Thursday, July 9, 2020

A New Reality Has Set In

My friends & team!

Thank you so much for your time reading this :)

7 months ago, our Richland FOCUS ministry was gearing up for our January 2020 winter camp and a great semester. We had a vision for the community throughout the spring and the amazing momentum from a great fall semester.

It's amazing how quickly plans can change and visions adapt to our given circumstances. I'm sure some of you can relate. Have you ever had things not quite go your way? This is a rhythm that our entire world is presently in and we are no different. I have come to a place where I am actively trying to accept this reality and am now anxiously curious about what this upcoming fall semester will look like.

We have gotten word from Richland College that all classes will 100% be online this fall semester and, to be honest, as a staff we are trying to take it all in with positivity and optimism.

Please be praying for us. Many of our Richland FOCUS students do not have cars so it is difficult for them to be mobile during this time. We are trying our best to stay in constant communication with them, but, it has been difficult at times.

As of right now, we do not fully know what our working plan is for this Fall 2020 - but, we are excited and anticipating that God will continue to be faithful!

As a college pastor - the work we do requires us to be around students; influencing them, getting to know them, and serving them. Even if we are not physically able to be around our students - please pray that God would continue to open doors for the influence, friendship, and service to still take place. Please be praying for the thousands of graduating high school seniors who will be starting college this fall. I hope that our ministry will be a place that welcomes and communicates: you are welcomed here!

Thank you so much for your support and partnership over the years - I am grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for walking alongside me over the years - and even now.

Enjoy the photos!


Found these photo of me and my beautiful mother! 

Zoom meetings are definitely the norm now - I'm sure even many of you have participated in your fair share of them. One of the questions I have been asking myself is: How can we make zoom meetings more engaging? Fun? - maybe there's some innovation out there to be done...

Dayo & Sandra! I'm so thankful that we got time with each other for our summer leadership training! 

Our 2019-20 Richland Staff! Josh has fully transitioned off of FOCUS staff and is working for Kipp Academy in Dallas. We will be adding Bridgett (from UNT) and Ashley (also from UNT, and just finished her apprenticeship at UT Dallas). We are excited to be adding Ashley & Bridgett! 

It's crazy to think that it's already been 2 years of marriage. Time truly does walk, then run, then fly by! 

Our good friends Kelsea and Griffin got married last weekend and it was awesome to get to be with them. It was a socially-distanced wedding for the attendees. Even though the wedding felt different than a 'typical' wedding given the current circumstances, it was still awesome to get to be with them!


Thank you so much for your support and partnership over the years! I'm honored to get to have you on my support team and more importantly - to call you my friends :)

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Monday, June 8, 2020

June Has Arrived!

My friends & team!

How are you? I hope all is well, my friends. I feel the weather beginning to warm and that can only mean one thing: summer has arrived. Traditionally, summers in campus ministry are filled with 1/1s with students, summer FOCUS, end-of-the-year apprentice moments, and preparation for another fall semester beginning. All of those things are still happening, however, the context and means in which they are happening have changed :)

A few months ago we were all looking ahead with apprehension and now it seems like we have gotten into a routine that has solidified. I don't want this to be our new reality, but, it is what it is. We will make the best with what we've got.

Thank you for your support and partnership. I'm honored to have you all on my ministry support team and it's meant the world to me that you all have walked alongside me all of these years. June & July are here so it is prep season for another great fall semester!

Josh, Dayo & Me - love these guys so much - grateful that I got to spend 1/1 time with them this year!

I'm grateful for each and every one of these students. I admire them and am grateful for them. Even though I usually miss our students every summer - I especially miss them during this season as well.

Our Dallas team! (From left to right: Me, Amber, Sandra, Josh, and Laurence)

Not sure what's happening in this photo...but, I love my team!

I got into a car accident a few weeks ago. A truck driving in front of me had their tire pop off and hit the drivers-side of my car. Everyone is safe!


What a great year with my team. I'm honored to have served Richland college w/ Josh & Sandra! Love them!


Thank you so much for your support and for believing in me! 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need anything :)

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

An Ending No One Could Have Predicted :)

My friends! My team!

Here we are, at the end of another amazing year :)

In a few days, we are going to have our last Thursday Night Thunder of the 2019-20 school year and it definitely feels strange knowing that I won't be face-to-face with all of the students that I have grown to love. If I can describe our students to you in one word it would be: fierce. They are fierce in the way they argue, laugh, and be loud with each other - they also are very fierce in the way that they challenge and push one another to be more like Christ. I am so grateful to know that this reality hasn't stopped even though we have been unable to meet with each other.

The title of my blog is, "An Ending No One Could Have Predicted", because - well - the year is ending in a way that was totally outside the realm of possibilities for me. To be honest, I still can't quite grasp what it is that I am feeling about the way this school year is ending. But, then again, isn't that much like every year?

We serve a God whose entire story runs with the theme of, "No one could have predicted this". In the same way that no one could have predicted the ending to this year - no one could have predicted the beginning of this year: us crossing paths with the amazing, loving, welcoming, and vibrant students that we had the pleasure of growing with.

Maybe this situation isn't as unique as we all think - we serve an unpredictable God. May we all embrace our unpredictable paths...

Enjoy the photos below of our students :) I'm thankful for each and every one of you and the way(s) that you have partnered with me in campus missions. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or anything else!

This year I got to spend weekly time with Dayo (bottom) and Josh (top left). They lead a core together on Wednesdays @ 1:30pm and have become the best of friends with each other. Thankful for them!

Check it out! This is our weekly Thursday Night Thunder time :) We used to meet in Sabine Hall on campus, but, as it looks now we are all in our rooms enjoying the view of one another (or..one another's backgrounds...)

Our Thursday, 2pm core time! I've loved getting time with these guys every week. I'm going to miss our weekly time together.  
On Mondays/Thursdays @ 9am we have been doing morning devotionals with our students and they have been going great!


My #1 apprentice, Josh! Grateful for him and his heart :) He will be transitioning off of staff this fall and is currently applying to different jobs. 

Sandra! This pic was taken last year and I miss getting to see her on campus along with everyone else! 

I'm so grateful for our students and their hearts for the campus. They are still committed to following Jesus and building community even during these interesting times.


Thank you so much for your support this year and for believing in me :) I'm blown away to have you on my team!

Please don't hesitate to text/call/contact me in any way if you need prayer for anything!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Virtual Campus Ministry - Our New Reality

Hey everyone? How are things going? 

I'd say that right about now we are all experiencing a collective expression of confusion, sadness, and a posture of curiosity at how our current situation will play out over time. One month ago I would have never thought that the work I do as a campus missionary would fully transition into virtual 1on1 meetings, core small groups, and TNT large group meetings. Everything has been moving so fast and we are all continually accepting our new reality. 

Last week during our 1st virtual TNT, we talked about Acts 8 which says in verses 4-8: 

"Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in the city." 

Right now - it feels as if we, as a ministry are scattered. Though we are only a few minute's drive from one another we still feel scattered as we are confined to our homes and apartments. The immediate question I had when this new reality began to sink in was: "What will our response be?" 

Will we preach the word wherever we go? Will we stay connected and encourage others to remain connected to the word and each other? Or will we let circumstances determine our character? This is going to be a stretching time for many - and I am realizing that even though the reality of what we are going through is different than anything we have ever seen before - the rhythm doesn't have to change. 

Thanks to technology - we still can meet, we still can worship, we still can engage with one another to preach the word wherever we go. Please be praying for our staff & our students as we continue to press forward in the last 5-6 weeks of the school year. Pray that we would finish strong and continue to live by faith.

Thank you for your support - I hope that you're encouraged by the photos below!


One of the highlights of my week has been getting with Josh (top left) and Dayo (bottom). They are some of my favorite people to be around and connect with. They lead core together on Wednesdays @ 1:30pm - thankful for these guys!


Our first Thursday 2pm core done virtually. These guys were all so happy to get together and connect about how everyone is doing. We read scripture together and encouraged one another to stay connected during these times.

One of the last pics we took at our Thursday Night Thunder gathering (before the schools closed down). Miss seeing these students!

We have an awesome incoming group of FOCUS apprentices that are about to graduate with their bachelor's degrees and step on as campus missionaries this fall. Please pray for them as they begin their journey fundraising!

Sandra (top right) began a weekly Tuesday scripture reading and it has been going so well! The students are engaged and excited to read scripture together and connect on what they are reading. Awesome! 

This was a shot of our virtual TNT that we had last week! It was so different than anything I have ever expected, but, I know that as we continue to step forward in hope & trust God will help us make the best of what we've got! Thank the Lord for technology!


Thank you all for your support and partnership during these troubling times for so many. Please if you have anything in your life that you'd like prayer for - do not hesitate to contact me; I'd be honored to pray for you!

Thank you for believing in what we do on campus - we couldn't do this without you!

Your brother & campus missionary,


Sirak

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

February Finished Well :)

My friends! My team! How are you?

Thank you so much for your support and believing in us this year :)

We've only got about 8 weeks left in the semester before summer hits and I don't think that things are going to be slowing down at all. Our students are engaged, committed, and willing to finish the semester strong! Please be praying for us as we wrap up the semester with our SICM invites, our student leader team conversations, and our last few Thursday Night Thunder meetings!

It was around last year that we began our Thursday Night Thunder meetings. A year has flown by and I am so encouraged by how God has used Thursday Nights on campus to open up the hearts of our students. We only have 7 left and then the semester ends!

Thank you for your support! I hope you enjoy the photos below of what your support & partnership is going toward!

From left to right: Dayo, KB, Rinsy, Josh, Ranelle, and Lydie! These are such an amazing group of students! We had a space jam movie night and they stayed out and kept pizza rolls coming in for the people watching the movie! 

Thank you so much for your support and for believing in what we do! We couldn't do this without you :)

Our Thursday Night Thunder meetings have been going so well! The students are engaged and building a very special community on campus! 

Josh Soto, my wonderful amazing apprentice did a great job preaching a couple of weeks ago! He preached on, "Do Hard Things: Seek Advice from Wise People" and our students loved it!

Two weeks ago we got to have a combined service w/ SMU FOCUS and it was awesome! They were amazing hosts for us and welcomed us with open arms :) Grateful for them! 

Amber, our staff member @ SMU/TWU-Dallas preached on Silence/Solitude and it was great! Thank you Amber for doing an awesome job :) God spoke through you! 

I'm so thankful for this group of students that I get to lead core for each week. They are so attentive, energetic, and add so much to our core experience! 


Thank you all so much for your support! I'm honored to get to serve on God's college campuses and I'm grateful to have each of you on my team :)

Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions/comments about anything!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Monday, February 3, 2020

2020 Is Rolling Forward!

My friends :)

Hi, hello, greetings, cheers!

Life consists of...rhythms. Wake up. Brush teeth. Put on clothes. Drive somewhere. Do stuff. Drive back. Take off clothes. Brush teeth. Go to sleep. For many of us...these rhythms are important because, in a way, they enable us to do the things we need to do in order to get going on with life. These rhythms, for a lot of us, are mindless...monotonous...routine. But, as soon as this rhythm is messed up or shaken, we immediately notice and do everything in place to get back on our rhythms.

Campus ministry has a rhythm to it. It has a certain routine and cadence about it. I used to think that campus ministry was unique in its rhythm, but, it really isn't. Much of life is rhythmic and, one would say that this rhythm is even instilled in creation through the seasons, calendar, and even the rotation of the earth. Here's a question: can something seemingly predictable still be sacred and holy?

This question was on my mind because...going into winter camp if I'm being honest, it felt like another event - another activity - another thing to do. Now, winter camp is arguably our most anticipated and exciting event of the year, as it should be, but, for some reason, it didn't have the excitement that it had in previous years for me. 

Don't get me wrong, winter camp was awesome! Our students arrived safely, the sessions were awesome, the free-time was well spent, the walk & talks were great, but, still, I sensed that something was different.

I had several students inform me that camp was life-changing, God spoke a particular message to them, and that they are ready to come back to campus and impact the people around them. Half-way through the weekend I was struck with this realization: even though it feels like we may be going through another rhythm, or going through the motions of an event, or even sensing the predictability of life...God is still at work

We're often tempted to take credit when it is beneficial, assign blame when it isn't, remember our successes while dismissing our failures. When this gets old we may have moments of boredom or confusion. I think that maybe I went into camp with pride and arrogance expecting it to be awesome because of how good I am. But, camp is always only good because of how good God is.

As the Psalmist reminds us:

"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1) // I pray that we would be aware of the rhythms that we are in and that we would stay present in them. They are not mindless and they are not pointless. God is working in them!

Enjoy the pictures, my friends: 



Our Richland FOCUS ministry! These students have been such a blessing in my life and I love that I get to see them pursue Christ with each other!
One of my favorite students in our Richland ministry is Jacob. (see student with Saxophone) He is an extremely talented Saxophone player and I LOVED getting to see him play it (even if it was towards the back of the room). Jacob is great!

We had our first Thursday Night Thunder of the year and it went great! Thankful for each and every one of these students. 

All of our FOCUS Campuses! Thank you so much for making this winter camp a success!


Thank you so much for your support and for believing in our mission to make disciples on God's college campuses :) I'm blown away that I get to have such an awesome team supporting me as we build his kingdom here on earth! :)





Your brother & campus missionary,


Sirak

Monday, January 6, 2020

Each Year Is A New Opportunity

My friends! :)

How are things?

In case you haven't noticed, we have officially arrived in 2020! I was reflecting on where I was 20 years ago: halfway through my 6th grade year at Bowman Middle School and thinking to myself, "I wonder what I'll be doing in 20 years?" I don't think I would've ever thought I'd be a missionary to college students! But, such is life. I'm grateful for the many decisions, twists, and turns that have led to where I am now.

Question: Are we in control of our lives? I think that we can answer this in 2 parts. Part 1: If we think about the future, we'd ideally love to assume that we are in control of the outcome of where we are heading. Part 2: If we think about the past, we see the reality that life is a complex combination of decisions we've made, random chance occurrences, and everything else in-between.

One of the things I love about college ministry is getting to meet new students on a consistent basis. Yes, I love getting to meet them - I also love getting to hear their stories, I love learning about their family backgrounds, and piecing together all the stuff that led to them crossing paths with me. As I get to know them better, it encourages me to think that God was involved along the way leading up to that particular moment.

Some of the students I've met along the way have become some of the dearest friends of mine in my life. Others have gone to break my heart and hurt me. It encourages me to think that God is still involved along the way.

What does 2020 hold? I do not know...or understand to be quite honest. Even as a pastor I still struggle at times with questions about God and his providence; how involved he is in the day to day operations and actions of my life in addition to if I really am in control of my life or if he is...

I am, however, encouraged to trust and have faith that he is involved along the way. I am encouraged to trust that he will be just as involved in 2020 as he has ever been in the years before.

December was a restful month and I hope that you're all encouraged by the photos and stories! Thank you for your support and for believing in me and our mission!

I've been missing seeing our students since the break! It'll be good to see them for our FOCUS winter camp :) Looking forward to it! 

I can't wait for the year to get started up again and kick off our Thursday Night Thunder meetings! These have been such an encouragement to me every week.  
Our end-of-the-year dinner party was fun! We all got to eat with each other and learn about the culture of one another. It was fun!


Another picture of our end-of-the-year party!

Three students: Kendall, Kiden, and Evan are transferring so we gathered around them to pray. We are going to miss them but we know that God will be moving in their lives as they continue to grow and learn. 

I've been supervising an intern this year, Josh Soto. He's done such an awesome job learning and growing into such an awesome college pastor. This is a picture of him preaching to his fellow apprentices and the other FOCUS staff. He did an awesome job and it's been a blessing having him on our team. 

Our Richland FOCUS leader team! Grateful for these students and their hearts to serve our campuses. 

Brady Bobbink, college pastor in Bellingham, Washington; came and spoke to our FOCUS staff for staff retreat. We spent our retreat sessions asking him questions about ministry and life. It was great!

After staff retreat, Brady spoke to our family of churches and it was awesome! I got to stay with Brady and his wife Shirley at SICM last year and they are amazing hosts and we are blessed to have them as a resource.  


Thank you for believing in me all of these years and for your consistent partnership :) I'm grateful to have you on my team :)

Please be praying as we prepare for winter camp! We still have a week to get students to sign-up and prepared!

Until next time -

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak