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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wow - where did the year go?! (Cheers!)

My friends, my team!

Here we are - May 2018. Life is both long & short, isn't it? I remember walking onto campus as a FOCUS intern in August 2012 and now here we are, 6 years later, continuing God's mission of making disciples on his campuses. Life definitely sneaks up on you! THANK YOU for your support and continuing to be with me every step of the way! I remember that there were times during the school year where I felt like I wasn't strong enough or was doubting if I would ever make it through the difficult times/moments of a campus missionary. Life felt very long. In both seasons of life God has proven himself to be always faithful, always good, and always true.

Our student testimony for May 2018, Bekwele Wodi from Texas Woman's University:

"I first became involved with FOCUS when I was just starting out at Collin College. I had been living in Nigeria for a few years, so I was walking into a college experience where I didn’t know anyone. I worried a lot about not being able to find any meaningful friendships while I was there. So it came as a surprise when some old friends of mine, LorĂ© and Gibby Yessuff, invited me to a 
Thursday Night Fellowship. From that first night of fellowship, I made more friends than I could have prayed for. People asked me to sit with them, scheduled time to hang out with me, got to know me and challenged me as a disciple. It became clear to me that this was not only an example of the authentic Christian community; this was the way Jesus called us to do friendships—intentional, genuine and loving.

Through the many friendships I’ve been blessed with in FOCUS, God has changed my fear and worry of not having any friends into a desire to grow and develop friendships at TWU. I am beyond thankful when I see what he is doing in the lives of students here and for the example of Christian friends that I’m now able to extend to others."



Bekwele is one of my favorite students to be around and I hope that you're encouraged by his story!

Our Richland FOCUS leader team for the year. They were such a joy to work with! (From left to right: Sandra, Me (Sirak), Eddie, and Catherine) I'm going to miss working with them every week.

From left to right: Ava, Paulo, Me (Sirak), and Sloan. This picture was taken the day I got engaged to Sloan! Excited to marry her and thankful for all of our friends who made it out and came.

For one of our last few Friday Night Fellowship's of the year, we brought in an accounting professor from UTD. He shared his testimony and shared about the importance of living out your faith on campus. It was great to hear from him!

Jarvis (center) & Paulo (left). Both are members of our Northeast church in Garland that supports FOCUS. Thankful for them and their support for campus missions!

For the upcoming episode of the FOCUS podcast, we got to interview licensed family counselor, Eddie Traughber. In the episode, he shared on anxiety and depression. We are so thankful for his heart and being willing to come and be interviewed by us!
This is Josh (bottom) and Drew (top). Together they led a small group bible study at UTD and I had the privilege of meeting up with them every week to mentor them and help them with any pastoral issues that would come up. They ended up being such an encouragement to me and have become close friends of mine. Thankful for them and their heart for ministry!

We always end the year with open-sharing at Friday Night FOCUS. The last few years, one of the parents of our students, James, has been driving his son to and from our meetings. He shared on Friday night that he was so thankful for our group and for the way that we have welcomed in his son to our community. This is what campus ministry is all about - the opening and sharing of one another's lives to build God's kingdom here!

From left to right: Me, Michael, Josh, Dave, Daniel & Sandra! Thankful for all of these students in our group!

Sandra has done such a great job this year leading our Richland women! She believes in them and really loves seeing them thrive and grow towards becoming like Jesus! She is a very talented minister and deeply believes in those around her. Thankful for her!

This year I had the privilege of meeting up with these guys every week. These men (from left to right: Michael, Ricardo, Manny, Josh, and Drew) are all student-leaders who volunteered their time to disciple students, lead a weekly bible study, and continue to push & grow themselves to be Jesus-style missionaries on their campuses. Thankful for them and I'm really going to miss spending weekly time with them!

Thank you all so much for your support and for believing in me all of these years! I couldn't have done it without you. You all are there side by side with me on campus and so much of the fruit of our ministry is due to your faithfulness and deciding to walk next to us as we help build God's kingdom on his campuses. Thankful for all of you!

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have anything that you need prayer about! Thank you for believing in me!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Friday, April 6, 2018

Sirak's March Update! April is here!

My friends! My Team!

I can't believe that we're already in April! March was a month full of outreach events, new friendships being formed, and preparing for the end of the year. These years are flying by but one thing remains true: God is faithful. 

Last week at our staff meeting we read over the lyrics to "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". It is an older hymn that has been sung in churches for many years. As we were reading over the lyrics, something hit me about the line that says: "Summer and winter, springtime and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses above / join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness mercy and love". As I was reading these words, it hit me that God's faithfulness has stretched through the centuries and across the cosmos. What we are doing on his campuses is only a small part of the big picture of what God is involved in. Your support, partnership, and commitment to this mission is all connected with what God is doing in his creation. I hope that this ministers to you and I encourage you to listen to the song sometime! I especially recommend the version by Chris Rice!

Thank you for your support and partnership! I hope that the photos below encourage you and remind you of God's faithfulness just like the hymn did for me. Enjoy!

Our student testimony for the month of March! Siena has such a unique story and has been having a great year in our UTD FOCUS ministry!

Our students announcing their SICM event after FOCUS. SICM is a week-long campus missionary training event that we send our students to. It is a bit expensive so we host fundraisers to help fund our students. It is always a blast!

Here is a picture that I took of my core. I love getting to spend time with these students and dive deep into the word with them. They love to laugh with each other and share about what is going on in one another's lives. Wednesdays @ 1:30pm is my favorite time of the week!

Photo of our students hanging out after one of our Friday Night FOCUS events.

Our Dallas FOCUS staff went out to eat ice cream together :) I love working with these folks. They are some of the most brilliant minds that I know. They are loving, friendly, challenging and deeply committed to Jesus Christ. 

Candice, one of our SMU FOCUS students got baptized! Dawn, our SMU FOCUS apprentice, has been studying the bible with her and we all got together at Laurence's house to celebrate her commitment to following Jesus!


We had a bit of trouble reserving rooms on campus for our Friday Night FOCUS meeting(s) and CARE Church in Richardson has been so gracious in letting us meet there! We love our relationship with them and are so grateful for the way they serve the city.

Our Dallas FOCUS Student Leader Team! They are so engaged and willing to work hard to serve the campuses they are on. Every Monday night we meet to share in what God is doing in our core's, our campus, and our lives! Love working with this team of students!

Below are some photos of SSI Week! We had an entire week of outreach events to meet new students and engage our campus in spiritual discussion(s). This week was full of stories of people encountering God for the first time and students being bold for the gospel. This week is always encouraging because it's a reminder that God is working in the minds & hearts of people long before we ever encounter them during outreach and then long after we may never see them again. Enjoy the photos and be encouraged that God is faithful!






Thank you so much for believing in our work and thank you for your support. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have anything you'd like prayer for! I'm honored to have you on my team and I'm looking forward to many years together as a team :)

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak