August 1st marked the end of last year's internship and the beginning of our 2013-2014 internship! It's sad to see our interns from the past year leave, but the time we have had with them has been awesome. They have grown so much and brought a lot to our ministry. UNT FOCUS has been blessed to have Melissa. Without her we simply could not have been successful. I personally value the support she gave me in leading the UNT ministry and also the friendship we developed through being on mission together.
Orientation for the new interns started that morning and lasted most of the day. It's a very exciting time of the year! We have added a few new parts to our internship this year in order to improve their experience and growth potential. The main differences are additional classes taught by each of the staff and weekly evangelism projects (we changed the internship to a full-time model rather than part-time). One thing we have the interns doing this week and next is to read through the entire Old Testament. Several of them lack exposure to much of it so getting a good overview would be a great foundation for many of their studies for the year as well as the ministry they will do. Our main focus with the internship is to help them become better ministers so each year we tweak things with that in mind. Anyway, I'd like to introduce the new UNT interns to you. I've included a little bio for each of them below. The quotations are their response to why they decided to do the internship with FOCUS this year. You can click on their names to visit their blogs.
"I have a heart for college students. I think they are the place where lives are the most changed, and I want to be a part of the kingdom work that's happening there!"
Sarah joined FOCUS at Collin College as a sophomore. She led a core (what we call our small groups) there and did a summer internship. She transferred to UNT and helped plant and grow that ministry during its first two years. She facilitated a core there at UNT and her senior year she mentored other small group leaders. After graduating in May 2012 with a degree in Developmental and Family Studies, she mentored student leaders at Collin College for a year. Along with working at UNT this year, she will be spearheading the TWU ministry plant.
"I really care about people and I've been wanting to challenge myself to allow God to use me, and I really felt him calling me toward this opportunity."
Matt joined FOCUS at UNT in 2010 (right after the ministry was planted) as a freshman. He facilitated a core and had other leadership roles over the last three years. This December he will graduate with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film.
"I decided to do the internship because I felt a strong call from God to go to Denton...I thought it had to do with the Denton Church at first. Once I was a peer team leader at UNT though, I realized how much I loved campus ministry and wanted to see if it was something I could be involved in long term. Once I had prayed about doing the internship God started opening doors and giving me many opportunities to pursue it. Now I am certain that this is where God wants me to be, at least for now, and I'm so excited to get on campus and minister to students again!"
Danielle joined FOCUS at UTD in 2007 as a junior. She was on the service and prayer committee one year and facilitated core for two years at UTD while a student. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in 2009 and a master's degree in Communication Disorders in 2011. Last year she mentored student leaders at UNT as a peer team leader.
"I've come to deeply appreciate and value campus missions, so getting another 10 months to invest in that was a big deciding factor. But the main thought that pulled me in was just how well the internship would equip me to go into the rest of my life and minister to the people around me, be that in a ministry or business vocation."
Grant joined FOCUS at UTD in 2009 as a freshman. He facilitated core for two years before graduating this year with a degree in Arts & Technology.
Friday, August 2nd, we went out to Mineola, TX, for our Fall staff retreat. This is one of the few times a year our individual campus staffs get to spend quality time together as a full staff (20 people total). It can be difficult to get a meaningful conversation out of a group that size, but our sessions were quite productive. Friday night we shared the history of FOCUS from each person's perspective. It was so neat to see how God has worked in all of our lives individually and collectively, especially to see how the decisions of a small group of people several years ago majorly affected each person in that room. The next morning we spent time in our new campus staff groups to get to know each other a little more and start planning things for this coming semester. Saturday night we shared the visions that God has given us for this year. My vision is that the students on the UNT leader team will deepen their conviction for reaching out to people and discipling them. I really see this school year as the time for that to take place. Please be in prayer that God works powerfully in the students' lives in that regard. Sunday morning we had a communion meal while sharing qualities of Jesus that we admired and wanted to see more of in ourselves. I think of Jesus' complete submission to God. We often try to draw from our own power and end up falling into fear or pride. Jesus gave up his fearfulness by wholly trusting in God and when he was bold it was never prideful, but flowed from his obedience to God.
I just want to say that I'm very thankful for the staff I get to work with. I can see God working in their lives. Spending a few days with these people this past weekend and getting to laugh and cry together has been wonderful. Now we get to go out and change lives on the college campuses!
Coming up on the 17th and 18th of August is our UNT student leader retreat. Please be in prayer about this. My goals are for the new student leader team to grow closer as a body of believers, prepare logistically for meeting new students during Welcome Week on campus, and develop a deep sense of conviction to advance the Kingdom. I spoke with a new student leader today about his time commitments. I was concerned he may get overwhelmed with work, school, and being a small group leader. He said if it somehow became a problem he would quit his job and look for another one with less hours so he could keep his commitment to the leader team. He gets it. And I'll say that's a God deal, not a FOCUS deal. Just think of what God can do with a guy like that over the next 50 years of his life...
Please also be in prayer over Welcome Week. This is really our most important time of the year to sow spiritual seeds. The school puts on several events all week long and our ministry tries to meet literally as many people as possible and, most importantly, follow through to form real, lasting relationships. We encourage our students to get phone numbers of people they meet and invite them to everything. If they can work hard for just two weeks (welcome week and the following week), they will have a great harvest of people to disciple over the coming year.
Also please pray for our room reservations for the year. UNT's reservation process has been increasingly difficult for us, especially as we grow and while they are doing construction on the Student Union over the next two years. Please pray that God will work this out for us so we can get the reservations we need.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers and support!
Yours for the Campus,