Wednesday, May 1, 2024

April 2024: What a Whirlwind!

 

April was packed! In random order: I finished FOJ with  3 girls from my small group! Baptized 2 girls from my small group! Attended 3 baptisms from other peoples small groups! Preached 2 sermons ðŸŦ ! The students led an awesome outdoor worship night! Watched people graduate in our annual Parking Lot Graduation (a tradition birthed out of the pandemic)! My small group has managed to cry and shed tears multiple times as we shared about how thankful we were to each other! My small group also prayed together and for each other after we talked about our experiences with our dads! I held a panel discussion for BLISS called “Jesus Through the Generations” that was SO good and well attended! My coworker had a baby and the baby peed on me! My small group actually showed up to make our “core poster” and we also got together for a last dinner at Texas Roadhouse! We had a rockin End of the Year party where we had a recess/picnic themed party! They danced the night away! I taught people how to double Dutch at that party! I also got pied in the face at that party! 


CAN YOU SAY JAM PACKED?! 

April was brilliant! 

See if you can match the photos and videos with the paragraph above for funsies! ðŸĪŠ







































This year has been a FULL one. Every single inch of it is only made possible by people like YOU. Thank you a bagillion catrillion times for the sacrifices you make in order for me to do such meaningful work. To God be the glory for the wonderful and life giving things he has done and continues to do in our broken world. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

March 2024: A Wedding, Some Baptisms, and A Connecting Core

 MARCH 

A Wedding 

SoOoo, Renee, my roomate (and best friend/sister/discipler) got married! 😍 What a joyous and momentous occasion! For those of you who have been with me on this journey from the beginning, you know that Renee is the reason that I am following Jesus as an adult and is the reason why I am working for FOCUS in the first place! My friendship and roommate-hood with her has been one of the greatest gifts to my life to date. By working with her since 2018 and then living with her since 2020, I have been able to watch her up close and learn SO much about what it looks like to  live a life surrendered to Jesus. While this is the end of an era, its also the start of a very beautiful new chapter for the both of us! And wanna know something even cooler? Her husband is gonna be my co worker at UTD on our FOCUS staff this coming Fall! What are the odds?! 

Anywho, enjoy some photos of the ceremony down below! 








A Baptism

A beautiful thing about this semester is that people have been getting baptized left and right! How beautiful is the amount of random sporadic baptisms where people are making a vow to Jesus and to living a life dedicated to him. Praise God! If I had to guess I think there have been at least 6 already this semester and I wanna say half of those have been since coming back from spring break! I will never cease to be stunned at seeing college students take Jesus seriously because that was just so far from anything valuable to me back in my day. 

Here are some photos 





A Connecting Core 

My core has hit a breakthrough! After a long time coming, they are finally connecting with each other and not just me (praise God). After talking with some of them, I realized that this class of freshmen are the ones who missed 2 years of high school because of COVID, so they really do experience the effects of isolation and lack some of the social skills that are just learned by being around people. I had the idea to ask the discussion questions and then remove myself from the circle so that they had no choice but to make eye contact with someone else other than me and so that they had to learn to facilitate conversation without me there! Sometimes you just gotta push them out of the nest so they can fly! We went from a room of strangers with awkward pauses and silences to a group of girls who were relating, laughing, applauding each other after each person shared, and who were "piggybacking" off of what the other person said. Let's just say that after this night some of the girls who come to core, but normally leave quickly, were lingering and wanting to hang around and connect! God did what he does best!

Here’s a sneak peak snippet of what it was like ðŸĪŦðŸŦĢ


Here are some of their faces again so that you can be praying for them! Please pray that they would each come
to know God and choose him! Please pray that they would begin to see their need for him and their need for life beyond themselves!


I am so thankful that I get to be a small piece in their journeys. It’s all because of y’all, my supporters, that I’m able to be a part of their lives. Thank you all so much for what you do for our ministry and for The Kingdom! 


Thursday, February 29, 2024

February 2024: A Night of Black Church & Student Praise


HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH! 


This past Tuesday Feb 27, the black students of UTD FOCUS and I did a thing for our community called "A Night of Black Church" in celebration of Black History Month! We got together a band of stellar musicians, found ourselves a student preacher, sang new songs, and watched a praise dance (by me and a student). Let’s just say the people had a crazy good time!

We filled up an auditorium of about 300 people dressed in their Sunday Best with church fans in hand. We had people come from our FOCUS ministries and Family of Churches from all over the DFW metroplex and we lifted up a culturally specific praise to God. 

The goal of this event was to expose and educate people in our communities, and on our campuses to a different style of church tradition. In honor of Black History Month we went along with the more traditional/foundational church style that most closely identifies with the civil rights movement. This church tradition is near and dear to me because it was the kind of church style that I grew up experiencing and is always what made church feel fun to me. 

I was so excited and honored to give our community the experience of a version of what Black church is like. As we make and mature disciples on our campuses, I see more and more how important it is that we continue to expose our community to people and traditions that are different from their norm in order that we each may walk away with a greater understanding and appreciation for each others differences within the body of Christ. 

In 1 Corinthians 12 it says:

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”


In the Body of Christ we need each other! We cannot properly function as the body of Christ unless we expand our capacity to understand and love and care for one another. 


The feedback we got for this event was SO complimentary from SO many different people, so I would say it was an event well done 😊. Please enjoy some of the clips from A Night of Black Church below!  








Feedback from an anonymous source: 

“My husband went to BLISS last night with his small group and came home with just the highest praises about the whole night. My stoic, nonexpressive, white as white can be husband came away blessed. He showed me some videos and I was moved to tears!

Just wanted to encourage you that God has blessed so. many. people through you and your faithfulness. Thank you for sticking around and for having grace and a vision for our community. 

I love you!”

What gift of a response that is! God is good!! 


Student Highlight




This is Morolake, aka Ro. I wanted to share the good news with y’all about her and the work I’ve been able to witness God do in her heart.  I met Ro 2 years ago after church. She was crying and I went up to her and asked her what was wrong and she communicated to me about feeling skeptical of her validity as a believer, since she had so much doubt about whether or not she was sure she believed. I proceeded to talk to her for a little bit to get to know her more, and by the end of the conversation we agreed to study the Bible together. Lots of our Bible study together consist of frenzied spiraling conversations about her hangups with Christianity and her confusion about the legalism that she had experienced growing up and confusion on how that was supposed to be reflective of God. Ro and I continue to study the Bible, and it was a mixed bag. As she learned new things they would make sense to her but she would somehow find a way to end her new understanding with a different aspect that she was doubtful of. As this kept happening, one of her doubt spirals caused her to ask us to pause on studying the Bible so that she could figure out faith for herself. We remained friends and she continued to come to small group. Even though she was doubtful she still remained opened to being challenged. One of those challenges were for her to try coming to FNF. She came but refused to sing because she thought it was corny (lol) and uncomfortable. Fast forward to Christmas break of 2022: 3 months before that she says “I’m gonna decide if Jesus is for me in 3 months” and it turned out that Christmas Day was the 3 month mark.  See our conversation below 😊




So many things have changed in her since this day! Where she was resistant to things she is way more open and receptive, where she was skeptical about things she is calmer and more trusting that she has time to investigate/that she can follow Jesus and still have questions, and now she stands up and sings all the time! SHE EVEN CAME TO WINTER RETREAT! 

AND NOW SHES GOING TO SICM!!!!!!!!!!! (Our student leadership conference called the Student Institute of Campus Ministry) 

GOD IS GOOD!!!! 

Were it not for all of y’all’s financial support and prayers, I would not be able to be a part of and witness things like this! Your gift to these students is impactful beyond what’s even tangible. Thank you so so much for your partnership in this ministry! 

Please pray for my core that they would all choose Jesus/ level up in their faith if they already have chosen Jesus! 





Wednesday, February 14, 2024

January 2024: Winter Retreat

January   

If you’re new here, you probably don’t understand January for FOCUS, but if you’re not so new here, you know that January is THEE month for FOCUS, because of our annual winter retreat! Winter retreat is a time that all of the campuses across the DFW come together for a weekend of spiritual reset and rejuvenation as we head into the spring semester. 




Each year we alternate between a guest speaker and between our FOCUS staff that will curate the content of our learning portions for retreat. This year we had the honor of hearing from Fuller Seminary’s very Dr. Daniel Lee! 


If I could choose from my lifetime one speaker who painted the most helpful picture of God’s loving heart for us, it would be Dr. Lee! What a helpful foundation he laid for our winter retreat attendees! I am still chewing on the many nuggets of wisdom, insight, and challenge that he shared. 


He talked about the concept of distrustful obedience vs distrustful disobedience in the story of the prodigal son and how both sons were actually lost! Not just “the bad son” like people can tend to think. He also talked about how God wants us to wrestle with him and wants us to bring our anger and frustration to him and tell him about it directly so that he can address it directly; and how because God is personal, if we don’t address him directly he cant respond to us directly because he will only touch what we allow/invite him to. He also talked about how God made the whole of us and doesn’t want us to hide who we are. He wants to love us as we are and make us into who he has always intended us to be. 


Let’s just say Dr. Lee left many people having a paradigm shift of their fundamental understanding of who God is. 


If you’re interested to listen to some of those talks by Dr. Lee, you can find them here:


https://open.spotify.com/episode/6YwxnDXCHo50UgRCyKOj6a?si=dX7G69KjT-GmpoH0D2Umvg


Another standout part about which retreat was our gospel choir! Ive done 2 FOCUS gospel choir initiatives now, so stay tuned for more because the students absolutely love it! Thanks to one of my coworkers Becca, pushing for us to do another one! You can see a snippets of the rehearsal in the video, but believe you me, the video doesn’t even capture the half of it! We are still  waiting on the official footage of it, but I will share once I get it! In the meantime time


Enjoy this TikTok recap below of what winter retreat was like! 


I am so thankful for every day that I get to do such meaningful work. I could not do this if it weren’t for your generosity. Thank you all so much for your unwavering support! 









Sunday, February 4, 2024

December 2023: UTD Christmas Party



 



DECEMBER

December is a short month in the school calendar because people are busy with finals, so we make it a point every year to help our students decompress with a fun, themed Christmas Party. This year it was Polar Express themed and our students LOVED IT. We were so committed we even had our staff re-enact the hot chocolate dance scene from the movie!!! You can find a short snippet below 😊 IYKYK (which I’m a hypocrite for saying that because I still haven’t seen this movie lol) 

Enjoy!




The UTD FOCUS staff in our PJs minus 1. If you can spot the odd ball out, your prize will be that I will pray harder for you 😊 





Some of the students in their respective “train cars” as they drank hot chocolate, played Christmas trivia, and watched The Polar Express. 


Somehow one of our students had played Santa 2 other times prior to this night so it came in handy that he had the costume! 

Here’s a little video to show a bit more! 



While there’s not much to report about December, we are so thankful that we get to celebrate our Savior and the gifts and joy that he brings with our students! 

Speaking of joy……I got to preach a sermon on that at Northeast Garland Church! Here’s a link to it if you want to listen. Tell me what you think! 


May the lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you! Thank yall so much for your investment in these students. We are able to serve them wholeheartedly because of your generosity 😊. 





Friday, December 8, 2023

November Update: Church Retreat, Alumni Night, and our Family Of Churches

Church Retreat 

 The month of November was lovely. Filled with still cooler weather that we are all thankful for here in Texas, and with lots of reflection and anticipation of a slower season, the word "awww" comes to mind when I think back over this month. From our church's annual retreat, to our network of churches' joint service, to UTD's alumni night, and then right into Thanksgiving, I can't help but marvel at God and how he builds his kingdom. These people here in both my church and work community (which there is great overlap) have truly become my family members whom I love and cherish. I still cant get over how a culturally white community, who I was originally was so doubtful of, has embraced me, encouraged and celebrated me, and also become an integral part of my life. Enjoy some photo's below of the highlights from November : ) 



Here is a glimpse of our church body and the place that we had our weekend long bonding experience. 

At this retreat I was asked to share my testimony about an impactful experience of friendship or family, in our community, that has been significant to me, and I shared about East plano! If you would like to read that testimony I can share it with you because it’s written out. If you don’t end up reading it, you can just know that God used the humble beginnings of East plano to shape and change my heart for the best as it relates to race! 









This is lil baby Oliver, the happiest baby I’ve ever met! 


I’m always trying to make people dance.





Babies rule at our church 


Baby Jack with my Pastor! 


A little group game where people had to moonwalk to win the round 😂



My besties…Angel is crying because she felt blessed to be a part of our church! 

Campus Moments



Here is a photo of our thankfulness tree from our Bliss outreach event. 


Here is my small group! They were consoling their friend because she was crying. How sweet! 




Friendsgiving with the students! 

Alumni Night 



Making 200 lemon bars for Alumni Night! 







It was a great turnout! God has really brought many people up through this ministry! 

Joint Church Service



Here you can find a link of a very special video that was made to commemorate our family of churches journey from its inception to now. 

We had a guest teacher come in from Canada named Iaian Provan, who lectured us on the biblical perspective of what it means to be human, and all five churches were able to gather together one Sunday afternoon to worship and learn. We as a community are committed to life long learning and don’t claim to have a handle on anything, so this was a really enriching time. 

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, bravo! Thank you so much for taking the time to read it, and thank you so much for continuing to invest in God‘s kingdom through my ministry. I am so excited that I get to share this journey with you all. 

How can I be praying for you? Text me!