Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Matt Clark's January Update (finally!)

The new year is upon us and it's surging forward!

This past Sunday we met with all of our student leaders for 4 hours to prep them for the semester and continue training them as ministers. It's just incredible that they are so willing to invest that sort of time in ministry during their time off from classes. The Lord has blessed us with some amazing men and women!

Winter Camp

We're getting ready to scoot over to Sky Ranch (in Van, TX) this Friday through Monday for our annual winter camp. We expect to have over 500 people in attendance from all of our campuses! One of the main goals of this event is to maintain the relationships of our larger fellowship - it's so encouraging for staff and students to be able to spend quality time with so many brothers and sisters across the metroplex. For that reason alone winter camp is very special.

It's also an exciting time to deepen our relationship with our guest speaker, Rikk Watts. Rikk is a professor at Regent College in Vancouver. You may remember that I visited Regent College last summer. Well, I was actually blessed enough to be in one of Rikk's classes! He is passionate about Jesus so much that he literally bounces when he talks and even when he lowers his excitement I was on the edge of my seat simply in awe of who God is. I'm looking forward to our students meeting him.

I'll post a picture of all the students from camp in February!

Special Prayer Request

Over the past month or so there have been several tragedies in Denton. Two UNT students were killed - one boy, Ryan, was shot by a police officer in self defense and a girl, Sara, who was shot in the head while driving her car on New Year's. One of the students I mentor weekly knew Ryan since childhood. I'm glad he has people he can go to in order to help him cope. Unfortunately, there are many other students who don't have that support system. Plus I can't even imagine what the families are going through right now. Please be in prayer for the families and friends of Ryan and Sara.

Two days ago a couple in their 60s was found in their home and it's suspected that their son killed them. Perhaps the son is innocent, but the situation is a tragedy regardless. Many people in Denton are mourning these losses and I pray that we don't lose any more of our friends, relatives, or neighbors in such an awful way. I ask that you pray for the family and friends of this couple as well.

Despite these tragic events I also pray that we don't lose hope. May we hope in the Lord, who is faithful even when the world seems too dark. He is more powerful than death, which he proved when he raised Christ from the dead! His light still remains in this world because he is good. He is always good! I read this line in a book last night before bed: "An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it." Satan is always trying to keep us in the dark or convince us that the light has gone out. Often it seems like so many bad things are happening in our world that it's just hopeless. Unfortunately, so much of the News is depressing. In politics it's frustrating and overwhelming to think of making positive change. "Evil" seems to be running rampant and "good" is nowhere to be found.

The truth is that there is significant good in our world. The fact that our world exists is AMAZING! The fact that most of us don't die every day is unbelievable (like on the highway, in airplanes, not getting sick, we woke up this morning, children living until adulthood, etc.). Plus we get to enjoy relationships with other people every single day (if we so choose)! So let us never refuse to see the light of God in our world, and let us never forget our purpose to also be that light. God is doing something in this world far bigger than we can comprehend. His ways are higher than ours. We must trust in his goodness despite what the evil one throws in our faces. Our God has defeated death and we must remember that.

Please also be praying for this semester. We have many plans, but I ask that you pray for the Lord to guide and direct us. Core groups and one-on-one Bible studies will be picking up where they left off. Often newer students who go to Winter Camp will be majorly impacted due to the amount of time spent with others in the community (a lot of this happens through the initiative of our student leaders). The beginning of spring semester is another opportunity to meet new students who have transferred or just never plugged into a community in the fall. We are going to try some new things with reaching out on our campuses this semester as well as have a group of students from Western Washington University join us for a week of outreach in March. We are going to have some topical classes for students who want to deepen their thinking on subjects like Old Testament Overview, Culture and Christianity, Science and Christianity, and Rethinking Worship. Over the next few weeks we are going to be determining which students are our potential leaders for next school year, which we will invite to SICM (a week-long conference for training students in college ministry). I'm sure there are other things I missed, but I know having a specific focus for prayer makes it easier on you. 

Thank you so much for your investment into our work here! God is good to us in providing brothers and sisters in the faith like you.

Yours for the Campus,