Saturday, June 3, 2017

Matt's June Update!

Now that SICM and my trip to Regent College have passed it seems like summer just snuck up on me! Spending this time up in the Northwest region of the continent was amazingly refreshing, though. I loved getting to spend a week with a few of my colleagues and friends learning more about how to interpret and apply God's Word. If you want to hear more about that class, I'd love to chat with you!

Me, Laurence, Sarah, and Brandon in Canada, celebrating the end of our week-long course!

Student Institute of Campus Ministry

SICM was really good this year. The group of students that we brought (nearly 90) was engaging and eager to learn. Throughout the week I was constantly hearing them talk about what they were learning and how excited they are to go home and reach out on their campus. The excitement of these fresh leaders keeps me grounded in the truth of why we're doing all of this: to make disciples of Jesus to the glory of God. And that is awesome! SICM is always an encouraging time for the staff as well as the students. I am so thankful to have that precious time with them to develop a sense of community so we start the school year with a sense of unity and shared purpose.

In the below picture is my host family and the guys that we stayed with during the week of SICM. The Sims family is amazing and has blessed our ministry tremendously by opening their home to 6 staff or students each year during this trip. Each year they feed, entertain, and get to know each of us - to me they have become another family I have in this world and I know that this experience has been even more meaningful to some of the guys who don't have healthy relationships in their own families. The Sims try to keep in touch with all of the past students who have stayed with them, which is somewhere around 30 different guys! They even came down for Danielle and my wedding last year!
From left to right: Jason (host), Alex, Israel, Caleb (host son),
Kyle, me, Danielle, Pedro, Jordon (host daughter), and Toni (host).

I asked each of these guys (Alex, Israel, Kyle, and Pedro) to share their main takeaway from SICM so you could get a sense of what their experience was. It's interesting how much their experiences outside of the classes impacted them! That's part of why SICM is such a powerful trip - it's a holistic experience of lecture, discussion, hands-on-training, various levels of community, and worship. All of that creates an atmosphere for these kids to be moved powerfully by God's spirit.

"The biggest lesson that I learned at SICM was on the first day; it was about purposefulness as opposed to spontaneity. It really helped me think about how to be intentional with others in conversations. This lesson brought to my attention that most of my conversations are usually meaningless and are about things that don’t matter at all. But now I have a better understanding at how to approach conversations to have a more meaningful relationship. Although, the hardest thing from my SICM experience was trying to play the bagpipes."
- Alex

"My SICM experience is the Highlight of my year so far. Of everything that I learned, here is what impacted me the most:

Being a person who connects with God more easily in private settings, Usually spending time in my room or taking a walk by myself or with at most 2 other people, I went to SICM with the idea that It would be hard for me to connect to God with that many people next to me. I had two choices in hand, try to Isolate myself and experience God but miss the opportunity to create new friendships or Jump in the crowd, enjoy people make friends but not connect with God; I chose the latter. To my big surprise, I experienced God in ways that I have never before. Through the friendship that I developed, the time spent with my host family and roommates, God responded to my deeper needs for friendship, community and love. I have learned to seek and connect with God in a different way, through community and by talking to people."
- Israel

"Attending SICM was an unforgettable experience filled with great instruction, frequent laughter, and spiritual reflection. This trip impacted me in that I feel not only encouraged but equipped to spend this summer and the coming school year being intentional about moving forward the Kingdom of God on campus and in other friendships that I make.
One of the most impactful experiences that I had while on the trip was getting to know more about a friend who grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Learning about other cultures of the world has always been intriguing to me, but talking to my friend about his personal experience of witnessing the Holy Spirit work in the Congo was truly amazing. We talked for a while about the ways which the Spirit works in different places. My friend spoke about growing up and seeing people in Africa be miraculously healed and how God often meets other serious physical needs. This concept really made me think about specifically how God provides in different places.
Campus Christian Fellowship was the hosting organization in Washington and, after talking with my friend from the Congo, I gained more insight into how God provides here in the United States. Campus Christian Fellowship, or CCF, and other ministries similar to FOCUS actually are miraculous and God uses them to meet the needs of his people. God provides a way for college students to seek him on campuses that might not otherwise have the welcoming environment that FOCUS or CCF have, and I think that remembering to acknowledge God’s incredible orchestration through these campus organizations is often forgotten yet vital.
Seeing more of how God provides played a large role in SICM for me and it was a huge part of the encouragement that I felt from attending the conference. SICM will continue to influence my efforts of discipleship and my personal walk of following Christ for years to come."
- Kyle

"One of the biggest things I learned while at SICM was the fact that it's not all about me. I sometimes forget that this community is bigger than just the TWU and UNT campuses but it's also Collin, UTD, UTA, etc. Helping me realize that I need to focus more into serving others and not just think about what God has for me next but what he has for this whole community. It is amazing to see that this community is growing and growing everyday and having to go to SICM is something that I can never thank God enough times for."
- Pedro

Other pictures from SICM:

Some of our UNT and TWU students being goofy!

Students worshiping God one of the mornings before class

At the SICM closing ceremony we prayed for the missionaries from each school as they went back to their campuses

This is our whole group that we brought from Texas!

Summer FOCUS and School of Ministry

We've kicked off our Summer FOCUS meetings on Thursday nights. All ten of our campuses across the DFW metroplex come together for our fellowship and worship between school years. We do this partly because the students love seeing their friends from other campuses and it gives the staff an easier workload over the summer so we can work on our support raising. Our theme for the summer is relating to God. Each of the staff who are preaching will talk about the various ways people related to God through the Scripture and share personal stories of how this has played out in their lives.

We would love to have you visit at some point this summer if you're able! We've been tremendously blessed to be able to meet for free in the Watermark Plano church building near Hwy 75 and Spring Creek Parkway. Let me know if you'd like to come and I can help you get there! We meet on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm.

In addition to these big group meetings, we also have planned several smaller classes across the metroplex for students to participate in. Covering various topics, the aim of these classes is to give opportunity to further educate our students about theology, Scripture, Christian history and disciplines, practical application, etc. Since a majority of them attend secular colleges we want to provide some ways for them to be growing at a more academic level in their thinking and relating to God while they aren't as burdened with classes and small group responsibilities.

Please be praying for our upcoming student leaders as we build the team for next school year. A lot of our SICM students will be a part of this group. It would also be greatly appreciated if you could be praying for our staff and apprentice fundraising efforts this summer. Also be praying over our staff team as we plan and prepare for starting school in August. There is a lot to do for planning our big group meetings, sermons, leader prep events, welcome week events, etc. We want to do everything we can to invite incoming students into our communities and smaller friend groups so, through those individual relationships, they might come to know Jesus more and more!

Thank you so much for your investment in the lives of young Christian leaders. I'm incredibly excited to see another group of new student leaders rising up to continue building God's Kingdom on the Denton campuses in August!

Yours for the Campus,


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