Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oh My Goodness, it Already Started.

Our staff at the annual staff retreat last week! I could list all of their names, but I won't. Just know that I love all of them.

The apprenticeship is upon us! 

I don't know whether to say "finally!" or "...already?!" 

What I do know is this- these past 10 days have been an enriching and exhausting ride, and God has been hard at work in my heart and among our staff as a whole. Needless to say, I cannot wait to see how He uses us (and FOCUS as a whole) in Denton this year.

See you next time!

...oh, you want details? Okay, here are a few of the ways in which I've seen God working in the last 10 days, and a few of the ways in which I can't wait to watch him work over the next 10 months. 

Staff Retreat

The very first experience of a FOCUS apprentice is...well, lots of paperwork. But after that, the apprentices all cram into a couple of cars and go join the staff at the annual FOCUS Summer Staff Retreat! It's hard to describe how much of a blessing it is to get to spend a few days saturated in a missional community of people who have been brought together by their love for Jesus, their love for one another, and their desire to share those things with college students. 

The ~30 of us spent 3 days worshipping, sharing our stories, playing board games, laughing, crying (that includes yours truly), and growing closer to one another. 

God's goodness was readily evident throughout the entirety of the staff retreat, but one moment was particularly encouraging. On the last evening of the retreat, we all bunched together into a circle in the living room- as we had done several times that week- and shared the stories behind how God got us where we are, both as ministers and as His children. What stuck out so much to me is that none of us should be here. Most of us, in fact, had been the kind of freshmen and sophomores that you dread studying the Bible with- uninterested, insecure, running from God, with just about every kind of baggage imaginable. On top of that, even after God had worked in our lives so much, most of us would never have imagined Him calling us into campus ministry (and away from careers in business, nursing, the arts, and so much more). None of us should be here, but God wants us here

Classes and Reading Days!

Do you ever just think to yourself: 
"Man, I would love to read the entirety of Leviticus and Numbers today." 

If so, you will be incredibly jealous of the material the apprentices have been reading and talking through for the past week. In all seriousness, it is a rare and incredible blessing to have the ability to spend 8-10 hours a day in God's Word and in textbooks and discussions surrounding it. So far, we've gotten to read through the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges, along with sections of two books that break down the history, theology, and literature of those writings. It's safe to say that this is the most Biblical learning I have ever done at one time.

There have been a few times where it's cooled off enough to read outside. 
Definitely a welcome change of pace!

It's been incredible to realize how blessed we are to have Christ living in us, and to be able to "approach the throne of grace with confidence." (Heb. 4:16) After having spent the week saturated in the period of Biblical history in which God was commanding the Israelites to build the Tabernacle so that He could dwell among His people, I'm reminded of how truly unprecedented- scandalous, really- it is that we should be able to commune so closely with God.

The Other Apprentices

Five of the six of the apprentices in one car!
Not pictured here: Caitlin Quiroz

At one point, we all got barbeque from that shack in the background.
[If you plan on reading for several hours, don't eat a sandwich the size of a two-month-
old child.]

I honestly could not ask for a better group of people to enter into this season with. Although some of us just met a few months ago, we've already developed a strong bond with one another, gotten to know one another's stories, laughed together, and had some sobering conversations. I know that a lot will be asked of us this year, and each of us will have areas where our sin and need for growth becomes apparent, and I can't wait to watch how these people model Christ in helping one another through it all.


Matt Clark, my supervisor. He's way cooler than I am.

I'm here to do ministry, but I'm also here to learn ministry. It's exciting to have a group of people who have been walking with the Lord and doing campus ministry for much, much longer than I have. Matt Clark (pictured above) is the director of Denton FOCUS, and my direct supervisor. He will be delegating ministry work to me, helping me to grow as a minister, and helping me to grow as a follower of Christ. I can't wait to see what God teaches me through him, and through the many other staff members who will be leading our classes and challenging us this year.

Prayers, Prayer, and more Prayers

Here are things that I have been praying for, and that I would love for you to join me in praying for:

  • Please pray that God would be working in the hearts of the people we meet this year, especially during the first few weeks of school. Pray that they'd be hungry for Jesus and ready to humbly seek Him out.
  • Pray for my relationships with the other apprentices and with my mentors. Pray that we would be open, bold, missional, and full of grace.
  • Pray for our student leaders. FOCUS runs off of student leaders who sacrifice incredibly generous amounts of their time and energy to bring Christ to our students. Pray that they would actively submit to Christ, work hard, and rest purposefully. Pray that God would grow them into the kind of ambassadors for Him that will change the world around them as they go out into their career fields.