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Moving Forward

The month of September has been one of growth, and an indicator of the ways that God will be using this ministry, and specifically me, in the months to come.

Earlier this month, we as a ministry finally got to start our cores! For those of you who don't know what a core is, cores are gender specific, small group, missional communities in which students are invited to engage in conversations about scripture, faith, and life, and how all of these things work in relationship to one another. I have been blessed enough to lead one of these cores on Sunday evenings with one of our UTA campus pastors, Travis Jones. Together, Travis and I have tried to create an environment where students can come to our core and feel safe enough to ask questions about life and religion and expect an honest but loving answer from either ourselves or one of our other students who are participating in core. So far Core has been a great experience! Due to the people that God placed in my life during the first several weeks of school and the students that I was lucky enough to meet and befriend, our Core is primarily international students, probably about 75 percent!
Hearing these students engage in conversations about scripture and how that should impact the way that we live life has been nothing short of a blessing. I have loved listening to and hearing these guys talk about sacrificial love, servant-hood, and true friendship. Although many of theses students do not personally know the love of Jesus Christ and primarily come from either a Hindu or Muslim background, the fact that they are regularly willing to listen to and talk about God's goodness, and the teachings of Jesus fills my heart with joy. I am continuously praying that as these students are learning more about the Christian faith that they might begin to realize the joy and freedom that comes out of a relationship with God through the grace of Him and his son Jesus.

Part of our life as Staff and Interns this year has been to look for further opportunities to strengthen the idea of community within our ministry. Early on in September one new member of UTA Focus, named Mark, had a birthday. Mark is an international student and this is his first year here in America so we wanted to make it something special. We invited everyone that would come to celebrate the birthday of our new friend, and it was a huge turnout. Mark had certainly experienced plenty of birthdays before this day, but I think there was something special for him in knowing that people, whom he had only known for a few weeks, cared enough about him to invite all of his friends over, bake a cake, play games, and celebrate his life. Beyond being just fun, I believe it was a really special opportunity for us to show the new people to the community the way that we treat one another.
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I don't have a picture for these next sections, but a huge part of this internship has been the classes that we have been taking. Some of these classes are led by the pastoral staff and are quite simply centered around how to think more pastorally in the way that we interact with people both in and outside the church body. Some of the other classes have been facilitated conversations over books that we have been reading as part of our coursework. The books range in a wide array of topics from leadership, living in a post-christian culture, and how to more effectively grow deeper in our personal relationships with Jesus Christ. Also as one of our classes we are each taking an online seminary course from Regent College that has challenged us to explore in depth the Old Testament and it's purposes for our lives as Christians. I was never much of a reader before I started this internship, beyond the occasional sci-fi or fantasy fiction novel. But I have already begun to see the intrinsic value of reading these texts. It's like I'm able to sit down with a Christian spiritual leader, someone who has been doing ministry for 40 years and have a conversation with them about what it takes, how to be more like Christ, and how to lead others in that mission. I hope to never stop reading, always learning, and thinking on how to be my best for Christ.

In this upcoming week Focus is only going to continue to move forward. Already our students are taking an evangelistic attitude and engaging their peers on campus with questions about God and faith. Already God, because of his goodness, has been using our lives as a light on this campus.

Things that you can pray for in the upcoming weeks:
Fall Camp: This weekend we as a ministry our taking our students to a fall retreat. We will be spending 24 hours together at a camp called Mount Lebanon, We will play games together, worship together, and spend time together in conversation getting to know one another. This is one of our most important times of the year because it really allows an opportunity for our students to get an idea of what the vision is for this ministry. Not just a group of people, but a group of individuals who love God passionately and actively seek out opportunities to show that love to one another. 

Leadership: This year is moving quickly, and pretty soon it will be over, when that happens, a new generation of student leaders will have to rise up to lead this ministry. As an intern and core facilitator part of my job is discipling these young adults, discerning who is really passionate about God and others, who has caught the vision for what FOCUS is trying to do here, and is willing to be trained up in leadership and will catch the vision for discipling the generation after them. If you could pray for me as I study scripture with several of these young men that I have my eyes open to students who would really fit that description. 

Once again, none of this would be possible if it were not for your support. Without your donations and prayer's I would not be able to engage these specific students with the Gospel. I am so thankful for all that you have done, and I am eternally grateful for your prayers and support. I love each and every one of you. In Christ, Austin Gage.

Comments

  1. Hey Austin, I am so encouraged by that picture of your Core! It is great to see how many international students are getting involved with you guys at UTA. That is really a huge opportunity to bless those guys and teach them the most important truths they can ever learn! I pray that they remain consistent in showing up and open-minded to hear what you and Travis are teaching.

    I am also really glad to hear that your intern classes are helping you to become more of a reader. I sincerely believe that as disciples we are called to be life-long students. Don't ever stop reading and learning about our great God and the incredible creation he has blessed us with!

    Love you Austin! Keep up the good work!

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