Thursday, May 4, 2017

What A Great Year!

My friends, can you believe it? We've arrived at the end of another year! I'm so overwhelmed with how faithful God has been and the many stories of his providence and presence in the lives of our students. These stories have happened because of people like you, who have committed to walk alongside us as we make disciples on God's college campuses!

I hope that you're not too overwhelmed by the amount of photos I posted! the 2016-17 year has flown by but as I type this blog I am reminded of God's faithfulness throughout the year. Life moves very quickly and as I reflect on these photos, I am challenged to slow down and reflect on what God has done. I hope that you all do the same through looking at each of these photos and being reminded of how your partnership has led to God's kingdom coming here in the lives of his children.

As the year comes to a close, I am reminded of a story that Jesus told in Luke 15:11-32. The story tells of a son who squanders the wealth of his father and returns home after lavish living. Upon his return, the father welcomes him with open arms and throws him a party. The younger son, prior to his return, convinces himself that his return will be justified if he returns home and becomes a formal servant of the father. As he returns, the father does not treat him as a servant but as a son - as an heir. The older brother is upset at this and despises both the father and his younger brother due to this unfair situation. 

I was struck with the idea that both brothers have a story that they are telling themselves about their relationship with the father. The younger brother tells himself that he is no longer worth to be called a son and decides to lay aside his sonship to be a servant. The older brother tells himself (verse 29) that he has been slaving for the father all of these years and not once has the father thrown him a party. Both sons are telling themselves a story that influence how they interact with the father. This idea/story challenged me deeply because I need to ask myself, "What story am I telling myself about this campus ministry journey?" Am I slaving for God like the older brother? Am I trying to work or earn my spot in his favor because I am not worthy like the younger brother? The best part of this story is the father's response to the brothers: "I am your father. You are my son." 

I hope that this story can challenge/encourage you in the way that it has for me. I thank you for your partnership and belief that this is worth it. You all are my inspiration and I'm beyond thankful to call you my team! Thank you for partnering with me and making this such a great year :) I hope that these pictures are encouraging to you!

Our 2016-17 FOCUS Staff! I am in the top left corner sporting a bowtie! It's been such an honor to work alongside these staff throughout the year.

We've been having different professors at UTD who are followers of Jesus come and share their testimonies with us on Friday nights. It's been such an life-giving experience for our students to hear from them. Many of our students have been emboldened and encouraged to go and share their faith with the staff and faculty at UT Dallas.  

Our Richland leader team! (From right to left: Karlo, me (Sirak), Catherine, and Sandra) I've loved getting to work alongside these students and share in what God is doing at Richland College. It's been bittersweet realizing that the school year is coming to a close and that we're going to say our goodbyes.

Michael, one of our UTD small group leaders sharing during Friday Night FOCUS about how investing is something that we do often with the knowledge that we'll never see the end result fully. We must invest with a vision in mind and with an open hand. It was such a powerful message for him to deliver to our ministry! 

I've had the opportunity to spend monthly time on Monday's at 7:00am with a few other pastors in the area. They are all involved with CRU (formerly, Campus Crusade), and they have been such a source of life for me. 

 Josh (middle) & Jeremy (right) led a weekly bible study at UTD. I've had the opportunity to meet with them weekly and help mentor them through the year. They both love God so much and care deeply for the students in their lives. I'm going to deeply miss meeting up with these guys every week! Great job this year guys!
Josh (right) and his grandmother got to meet me and a bunch of our Richland FOCUS guys. She usually picks him up from campus on Wednesdays and we were so excited to meet her! I've loved getting time with all of these guys and sharing in what the Lord is doing. (From left to right: me (Sirak), Jackson, Robin, Javon, Karlo, Josh's grandma and Josh!)

(From left to right: Sirak, Karlo, David, and James (David's dad)) James has been attending a few of our Friday Night Fellowship meetings along with his son David, who is involved in our Richland FOCUS ministry. We did an open-sharing event at our last Friday Night FOCUS and James got up and shared with our community what was on his heart. He shared how special it is to him, as a parent, to know that his son has friends and community away from home. Our community was very touched and encouraged by this! 

The men from our Richland core small group. I've been so blessed having these guys in my life to meet with, pray together, and dive deep into the scripture on a weekly basis!

Our Richland FOCUS ministry!

For our last Richland FOCUS meeting of the year, we spend time encouraging and lifting one another up. The question we asked, was: "How have you seen Jesus in the lives of the people in this room?" As we ate together, one by one the students began to share about specific people in the room who have impacted them and challenged them to grow!

Main main man right here. I've gotten to lead a small group with Karlo for the last couple of years and I've seen this guy grow so much. He's currently a junior at UT Dallas studying English and drives to Richland college every week so that he can lead the students there to know Jesus. He's been such an inspiration and model of Christ to those around him, especially to me! Grateful for this guy!

(From left to right: me (Sirak), Jesse, and Kufre) This year I've gotten the opportunity to meet up every week with these two guys! They are leading a small group together at UT Dallas and have been such a blessing to the men in their life. I'm blown away at their willingness to lead and consistency in following Jesus. These guys are the real deal! 

I am looking forward to touching base with all of you this summer! Thank you for your partnership and heart for this mission. Please don't hesitate to be in touch with me if there's anything that I can be praying for you about.

Your campus missionary,


FOCUS April Student Testimony: