Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Final Stretch of the Fall Semester

My friends!

Happy (late)Halloween!

Thank you all so much for your support and for believing in our mission to make disciples on God's college campuses. God has been so faithful in the lives of these students and the heart behind what they are doing is so empowering and encouraging to me. 

Our Richland FOCUS ministry has had a great group of students attending our weekly core bible studies. This year we have 5 cores (2 men's and 3 women's) and each one has had a lively bunch of students. They are engaged with each other and committed to growing in God's word. I've had the opportunity to visit a few of the cores and I can tell you that they're all doing such a great job!

We put on our first Richland FOCUS Halloween party and it was a blast! Our students LOVE to hang out with each other. Seriously, I think they're professional hang-out'ers (is that a thing?). They enjoyed one another's friendship for the evening and then went to IHOP to eat a late dinner. I remember 3 years ago that I prayed for God to help us build a community where the students are friends with each other and truly love one another. I'm so encouraged to see that God has answered that prayer!

I hope that the pictures below encourage you and remind you of the work that God is doing on his college campuses! Thank you so much for your support!





From left to right: Joey, me Casey, and Ben. I get to meet up with Joey & Casey every week to discuss how their core is going and help them lead their Sunday night core! They are doing such a great job this year!

Our Men's Wednesday 1:30pm core! They really love each other and are building a great community of men on campus!

Our Richland FOCUS Halloween Party! It was so fun!

Another shot of our Richland FOCUS Halloween party!

Our Richland FOCUS ministry! I love this group of people so much :)

Our UTD Friday Night FOCUS gathering(s)! The students here deeply love one another!


We played a group game called, "Murder in the Dark" and our students absolutely loved it! They laughed so much and had so much fun.


Another shot of our Wednesday 1:30pm core group! They love each other so much :)

God has been so faithful with bringing students to our group that are passionate about him and are committed to seeing his kingdom grow on campus. Please be praying for our student leaders and that they would find balance. Many of our student leaders are 1st year leaders and are struggling with balancing their many obligations and responsibilities. We are moving closer to winter-break and I think that'll be a good rest time for our students. Be praying that they'd finish the semester well!

Thank you again for your support! I'm honored to have you all on my team and I'm blown away that I get to you call you all my friends :) Please don't hesitate to let me know if there's anything that you need prayer for!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sowing Generously!

My friends!

This past month amazing! So many of the seeds we put our energy toward sowing in August have begun to sprout into amazing friendships, spiritual relationships, and lives being pushed to encounter Christ! I've been so encouraged by our Richland College FOCUS ministry. This is my fourth year as campus pastor of Richland FOCUS and each year I get more and more excited with the students that God is sending to our group. One student specifically, Garrison, has really been an encouragement to me. He walked up to me after one of our Friday Night Fellowship times and thanked me for meeting him during welcome week. He told me that he is so grateful for the friendships in his life and the way we have made his time in college an enjoyment! He even said that he wakes up in the morning excited to come to campus!

He is just one of the many different people that are being touched by your support and partnership. Meeting students like Garrison give me energy and remind me what this is all about: impacting students. He is just one story but I can tell you that many other students are experiencing the same kind of love and community that God is providing them with through our community. 

One of our Richland FOCUS gatherings! Our students come every Wednesday @ 11:00am to fellowship, share in God's word, and pray for each other.

Our Richland FOCUS ministry @ Fall Camp! I'm so grateful for this group of students! They love each other so well and are very engaging with new students!

Peter & Emily (our UT Dallas FOCUS Staff) leading us in "You In Action" during Friday Night FOCUS. So grateful to work with these people!

This year we have split our UTD Friday Night Fellowship times into 2 services. We now have a Tuesday Night FOCUS and a Friday Night FOCUS. The shifting has been a bit of a challenge and has caused us to work extra hard in figuring out how to divide our staff, student leaders, and time - but God has been so faithful & good throughout this! This is a picture of our Tuesday Night FOCUS gatherings!

One of our Friday Night Fellowship time(s)!

Casey & Joey, two student leaders that I spend weekly time with, decided to make an announcement and wish one of the guys in their core a happy birthday!

I had the privilege of teaching our FOCUS Worship Class, "So, You Think You Can Worship?". It was a great class and we had an amazing discussion with the students there. We talked through the way of worship, the why of worship, worship in the corporate setting, and the worship pastor. The discussion was so lively and we all grew in our knowledge and understanding of worship. 

Evan, one of our student leaders, sharing during Richland FOCUS about how God is working in his life!

Our UTD Fall Camp students worshiping with each other!

This was what the inside of our Richland FOCUS cabin looked like throughout fall camp. This was the first year that we did our fall camp separately from UT Dallas. We were a bit nervous, but I think that it was very intimate and our students grew so close with each other!

Thank you so much for your support! Our Richland FOCUS ministry has been blessed richly through your prayer and financial support! Your partnership is helping build God's kingdom here & now!

I'm honored to have you all on my team :) Thank you for believing in me all of these years and for pushing us to not give up on our calling - to make and mature disciples on God's college campus.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever need prayer for anything in your life. I will be in touch with you all soon!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Monday, September 3, 2018

We're Off To A Great Start! (So Many New Students) :)

Hello! My friends! 

How are you?! How was your August?

I can't believe that we're already in September! August was a month full of meeting new students, welcome week events, late night ultimate frisbee, and bringing in a new leadership team (this all happening on all of our FOCUS campuses!). I'm honored that I get to serve alongside you all on God's college campuses. As I meet new students and get to know them I am confident that God will continue to do the work that he has initiated in his creation: drawing hearts back to him. 

These new students are fun, loud, excited, and open! I don't think there's been another year that I've seen so many students excited for friendship. It truly is a gift and a joy to be a part of. Thank you for your support and for believing in our mission.

At Richland FOCUS this will be our biggest year yet! We have 5 cores (2 men's and 3 women's core bible studies)! I can't believe it. This group of student leaders that we have are so amazing. I am excited and encouraged every time I get a chance to talk with them. We had our Richland leader team prep day a couple of weeks ago and, let me tell you, THEY ARE EXCITED! 

My role is going to be transitioning into more of a supervisor & teacher to our ministry and I'm focusing a lot more on leadership development in our student leaders. I am sure that I will be doing some 1 on 1 bible studies and outreach, but God is definitely stretching me and pushing me into a new season of campus ministry. Our Richland FOCUS ministry has traditionally had anywhere from 10-12 students generally involved in our group but this year our leadership team is 11 students (not mentioning the several other students who are returning this year to be a positive influence in our ministry!).

Please be praying for our ministry as God leads us and shows us what his will for our lives are. I believe that he will do great things this year on his campus and I'm honored to have you all on my team! Enjoy the pictures below :)

Kiden, one of our student leaders, decided to get baptized and dedicated her life to Jesus. So good!
Every year, we have a United Worship event at UT Dallas. All of the campus ministries come together to worship as one before the school year starts. The week before, students are already moving in and it's a great way to plug students in to the campus and what we've got going on. 

A picture of our United Worship event!

Our student leader corefa prep day! These students did such a great job welcoming one another and learning what it's going to take this year to have an effective year as a leader. We strongly believe in leader development and are so thankful for these students!

Another picture of our corefa prep day!


A picture of our Richland students together after Kiden got baptized!

For Welcome week @ Richland this year, we set up a volleyball net in the middle of campus to attract students and meet them. It was so good and we met so many students!

Another picture of our Richland welcome week!

A picture of our Friday Night Fellowship @ UT Dallas!

All of the campus pastors from all of the different campus ministries at UT Dallas! So good to have all of them together to fellowship, pray, and think about new ways to serve & bless the campus!

Thank you all so much for believing in us! We couldn't do any of this without you. I truly am honored to have you a part of my team.  Please don't hesitate to let me know if you need prayer or would like to catch up. 

More updates to come :) and Thank you!!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

My Friends! It's August :)

It's August! Welcome week is only a few weeks away..... :)

In just a few weeks there will be thousands of freshmen, transfer, and international students converging on college campuses all across the United States (and the world, for that matter). I'm grateful that I get to be a part of what is going on in the DFW area with FOCUS, but for campus ministries everywhere, the fall season is always a special time of the year! It was 12 years ago that I walked onto Collin College's campus for the first time and my life was forever changed. Men & women that love Jesus decided to invite me into their lives and my vision for myself as a disciple was forever altered!

I love getting to be that for new students every year. I am seeing that they are hungry with excitement and passion to figure out this thing called "life". I turned 30 years old a month ago but I'm grateful that these college students keep me young!

I think that as each year goes by, God continues to shape and push each new generation to seek him. Now that I am entering my 7th year on staff with FOCUS, I definitely see how limited I am in my vision and how God's vision extends all across the globe. There are so many students who the world would 'write off' or not think much of but God has BIG plans for each of them. As a campus minister, I view it as my duty to help students see themselves the way God sees them: priceless.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for believing in what we have the privilege of doing on God's college campuses.

This year we will have our largest leader team ever at Richland College! We have had one, maybe two small group bible studies every year but this year we have FIVE! Our student leader retreat is coming up this weekend so please be praying for our students to be well prepared and excited for what God has planned!


I turned 30 in July! My dear friends took me out to lunch after church to celebrate with me :) Cheers!

Reece, one of our incoming Richland student leaders got baptized this summer. He's going to have such a great year sharing his faith & life with his fellow students this fall. I'm so proud of him and excited to be a part of his missionary journey!

After his Baptism, we all gathered around him to pray!

Our final Summer FOCUS for 2018. It was a joy to get to worship with students across all of our campuses 

My beautiful wife and I celebrated with my family in a traditional Ethiopian wedding. Ethiopian weddings are usually several days long and due to time constraints, we were unable to have a traditional Ethiopian wedding. My wonderful mother did such a great job planning this celebration for us and it was a blast! How do we look?! 

This is a picture of our male staff across all of our FOCUS campuses! We had our staff retreat this past weekend and it was so encouraging to catch up with all of them and share in what God is doing in our lives. 

Our staff retreat was so great! Every morning we would start with worship, prayer, and have a discussion topic preparing us for the 2018-19 school year. I'm so humbled to be working with such an amazing team of ministers. They have all impacted me deeply and love Jesus so much!

Our FOCUS Apprentices for the 2018-19 school year. These are some of the most hardworking, positive, and high-energy apprentices that I've ever been a part of! 


Thank you so much for your support and partnership! I'm blown away that I have the privilege to begin my 7th year of campus missions. When I graduated college I had my own dreams and desires but thanks to your faithfulness and support God has completely (and continues to) re-shaped my life vision. I appreciate you all so much and am honored to have you on my team.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need prayer for anything in your life!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Happy Summer, My Team :)

My friends!

We are already in July - more than halfway through 2018 :) Just in case you haven't heard, I got married in June! It was a busy month but I am glad that it is over and that life has begun to calm down a bit. Thank you so much for your support and the way that you've been there side-by-side with me all through the years. I'm honored to have you on my team. Please pray for Sloan and I as we begin to build a life together. Sloan works full-time as a Speech Language Pathologist and she is 100% amazing AND LOVES campus ministry (for those of you who do not know her)! We met during our time as students in FOCUS and we're grateful that we get to serve on God's campuses together.

We are beginning our leadership selection for this fall and I wanted to ask that you be praying for the many different students that will be stepping up to serve their campuses this year. Student leadership is something that we take very seriously. Our students that feel called to lead are definitely stepping into a role that will shape the rest of their lives! Please pray for our staff as we discern which students to ask and for the students who are going to step into this challenging role that will forever shape who they will become :)

To celebrate the year, I went out to eat with my peer team (From left to right: Manny, Drew, Josh, and Ricardo). These guys are some of our best student leaders that I got to serve with. So thankful for them!

A back shot of the students at our wedding! We're so grateful for everyone who showed up :)

A picture of me and my bride as we walked out of the church!



My Richland FOCUS students made it all the way out to Wichita Falls for my wedding! I'm so grateful for this group of students. Some of the students in this photo are going to be student-leaders this fall; please pray for them as they serve campus alongside one another :)

Grateful for this beautiful woman right here!

Before I got married, these were the guys that I lived with (From left to right: Me (Sirak), Daniel, Jonathan, Glenn, and Kurt). It was a great year getting to live with these guys and I'm going to cherish our time together. All of these guys were involved in FOCUS when they were students and it has been so encouraging to see how community has continues to grow and thrive post-college!

Thank you so much for believing in me and staying on my support team all of these years :) The fall semester isn't too far away and I would be honored if you considered partnering with me again for the 2018-19 school year. I appreciate the way that you've believed in our work as missionaries and I look forward to the future years of ministry together!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sirak's May 2018 Campus Missions Update!

My friends! Thank you so much for your prayers & support! It's crazy to think that this school year has come to a close and that we're already kicking off our summer season of campus ministry.

Thank you for being there with me from the very beginning of my campus ministry journey. I'm thankful that I get to serve alongside all of you as your campus missionary to UT Dallas and Richland College. May was such a fantastic month full of stories of God working on his college campuses.

We took a group 100+ students across our FOCUS campuses to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) in Bellingham, Washington. We partner with a college ministry there, CCF (Campus Christian Fellowship), that has been around since the 1970s and we send our bright and upcoming student leaders there for a week of campus missions training! The week was a HUGE success and so many of our students got wisdom and insight for the coming fall. Many of the students will be considering being a core-facilitator (student leader) with our ministry and our week @ SICM really helped them gain a vision for themselves as campus ministers!

Enjoy the pictures below! Thank you so much for your support and belief in our mission to reach college students - we couldn't do this without you! (see photos below!)

At SICM, we had a couple of students decide to commit their lives to Jesus through Baptism! At our final end-of-the-week ceremony they decided to show their commitment to Jesus in front of everyone. Praise God!

Austin Gage (UT Arlington FOCUS Staff) baptized one of his students at SICM!

Brandon shared a little bit with our students before another baptism.

At our end-of-the-week ceremony, we prayed for our campuses and sent the students off back home for the summer in preparation for a great school year! 

A picture of one of our last Friday Night Fellowship meetings. One of our Richland FOCUS alum, Henry Pham, did some scripture reading and it was really meaningful!

Each week we have a student-sharing time with our community but we had a special treat with one of UTD's Accounting professors joining us for Friday Night Fellowship. He shared with our students his testimony and encouraged them to be a light and a resource to the professors and staff at UT Dallas!

Another picture of Friday Night Fellowship! Towards the end of the year we did it outside and it was great :)

For the FOCUS Podcast, we got to interview Eddie Traughber. He is a licensed Christian Counselor and we interviewed him on Anxiety and Depression. Anxiety is affecting more and more college students and it was good to talk through all of the issues regarding such a complex issue.

(From left to right) Me (Sirak), Michael Murphy, Josh Soto, Dave Hawks, Sandra, and David Colina. This picture was taken at our FOCUS end-of-the-year party and our students absolutely loved it. It's been such a joy to serve alongside these students and be a friend to them. They are some of my favorite people to be around and they are a light to their campuses :)

Our Richland FOCUS crew! It's been such a joy to serve with them and love them. They are some great students and really have a heart for Richland College!

For the FOCUS Podcast we got to interview Professor Rikk Watts. He is a New Testament scholar and has been a consistent resource for our ministry and students.

While we were at SICM, I got to stop off in Seattle and have lunch with my favorite aunt and cousin, Martha & Amy! They've known me for all my life and they are some of my biggest fans - love them!

At SICM, we got to kick off our first section on "Jesus-Style Friendship". Brady Bobbink led the session and he has been a campus minister since the 1970s. He is full of wisdom and our students loved getting to listen to him.

It's an honor getting to serve Richland College w/ Sandra. She has been such a great minister with to our women and they really look up to her and love her. Thankful to serve with her!

Behind the scenes of our FOCUS Podcast - our students have loved getting to listen to the great minds that our ministry has access to. Stay tuned for who we've got lined up to interview soon!

At SICM we get to attend the Friday Night Fellowship in Bellingham, WA. This is a picture of CCF's (Campus Christian Fellowship's) Friday night fellowship gathering. They were so welcoming and loving toward us!

From left to right: Me (Sirak), Manny, Drew, Josh, and Ricardo. All of these guys have been big lights in our ministry. They were small group leaders this year and impacted dozens of students. They had a great year and it was an honor getting to meet with them weekly and menor them.


Our 2018-19 SICM group! 


Thank you so much for your support! It means so much to me to know that you believe in our mission to make disciples on God's college campuses. These students are madly in love with Jesus and we appreciate all of your support and partnership. This summer, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like prayer for anything in your life. I hope that you're all encouraged by these photos and what your support is going towards :)

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak