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Looking Back / Looking Forward

The month of January has just passed us and that means we are over six month through the internship with only 4 months left to go! I will do my best to fill you in with all of the exciting things that went on this past month, and then try to communicate to all of you what sort of impact God has made on this campus because of your contribution!

The month of January started off with a staff retreat in a small town close to Austin, Texas. The purpose of the retreat was multi-faceted, and God used it to accomplish so many things in my heart. We had meals together every day and through sitting around the table and breaking bread together there was a closeness that was further developed among the staff, which is something that is difficult to maintain when all of the staff members are spread out among different cities across DFW. I know that as I personally looked around the room I was blown away by the fact that God has blessed me enough to work with a group of people like this. There isn't a single one of them that I have any doubts that they really and truly love the Lord, have been called into ministry, and have a heart for college students beyond comprehension. Beyond that, how incredible it is that each one of them has in some form or another invested into me and helped me to become a better minister in my daily life and in my thought processing. They have taught me to seek wisdom from God, to ask advice from others, to believe the Gospel with my whole heart and have that be the driving force for my ministry. To spread the good news so that all might know God, and to invest in students one on one just in the same way that I had been invested in to.

Beyond the meals we had together we also had an in depth study of Acts over the course of the weekend, specifically focusing on the Holy Spirit. In the end of the study we were asked to write down a one sentence summary of Acts, to try and express what message God was communicating to us through Acts. I wrote down this...
"Because of Christ the Spirit of God has come & is here! With it God will use all those who believe to win the world to his good name & restore the Kingdom of God here on Earth!"

The whole experience of the weekend brought me even deeper in to my relationship with God and at points had me throwing myself at the foot of his throne to ask him to use my broken self for the sake of His kingdom. God used this weekend to transform my heart even further, bringing me into a deeper relationship with him and reinvigorating my soul for the purpose of ministry for which I truly believe he called me in to just six months ago. I have since taken what I learned over the course of that weekend on to our college campuses and truly believe that it has already enriched my conversations with students as I pray that the spirit moves in their heart much in the same way that it has in mine.

Shortly after Staff Retreat, our entire student body was invited out to Van, Texas for the 2016 Focus Winter Camp! Winter Camp is a 4 day retreat where FOCUS students from every campus come and eat meals together, play games together, and learn together in class sessions from a guest speaker. This years speaker was a man named Rikk Watts. Rikk is an incredibly wise man and a professor at Regent College Seminary. He was asked to help our students fall in love with Jesus and I personally believe he did a very good job of it. Rikk has a genuine love for scripture and more specifically for God and that comes out in his teaching. I don't think in words I will be able to express to you the impact that Winter Camp has on our students but I want to share several cool things about the experience with you. Last year, UTA focus didn't exist. At the 2015 Winter Camp the staff announced, after months of prayer, that they would be planting a new branch of the ministry on UTA's campus and asked anyone interested in helping to plant that ministry to step up and be prayed over. 10 students from other college campuses stood up and decided to change their life plans in order to serve God and his purposes. This year, because of those students efforts, 30 students from UTA came to Winter Camp and got to experience a community of Christians who really love one another and have a deep desire to learn more about God and his character. Winter Camp is certainly a place of fun and of celebration, but it is also a place where students grow deeper in their faith in Christ, develop a heart for others, and catch a glimpse of the Kingdom.

After Winter Camp we returned back to our campuses and hit the ground running! So far new students have come to FOCUS every week, our core groups are going and the students that were there in the previous semester are stepping up in leadership opportunities, welcoming the new students with the same open hearts that they were welcomed in with. God is really moving here at UTA! I've been really impressed with my core group of guys that I get to lead each week. Several of them are non Christians that really and earnestly seek out God. A few of them grew up in Church but are just now deciding to seek out a relationship with God for themselves and others are taking leadership in the ministry, investing in the other guys in our core group and beyond. I can't take responsibility for that, I really believe Christ is shaping their hearts to be more like Him. Besides, look how cool they are.

All in all this month has been an incredibly encouraging one, God has done nothing short of stirring my affections for him and leaving me standing in awe at the great works that he is accomplishing on these college campuses! Praise God for all that he is doing around the world! I want to thank each and every one of you for how you have supported me during this year. Thank you for investing in the lives of these young men and women. I pray always that you continue to remain in Christ as he remains in you! And also that you feel the peace and joy that comes from remembering that our God is alive and active and will return again one day! Thank you for all that you do! I look forward to sharing more with you in the months to come!

In Christ,
Austin

Comments

  1. Hey Austin! Thanks for sharing. I'm so encouraged to hear your perspective on that staff retreat. It sounds like the interns' portion was a thought-provoking, inspiring time.

    I think it is so cool that we had 30 UTA students at Winter Camp! Thanks for the work you have put into teaching and encouraging those students, loving them deeply, and leading them into a meaningful relationship with Jesus. You and the rest of the UTA team are building God's kingdom in Arlington!

    Love you bro.

    ReplyDelete

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