Friday, September 1, 2017

Matt's September Update!

We're at the end of the first week of classes now and the second week of "welcome week" on our Denton campuses. 

One of the guys I met this week is named Justin. Several of the students have also befriended him this week. I discovered very quickly that he is a rock climber and has a membership at the climbing gym in Denton that I also visit regularly. It's allowed me to get to spend some more personal and casual time with him this week. What's most encouraging about Justin is that he's come from a background of going to church but didn't really feel like he was ever really serious about his belief in God and doesn't really know what he believes. He is, however, interested in learning about what it would look like to take Christianity more seriously. David, one of the guys that's been spending time with Justin and me, invited him to come to his core (small group) and one of our apprentices, Rhett, has had a few conversations with him around talking more about who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. Who knows what will happen, but it's exciting to think of the possibilities of what the Spirit might do in Justin's life through these new friendships!

And there are other stories like this from the past two weeks. Stories of new friendships, but really for each of these students it's the start of a new chapter and the direction of the overarching plot has yet to be revealed. What an exciting time! Please be praying for Justin and students like him to seek God wholeheartedly so they can see Him for who He really is.

I wish I had more pictures to share with you of things that happened this week but it's not really the best idea to snap photos of people when you've just met them so you can post it on your blog! Anyway, I wanted to give you a snapshot of what it sort of looked like this week. Essentially, our community (staff, student leaders, other members, etc.) all tried to be on campus as much as possible to meet new people. One example as seen below was a game that attracts attention while people are walking by and is easy and fun to pick up if you've never done it before. Even for the people who didn't stop to play with us, at least we gave them something interesting to look at between classes!

A few of the guys I mentor and me up on campus playing "fowling"
(football bowling) to meet new people during the first week of classes.
As I've reflected this week on the significance of engaging with people around me, no matter how small the interaction seems, I've wanted to encourage you to be bold in the same way. Over the last two years, I've challenged myself to always interact with at least one person when I go to the climbing gym. Usually, this is really easy but there are days when I feel tired and antisocial. However, in keeping with this challenge I have developed several meaningful friendships there. It's given me opportunities to talk about the real aspects of my life and learn about the real aspects of other people's lives. Two of the guys asked me about coming to church with me and one of them studied the Bible with me. It was a slow progression but when I look back at two years of consistency, it's very clear that there's a huge impact from those small interactions. If I hadn't challenged myself in that way, I would have easily set a precedent of keeping to myself because that's my natural tendency. But as a man of God's Kingdom, I don't want to allow my natural tendencies to prevent me from striving to obey the Great Commission. My challenge to you is to ask God how you could engage the people in your various social circles more. Then see how He works when you do it!

First Friday Night Fellowship of the school year!

Please continue to pray for us as our students are meeting people in their classes and starting their core groups next week. You can also reuse the "7 Days of Prayer" card I posted last month to give you some structure. We're hosting an all-day leadership training for our student leaders tomorrow to further prepare them for facilitating core and being leaders in our community this year. Please pray over that day as well.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support! You are a true blessing from the Lord.

Yours for the Campus,

"When I came to UTD, I felt really lost. I didn't have many friends, and it seemed as if my life had no direction at the time. I had known for years that I wanted to study computer science but in the fall of 2016, I was doing little else and it felt painfully meaningless at times. I decided to come to Friday Night Fellowship one night and met Mark Merola. Even though we were complete strangers, Mark took a particular interest in me. After sitting with me during the service, he invited me to come to more FOCUS events and to join his Core. I started coming to Core regularly and became friends with everyone in the Core. With Mark and the rest of my Core, I gained a group of supportive peers that I could live life with and learn from. I grew significantly in my faith and also as a person. Through studying the Bible and discussing it with members of my Core, I learned more about who Jesus is and my relationship with him deepened. My relationship with Jesus also led me to examine who I was as a person and make changes to how I act. FOCUS added a lot of meaning into my life and helped me see who I want to be. I have become a Core facilitator for the 2017-2018 school year, and I now know that the path toward God is the path that I want to take my entire life."

Michael Murphey
University of Texas at Dallas
Computer Science