Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A New Season

Our guy staff spent a day hanging out, doing a little bit of hiking, and camping.
These fine men are Cody, Laurence, and Eduardo.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16

     Coming into the holiday season, I was in desperate need of a reset. I was out of energy, out of motivation, dealing with anxiety and health issues, and unsure what anyone (including God) saw in me that could possibly have led me to choose to pursue full-time ministry. 

Fortunately for me, God is a fan of making things new!

Campus ministry runs on much more of a rhythm than other occupations. Is it the first week of school? Count on working 60-70 hours. Is it the third week of December? All of your students are gone- you're likely in for some rest and some family time (which is occasionally also restful). So these past few weeks have seen me spending a lot of time reading, a lot of time with family, and a lot of time with God. Through that, God hit the reset button in my heart.

For one, my concept of grace is being greatly expanded. I've always affirmed that God loves me and has grace for me. Yet somehow, I came into ministry thinking God expected me to be a great minister. And if I couldn't do that, I could at least always have my heart in the right place...right? Wrong. Getting to pray and journal through all of my times dropping the ball, getting impatient, not trusting God's Spirit to work, and more throughout the last few weeks has only led me into more of God's love. The FOCUS staff also read through The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, a book that seeks to breathe life back into the basics of the Gospel for people who have gotten worn down while seeking to follow God.

God also hit the reset button in my life simply as a 21-year-old seeking to grow up. I've learned that inefficiency, negligence, and thoughtlessness are a dangerous waste of the resources God gives you, and when each week presents a new challenge you've never encountered, you're going to want to be organized, well-rested, and healthy. The last month has seen me doing a lot of reworking with these things, as well as discovering the amazing blessing that is the antacid tablet.

All of this has been a reminder that although in November I was just about as discouraged and exhausted as I had ever been, God was still teaching me things, and I believe He was preparing me for a lot of growth. 

Winter Camp
Worship at one of the Winter Camp sessions. I haven't tried to spot myself in this photo, but I'll give a crisp dollar to the first person who does. 

FOCUS kicks our Spring semester off with our most important (and exciting!) weekend of the year- Winter Camp. It is a 4-day camp at Sky Ranch in which students in FOCUS from what is now 10 campuses get together to spend time with one another, learn more about God, and worship their Father. In keeping with the theme of new seasons- I've seen God use this time to change the way students see God, themselves, and others in some pretty meaningful ways, ways that didn't just affect the rest of their weekend, but genuinely changed the trajectory of their lives. It was actually at Winter Camp two years ago that I realized I needed to stop figuring out if and why God might love me, and just accept it. I'm incredibly excited to see what God does in the hearts of students this year.

Keep FOCUS Growing

Many, many thanks to everyone who gave to KFG this year. We set a goal of raising $50,000, and ended up raising over $64,000. The generosity we saw was mind-boggling, both because it was God providing for our ministry to grow, and because I got to see the purposeful generosity of so many people. There are students for whom the most extravagant investment I've seen them make was their gift to KFG. I haven't checked the rulebook lately for college students, but I feel like that's not supposed to happen. Praise God!

Some Bonus Pictures

From left to right: Drew, Mr. Fuzzypants,and Alex. I've been blessed to meet up with these guys every week this school year. Drew is a pure-hearted, loving teddy bear who is incredibly good at showing the love of Jesus through friendship, and Alex is a calm, insightful, humble guy who has approached his first year as a student leader with a lot of maturity.
A handful of our male staff on our one-day camping trip. Being out in nature with such great guys was such a blessing.
Note: "out in nature" in this case means 5 feet from a campfire, 10 feet from your tent, and 30 feet from your car.
  • Pray for Winter Camp. Pray that God would use this time to strengthen community and help our students to fall more in love with Jesus.
  • Pray that we would use the Keep FOCUS Growing money with wisdom, putting it towards God's Kingdom as best as we can.
  • Pray for our students as we enter a new semester- this can either be a slow start or a time of jumpstarting growth. 

With love and gratitude,