I was able to go camping with a few guys from my small group from last year. Because of online school, many of us are no longer in Dallas, but spread all over the state. However, five of us were able to make it. We got to catch up on how our year of ministry was going, what God was teaching us, the ups and downs that we had experienced, and poured back into each other's lives. During our trip, I was able to coordinate with one of our other guys in Austin to visit him as he was doing less well this semester. I posed the question to the guys, "Would anyone want to drive 3.5 hours with me to Austin to have dinner with him?" Three of the four immediately said yes. We ended meeting in the middle the next day in Waco, but still that they would accept a four-hour roundtrip just to spend a few hours with one of our guys reminded me of Jesus and the one lost sheep. It doesn't matter the cost, the one is worth it. This is what God is doing here, and I'm thankful just to be a part of it.











Friday, January 15, 2021

What Do Campus Ministers Do Over Christmas Break?


What do campus ministers do over Christmas break? 

With some of our students gone, do campus ministers just chill and do nothing? Absolutely not! The productive, efficient side of me would never allow it. The nice thing about UTD is that many of our students live in the area or stay in the area for much of the break. And with the massive adoption of Zoom and video chatting, there is nowhere on earth safe from campus ministers! So the students' holiday break gives us a unique opportunity to not have to compete with school and homework. Yes, there's still family and holiday events but it's much easier without the daily pressures of school! What the break also gives us the chance to communicate is that our ministry with them is not just a job, but a calling, a friendship, a true relationship. Families and friends get together during the holidays, coworkers and bosses generally do not. So I've loved being able to keep up with some students, to hear about their families, to see their Christmas haul, to be there for them as family members pass away and holiday celebrations aren't the same. Being a pastor doesn't end with the semester.

Another opportunity we have during the break is more time to gear up and get ready for the next semester. Just like summer break gives us the chance to really prepare for the fall semester and map out the year, the winter break lets us reassess and prepare for the spring semester. We debrief and tweak our Friday livestream service, consider what our student leaders need to grow in and learn, and brainstorm what new outreach initiatives we might take. The momentary breath is much needed to look at the big picture. 

Students are just about to come back to school and we are ready for them! Now that we've had a few weeks to put our heads together and pray and think about what God wants done this semester, I am so excited to get to be in the swing of things with these students again. God is good, even in the midst of this pandemic. 

Thank You!


Dinner with the roommates!
Thank you for your support! I know that this year life has looked different for all of us. Thank you for continuing to invest in ministry, trusting that God is working through all circumstances. The end seems to be near, and we're preparing and expecting a return to community and in-person relationships that comes with a vengeance. Pray for hearts to be open to God and laborers ready for an intense season!




 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 

Deep Dive


This year we've rebranded our typical large group fellowship on Friday nights to "Deep Dive". Instead of attempting to recreate our in-person services into an online format, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunities online provided. So our livestream Deep Dive began with the purpose of taking a 50-60 minute deep dive into scripture. So over the course of this semester our students have completed their deep dive into the gospel of Mark. Online has had its challenges, as many of you have experienced yourselves with church in this season. Surprisingly, based on our student survey that we push through our small groups, close to 200 of our students attend semi-regularly. Thank God for their consistency and their thirst to know him more!

Holidays in the Park

Instead of a Halloween party, Thanksgiving service, or Christmas party and service, this year we had to get creative and combine all of them into an outdoor event! To keep our students safe, but also feel like a family and have community, we had Halloween games in the park in the afternoon, a socially-distanced Thanksgiving dinner under the stars, and then a Christmas service on the church lawn together. Thank God it was a beautiful day, because the forecast earlier in the week had said it was going to rain! But that's the risk that comes with having to do everything outdoors this year! And you'd think that eight hours outdoors would be a beatdown for the students, but they felt like it raced by! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We all know that this year has had its own set of unique challenges for all of us. It hasn't been the ideal year for many of us, but just as with Joseph, with Moses, with Job, and with Jesus God makes things work together that are beyond our ability to comprehend. I hope you all have had a very merry Christmas, and I'm sure that our New Year's celebrations will look very different this year. But I pray that God is doing transformative work in us through the good times and the hard times. Thank you all for sticking with campus ministry this year despite its uncertainties. I can attest that God is indeed still working on our campuses! Thank you all so much for your support!