Friday, December 4, 2015

It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This

Wow, November has been such a busy month! Even with the break at the end, so much has happened and with the end of the first semester in sight, it's crunch-time!

Parent Night

"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues though all generations." Psalm 100:5

Early in the month we had a special FOCUS meeting on Saturday for parent night! So many students invited their parents to come get a taste of the fellowship they are a part of. And it was so amazing! There were parents and siblings, cousins and spiritual mentors, the room was packed with hundreds of people eager to show and to learn what FOCUS was about. We had a few parents and grandparents share the impact that the ministry has had in their children's and grandchildren's lives, and their testimonies of the changes they saw was so powerful. But in the end we know it's not about FOCUS, this ministry is just the tool that we use to spread Jesus' love to as many as we can, and that is what impacts people so much. They just needed a community of disciples to come alongside them and show them what it looks like here in this world.

Pizza Theology

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will." Romans 12:2

One of the major events we do every semester is what we call Pizza Theology. No, it's not about the theology of pizza. We take four hours to really dive into a difficult topics, one that can't be easily explained and wrapped up in a 30-minute sermon, and we take a break in the middle to have fellowship and eat pizza! This year we talked about how to think like a Christian. Too often we take a topic and search the Bible for a verse that explicitly addresses that issue. However, the Bible was written in a time a culture that is so far removed from ours that it doesn't take on issues like how to date, or what TV shows to watch, or whether we should be vegetarians or not. But it does lay down principles on how we should think and how to approach all things in a Christlike manner. This way there is never a topic that we don't know how to deal with, because being like Christ is a lifestyle and not just having the right answers.


"As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" Acts 4:20

We had another round of outreach boards this month alongside our usual one-on-one campus outreach plans. We asked students questions about war, violence, kindness, and peace. Recently our nation has been asking itself, again, those questions of what our role is in conflict. We, as Christians, need to ask ourselves what God's role is, and how do we participate in his plan for this world. But, as always, in the end it's all about relationships. We can ask all the questions we want, but people are impacted by love, not by intellectual stimulation.


"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

We finished up our last official core of the year! On the docket was encouragements and challenges and our guys really stepped up to the plate! They took the time to really think deeply about each other and encourage one another in our Christ-like attributes. As we went around the room and really affirmed each other, we could tell that every encouragement that was being said was powerful and much-needed. Too often in our society we don't tell people how we feel about them, we just expect them to know because we spend time with them. Especially among us guys we can feel awkward complimenting each other. But it's so uplifting to hear from your brothers-in-Christ the things in you that they admire and aspire to be more like. You get to hear the thoughts behind the stories you have together. When the room got to me I felt tears coming on because they knew and affirmed the hard work I've put into this semester in pursuing them and the changes God has done in me over these past four years to make me the minister that I am now. I love these guys so much!

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 though him." Colossians 3:17

Thank you all so much for the support you've given me this year! Whether financial or through prayer it is so huge for you to think of me and do what you can for me. I always love getting to spend time with the supporters that I can here in Dallas, and I wish I could spend some time with all of you in Washington and California. You are all extremely close to my heart and my every day is possible because of you and the dedication you have to the Lord and the impact He's had in your lives. Thank you all so much and I hope to see some of you over the holidays!

In Christ,


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Harvest is Plentiful, but the Workers are Few

Every month comes with new blessings. Our God is so good in every sense of the word. In the happy times and the sad times, God remains good and faithful. 

One-on-One is How it's Done

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" John 8:31-32

A saying that our community lives by is "one-on-one is how it's done". When I first heard it, I found it revolutionary. It gives explicit language to a concept that many people believe in but don't necessarily realize it. We believe that the most impacting ministry is done in a one-on-one setting. That's why we try to make sure that every individual in our ministry, if they want, has someone who will study the Bible with and disciple them. I meet regularly with four guys and it has been such a growing experience. Every year I continue to do ministry I realize how much better I am than the previous year and also how much I still need to grow. Recognizing the needs and encouraging the growth of the guys I meet with is so time-consuming, energy-sapping, and yet extremely fulfilling. There's nothing I'd rather do with my time.

Leadership Conference

"And afterward, I will pour our my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." Joel 2:28

Every year, our family of churches puts on a leadership conference available to all members and potential leaders in the FOCUS community. It is such an amazing event with an outpouring of creativity and excitement over catching the vision of what God is doing in this area. I'm so proud of the counter-cultural way my church operates. In it's dedication to a simple mission statement of "making and maturing disciples for the glory of God" or its brief belief statement, "Jesus is Lord." This is the most inclusive community I've ever been a part of, and yet we include people not because of what they've done, but rather who they are as people deeply loved by God.

Reaching the Lost

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:36-38

This week we've been doing a special push in our outreach by setting up large boards with thought-provoking titles like "Jesus Is", and "Meaning and Purpose of Life", and encourage students passing by to provide their thoughts and answers. This is such an amazing opportunity to get to know new people, 
discuss spiritual topics, and insert some of that "welcome week" feeling of making new friends. Too often, we Christians are satisfied with just blurting out the Gospel message and expecting hearers to be changed forever. I don't doubt that it works sometimes, the Gospel is powerful and can work powerfully. But I also think that we can put more effort and more thought into how we present the Gospel. The greatest way, I believe, is through relationship. We are changed most by our family and friends, and that is because we approach them with a foundation that these people love us already, and what they do and speak is done out of love. So the Gospel is most powerful when we present it out of love and they know that it is out of love. It's taken me years to come to a point where I feel comfortable enough to put myself out there, talk to strangers, and develop relationships where they can hear about Jesus and know that they're not a project to me, they're my friends. What used to cause me anxiety now brings me joy: preaching the good news of Jesus to all people.


"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Psalm 145:18

-Great home stretch of the year, as tests come around and vacations, pray that the students keep God as their number one priority.
-Those who are not going home or may have difficult homes, pray for their peace in God.
-As always, pray for relationships, that we may love and impact others the way Jesus has entered into a relationship with us and has loved and impacted us.

In Christ,


Friday, October 2, 2015

We Are Never So Vulnerable As When We Love

It's the end of another month! And God, as always, has been so good. Our cores have been stabilizing, our large group has been stabilizing, and all of our student leaders are starting to pour into any and all who are willing to seek Jesus. 


"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

This year I'm leading a core (our form of small groups) and it has been such a great experience. We've gone through the value of Jesus-like friendship, community, a purposeful life, and just this past week: vulnerability. Vulnerability has been a topic that has been stressed in our community for a few years now, and every year I realize how much I still need to grow int his area. Our guys are dedicated to making sure our core is a place that we're able and willing to share anything in our lives and to show our real selves without fear of rejection. I'm confident that this year will be the best yet in creating bonds that last through the years.

Fall Camp!

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that i learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:12-15

Most every year we put together a quick weekend retreat we call fall camp. It goes from about noon on Saturday to about noon on Sunday, and it's a great opportunity for our students to develop relationships. It's crazy what can happen in such a short time. We get about two hours of small group together a week, and then maybe one more if we have a one-on-one study with that individual. So getting so many hours to hang out, to learn, and have fun goes such a long way. 


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

Coming up, please pray for these needs:
-Great and powerful one-on-ones studies. We have a saying "one-on-one is how it's done" because that intimate bond is where the most growth can happen
-A deep sense of connection across the community. That this is a place where you are valued and you have an opportunity to grow and encourage others
-Vulnerability in myself, to continue letting people in and to step into that discomfort of letting someone see me as I really am.

In Christ,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Order in the Chaos

     This month has been so hectic! Welcome week at UTD has been packed full of events: ones put on by the university and ones put on by us. Classes have also started up so it's not uncommon to go nonstop through the week, and even the weekends, from morning to midnight. But this is not the time to rest, this is the time to plant seeds!

UNITED Worship

"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord" Psalm 134:2 NIV

     FOCUS has a strong value of cooperating with other ministries. We firmly believe that "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." So we pray for more campus ministries and ministers, to help us reach this campus for the Lord. Each semester we have a worship night for all the ministries to come together and be united. This year, we had an outside worship night, and again God has a huge heart for international students this year. So many stopped by, interested in the music and what was going on. Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern students were all represented at the event. It is amazing the plans God has in store for this year!

International Students

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to all creation.'" Mark 16:15 NIV

     This year our students have had such a heart for the international community. Each year we have so many international students come to FOCUS, but this year has been our most diverse yet. We partnered with International Christian Fellowship and sent some of our students to an event of theirs to welcome and build relationships with the newly arrived international students. Many of these students are now connected to our ministry and are so excited to learn about Jesus!

Pool Party

What's weirder than a fraternity and a Christian ministry putting on a party together? Not much. 

     For the past two years I've worked with a fraternity on campus to put on a pool party for freshman after they move in. And every year hundreds of students come out to have fun. It's such an unorthodox partnership, but  it has been so fruitful. As one of the first and largest organizations on campus, FOCUS brings numbers and resources that the fraternity does not normally have. And on the other hand, they bring people who we may not normally get to interact with, who might not normally come to a Christian-sponsored event. This is one of my favorite events every year and we have seen God do amazing things through it!

Friday Night Focus Kickoff!

"A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" John 13:34 NIV

     We finally started off the year with our first Friday night fellowship! Over 200 students came out to experience the community of believers that we have here. And again, international students were such a large part of that number. A few of our student leaders have told us that they were so scared of reaching out to international students because they were afraid they couldn't relate or they wouldn't what to say, or they wouldn't be able to understand them. And then they'd go on to tell us of how God called them to, or cornered them into, situations where they were talking and inviting international students. Our students are so impressive in the way they welcome new students, and love new people every year, encouraging each other to do the same. Please continue praying for them as they continue to build God's kingdom throughout the school year!

Prayer List

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

For this coming month please pray for:
-Cores (our small groups). This will be the first week for most of the cores across the ministry, including my own. Please pray that we would be able to connect with God-seeking individuals!
-Worship team, as I restructure how we do worship and how we train our worship pastors. I want to build an infrastructure that will last through the years.
-Diligence and energy for all of us to stay attuned to who God wants us to reach out to and to stay afloat with the new relationships that we're building.

Thank you to everyone who support me, encourage me, and pray for me. If there is ever anything I can do for you, please let me know, I'd be delighted to be able to pay it back a little.

In Christ,


Sunday, August 9, 2015

So It Begins...

Staff Picture on the Ferry!
Left to Right: Katelyn (Collin), Travis (UTA), 
Peter (me, UTD)

In The Beginning

     The internship has begun, and I'm so excited! Many of you know, but I've been preparing for this experience for this entire past year. In the Spring of 2014, our ministry director Brandon asked me to pray and think about the possibility of being a full-time minister. It definitely threw a wrench into my plans to be a big-time lawyer. However, after much thought and a summer internship I fell in love with the idea. So, this is the year to see where God wants me to go. While I would love to continue doing this, I know God doesn't always call us to do what we enjoy. But I'm going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts!

Dallas Corefa Prep Day!

Leader Preparation

"And let us consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds," Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

     Since the start of the internship it's been a crazy and hectic ride. We've already gone through a full day of internship orientation, four days of staff retreat, and now two days of Core Facilitator (corefa) prep. "Corefa" is our rough equivalent of a small group leader and "core" is our rough equivalent to a small group. I say rough because there are so many different things people think of when they hear those words. Core is where our students meet in single-gender groups and talk about life, study the Bible, and develop deep relationships. That's why we call it "core" because it is the core of our ministry. At corefa prep, our new team of leaders got a crash course on the basics of inviting to and leading core. College is such a great place to do ministry, but it's also difficult because the turnover rate is so high. Every year people graduate, and every year we have to find new people to take their spots. But it's so encouraging to see new faces who are set on being disciples and ministers of Christ. 

Welcome Week!

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)
     A big emphasis at our corefa prep is the importance of outreach during the first few weeks of school, commonly called "Welcome Week". It's during this period that most students are open and willing to meet new people and make new friends. We have a saying based on the verse above, "A disciple too lazy to plant in the fall has nothing to harvest in the spring." So, we spur on our leaders to push themselves to go out to every event they can and to rest later, because this is the time to sow the seeds.

UTD Staff!
Back Row L to R: Sirak, Victoria, Nicki, Danni, Brandon
Front Row L to R: Mandy, Carmen, Laurence, Peter (me)

Thank You!

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
Finally, a big shout-out to all my supporters, in prayer and through finances, you all have already been an enormous help. Getting to reconnect with many of you has been the highlight of my summer, and having others share this vision for ministry even when thousands of miles away is so encouraging. I've learned many of your stories, but I'd love to hear all of them. Hopefully, in these next few months I will be able to. If you have any prayer needs, or just want to talk to someone about something, always feel free to contact me. But again, thank you all so much for believing in me, in this mission, and in a God who has the power to transform lives.

Prayer List
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24 (NIV)
Please pray for :

-Planning and executing welcome week events on campus.
-Energy for all our leaders to meet people in this integral time!
-My wisdom teeth removal tomorrow and swift recovery afterwards.

In Christ,