January wasn't super eventful (aside from Wintercamp!) due to the students being on break. On top of that, UTD had the first three weeks of class virtually due to Omicron. We've been working hard at trying to build momentum again, as students can get in a funk after breaks and be in need of a spiritual reset.
As a FOCUS staff, we usually have our second staff retreat of the year while the students are on break, but that got postponed due to how many of us were sick. We're actually leaving tomorrow through Thursday for our staff retreat, so that will be great for us to get face time with staff at other campuses, have some meetings, and spend time in reflection and prayer.
SICM and Showcase
One fun update is that I got to invite a couple girls in my core to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry! SICM is a week long training in Bellingham, Washington where students with leadership potential learn how to be a missionary to their campus. If you could be praying for them, their names are Katie and DJ. If you would like to help financially, you can buy tickets to Showcase, and/or give an additional scholarship as they seek to fundraise the money to go.
Here's a sweet photo back in 2017 when I got to go to SICM! Shayla, Ryan, and Pedro were my campus pastors my freshman year at Collin, and now they're my coworkers!
What God's Been Teaching Me
Though I don't have much to update on in regards to big ministry things, God has been doing a lot in my heart throughout this pastoral apprenticeship. A verse that has been on my mind for the past couple months is Ephesians 4:29."Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
I think the reason that this verse has been on my heart is multifaceted. Korean culture can be very shame-based, and has affected me deeply from my way of thinking, to the things I can find funny. For example, sometimes when it comes to humor in Korean culture, someone will joke that their "belly looks so big" in the picture they took, and everyone will laugh. This can be a way that we point out our own shame, because if we're the first to do so, then it's less painful if someone else were to. This verse points out the fact that the things that should come out of my mouth should be thoughtful-- the things I say to others should be run through the filter of, "What does this person's need, and how can I build them up?" My tendency is to dwell on the more negative side of things-- so it's no surprise that one of my biggest areas of character growth is my tendency to be critical.
Another reason I think this verse has ministered to me is because, regardless of how culture (Korean or American) has affected me, I have a hard time thinking about how to give words of affirmation and praise to those around me. Even with those who I'm closest to, like my close friends or my husband, I have to work hard at remembering to affirm the good I see in them. Something God is teaching me is summarized in an axiom we have, "The world has enough critics-- be people's biggest fans". Though my critical-ness can be a strength in helping me determine areas of growth with those I'm ministering to, my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. If all I'm focused on is how someone can improve, if I'm not careful, I'll exasperate them, discourage them, and make them feel like a project. I'll make them feel like all I care about is the growth and the progress they make, not them.
Earlier in Ephesians 4, verses 20-24, it says, "That, however is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
It's hard to unlearn bad habits, beliefs, or ways of thinking-- but praise God that through Jesus we have the gift of renewing our hearts and our minds as we continue to put off our former ways of living and thinking.
Here's to the good news we have in Jesus, that we are new creations in Christ, and that we are being made new every day, til Kingdom come.
Speaking of building momentum, here's the UTD outreach team working out the final details for all our ethnic outreach events this month! They're so fun and thoughtful, and are great friends and ministers.