Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Start of An Amazing Year! (lots of pictures!)

We are officially 100% back! 

It's been a long year and a half, but I am excited to say that we are back on campus, back in the lives of students, and back making an impact every single day. 

Words can't express how happy I feel to be engaging and interacting with students face to face. Even walking through the cafeteria and looking at the men & women that God has brought our way has been a deeply encouraging experience!

It feels good to be back on campus, meeting new students and being faithful with what we have right in front of us. 

I began a 1-on-1 Bible study with a student named Yoni. He is a sophomore studying Information Technology and he is excited to jump into the scripture as we study Focus on Jesus.

I can already sense a lot of momentum in our ministry. Students are excited to be interacting with one another and being a part of a community on campus!

We have a lot of time to make up for the 1.5 years we were unable to be on campus. Please pray for us and our students as we build new relationships and open ourselves up to what God wants to do in our lives.

Enjoy the pictures below and THANK YOU for your support! 


This year we hosted our own Texas-SICM and it was an awesome experience! I loved getting to be with all of the students and prepare for an awesome year :)

Another pic of our Texas-SICM!

This year we are planting a FOCUS at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus! We have been at the Richland Campus for the last 8 years, but now we are expanding to another one of our Dallas College campuses! Connor (at the table) is one of our FOCUS apprentices! 

We've loved getting to engage and meet new students! Rinsy (right of Connor) came and helped us connect with students throughout the day.

Meanwhile at Richland Campus we set up volleyball nets the first week of school to meet students, engage with them, and make space for new spiritual friendships to grow!

Thursday Night Thunder!!!



The students that have been coming to Thursday Night Thunder are engaged and have an amazing attitude. I can tell that they are excited to be there to learn about Jesus and serve in our ministry!



We're off to a great start and I'm honored to be back with our students. It's been a long year and a half - but we are excited to be faithful with what God has given us! 



Thank you so much for your support! I am so grateful for your friendship & partnership. I'm excited to see what this year brings!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Staff Retreat and The Beginning of Another Year!

 My friends! My team!

Here we are again! It's August and in just a few weeks there will be thousands of students walking onto campus for the first time after the strangest academic year that they have probably ever experienced. I cannot fathom how hungry they are for social interaction and I am excited that FOCUS will be one of the first people that meet them as they walk onto campus!

This year we are pioneering FIVE new FOCUS ministries! We will be planting 2 at the campuses of Tarrant County College, a new campus for Collin College, NCTC in downtown Denton, and Dallas College Brookhaven Campus. We have an amazing group of incoming apprentices and we are excited to get going on these campuses!

We got back from our staff retreat last week and it was such an encouraging time! Our staff spent time bonding and getting to know each other before the beginning of a crazy year. This is the biggest our staff has ever been and I am honored to get to serve with such brilliant men & women of God.

Dallas College has gone through a lot of organizational transitions so we (at Richland College FOCUS) are still figuring out our status as an organization at Richland Campus. I think that everything will work out, however, if you can please PRAY for us that all of our administrative tasks & duties will line up before the year begins, that would be amazing!

THANK YOU for your support and for believing in my all of these years! I can't believe that I am beginning my 9th year on staff. I am honored to get to serve alongside the amazing staff & students that God has placed before me. I'm excited for our Richland FOCUS team to get on campus and begin loving students!

I hope these pictures encourage you and cast a vision for what God has planned this year!


Our incoming group of FOCUS apprentices! I am blown away at how many apprentices will be serving this year! This is our biggest year yet - pray for them as they learn in their classes and reach out on campus.

Staff retreat was encouraging. I'm glad that we all got to worship together and share what our vision is for the year. It has been a good summer of fundraising and I'm excited to kick the year off!

Our staff hanging out during one of the breaks at retreat!



The staff that whose contracts were up for renewal all made commitments at our commitments ceremony. Thank you to everyone who came or live-streamed the event!

Thank you all so much for believing in what we are doing! I am honored to get to be on campus this year side-by-side with you. Thank you for your prayers and consistent support :)

Please don't hesitate at all if you need prayer for anything!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Prepping for an Awesome Year!

My friends & team :) 

Summer is off to a great start and we are in full preparation mode for the fall. I have great news: Richland Campus will be opened for the fall!

This past year was such a positive experience but the one missing thing was getting to be on campus. COVID-19 really threw a wrench in all of our plans but it looks like we will be stepping moreso into normalcy with campus being 100% opened!

I'm excited to meet new students, reserve rooms, set up our tables at the org fair, and get to have Thursday Night Thunder again! Our Richland staff team will be the biggest that it has ever been. We are bringing on 2 apprentices (Claire & Connor) and 1 senior staff person (Joey). In addition to me & Sandra, this will be our biggest team yet! SMU FOCUS is also bringing on 2 apprentices so our Dallas staff team is growing!

This week I will be turning 33 years old and it is strange to think about - but I have been a college pastor for a decade! Some of you have been a part of my team since the very beginning and it is such an encouragement to know that you've been there side-by-side with me all of these years.

I'm looking forward to another year and I'm honored that you're all on my team for another one! 


Rhett (pictured in-between Reed (left) and me (Right)) got married a few weeks ago. He is on staff with our UT Dallas ministry and will soon be planting a FOCUS ministry at TCU. 

Summer FOCUS has been such an encouraging weekly time with our ministry. It feels so good to be back to normal with all of our students.

My Richland dudes! Brian (left), Jacob (middle), and me (right). These guys have been a huge part of our Richland FOCUS ministry over the past year. They are both coming back this fall and I'm excited for them to be a part of our ministry!

My man Dayo (right) and me (left)! I loved getting to lead core w/ him over the past year. We got some time to catch up with each other last week to hear how summer has been going and what God is doing in each others lives. 


Thank you all so much for believing in our mission to love college students. We couldn't do this without you! I am blown away at how much God has worked through your support to make a way for students to be loved and challenged to live for Christ!

Please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything in your life that I can be praying for you about!

Your brother,

Sirak


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Summer Is In Full Swing!

 My friends & team! 

Summer is in full swing and summer FOCUS has been going so smooth! 

It's encouraging to get to see students face-to-face again and we have so much momentum leading Into the fall! 

Thank you for believing in my & supporting our mission to love students!

I loved our spring park day that our ministry did!

My buddy Spencer sent me this photo a while back - I got to baptize him almost a decade ago in my small group that I was leading. Thankful for him!

One of our last Thursday Night FOCUS meetings! I miss seeing all of these students!

Our staff had a pioneering bootcamp a few weeks ago w/ a guest speaker from Chi Alpha! He came and led us in a 2-day intensive workshop regarding planting college ministries! It was awesome :) 


Our FOCUS apprentices did an AMAZING job this year! 
Me & my wonderful family!


Thank you so much for your support and for believing in me! Your support means so much to what we get to do. It's an honor to love these students and its an honor to be alongside you as we do it!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We've Reached The End (Of A Wild Year!)

 My friends & team :) 

Cheers to another year! Wow...I feel like when I do these blogs I tend to have a (minor) existential crisis. Time truly walks...then runs...then flys by! I think that this year taught me (more than any previous year) that God is the one who is in control. 

At our end-of-the-year party, I thanked the students for choosing to be involved this year. Our campus was closed, many meetings were held on Zoom, we were limited in outreach and I could tell that many students were struggling. Choosing community is always a sacrifice when there are conveniences and luxuries all around us. This year, however, the students who chose to be involved all made this year the powerful experience that it was! 

God has given us such a sweet group of students who love one another and believe in one another. We had an 'open-mic' time at our end-of-the-year party for the students to share how they've seen God move in the lives of those around them and I was deeply moved at the stories that were shared. Our students encouraged and blessed one another as they reflected on the year. I was reminded of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (see below).

"I planed the seed, (Apollos) watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

This year was difficult at times - but in the end I got to see the fruit of our labor. This year was a challenge - but in the end I got to see the seeds that we planed together as a team begin to grow. 

Thank you for your support and for believing in us. I'm blown away at the love & support I receive from you all. I will be turning 33 years old in July - some of you have been on my team since I was 23! I'm honored that you have gone on this journey with me. 

Enjoy the photos below! 


Our Wednesday 2pm core! It's going to be sad to say goodbye to these fellas, but, I know I will be seeing them over the summer at Summer FOCUS!

Tom Miller, a dead friend of mine preached a few times at Thursday Night Thunder and the students loved it! We're so thankful for Tom and how he blesses our ministry.

We did a spring park day in April and it was a blast! 

Our FOCUS Apprentice, Bridget - did a great job planning it. She and Ashley put on such a fun day for our students to get out, play some fun games, and engage with one another!

Thursday Night Thunder has been one of my favorite nights of the week. We appreciate Northeast Church Garland allowing us to meet in their building this year!

Another shot of our Thursday Night Thunder group!



I love our group of students! So grateful for them :) 



Sandra did a great job preaching a few weeks ago - she planned and prepared a worship night for us. The students engaged with the talk and worshiped God in their own unique way(s) at our worship stations.



Thank you all for believing in me! The best is yet to come! 

I'm honored to get to serve on campus at Richland College with my team :) We're excited to jump Into the Fall 2021 semester (It'll be here faster than we think!).

Until then, don't hesitate to contact me if you need prayer for anything specific in your life! Thank you for your support!

Your brother & campus pastor,

Sirak

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Sirak's Update! (Approaching the end to a very unique school year...)

I hope you're all doing well :)

I typically do my monthly update the first week of the month so I do apologize for the delay. 

We have about one month left in the school year before summer vacation begins and we are not slowing down :) 

I have a joke with a few of my students that this entire past year has felt like a summer vacation for some of them. Classes are 100% online, campus is closed...summer vacation, anyone? 

God has brought together such a sweet group of students who love and cherish one another - I am grateful for each of them. I'm grateful for each of you for your support and friendship throughout this time. Thank you. 

This past weekend, we had our spring park day and the students had a blast (see pictures below). Our FOCUS apprentices, Bridgett and Ashley did an amazing job planning it and the students really appreciated their time with one another. 

Our weekly Wednesday 2pm core :) Grateful for these guys for showing up each week!

Tom Miller, a good friend of mine and volunteer staff w/ Richland FOCUS has been spending some time preaching & teaching w/ our students. I can tell that the students really connect with him and adore him. 

During our Thursday nights together we will often break up into small groups to discuss the content of the evening and share what is going on in one another's lives. 

Our fall park day was a blast! I enjoyed getting time with all of the students. It was a mixture of fun games and personal reflection on the year. Bridgett and Ashley did an awesome job planning it!




God has provided so much this year and I'm thankful for each and every one of these students. Their hearts have encouraged one another during a time of discouragement for so many. 

In these last few weeks I ask you to join me in praying for this fall semester. In many ways it will be a "re-start" for our Richland FOCUS ministry. Last year we had a momentum that was cut short due to COVID and I'm proud to say that we made the best with what we had. 

This fall we are bringing in 3 new apprentices to Richland FOCUS in addition to sending around 4-5 student leaders to our SICM this year.

They still have not made an official announcement as to whether or not campus will re-open this fall but faculty & staff did begin reporting to campus in early-April (GREAT NEWS!). 

Thank you all so much for your support and for believing in our mission to make and mature disciples for the glory of God. 

Your brother & campus missionary,


Sirak

Thursday, March 4, 2021

It's Already March...Wow :)

 My friends! My team!

I can't believe we're about to approach the 1/4 mark of 2021. Crazy. Wild. But, such is life :) 

Even though we are at the 1/4 mark of the year - we are also at the 3/4 mark of the school year! We have 2 months left school and this, truly has been one of the most unique school years that I think I will ever experience. 

Even though this year campus was closed, I am deeply touched by the students who stuck around this year to make this a special season of our lives. We all social distanced - we all wore masks - we all tried our best to reach out to new students - most important: we were faithful. 

We know we are not alone in all of this. College ministries all over the world are struggling. Ministries all over the world are trying to make sense of doing ministry during a pandemic. I just want to say that I am so proud of these students at Richland FOCUS who have stuck around and made this such an awesome year. I'm honored to call myself their campus pastor and their friend. 

It is a joy - a true joy. I'm also honored to have you all on my team - being with me through this year and the years to come. 

I'm looking forward to these last two months of the school year. Our students are feeling more & more at home with each other. They are consistent and involved in the lives of one another. 

Please be praying for our students as they continue in their online-classes and that they finish the semester strong! 


Lucas, Matthew, and Simon discussing scripture with one another on Thursday Night! Love these guys!

I got to be in a discussion group with Brian and Benji! Love these students :) 

Our Thursday night thunder group - thankful for each and every one of these students!

I've loved getting to lead core with Dayo (in picture). We get together each week to hang out, plan core, and pray for our guys. Here we are eating ramen together. 

This year has been a little crazy - we've had to cancel a few of our in-person events to be on zoom with each other. The weather has been unpredictable but we are grateful for our consistent group of students!


Thank you so much for believing in our mission and for loving college students! We have a lot of the year left so let's finish strong!

please don't hesitate to let me know if you need prayer for anything in your life!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak

Thursday, February 4, 2021

January 2021 Campus Missionary Update!

 My friends & team!

I hope you're all doing well today - It's hard to believe that we're in February 2021!

Around this time one year ago our ministry was coming back from Winter Camp, excited and anticipating a new semester, new friendships were being formed and we were moving full steam ahead into a great semester. 

I began seeing more & more news articles surrounding COVID-19 but, at the time, it didn't mean much to me - I was focused on our students & the success of having an awesome year!

In early-March 2020 we were making preparations for a groups of students from Seattle to come down and help us with outreach during their spring break. We call it SSI week and it is one of the most exciting weeks of the year. As COVID news stories began to rise and the uncertain nature of the future began to break - we ended up cancelling SSI week. 

We were moving forward until one Thursday afternoon I got an email from the college that said, "All large group meetings of 20+ people will not be allowed to meet moving forward." It was then that I began to grasp how different our lives & ministry were to become. 

One year later I still am unsure what the future holds - will we get to do outreach on a busy, vibrant campus again? Will I be able to walk around campus meeting new students? Will campus be closed for another year? 

Ministry at the community college level is always a challenge because students transfer quickly. They in your ministry for a short amount of time and they leave. Now that campus is closed we have struggled with meeting new students and developing a presence on campus. 

Please pray that campus would be 100% opened or, at least, operating at a hybrid-level format for this fall. God is faithful and he will continue to provide for our campus ministry @ Richland, but, we are struggling with trying to paint a passionate picture of the future. 

Thank you so much for your support and for believing in our mission!



From left to right: Dayo, Brian, Ricky, and me! This is our Wednesday, 2pm Men's core Bible study! It has been going well and I'm so grateful these dudes!

Even though this year has looked different and campus is closed - I am grateful for these students and their desire to be a part of our mission :)

We make some decisions on a week-to-week basis regarding meeting place/time/etc. - and, when all else fails, we usually meet on Zoom. Even though Zoom is 100% NOT the same as meeting in-person...it still is a gift to get to connect with each other :)

This year, we had an in-person staff retreat and a Zoom staff retreat. Even though I streamed in to our staff retreat, it was still a great experience :)


Please don't hesitate to let me know if you need prayer for anything in your lives!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak



Thursday, January 7, 2021

I blinked then all of a sudden it was 2021... (Sirak's December Update!)

 My friends :) My team :)

Here we are, another year. I was listening to "The Thanksgiving Song" by Ben Rector and there is a line in it where he says: "Life never stops changing but some things never change." It touched me because of how true it is. Time never quite stops moving on but we find that in each new season that arrives we are a little different...the world is a little different...our society is a little different...technology is different...etc.

There are some things that never change in campus ministry: meeting students, loving students, and discipling students. These never change. But, 2020 has shown us time and time again that life truly never stops changing. We experienced some drastic changes in 2020, but, maybe the changing has always been there but we just finally experienced it on a deep level. 

As we enter the spring semester we have a lot of ideas as to how we can keep the constants continuing: meeting students, loving students, and discipling students. But, no doubt as we have seen: things will change. This semester may present new issues and things we may need to shift & move around, but we're here for it!

Thank you for your support and for believing in us! December was a relaxing month of reflection, reading, and remembering what God has done this fall and praying for him to move this Spring. We have an awesome group of students that were consistent with us this past fall and we're looking forward to an awesome spring semester!


Our end-of-the-semester Christmas service was an awesome time w/ our students. We had dinner with each other (individually packed) and worshipped while sharing about the semester with each other! 

We even had a student-led choir!

This year for our preaching lab, we invited Bill Watson (back center) to be our guest and listen to Adam (2nd from left), William (far right), and Andrea (front center) preach 20 minute sermons and receive feedback. Our apprentices were split into 3 groups and this was the group I led! They all preached such powerful sermons and I enjoyed our time together!

Just in case you haven't seen me in a while - this is an updated photo of me doing what I love: enjoying pho!



Thank you all so much for your support and for believing in me! I am blown away to get to serve alongside you on God's campuses. Even though this will be another online-only semester, we still hope to meet new students and love them!

Your brother & campus missionary,

Sirak