Today I will be recommitting to 4 more years of ministry with Focus as a campus pastor to UT Arlington. While we could not invite people to join us for the ordination ceremony I wanted you to know that you can watch me make those commitments to the community online at 6:00 pm tonight on the website twitch.tv/utdfocus.
This week I've been going through a devotional that was curated to help pastors pray and think through the commitment that they are making. The call to be a good shepherd, to be an example to the community, to be humble and a servant of all, to know God deeply and allow our ministry to flow out of a relationship with him, and more. But I also this morning have spent time thinking about the reality that 4 years is a significant amount of time. As I was praying through the decision I still intend to make this evening I felt like God was leading me to reflect on the last 5 years of ministry here at UTA and remember just all of the amazing ways I've seen him work. Typically in this blog I'll write updates month to month, but with the multiyear commitment so near in front of me, I thought it best to go down memory lane. I pray that you find it as encouraging as I do to see all that God can do over the course of 5 years.
5 years ago this was the team that went to go reach UTA. 2 campus pastors, 4 interns, and 8 students who had transferred from different campuses just to go start a Christ centered community on the college campus in Arlington. Small beginnings, but God is so faithful to reward our small efforts.
In our first year there we really got to know the campus. As you can tell, UT Arlington has one of the largest international student populations. This was the beginnings of my first core, a small group where we meet together weekly to read and discuss scripture.
One of the international students I met that year was Guang. Guang was from China. He and I met together every week one on one, at first we would just take walks around campus, but eventually through our conversations he became interested in Jesus and asked if we could study the bible together! Over the year Guang went from an atheist who did not believe in the existence of a God to someone who not only acknowledged God's existence but also knew the love of God for him in Jesus Christ. Guang is back in China now, and unfortunately we've lost contact, but his is one of the sweetest friendships I've gotten to have at UT Arlington and he is also one of the greatest examples of how college missions can impact the world.
The following year I met Matt Davis. Matt is the young man in the middle in the sky blue t shirt. Matt was quiet and reserved, but more than just shy, he also kept people at arms length. Matt and I started a friendship because we were from the same hometown and we had actually met briefly when I was in high school. Matt and I started studying the bible together every week over the summer that year. The following year he was leading one of our cores and I got to continue to mentor him for the next two. I can tell you that today not only is Matt not near as shy. But Matt has also become a confident minister of God's word. He loves people well, and he is a strong leader in our local church. Just a few weeks ago I heard him remind a dear friend of ours the cost of following Jesus in difficult situations. Praise God for transformed lives.
The following year our ministry continued to grow! I wasn't the only one out there meeting people and making disciples. 2 years ago there had only been 15 of us.
Cole Benge, the young man in the red hat, is someone I have gotten to mentor for the last 3 years. Cole is a great friend to me, but he also is one of the best evangelists I know. He loves the people in his classes really well, and he tells everyone about the community that he is found in focus. He also has studied the bible with several guys from his architecture classes because they weren't comfortable joining a college ministry but they still wanted to know Jesus. Bryan Bass, the man in the aviators, was one of the earliest members that God brought into our ministry. Bryan led a core for one year alongside the still shy Matthew Davis. After graduating however Bryan also joined our local church and is currently leading and discipling our pastoral group leaders, Bryan is really driving evangelism across our whole church community. College ministry doesn't just impact college students, the discipleship they receive in college they take on with them past college and continue to impact the world.
And there is so much more that I could say. I could talk about Matt Carothers and his courage and humility, I could talk about Caleb and his passion for learning and making Jesus known. I could talk about Taylor Bass and his faithfulness and eagerness to do what is right. I could talk about Austin and Michael and Amit, and Emmanuel, and Thomas, and Cody, and Stephen, and Garrett, and Stefan, and Brock, and Daniel, and Jacob, and Cameron, and Rachel, and Emily, and Taylor, and Esther, and Jocelyn, and Nathan, and Wilton, and Brady, and the list goes on and on. I could talk about how even our small community is a part of something much larger. A movement of discipleship that is happening right now in DFW that I believe will bring God such immense glory on the day of his return. But mainly I want to talk about God's faithfulness. There was never a year where a disciple wasn't made. There was never a year where God didn't change someones entire life. There was never a year where love, real love, wasn't demonstrated to the world in our relationships with one another. Jesus was praised and hearts were turned to God. This movement will continue. I thank you for allowing it to happen. Without your support of college missions none of this would be possible. It is because of you that I can recommit to this ministry for another 4 years. It is because of your partnership that students are coming to not only know Christ, but are taking up the call to lead their peers to Jesus as well. Thank you. Don't forget that below is the student testimony for this month! Also, just to update you on my support raising. God has been so generous through many of you and I am so grateful for all of your support. I still have $100 a month left to raise to get to my goal for the year or $1200 total. If you or someone you know would like to give to support college missions please let me know. Thank you!