Sunday, December 9, 2018

What A Great Semester!

My friends!

November was a wonderful month full of celebrations and seeing God at work. I'm so taken aback at how many students are being loved on and discipled at this point in the year. If you're unaware, traditionally, our Richland FOCUS ministry has been anywhere from 5-10 students strong on a year to year basis. This year, our Christmas party brought over 35 students to it! We have traditionally had 2 core small group bible studies, but this year we have 5! God has been so good and faithful to continually build us in size as he grows us from the inside out.

Something that I feel that I have been learning has been the idea of being present - in the moment. I remember a couple of years ago, praying for a moment like this: students who are taking Jesus seriously on campus, different core times & availability for bible studies, and solid faculty relationships were all a part of our November. Now that God has provided richly, I feel challenged to be present to the moment and respond with worship and thanksgiving. As a campus pastor, life is fast paced and I can often find myself longing for the past or feeling anxious about the future. Being present has been a prayer of mine as we enter into the break and seek God as our refuge and comfort.

Thank you so much for your support over the years! 2018 has been wonderful and I'm grateful for all of you and your partnership :) I hope that the photos below encourage you as to what God is doing on his campuses! See photos below:

Our Friday Night fellowship gatherings! We had our last one on Friday and our students did great this semester serving and blessing one another :)

For our Richland FOCUS times, we have been having lots of student sharing. One of our corefas, Evan, is sharing with our students what God has been teaching him.

Our Richland FOCUS students! They are doing such a great job this year :)

A shot from up top of our Friday Night FOCUS gatherings!

One of our Friday nights, we shared about phileo love for one another and how to develop the type of love between good friends. Afterward, our students sang "We Are One In The Spirit" - such a great time!

For thanksgiving, Valentine, one of our Richland FOCUS student leaders joined me and my family for Thanksgiving!

Our Richland FOCUS Christmas party!

Our theme was "Christmas Morning" and the student-led small groups each performed to win the prize of a VISA gift card toward a core party!

At the end of the evening, our judges decided on a winner...

Evan & Jesse's core won!

Our Richland FOCUS ministry @ the Christmas party! So grateful for these students :)
Our 2018 Richland FOCUS leaders! So thankful for them :)

We had an end-of-the-year lunch with all of our students and we each got to share with the group, "How have you seen those around you go 'all in' for God this semester?" It was a joy to hear from them!

Another shot of our end-of-the-year lunch!

Thank you all so much for your love and support of campus missions :) We are blown away at what God is doing on our campuses and we are grateful that through your support, we get to be side-by-side with our students as God continues to shape and mold his next generation of disciples.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like prayer for anything going on in your life! I hope that you're also encouraged by our November student testimony below :)

Your brother & campus missionary,


Our December student testimony! (see below)

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,


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,


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,


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,