Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year :)

My friends! My team! 

Thank you so much for your support and for your partnership :) I can't believe that 2019 is almost coming to a close. I'm grateful for your friendship and for God's faithfulness. God has been so faithful this semester and we are grateful for the way he has been moving in our ministry. 

Be on the lookout for our FOCUS Christmas Cards coming in in the mail! One thing that God has been teaching me recently has come out the book of John. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35). At our end of the year Christmas party, we got to hang out with one another and watch our students share with one another a potluck and share stories from the year. They really do love one another! And that is an answer to prayer! There was a time in our ministry where I was the main person who was keeping all of the students connected to one another. That time has passed! The students love on one another and I can just see God's faithfulness in that!

Thank you for believing in us and walking side-by-side with us on campus. I hope you enjoy the photos and I hope that you're encouraged! Your prayers and financial partnership mean so much to me! 

Our Richland FOCUS apprentice, Josh, doing a great job leading announcements!

Dr. Mary Poplin, of Claremont College came to Pizza Theology at UTD and she did a great job speaking at Pizza Theology: Is Reality Secular? Our students really enjoyed what she had to share throughout the evening.

Our FOCUS apprentice last year, Jesse Bales, got married! He's one of my favorite dudes :) Congrats Jesse! His wedding was kind of a reunion of sorts with all of our Richland FOCUS peoples!

We did an outreach called, "Free Life-Advice" and it went so well! Our students were very engaged with the topic!

Our Thursday Night Thunder group! I love these students :)

Our Richland FOCUS leader team! So grateful for this team :)

Our end-of-the-semester Christmas dinner. It was good and fun to spend time with them! We had a potluck and the students were so eager to hang out with each other and have fun!

With every semester we get to meet new students and spend time with them! Every year we say goodbye to some students and send them off. This year we said goodbye to Evan, Kiden, and Kendall. They are all transferring to different universities and we are going to miss them!

Thanks so much for your support! Please don't hesitate to ask me if you need prayer for anything going on in your life!

Until next time - Your brother and campus missionary,


Friday, November 1, 2019

The Cold Season is Among Us!

What's up my friends?

Only 2 months left of 2019? Scary to think about but, it is true.

I remember the cold of January - April - the months that we began having Thursday Night Thunder and meeting a new (and amazing!) group of students. I remember April through July - the months of preparing for SICM (our leadership training conference), fundraising through the summer, and preparing for the school year. I remember August - September - the craziness of welcome week, inviting (it seemed) more students than we ever have before to FOCUS @ Richland, and as I reflect now on October/November - I see one thing: God's kingdom being built on campus.

I'm no architect or civil engineer but, I've heard from many different sources that when you want to build something that lasts, it's important to start off with a solid foundation. The foundation is very important to the overall structure of the building.

There are times when I wish our ministry was already 'there' or already 'arrived' (whatever that even means, hah!) - but, I know that the 'there' or 'arrivedness' (is that even a word?) of right now may just be this: to lay a foundation. Reflecting on the previous months, I see that God was doing just that: building a foundation. Students that have shown up over the last couple of weeks are only aware of what they have experienced in the last 2 weeks. But, the truth is: what they've experienced over the last 2 weeks is thanks to what we've done in the past: laid the foundation.

I suppose that is what most of ministry is: laying a foundation for more people to stand on. Building a stream for more people to drink from. Laying a path that more people can walk on. And finally - helping build a kingdom that more people can be invited into.

Thank you so much for your support and for the way that you've believed in me over the years. I am grateful and filled with joy every time I think of you and how your partnership has pushed our campus ministry deeper into his presence :)

Enjoy the photos!

Elson, a student who has shown up to Richland FOCUS in the past few weeks has been consistent and great to have in our group. He found us through our google calendar that we post our events on! Thank God for technology!

Josh Soto, my ministry apprentice that I have been supervising has done an awesome job this year with helping @ Richland. He has been leading worship, leading our Wednesday 1:30pm Men's core and has done an amazing job serving the students :) Thankful for this dude!

Our Wednesday, 1:30pm core!
Our Thursday 4:30pm core!

Thankful for all of the students who show up on Thursday nights! 

Tom Miller, a good friend of our ministry, preached a couple of weeks ago on the Love of God. The students greatly appreciated what he had to say and he has been such a light to our group :) Thankful for Tom! 

This is a picture for MONTHS ago of me praying for Sandra before she preached :) Thankful for her!

Our campus is very ethnically diverse and after our Halloween party, several students from Nigeria began playing music from their homeland :) Let me tell you: It was fun and - I'm pretty sure that they could've kept dancing until 2 or 3am. Who knew?

Thank you so much for your time and partnership :) I'm so grateful for your friendship and financial support! The fall semester is coming to a close but we've still got a lot of great things planned :)

If you have any prayer requests, please don't hesitate to let me know!

Your brother & campus missionary,


Friday, October 4, 2019

October is Here! (Lots of pics!)

My friends! My team!

How's it going? I hope you are all doing well and that the month of September was restful and peaceful for you. You know, what? I was thinking recently about God's presence and the question of: What does it look like exactly to invite people into God's presence? 

I used to think that it meant 1) inviting people to church 2) inviting people to core (or, small group) 3) asking people to hang out/study the Bible with you 4) pray together 5) (insert spiritual activity here).

This is a question that many students are consistently asking me and wanting the ultimate 'guru advice of'. How do I experience God's presence? Sometimes I want so bad to be able to tell my students: "THIS: __________________ is how you do it. And then, you'll be 100% done!" - But, it doesn't simply work like that.

There are moments in my life that I can look back on and think: "Wow, I was in God's presence that entire time and I didn't even know it." - Almost as if God was beckoning me into his presence time and time again but I may have just been ignorant to his call, busy with life, concerned with the worries of my everyday stress, and other reasons.

Some of these moments could've been the 1st core I ever led as a student, my first fall camp, my first 1on1 bible study with a leader, and other reasons. As I reflect on the past month, I can see that God is calling his students to be in his presence time & time again - and, here's the twist: he is with us. He is inviting us into his presence. 

I imagine someone who is wondering whether or not they're invited to a party. They may sit around and wait for an invitation, pace back & forth in stress, prepare their outfit, wonder who is going to be there...but...ultimately it is dependent on whether or not they're invited. God has already invited us to his party: his presence. I hope that these photos are encouraging and a great reminder of the students who are responding to his invitation to his presence. Cheers!

Thank you so much for your donations and prayer - your support means the world to me!

Our student group that came to Fall Camp! Love them!

So thankful for our student leader team :)

I get the privilege to teach/preach every week at Thursday night Thunder - this year we have such a special group of students. They are excited, attentive, and ready to engage with God!

Our Wednesday, 1:30pm men's core! Dayo & Josh do such a great job leading these guys.

One of our student leaders, KB, sharing at Thursday Night Thunder. She is such a strong woman of God who we are grateful for. She is at Richland for her sophomore year and is doing a great job leading our students :)

We got to have dinner with each other at Richland Fall Camp and it was awesome! We took communion together afterward and it was a very fun and meaningful experience together. 

Howard Wang (see bottom right...) took this photo. Not sure what I am doing here, haha. Maybe preaching? Maybe singing? Maybe providing commentary on everyone eating breakfast? 

I get to lead core with Kendall (top back right) and he does such a great job with our guys. I've really enjoyed spending time with all of them on Thursdays @ 4:30pm. They are always excited and ready to learn together!
We had our students lead YIA (You In Action!) time at FOCUS! Love them

Thank you again so much for your support and believing in our mission! I can't believe that it's already October - the year has been off to such an amazing start and I'm blown away that I get to work with such amazing students and staff.

Please don't hesitate if you have anything in your life that you would like prayer for.

Until next time,

Your brother & campus missionary,


Monday, September 9, 2019

Be Present in This Very Moment

My friends! My team!

I hope all is well my friends. In the past month, we have hosted welcome week activities, met hundreds of new students, began our Thursday Night Thunder fellowship meetings, and kicked off an awesome school year!

Towards the end of the spring semester, I got to preach a sermon on Time and How To Be Present In The Moment. So many of us are moving from thing to thing, unable to be present in the current moment that we are in. I think that being present just means being able to say, "This is what is happening around me - and I choose to feel good about that".

What has happened in the past month is something that I have been praying for over the last 3 years. We have a great group of student leaders, are consistently doing outreach on campus, and we are also loving and meeting new students every week! It is so encouraging to know that over the last few years, God has been continuing to open up doors and prepare the way for new students to serve and be loved! If I'm (we) aren't careful, we can easily just move onto the next thing and not be present in this moment to what God is doing.

I hope that you are all encouraged by the pictures below! Thank you for your support and partnership over the years :) I'm honored that I get to call you my team!

I got to visit UTD for their first Friday Night FOCUS of the year, and it was good to see the team I used to serve on!

Our 2019-20 Richland FOCUS Leader Team! So thankful for these folks :) 

Josh Soto is my apprentice this year! He is doing such a great job serving & loving our students. Here he is going over some tips & creative ideas for meeting people during welcome week!

Our first Thursday Night Thunder of the year! So thankful for the students who came and joined us! We have such a great group of students :)
I'm grateful to serve on campus w/ Josh and Sandra! They are awesome at what they do :)

Another picture of our Thursday Night Thunder meeting!
Our Richland/SMU/TWU-Dallas Team!

Sandra was going over some announcements for Thursday Night Thunder! There are so many ways that the students can serve :)

We took a group photo after our Thursday Night Thunder meeting! I seriously was so grateful for all of the students who have been a part of our ministry so far this year. We are only 2 weeks into the school year but I know this is going to be a special year! :) 

Thank you so much for your partnership and support over the years! I am blown away that I get to call you my team and more importantly, my friends!

I look forward to an awesome year having y'all on my team!

Your brother & campus missionary,


Monday, August 5, 2019

The School Year is Among Us!


And just like that...summer flew by! I'm so pumped for the school year to begin and to see all of our students again. This summer, Sandra, Josh, and I have been hard at work preparing for the school year. God has been preparing the hearts and minds of our incoming leadership team and I've got a feeling that this is going to be a great year at Richland College!

We had our staff retreat this past weekend and discussed the book, "In The Name of Jesus" by Henri Nouwen. In the book he discusses the three temptations that pastors face throughout their vocational ministry: 1) the temptation to be relevant 2) the temptation to be spectacular and 3) the temptation to be powerful. As I enter my 7th year on staff as a campus missionary I have seen these temptations play themselves out in different ways as I have sought to serve the students on campus.

The book discussion time we had together at the retreat was encouraging and wonderful! I am grateful for the team (see photo below)! This year I will be the director of our Dallas branch of campuses (SMU, Richland College, and TWU-Dallas). I'm excited to serve in this new role and hopefully be a resource to our campus staff and ministers.

Also: I went to Ethiopia for 2 weeks in July! (see photos below) My entire family is from Ethiopia and I have never been there before. It was an amazing experience to see where I came from and visit such a beautiful country. Enjoy the photos below!

Thank you so much for your support and believing in me all of these years. I'm grateful for each of you and the role you play in my life!
This year I get to supervise Josh Soto! I've known Josh since his junior year at UT Dallas and he is one of my favorite people to be around. He is going to be a full-time campus missionary at Richland College alongside me and Sandra! I'm pumped!

Our SMU FOCUS team (From left to right: Laurence, Amber, and Kurt)! 

Our Richland FOCUS team! (From left to right: Sandra, Sirak (me), and Josh) I feel so lucky to get to work with such amazing people who compliment me so well!

Our Dallas team! I'm excited to get to serve along these fine folk! This was the 1st year that we split off and did our own staff retreat apart from the UT Dallas team and we were a bit nervous. The retreat turned out amazing and our time serving under Brandon & Mandy was well spent. They trained us well! Grateful for our time together at UT Dallas but we are excited as well for this next chapter!

We had a great time with our students summer at SICM! They soaked all of the experience in and were forever changed! Love them!

I miss Brady and Shirley! It was awesome to catch up with them at June SICM. They might be coming down to TX this winter for our staff retreat! I am excited for that prospect :) 

My brother, mom, and me all loved our time together in Ethiopia. The trip definitely brought us together and made us realize how fast time flies by. These are my favorite people and I love them with my whole heart. 

I got to meet my cousin, Yeyesus, who lives in Ethiopia. He is by far one of the nicest people I have ever met. He showed us all over the capital city of Addis Ababa and made our stay in Ethiopia wonderful!

Thank you so much for your support and for believing in campus missions!

Sorry for all of the photos! There's so much to update you on and I hope that you're encouraged at the photos! In just a few weeks, there's going to be thousands of students walking onto God's college campuses and we are pumped to be the first people that they meet! We are excited about the year and I'm honored to have you on my team. Thank you so much for believing in me and our mission!

Your brother & campus missionary!


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

June was a month to remember!

My friends! How are you?!

June was a great month full of exciting stories and students growing in their capacity to lead & share their faith. Every year we sent a group of students who have shown interest and growth to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry). SICM is a week-long ministry training intensive week in Bellingham, Washington. This year we sent over 30 students to our June SICM from Collin College, SMU, and Richland College! It was a blast to get to see the students connect with each other and grow in the Lord.

I remember when I went to SICM back in 2009, I was blown away by just how empowering the conference was to me. I learned that even I have what it takes to make disciples through the power of God in my life. I learned that Christ desires a relationship with all of his children and he is calling us to pursue those that he is guiding toward him. It was wonderful!

I hope that you are all encouraged by the photos below - June was a very encouraging month and was very special to me to get to share it with the students in my life in addition to the staff. I hope that the pictures below are encouraging and a faithful reminder as to how much your support means to me and what it is going toward! Enjoy the photos below:

Our SICM group praying for one another toward the end of the SICM conference week. Our students are so grateful for the CCF ministry staff who made the week such a blessing!

My host family from last year (Brady & Shirley Bobbink) and I got to catch up on the past year and pray for one another. Love these people!

Our SICM students hanging out at our FOCUS student house! It was a blast!

From Monday through Friday, the students gathered to learn from campus ministers who have been involved in college ministry since the 1970s! Our students were engaged and excited all week - SICM is such a blessing to our ministry. 

Our 2019 June SICM group from TX! These are students from our Collin College, SMU and Richland College ministries!

Kristin Sale (far left, standing) coordinated SICM this year and she did an amazing job! Kristin is an alumna of UNT and has been a long-time friend of FOCUS. She is on staff w/ CCF in Bellingham, Washington and did an amazing job coordinating SICM!

Our students enjoying their time together in Seattle. Before we head up to Bellingham, we spend a day sight-seeing in Seattle. Our students loved it! 
Getting to hang out at the end-of-the-week BBQ! I was blown away at how close our students welcomed each other into their lives even though they are from different campuses. 

Thank you so much for your support & partnership! Our students are eternally blessed because of you!

When we got to Bellingham, we got to watch Brady Bobbink, the CCF ministry director for the past 30 years, pray over Geoff Mumley the new incoming CCF staff director. Both Geoff and Brady have impacted our FOCUS ministry in Texas greatly and we are thankful for them!

Thank you so much for believing in what we get to do on campus. Your support and partnership mean the world to me. Please pray for me as my wife, brother, and mother & me fly to Ethiopia and enjoy our time there for 2 weeks. My entire family is from Ethiopia and I have never been back so I am very excited! 

Your brother & campus missionary,