This last Saturday was our first FOCUS fellowship at SMU! If you haven't read my last update, I briefly mentioned that God has been providing connections with many influential people along the way to make this whole thing happen (faster than we had anticipated). If you're interested in reading more about this story or what we're doing at SMU, check out Laurence's blog as he is our staff minister that is heading up that ministry plant. What's extra special to me is that Laurence was a student at UNT and a roommate of mine when I first started pastoring our Denton ministry. It's really exciting to see how the Lord has grown and developed him for this new role!
FOCUS Winter Camp a few weekends ago was one of the best yet. We had just over 600 people in attendance, which is our largest group yet! In recent years we have invited a guest speaker from other ministries/organizations we have relationships with, but this year we decided to let our own staff deliver the sermons. We were pleasantly surprised by how much our students connected with them.
|Here's our group from camp!|
I've included a video below that one of our NCTC (a community college in Denton) students made. There's an interesting side note I'd like to tell you about as well. Since the NCTC Corinth campus is fairly small and there are only a handful of student organizations we have been able to develop a great relationship with the student life director. She has been such a blessing to work with because of how much she supports us ministering to that student body. In fact, she even posted this video on the student organizations page of the NCTC website - how amazing is that?!
It's just a small glimpse of the experience. More than the sermons, worship, and fun our students are impacted by the sheer quantity and quality of time spent in spiritual community. I was talking to a student I meet with weekly about one of his past Winter Camp experiences and he was telling me how a single conversation in the bathroom one night helped him to move leadership to a higher priority in his life. It's funny how something so unexpected and informal can have such a powerful effect in changing the course of a person's life. But that's just the way our God loves to work - in unexpected and unimpressive ways!
Family Night & Open House is coming up this Saturday for the Denton FOCUS community. It's essentially our normal weekly large group fellowship meeting (but not on Friday night) and the students invite their parents, siblings, mentors, etc. to come and see the community that they are involved in. Leading up to this night is often stressful to me due to my fear of speaking in front of parents! Of course, my fears are mostly unwarranted since many parents aren't coming to nitpick. In actuality, this yearly experience has always been incredibly encouraging to my staff and me. The best part is when we let parents share about the changes they have seen God make in their children over the last several months - just thinking about it now makes me so excited!
I'd also love to invite you out to visit this weekend. It would be a great opportunity to hear the experiences of students/parents and see a little more of our community. We'll be meeting on the UNT campus on Saturday, Feb 11th, from 5-7:30pm. Let me know if you're interested and I can give you more detailed information!
One last thing I wanted to update you on is the result of our Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. We ended off with $48,429! Thank you SO much if you donated to the KFG!
And regardless of your participation in the annual fundraiser, I want to thank you for your support of the FOCUS ministry in general. Even if you are merely reading this month's blog post, thank you for taking the time. It's amazing what God will do with the tiniest of investments.
Yours for the Campus,
"Before coming to college, I was in a desperate search for friendships. I had been the unfortunate recipient of a drug-induced fight. One night, people who I thought were my friends got high on cocaine while we were hanging out. All it took was a dispute over petty differences to send one of them over the edge, and it ended with me getting choked until I passed out. Thankfully, God brought me through that alive. However, this incident led to bitterness, rumors, and the loss of mutual friends. So, I ended high school not having many people that I considered friends. After all that, I was ready for college.
Going into my Freshman year at UTD, I made it a priority to seek out friendships and Christian community. I found out about an event that FOCUS was having during welcome week and went to check it out. There I met Sagar Gandhi who, after just one conversation, invited me over to his house to play FIFA (a soccer videogame). I was taken aback by this generous invitation and willingness to invite me into his life when he knew very little about me. I decided to go to Sagar’s Core and get more involved in FOCUS, where I developed strong friendships. Praise God for Sagar Gandhi’s invitation, the friendships I have made, and for how much leaders in FOCUS have taken time out of their busy schedules to pour into a broken and unimpressive sinner, like me, ever since!"
- Josh Carpp (Senior, University of Texas at Dallas, Mechanical Engineering)