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All Glory Be To Christ

 I was asked recently by a student how much of these blogs are fluff? How much of them are the whole truth and how much of them are only the bright things that a supporter may want to hear? I desire to be honest with each one of you, and in all honesty I have to say that as the internship comes to a close I am not the same man that I was 9 months ago. I have many of the same weaknesses as I did back then. But although I am far from perfect, through this internship, and by the Spirit, God has graciously refined me to be more like Him. In my pride, God has brought me to a deeper place of humility. In my selfishness, God has taught me to share in the mindset of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5-11). In my sloth, God has given me a spirit of Fervor. In my impatience God  has taught me to depend on his timing. And in my lack of Grace the Lord has poured out upon me grace upon grace and left me with no room for excuse. I hope to not say any of that as a point of pride. Really and truly, all of that fruit has been because of the Spirit in me shaping me to be more like Christ.  But the Spirit moved through the environment in which I was in. Through our classes I formed a deeper theological understanding of our God. Through my weekly meetings with my pastoral supervisors I was both challenged and encouraged and given examples to follow as they themselves follow Christ. Through planning our core (small groups) with my friend and roommate, Travis Jones, I learned how to better practice leadership as well as the art of discussion. And through my one on one studies of scripture with the students on this campus, God reminded me of the work that he is able to do in the hearts of individuals as they are brought into Christ centered community and exposed to the Word. Yes, I have grown. And I have been blessed enough to be able to take the things that I have grown in and use them in ministry to point young men and women towards a deeper relationship with Christ. That is the truth, and that is because of you. So before I continue, if I haven't said it enough already, Thank you. Honestly, before I fill you in on all the amazing things that God is doing on this campus in our community as a whole I want to thank you for allowing me to come to a place and position in which God would continue to do amazing things in me as an individual. I pray that what I have been filled with this year (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) will pour out of me in my relationships and in my teaching in the year to come. I am forever indebted to you and am still blown away by all the love and support that you have given me this year.
Some of my Core guys hanging out at Whataburger after our last core of the year
We had our last core two Sundays ago! What an amazing experience it was to get to share life with these guys this year, and not only to share life but also to walk through scripture together. Although many topics were discussed one of our main themes was to work through six of Jesus Parables over a six week period. It was such a rewarding group study, for the guys in our core who do not yet call themselves Christians it was beyond neat to listen to them wrestle with Christ's teachings and come to a fuller understanding about Grace, Humility, God's Kingdom, and participating in what God has invited us in to. For our guys who were already Christians it was still such an edifying experience to be reminded of those truths presented. Overall this was one of the best cores that I have ever gotten to be a part of. The young men in our core group developed a genuine love for one another, there was vulnerability, humility, and an eagerness to learn all around. We also played a ton of games and had loads of fun in the process.
The UTA  Leader Team at our last meeting of the year

Speaking of lasts, we had our last leader team meeting just this past Monday and it was a really beautiful and sweet moment. Most of these leaders are students, some are staff and interns such as myself, others are alumni from various focus campuses that just decided to dedicate their time and efforts into helping to plant Focus on this campus. It has been nothing short of an honor to serve in ministry with each one of these individuals. God has used each one of them to reach out to and change the hearts of college students from every walk of life. It is bittersweet to look at this image as this is the first ever leader team that focus has ever had at UTA, but it won't be the last. These young men and women, wherever they go in life, have allowed God to use them to start something that will last beyond their time on this campus. God has used these students to raise up leaders in ministry who will one day take their place and carry on in the mission of making disciples of every nation. I'm so thankful to God for their friendship and their willingness to serve with me this year.
A fundraising event our community held to send one of our students to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry)
One of the great and exciting things that we have gotten to do this semester is to come around some of our future student leaders and show support to them by having community fundraisers. These events are great for a plethora of reasons. It teaches our future student leaders how to host an event. It also reminds them of God's provision, as over 60 students who want to help them become better leaders and ministers come to support them financially and in the process share some great moments of fellowship together. Also, Pancakes!
Peter Severin was Baptized earlier this month!
Peter has been a part of our community since one of the very first weeks, he is honestly one of the kindest guys that I have ever met. He is a firm believer in Jesus and he can quote scripture more so than anyone I have ever met. But his corefa was surprised to find in their one on one study that Peter had never been baptized! My dear friend, Nathan Bass, got to have the honor of baptizing Peter just a couple of weeks ago and you can watch the full video of it here. I speak in the first minute, Peter's mother shares about halfway through and Peter is Immersed and brought up again in the last 30 seconds.  I thank God often for allowing Peter to be a part of our community, what a blessing he has been!

(I'm still trying to figure out how to upload the video of Peter's baptism, but I will update this blog as soon as I figure it out!)

Recently as part of one of our thursday night fellowship meetings, April Ashton, one of my fellow interns had our students write on sticky notes the things that they believe God has been teaching them this year! As an encouragement I figured I would share with you the answers written!


























As the year came to a close we had our Focus Formal!
At the Formal we look back on the year and reflect about all that God has done. In our loves, in this community, on this campus, and everywhere else imaginable. We celebrate what He's done and we thank Him for bringing us all together and allowing us to participate in ministry with one another. We also say goodbye to those students w ho are graduating or returning to their respective countries. It is a sweet night filled with love and worship. To commemorate the year I put together a video of interview with students from Focus sharing about their experience this year! I hope that you find this video encouraging and hopefully paints you a better picture of why I'm here and what God is accomplishing through your donation. 


A couple of upcoming things that you could pray for or might want to know about. In one week we leave with our student leaders for a week in Bellingham, Washington to attend the Student Institute of Campus Ministry in which our students will spend a week learning how to be ministers on their campus, engaging in spiritual conversations with those around them and generally leading well in ministry and evangelism. SICM was a life changing week for me 4 years ago and I consider it an honor to be able to go back again. If you could pray for the growth and maturity of our students as they learn more about how to be more like Jesus in every area of their life. 

I am delivering my last sermon of the year on May 31st at at 9am at Northeast Church in Garland on Shiloh Road. It will not be a traditional sermon in the sense that I will be sharing about my experience in this internship and ways that God has used it to change me. But each one of you is more than invited to come and listen, and I hope and pray that it will be edifying to you!

I am beginning to support raise for the following year to come and if I haven't called you already I probably will be. I am so thankful for all that you have already given me, but I would love if you could just pray about whether or not God is leading you to give again this year. I fully believe that what you have already given will have an eternal impact. So thank you, I love you, and I look forward to talking to you soon!

In Christ, Austin!

My roommate's dog, dressed like my roommate.


Comments

  1. Hey Austin!

    I love those sticky notes you shared! The UTA students have obviously learned some important truths in FOCUS this past year, and those are all such good reminders of why we do campus ministry. I am thrilled to be moving to Arlington and working with those awesome students next year! I am also excited to be on a team with you.

    It sounds like you've grown a ton this year. I look forward to hearing your last intern sermon as you reflect on all of that growth.

    Thanks for sharing. Love you Austin!

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