Happy New Year!
It's been a while, and there's so much good news to share since I've last touched base. One of the main things is that we went to Wintercamp! This was the first Wintercamp we've had in two years, so it meant a lot to all the staff and students that we were able to have it. For a while there, we were worried that the surge in cases with the omicron variant would cause us to have to cancel-- even the day of, we got word that the Sky Ranch staff had a lot of employees test positive for COVID, and they didn't know if they'd be able to run the camp-- but praise God, all worked out! Sky ranch staff were able to have enough employees to run meals and necessities, just not any of the activities they normally provide year to year. They did an excellent job making sure they could give us what we needed, with what little staff they had in comparison to normal years!
The Gospel has WON!
This year, we had Rikk Watts come give the talks! He was wonderful, engaging, and shared content that was at a graduate level. We had him come speak for us at wintercamp six years ago, so we were thrilled to have him again! Rikk Watts is a professor at Regent College, a Seminary school in Vancouver, Canada. Here in FOCUS, we believe that being a disciple means being a life-long learner-- and with our college students, we encourage them to have a college-level faith, loving God with our heart, soul, and mind.
What ministered to me personally about Rikk's talk was that the gospel has WON! By that, he means that when Jesus came, he changed the course of the world. We all know that, right? Well, little did I realize just how deeply Jesus changed the world to the point that our modern world is morally Christian. In the Greco-Roman world, if you were an elite, you got whatever you wanted. Back then, there was absolutely no reason or philosophy to prove that the poor or sick had any inherent value. Jesus changed all of that-- even people who don't profess Jesus as Lord, have beliefs that only the person of Jesus could have introduced-- that each human is made in the image of God, and therefore has inherent worth.
All of that poorly captured what was shared in five short sessions, but the significance of it all has helped me grow a deeper appreciation and awe of our Lord. If you'd like to watch any of the sessions, we live streamed them on the FOCUS youtube channel, and you can go back and watch them! Let me know if you do, because I would love to hear your thoughts! You can find the sessions on our youtube profile here.
With Wintercamp comes lots of good news! So far, I only know what happened on my side of things with ministry, and haven't heard any stories from the larger student body, yet!
A girl named Skye shared that when I asked her what her story was, she was only planning on sharing some surface level things. After conversing for a while, she broke down crying and ended up opening up to me about some deeper struggles that she had experienced growing up. At the end of our conversation, she shared that, though she took pride in being able to improve herself over the years, the life she lived was indeed lonely and painful-- and now that she had a community of people who loved Jesus, she was going to start letting people know her on a deeper level. Praise God!! I'm so proud of her and the ways she has allowed God to soften her heart to Him and His people.
After our dating talk (which we do at Wintercamp every two years), a student named Portia approached me and asked me if I could mentor her. She took the advice they shared to heart, and shared with me how much it meant to see an Asian female represented on staff, as it made her feel seen. Her and I have only gotten to hang out once, but I can already tell that this is going to be such a sweet friendship! Her story is one of God pursuing and changing her over a long period of time, and I'm so proud of the ways that she loves and serves God and people. She just started her master's program in counseling, and I'm excited to see how God uses her to minister to people through her vocation!
A girl in my core named Katie took to heart some of the advice given in the dating talk, as well as recent feedback on how to be a better disciple and friend. She sought advice from friends and mentors, and recently one of my co-workers shared with me how much growth she's seen in Katie from last year to this year. Stories like that remind me of how much of my work is joining in what God is already doing in the lives of those around us. It truly is awe-inspiring, and a gift!
Photos from Camp!
My core! Left to right: Isabelle (my co-facilitator), Katie, and me!
Isabelle and Katie laughing at me and making me feel like I'm funny.
- Please pray that God continues to work in the hearts and minds of students after Wintercamp. Pray that they choose to follow Jesus their whole lives, loving Him with their heart, soul, and mind.
- UTD is going to have classes virtually for 3 weeks as they assess COVID cases with the omicron variant. This means that many students may be back on campus this week, but are isolating-- pray for a cure to loneliness, and that God leads our students in extending friendship to those around them.
- Our core in general has been having a hard time knowing how to love God and each other well, and we could really use some prayers for that. In addition, we could really use some prayer in asking God to bring some girls to our core who love the Lord and want to be friends. We've had a rough first semester, and would love any and all prayers in regards to heating up our value of friendship, community, and our relationship with Jesus.
- We're halfway through the year! Which means the year is almost over ): We have 19 apprentices, and a lot of us want to stay on staff and continue doing campus missions full time. Could you pray for wisdom and discernment for staff on how to make those decisions, as well as for us apprentices, to seek God's will?
Thank you all for reading my blog! I hope this blog helps you feel up to date on what's been going on around here, and gives you a sense of what God has been up to. Can't wait to share what God continues to do this month. Love you all and hope you all are well. Let me know if there's anything I can do or be praying for!