Sunday, December 27, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
Whew, what a chaotic and wild ride campus ministry has been and continues to be during this pandemic. As rules by the government changes, as the university flip flops on what they're going to do, it's been difficult trying to figure out how best to approach ministry this year. Butfor good or for ill, the university decided to open its doors for on-campus housing and in-person classes. And as long as there are students on campus, we want to be there for them. We estimate that the university population is between 40 and 50% of normal capacity, but that means over 10,000 students on campus. And with so few offerings of friendship and community, they are desperate for connection. We've tried lots of different kind of events and online options for them to try out so that their college experiences might be something they woudl remember fondly; that Christians loved them and wanted the best for them.
As always, the core of our ministry are our small groups, which is why we call them cores. But this year, even more than previous years, that value is holding true. We've been doing our best at equipping our small group leaders to do ministry with less support from our staff. With our large group sermons being streamed online and a huge shift away from large group events, the touchpoints between our staff and students has been constricted to mostly one-on-one interactions. So our students have become extremely creative and have put forth enormous effort to host their groups outside, to build relationships from behind a mask, and to keep everyone safe while also trying to care for everyone's emotional and spiritual health. Thank God that not a single student has contracted COVID in our ministry.
We also just got through our second entirely online Pizza Theology! We decided to tackle how to think like a Christian in society. It focused on culture, politics, societal issues, and you can watch both parts here! You can also watch all of our large group teachings that we call Deep Dive there as well! Even during this time we have a new generation of college students being built up in their faith and exploring Jesus and we want to stay faithful to God's call for us to be at this campus.
And finally, thank you all so much for sticking with me during this trying time. I hope you all are safe, are encouraged, and if there is ever anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate in reaching out. I pray that we will all get through this together and that God will use this time to refine us even further.
Monday, May 18, 2020
You would think that shelter-in-place would have meant a slight reprieve from work. But no! Over the past two months, I've worked harder than ever. Making the transition from in-person to online, and keeping up with so many relationships when there are no more natural touch-points adds up! We had to shift and communicate to our students all the changes that were happening. We knew that many of them would fall off without structure in their lives and we tried our best to give them some while they were staying at home unexpectedly.
We built a soundstage in my brother's garage in just a week and we've been online and live-streaming ever since! We've since moved to the church since summer started but if you haven't checked us out already we stream every Thursday at 7:30pm at twitch.tv/utdfocus!
My core has also moved to zoom every week, and thankfully we've had pretty consistent attendance. These guys have filled my heart with such joy this year because of their love for one another. We just had our last one where we ended the year with encouragements. Every year I've led core, we've always ended with encouragements. In our society, men seem to be discouraged from speaking their feelings and from expressing their love for one another. So every year, it's always so impactful to hear them speak to one another with love.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
A Word of HopeA lot has changed in the past few weeks, and everything is up-ended. The world as we know it is different, campus ministry looks different now, but what hasn't changed is God's sovereignty and that people need him. It's often in the grim times that people realize their need for God a whole lot more than when they think they have life under control.
It's times like these when I think of James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
As well as Genesis 50:20 when Joseph is responding to his brothers realizing that he's in a position of power that could save them and their families from famine because they sold him into slavery decades ago when he was a boy. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
However, "the saving of many lives" seems inappropriate for such a time as this. But we as followers
of Jesus believe and can say
"'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'
'Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
We don't believe death is final. We believe that Jesus has conquered even death. And we believe that he's coming again to make all things right. That is why in the face of an unknown future, we can have hope and we can have stability because we've built our houses on the rock.
Thank you all so much for all your support, through finances, through prayer, through emotional support. I couldn't do this without you. And in the coming weeks, what I do will be different, but people need Jesus. Now, seemingly more than ever. Students don't typically do too well over breaks when they don't have structure and they don't have this community to spur them on to love and good deeds. So pray, please pray, that we can meet their needs in that, that the good news could be dispersed and preached because of their migration home, not dispelled and kept distant. Instead of bemoaning the loss of students this school year, I choose instead to be thankful for the time I did get to be with them, develop relationships with them, and make memories with them.