Saturday, September 15, 2018

Where Are You?

Meeting freshmen at a board game night in a res hall! These were the bread and butter of our outreach before school started, and we were blessed to meet so many new people!

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking
in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'"

God has blessed FOCUS students and staff in their mission immensely so far this year. There have been so many students who didn't at all seem receptive to Christian community come around and end up wanting to find real friendships with us and learn more about Jesus. I can see students who are approaching ministry and fellowship with much more zeal than I had at their age, and I'm grateful for it. 

While many new students have reacted to us with open hearts and grateful words, this is- of course- not always the case. It's been interesting to note, however, that hostility isn't a problem with students, so much as avoidance is. We've been going through a sermon series called Why are we her? about the broader Biblical narrative that's established in Genesis of who God is, who we are, and how everything got so broken. As we've been doing this, I've been taking a step back and thinking about these same things, and what keeps coming to mind is the strange propensity we have as humans to avoid the God who is reaching out towards us. Possibly the biggest indication that Adam and Eve knew they were doing something wrong when they took the fruit from the serpent is that they never approached God about the whole ordeal. I mean, if I was losing in an argument to a serpent about what God said to me, I'd wait until God's next morning stroll to clear the whole issue up...right? 

But it seems like we all are implicated in this avoidance of God. I've read (somewhere) that some of the saddest words in the entire Bible are God's words to Adam after the fruit is taken: "Where are you?" I'm realizing more and more that the job of a minister is to push people to face God. To the freshman who grew up in the Church, but doesn't really want to go deeper in their faith, God says: "where are you?" To the student leader who is so concerned about how God might be appraising their work that they're afraid to know, God says: "where are you?" And to me, the campus minister who busies himself with a thousand tasks to use as a thousand excuses for not slowing down and listening to God's voice, He says: "where are you?" 

The most beautiful parts of my ministry experience have been watching people come out of their hiding places to face God and realize that He wants what's best for them. The most beautiful parts of my life have been the times I've realized I've been hiding and have turned to face Him. 

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Peer Team
Josh and Eric are two of the guys in my peer team who I love spending time with. I had the experience of getting to study the Bible with Josh when he was a freshman, and it's so cool to be with him every week again! These guys are both incredibly talented and genuine.

My supervisors decided to help me be a little bit more like Jesus this year by giving me 12 guys to mentor directly. These 12 guys are all student leaders who have been paired up to lead cores (our non-coed small groups) this year. I get to meet up with them as pairs every week to discuss our lives, dig deeper into our faith, and help them navigate the opportunities and challenges of campus ministry. I've been so impressed by all of their diligence, openness, and willingness to learn so far this semester, and I can't wait to see what else God does. 

Miscellaneous Things
Our first Friday Night Fellowship this year. We've had an incredible turnout every week, and I've gotten to meet so many people and have so many good conversations.

FOCUS is trying to have more of a presence on campus at UTD, so we've begn making videos sharing what we're up to on campus and inviting people to get to know us. I've gotten to take part in 4 video projects so far, and I'm still managing to trick the staff into thinking I'm qualified for the job!

A group of our student leaders imitating the terrifying, terrifying smile of our beloved mascot, Temoc. This happened during our Corefa Training Day on campus. This leader team works so hard, and yet they still have great attitudes.

  • Please pray for us to be attentive to what God is doing in the lives of the students we've met. It's tempting to try a shotgun method to ministry, challenging and exposing students to every piece of Scripture and advice we can think of, but it takes a lot more faith and wisdom to wait for God's voice on some things.
  • Please pray for our students (and staff) as they seek to balance everything on their plates this semester. Several people I've talked to are stressed out with work, school, ministry, and personal lives.
  • Please pray for us to be dilligent and faithful with all of the contacts and people that have been dropped in our laps over the last month. It can be overwhelming, but we don't want anyone to fall through the cracks.