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A New Year


This whole past month has absolutely rushed by as each one of the different campuses that Focus is on prepared for their schools upcoming welcome week where incoming freshmen, transfer students, and international students flock to campus for the first time, often knowing no one at all. Being fully aware of this our ministry makes every effort to be present at the University's events as well as host some our own in the hopes that some of these students might also attend and we might be there to begin a friendship with them and welcome them not only to college, but also in to Christ centered community.
Our student leaders grouping up for a picture before going out on to the campus to help incoming students into their residence halls and invite them to campus events!
Our students did an amazing job with this! At one point during the events I was talking to several students for the first time and when they heard that I was a part of Focus they each began to list the amount of Focus people that had reached out to them in the past week. Considering we only have around 15 leaders this year the fact that each one of them had not only been met, but consistently contacted by several members of our community I think is a testament to the work that these leaders put forth and I couldn't be more proud of the light that they were to their campus this past month. Although each one of these students did a great job of being outwardly centered and inviting everyone they came in to contact with to come and join, in the end, they could only spread the seed. It was always going to be God who would make this community grow. And it seems that He saw fit to do so!
This is from a board game night that we had the day before our first Focus Thursday Night Fellowship. There was around 75 students there playing games and enjoying community. This is in comparison to last years picture at the same event.
Not all of these students will stick around and hear about God, but for a night they had a lot of fun with some Christian people that called them friend and I think that is really neat. However, while playing games together and sharing in fun is a part of our ministry we really want all of the college students that we encounter to also encounter God and be impacted by His word. Which is why for the past month I have been waiting in anticipation to see who God would bring into our Thursday Night Fellowship. And yesterday I got to see just that. I was really amazed and humbled. I couldn't help but get a little emotional at all of the new faces that were there to worship, seek God, and experience community together. We couldn't get everyone in one picture.




Our ministry has never been about numbers or attendance, and I pray that it never will be. But if these students continue to come around they will be discipled in a one on one setting by either one of our staff or one of our student leaders and the Gospel will be multiplied on this college campus and bring a whole lot of glory to God and that is something that gets me beyond excited. Ecstatically joyful. Thank you for your investment in this ministry. You may never have an accurate scale of the impact that your gift is making on these college campuses, but at UTA alone there were over 100 students there last night who heard the word and experienced the love of The Spirit flowing from their fellow peers, and I can testify first hand just how impactful of an experience that is. It is in many ways the reason that I am where I am in life today. Please be praying for these students that God would grab hold of their hearts and draw them deeper into a relationship with him through either this community or another Christian community that they may join over the school year.
Me and my really great friend Guang, who will be returning to China in two weeks after a year of being here in America completing research for his PhD. For those of you who don't know Guang he came to America one year ago having no belief in God, but I had the absolute pleasure of studying scripture with him once a week over the whole last year and he not only believes that God exists today but he also believes wholeheartedly that God loves him deeply and  that God has expressed that love to him through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I will miss him dearly. In 4 years, you can expect my postcard from China when I go visit Guang in his home country.
Some things that you can be praying for
1. Core Groups - We had our first large group fellowship and that was truly an amazing gift from God, but the core of our ministry either happens in one on one discipleship or in our Core Groups. Cores are typically gender specific, smaller sized groups, in which students can come and engage scripture together, share life together, worship together, and serve together. It is in these groups that truly deep friendships are formed and students are offered a platform to ask questions about God and faith that otherwise they feel they have not had an opportunity to ask before. Core Groups are where brothers and sisters are made, friendships that will last a lifetime. Please pray that those students who attended on Thursday might also come and be a part of one of these groups and be further brought in to Christ centered community.

2. Studies - I already have three studies set up for this year with guys ranging in background and beliefs, but I will be walking through scripture with each one of them and attempting to point them towards Christ and a life lived for Him. I don't always have the words for these students, but I know that God does. Please pray for wisdom and for God to use me to bring glory to Him.

3. Specifics - The core group that I will be leading this year does not have a room yet on campus and because this core is supposed to be specifically targeted towards commuter students (students who live too far away from campus to stay for our evening cores) we really want to have this group on campus for their convenience. After I post this blog I will be returning to campus to speak to the faculty of UT Arlington and attempting to secure us a place to host core regularly. This core starts Wednesday so we really need to find something soon!

A Few More Things
If you are a supporter of Focus, whether that is through financial giving or through prayer I want to personally invite you to Focus' 20 Year Celebration event on October 8th in Dallas. It will be an evening full of celebrating what God has done in the lives of college students and alumni through Focus over the course of the last 20 years. I would love to see you there. You can RSVP here! https://anyfocus.org/celebrate20/

Every month we will be having a student in our community sharing a testimony of their experience in Focus! This is the one from this month; please read and enjoy.
"I came to college knowing about God but not knowing God. I didn’t grow up as a Christian but went to youth group with friends in high school. As an overachieving perfectionist I saw church as a place to prove myself. Religion was a set of rules explaining how to be “good”. As is all too common, I had completely missed the point of Jesus.FOCUS quickly turned my attitude about God upside down. Seeing so many people who were willing to say “these are my flaws. I’m not good, but God is” was life changing for me. These people clearly knew God and had a relationship with Him. Yet they weren’t perfect and weren’t pretending to be. It’s still difficult for me to remember that I can simply accept God’s grace; He wants me to have it. I constantly have to remind myself that I’m not responsible for earning grace on my own. God has a sense of humor. Shortly after leaving UTD, God called me to Thailand. I now live in a country that is 95% Buddhist. I am immersed in a culture that is obsessed with earning merit. I see the Thai people worship idols and give offerings, and it breaks my heart. Then I look at my own life and see that, in my own way, I am trying just as hard to earn merit. God is so strategic. He puts you exactly where you need to be. He knew I needed to be in FOCUS. And now he’s brought me to Thailand to minister to people who share the same heart struggle as me. FOCUS changes students’ lives and then sends them out to minister to others. And because of that, I truly believe FOCUS will reach the world."
- Michelle Nelson (University of Texas at Dallas, Graduated 2014)

video
A video from an event that several college ministries partner to put on. It is a dinner and dance party that is open to all international students. The name of the event is the Big Howdy and it is always a fun time, as demonstrated by these guys from India demonstrating their dance moves.

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