Kicking off 2024!

Hello everyone! Happy end of January, can you believe it’s already been a month since the new year started? I have so much to tell you about!

Over MLK weekend, we had our annual Winter Retreat where all of the students from the different FOCUS campuses came together and IT WAS SO AWESOME! We brought in a seminary professor from Fuller Theological Seminary named Dr. Lee who reminded us of so much of the truth of God, it was really encouraging. He said so many things about how good God was that were all things that I had heard before, but when he said them, I just really believed it! Our students have had nothing but amazing things to say about how things that he said have stirred in their hearts to ponder more on.

One of the main things that Dr.Lee talked about was how God delights in us and sees us as his children whom he deeply loves. He used the prodigal son story to explain that both sons in the story did not know their father, including the one who had been with the father his whole life but saw their relationship as one of a slavemaster and slave instead of father and child. He said we often think about our relationship to God as one of obligation and not one where God really does love and care for us as a parent loves his child. Another thing he touched on was how God wants a relationship with us and wants us to bring our burdens, our anxieties, and doubts to God. He explained that being angry or doubtful at God was not a bad thing, as long as we bring those things to Him, knowing that He wants to sit in that with us and help us through those things.

During our first FNF of the semester, we had a time of open sharing where students had the opportunity to share what had impacted them from retreat, and we had over 30 students come up and share about how their relationship with God had been impacted from taking what Dr.Lee had talked about and implementing it throughout that week.

Another thing that was really neat was that we had a night at Winter Retreat where students could come up to the microphone and read Mark 14:25-35 in their native language. Our ministry has been growing a lot in its cultural diversity, and we wanted to honor that by making space for our students to show us a part of themselves through their language, and know that God deeply cares about that part of them. We had so many students come up and read in 12 languages–Romanian, Spanish, French, Tagalog, Korean, Yoruba, Japanese, Taiwanese, Choctaw, Vietnamese, Amharic, and ASL! It was so sweet to see people cheer their friends on as they stepped on stage, each student was so proud to have been able to share with us another piece of God’s creativity and greatness through language differences.

At our first FNF, we had so many new people! Every spring, there are always new students who end up joining our ministry, and it has been so sweet hearing stories from students inviting classmates, people they work with on campus, people they met at the beginning of the fall semester who are more willing to try new things, etc! My roommate, Kaitlyn, has already had 5 new people join her core this semester! Please be praying that we would be faithful and welcoming to every new person that walks into our cores, FNFs, other events, etc.

The spring semester can be a turning point for a lot of students as they have become more comfortable with their cores and one on one studies. We encourage our student leaders to start challenging their core people and having bolder conversations with them in order to stir growth in their lives. During one of our leader meetings, Brandon, our UTD director, came up and shared with us Acts 20:20, where Peter tells the people in Ephesus, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” He encouraged us to in the same way, not withhold anything from the students that would be helpful for them, even if it is uncomfortable to challenge them in the moment. I am excited to see what kind of fruit these tough but necessary conversations bring!

I want to invite you each to our annual Family Night! Every year, we invite our students to bring their families to experience one of our fellowship meetings. You are each an important part of what I get to do at UTD, so if you are interested in seeing what you are investing in here, I’d love to see you there!
Thank you so much for all of your support!



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