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June Ministry Update!

Hello Everyone!

I'm pretty excited to be writing to you today as I have quite a bit on my mind. June has been a really incredible month. A plethora of events have occurred in the past month ranging from moving in to a new house with new roommates to a death in the family.

At the start of this month our various campuses came together for the beginning of summer focus! Summer Focus is a time where all of the students who remain in the DFW area for the summer can come and continue to be a part of Christ centered community!
During summer focus students get to catch a vision that God is doing really incredible things all over DFW. They form friendships with not only the people that they already know from their campus but students from different college campuses and different walks of life! The staff during this time also continues to deliver sermons that the students can spiritually chew on and be shaped by as they go through summer. All of that is on top of the fact that the students all get to gather together in worship of our Lord as we sing and dance for His glory! And that is truly an encouraging thing to see every week as many of these students are traveling an hour or more to come and attend! It is amazing to reflect on the hunger that these students have to grow in their faith and to learn more about our God. It is because of your support that these students are present and that we are able to continue to minister to them even when many of these students are not in classes! I sincerely want to thank you so much for that opportunity! If you'd like to attend a night of Summer Focus we meet on Thursday nights at 7:30 PM in Richardson East Church of Christ. They have graciously opened up their doors to us! I'll be delivering a sermon to the community on 7/14/2016 and I'd love to see you there!
Myself and a student from UNT that I met through summer focus spending some time hanging out together by playing a mutually enjoyed game! Disc Golf!

I and four of my friends moved into a new house at the beginning of June! It really has been a blessing to have space large enough to fit a small group comfortably! To live with 4 christian guys is an opportunity for all of us to minister towards one another. As I ponder on how to be a good roommate I am reminded of the wide number of one another verses found in scripture. Perhaps one that has really been in my heart for the past several months and that I wrestle with daily is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which reads 
 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!
In light of this I have been pondering how I can lower myself before my roommates and serve them even when I may be in the right. I believe that if each one of us will take this teaching to heart and remember to live for others how Christ lived for us then not only will we be great roommates towards one another but we might begin to reflect Christ to the world around us and win others for His name!
In short, I've been doing the dishes a lot and spending more time in the living room :)
The dog likes the new house as well!


One thing that happened this month that I've spent quite some time pondering was the death of my grandfather Walter Gage. Walter, or Grandpa to me, was always a good man. He was kind and encouraging and despite his damaged voice he was always a great storyteller as well. I used to sit with him on the back porch for an hour or two and ask him questions about his life. I truly enjoyed knowing him and felt a sense of pride to have come from his lineage. And although I wasn't in Florida often enough to truly say that we were close I really loved my grandfather. I still do. As far as I'm aware Grandpa was not a believer in Jesus. I don't really have any general idea what his degree of faith was, if he believed in God, and if he believed in God what sort of conversations that he had had with the maker of all creation. And so while I've certainly experienced death in my life, I still miss my mother often, this was the first time where I had known someone who had died that did not proclaim Jesus as the lord of their life. And that to me is truly something I've been wrestling with. For many years growing up I knew the theological answer to what happens to someone when they pass without knowing Jesus, but this time, for me, the question is different. It is no longer, where is that person? It is where is Grandpa? And what did God have to say to him when they met? I don't claim to know the answer to that question. I believe that when I pass I might be quite surprised to see who is with my God and who isn't. But I do know a couple of things. One, my God loves his children. He loves them so much that he sent his only true son to die for them. And Walter Gage was certainly one of those people that Jesus came to die for. But I also know that my God is just and he sees the hearts of man better than I ever could begin to. So for me to decide who is good and who is not is not a decision that I can make. In the end, I trust God. I trust that God desires Walt to be by his side. But I also trust that God is creating a new world full of those devoted to Him.  Once again, I don't claim to have the answer to this question. But I believe I have become more sensitive to loss while also having had my level of immediacy for sharing Jesus with the world increased. I miss Grandpa, from my perception he was a good man, but I know that God is good above all. And I'm excited to see what He has in store.


Some other things that I have been doing this month is meeting with students and studying scripture with them which has been great! I have been recently encouraged by a study that I am going through with a Sophmore at UTA named Matt Davis. Matt comes from the same hometown as I do and his degree of faith is similar to where mine was when I first entered college so I certainly have a heart for the young man and am praying for him often. Matt, if you're reading this. You're great. I've really enjoyed our study! One thing that I am currently working through with Matt is the reality and weight of our sin. That we are in need of redemption and that we are not able to heal ourselves. Enter grace, Jesus Christ, the cross, and the free gift of  forgiveness and new life that is offered to us should we choose to accept it. We recently studied through the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We went over the fact that although the son had a practiced speech in which he hoped he could earn his way back into his father's good graces the father had already been waiting at the window for him and upon seeing him, ran to him and kissed him before the son could even get a word out. Matt will use words like "get my self together" and I'm trying to get him to question that notion and instead realize that the Christian faith is not about getting ourselves together but instead is about accepting the immense love and grace that we have from our father through Christ. Please continue to pray for this study! I truly believe that God is working in the lives of each one of these students and will use them to reach even more than I could! Thank you for your support and prayers!

As far as support raising goes I am only about to 45% of my goal for this upcoming year but so far the support raising process this year has truly been nothing short of encouraging! Every one of you that I have gotten in contact with has been so kind and encouraging and I fully believe that it has so far been a reminder in my life of God's goodness and provision. I know that if this is not where God has me then support raising will be a struggle, but after having so many wonderful conversations with each one of you I can not help but feel affirmed of the fact that we are all in this together and I am only able to be in the position that I am because of your support as you are led by the Spirit to give. So I truly want to thank you! If I have not gotten in contact with you as of yet then know that I hope to in the next several weeks and share with you why I am so excited to continue on as staff with Focus at UT Arlington! I look forward to those conversations! If you know of anyone who may be interested in hearing more about Focus or what I will be doing in this year to come please never hesitate to call. I would love to share with them all that I can see God doing on this campus. I pray that this letter has been an encouragement to you! God knows that you have certainly been an encouragement to me. This is only a small bit of everything that has been occurring within this ministry so I want to end by sharing with you a student testimony that was posted on Focus main website. This is a student at UT Arlington named Brooklyn who I am very excited to have as a part of our ministry! She really loves God and others and has been deeply impacted by your support through Focus. I love all of you and I pray that you are doing well, please let me know if there is ever anything that I can do for you!

In Christ,
Austin

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