Monday, September 4, 2017

September Update!!

Welcome week is what we've traditionally referred to the first week of classes each fall semester. It's one of the most if not the most important week for us in terms of reaching new students on campus. Stories from welcome week are always some of my favorite, but they often don't really come to be stories until weeks or months later, when a freshman who was befriended by one of our students during this week looks back on the past few months and reflects on how much God has been working in their life during that time, and how much has changed. For instance, a huge part of my story and how I came to be a man who sought to be a disciple began during welcome week back in 2012.  I was a freshman at UNT, and showed up to a capture the flag event that UNT FOCUS puts on every year during the first week of school. I met a bunch of people that are still dear friends to me now, and met people who would choose to be my friend and spend consistent time with me each week, leading me towards following Christ and teaching me how to do this with other people. But of course, I had no idea then. The end of that welcome week, my story would been something like, "I met these people, they're really neat and caring, and I'm so thankful to have friends after a pretty lonely first few days in a completely new place with no connections otherwise." It takes time for these stories to grow, and I'm glad for that. The most meaningful things in our lives are often that way I think. They're things that take time, and we often don't see the fruit of them till much later when we're able to look back a bit. I say all this to say, this is what's so exciting to me about this time of year in campus ministry. Because I know there are so many students who this week will be the beginning of stories similar to mine, but till very much their own. Stories where they can look back and point to a time where they were invited into a community of people that truly cared about them,  and did their best to show them why Jesus and the gospel changes everything in our lives if we let it.

I'm so proud of our students, they did such an awesome job talking to new students passing by and asking them to come hang out with us and play a game, drink some lemonade, or do whatever it is we had set up. But beyond that, they really tried to talk to them, befriend them, ask for their number, invite them to hang out later, and invite them into community. We had a lot of events going on outside this past week since the weather was so nice, and met a ton of new students this way. I'll show you bunch of pictures here to give you a small taste of what it was like.


Preston Ridge Campus, where we had lemonade and popsicles we gave out to students walking by.  
Cody, my buddy and fellow staff member at Collin
after we set up our stand for the day. 
Doing a cheesy pose while we wait for students to get out of class. 
We played FootBOWL most days at Spring Creek, and it was a huge hit! So many people stopped and wanted to join, and we met a ton of people this way.  

(You throw a football at the opposing side and try to knock down all the pins)
We had a time during our first student leader meeting where we were able to go through and pray for the people by name who we had met during the week. 



Me standing pretending like I can play at our volleyball night. 

I'm not upset, just sweaty. This is Christian, one of our student leaders and a guy I get to meet weekly with this year, which I'm pumped about!

We have another week of events like this at Spring Creek before things settle down into a more regular routine for us, so please pray for that time this week! Pray that we would be faithful to go up to new students and talk to them! Pray that God would continue to work on these campuses and bring people to himself! I'll catch you guys up on the latest in about a month, but until then, thank you SO much for all your giving, and your prayers and support.

-Ryan

Student Testimony from our UTD campus:



Monday, August 7, 2017

August Update (Happenings from July)

Hey all,

August is here so the school year is about to kick back into gear. That means a lot of exciting things will be happening. First things first though! July was a month with its own excitement, and I want to share just a couple things with you guys.

All Staff Retreat

Our all staff retreat was this past week, and we got to spend time planning and talking about this year as a staff across our different campuses, as well as getting to know some of our new staff members. This year, we have 6 new apprentices who will be going through a ten month focused learning and discipling time, just like I got to do last year! I'm so excited for them and their next year, please join me in praying for them this year, that God would work through them and that they would learn so much through this experience that can allow them to go out and bless others.
Focus staff at from all of our campuses

Our new apprentices!

This event, and also a trip that our Collin Staff took to New Orleans this July, both served to refresh me and really encourage me as I look forward to working with these people this next year on the campus.

Minister Ordination 

Another really neat thing from this past month was our Staff Ordination Ceremony. This was a time when new staff were ordained as ministers and our whole community and church partners came together to commission these folks to be shepherds of our student body, and to take seriously the commitment of serving this ministry for the Lord. Not only were new Apprentices committing to the next ten months, but also many of our other staff, including myself made commitments for the next year or longer to stay and be pastors to our students. It was a really great time to reflect on the vision of reaching these campuses in DFW for Christ, and to remember what an honor and privilege it really is to get to do that. 
Our staff being prayed over at the ordination ceremony

Student Testimony

I wanted to share this testimony from one of our students here to give you a story to see about how your support really makes very personal differences possible. We couldn't do what we do at Collin, or any of our other campuses without you guys being a part of the vision to reach these students, and this story is a very real example of what that often looks like for our students. Because of God's goodness and faithfulness to be near to his children and work powerfully in their lives, we can celebrate and praise him for stories like this.





Thursday, July 6, 2017

July Update (Happenings from June)

Hello Ministry Partners!

Just wanted to say hello and update you on a few of the happenings from this past month. Summer is an interesting time in campus ministry. During the semesters a lot of what we do revolves around the structure of our cores and core leaders, our 1-on-1 bible studies and friendships with new students, and mentoring our student leaders. During the summer, since the semester break is happening, a lot of that specific structure gives way to a lot more opportunities to spend time in different areas. That means there's a lot I could share for sure, but I wanted to share about a couple of things that have really stood out to me from this past month.

For one thing, summer is a great time to get to know students in the ministry I didn't get much time with this past year, and build relationships with students who are potential leaders for next year. I get to do that by meeting up with students throughout the week, but also something we're doing with some of our students this year is something called Summer one-on-one training. Every week, about 50 or so of our students who are interested in leading in our ministry in some capacity meet together in a home and learn about some practicals for befriending their peers and making real, deep friendships with college students that can point them towards Jesus. I've loved these times this month, and I'm looking forward to the two meetings we have left in the upcoming weeks.

Another meaningful part of my summer has been our weekly Summer Focus meeting. I LOVE these summer meetings, mostly because our summer focus is not a campus specific meeting, but all the students at the different campuses come together to worship and learn and spend time together. It's such a neat way to keep our different ministries connected and aware of each other, and getting to see God working at all the different campuses is so encouraging. The sermons this year are focusing on the different ways people relate to and spend time with God, and it's been really helpful for myself and the students too.

Perhaps the biggest chunk of my time right now is spent fundraising! Which most of you have heard from me about this in some capacity. I just want to take another opportunity to thank you guys for all the generosity and love you have shown not only this past year, but now continuing. I am still about 50% to my fundraising goal, so please please be in prayer for this that I would find people who are excited about what God is doing at our college campuses and would want to be a part of that, and again if you have any people you know of personally, let me know! One of the neatest ways I get to experience God's love is through you guys, my ministry partners who invest so much in these college students, and that is such a big blessing.

-Ryan






Sunday, June 4, 2017

June Update (Happenings from May)

Hey All!

Lots to share with you this post. The apprenticeship is officially over. Thank you guys for being a part of this past year with me, and for supporting me so well! We had our end of the year sermons that we give to the rest of the staff and Apprentices this past Tuesday and Wednesday where we get to share with everyone there the ways God has been working in our lives this year. It was such an encouraging time and I'm super thankful for those people who I've had the chance to work alongside this past year.

Even though the Apprenticeship is over, I'll still be continuing on staff next year. I am excited to continue working at Collin and getting to still do campus ministry. So for the next couple months before school starts, I'll be working to get fully fundraised for next year, meeting with students who are in town for the summer, planning and adjusting for Collin Focus next year, and building better relationships with our Collin team. Please continue to pray for those things over the next couple months. Pray that God will guide my support raising so that I can continue to work full time next year, and if you know of anyone who might be excited to be a part of campus ministry, please send me an email at ryan@anyfocus.org.

May started off with our end of the year banquet at Collin. This was a neat time where we got to get both our Preston Ridge and Spring Creek Collin ministries together to look back on the year, praise God together, honor our student leaders and of course, take a bunch of pictures. 

The next week myself, Pedro, Shayla and a bunch of other staff people from the other campuses took about 100 of our students up to Washington for SICM, where we spent a week with them as they got to go to classes all week long learning about discipleship, student ministry, and many other things that equip them to come back to their campuses next year and minister to their peers as student leaders. I can't stress enough to importance of this trip for our students. The students that we send to this are people who have shown initiative and love for God and we want to give them the opportunity to learn how to join God on their campuses. It's a long week, they are in classes Sunday through Monday mostly all day, but we also get to take them to a few places to sightsee before and after the classes, which is so fun. This year was a great trip, praise God everyone got back safely. Here's a few pictures from that trip. 

This is from the weekly meeting of the student ministry in Washington who hosts the leadership conference every year. It's so neat to see God working on other campuses like this and get to have a partnership with these awesome folks.

A bunch of our students from SICM.  

A group of our students from Collin at the U.S. Canada Border 
We still get to see a bunch of our students over the summer at Summer Focus, where all the campuses get together once a week on Thursday nights to praise God together and fellowship, so that's a highlight of the week for me during the summer. Pray for these students to still be purposeful in their friendships and reaching out during this summer even though classes are out!

 Thank you guys again for your support this year. I'm excited to hear from you, so please reach out and let me know how things are going for you. I love hearing from you guys.

In Christ,
Ryan




Thursday, May 4, 2017

April Updates



This is it! April was the second to last month of the Apprenticeship. There's a sense of a season in my life ending, and I want to share some of what's been going on in my life and in the ministry with you guys.

April, like much of the past year, felt so short. I mentioned in my last post about our Spring Showcase, which was the fundraiser for our students going up to SICM in Washington for a week of training in how to do ministry to your peers on campus. SICM in happening NEXT WEEK! I'll be going up there for the week as well, along with many of the rest of our staff, to bus them around and learn alongside them for the week, so please be in prayer for that week. This is a major part of the fuel for our new student leaders, their week will be spent learning so much and spending time building bonds with other future student leaders that they will be working alongside of. Pray for safety for the trip, and pray for the students to be energized and ready to absorb what they're learning throughout the week. Next month I'm sure I'll have pictures and stories to share for that. A real God deal though, all of our students going to SICM were able to fully raise all of the financial support they needed to go on this trip about two weeks ago, so praise God for that! That Spring Showcase event at the beginning of the month really gave them a huge boost, and many of them worked hard fundraising through other means in the past couple months. I'm so thankful for them and their dedication to invest in learning and growing in order to reinvest into other students and people's lives in the future.

This past week was the last week for a lot of things. One was my peer team meetings. These are the weekly one on one meetings I get with four of our student leaders who lead our mens small groups (corefas). I've really loved those times with those guys this past semester, and I'll definitely miss it. A couple of them will be around next year, and one is transferring to the UNT campus (go eagles) so that's exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing what God continues to do through each of their lives.

Core also wrapped up this week. For our last core, my co-leader and I decided to do a combined core with the other men's core at Preston Ridge, and it was a really neat way to end the year. One of the guys' parents was kind enough to let us use their house for a cookout and worship night, and each of the guys had a chance to relay some things God had been putting on their minds recently. It's been so good to see the relationships that have been formed out of these small groups, and see God changing these guys in various ways over the past couple of semesters.

Tonight is our last Thursday Night Focus for the semester, and then tomorrow night we'll have a banquet where we get to honor our student leaders and share stories with each other from the year. We're really excited about it and it'll be a good way to end off the year.

With so many of these things wrapping up, I'm reminded that just because things will look different over the next couple of months with the semester being over, God is still nonetheless very much working in our lives. He's not on break, he's still good, and he's still got it. So as a staff we encourage each other and our students to very much continue as well. There will still be people meeting one-on-one and studying the bible, still small groups of students meeting together and sharing life together. If anything, without their classes, many of them will have more time on their hands to spend with people in the community, so that's always one of my favorite things about summer in years past. So please pray for our students to find rest and also continue to be purposeful in their seeking of God and intentional in their ministry to others over this summer.

Part of what I'll be doing over the summer is support raising for next year as I move onto staff. Please be praying for this effort, that I would be faithful to working hard to raise the support I need to, and that the people I talk to would be open and consider joining what God is doing on campuses in DFW. Thank you guys so much for your continued support and prayer already, and if there's anything I can pray for you for, please let me know.

-Ryan

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hey all,
I'm thankful you're taking the time to read this. I want to give you guys some more peeks into what we've been doing at Collin, and there's a lot that's been happening this month!

First, I want to again thank you guys for all your support and prayers. I can't thank you enough for continuing to be a part of God's work on these campuses. I am truly convinced that God is working in the lives of these college students, and that for many of them, this will reshape their life as they go out and live in our society. We still want to bring people to the realization that Jesus is Lord and make fired up disciples who will go out into the world and spread that good news over and over. So thank you again for being a part of that.

March was a great month for a lot of reasons. Early on in March, during Collin's spring break, me and a few of the other guys from our FOCUS ministry at Preston Ridge got to drive down to Big Bend National Park. We camped for a couple days and hiked around the park. It was a great couple of days out in Nature and it gave us some good time together to talk and relax. Here's a few pictures from that trip:

One of our campsites 
The crew: L to R Me, Cody, Austin, Garrett and David

Hike next to the Rio Grande

We came back sunburned and sore but with great memories and pictures.

The last week of March was our Impact week. Students from Washington state came down to Collin on their spring break to spend a week with us doing outreach on our campus and learning more about how to build ministry at their Community College back home. I absolutely loved this week. There were 6 of them that came down, and they were such a blessing to have. They really were so eager and willing to be meeting students on our campuses, and they did a great job of emphasizing going around campus and walking up to strangers to talk with them about their life and about God if they were interested. Since they came, many of our students have expressed how much more those students coming down to meet people on our campus has pushed them and encouraged them to want to do the same, so praise God for that. I'm glad I got to spend time with them for the week, they were a big encouragement.
Some of the outreach crew during last week's time on campus. 

Jack, one of the folks we had from Washington, checking out this massive tree at the FT Worth Botanical Gardens. We took the whole crew out last Friday night to give them some time to relax after a long week for them.



The other big deal that has happened is our annual Spring Showcase! This is a fundraiser we've been having every year to raise money for all of our students going up to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry in May to spend a week learning about how to be ministers on their campus. We have a bunch of students going this year from all of our different campuses, and we used this opportunity to raise money for their trip expenses. The show has a bunch of different musical acts with extremely talented people who come and perform to help send these students to SICM, and this year's show was awesome. Hundreds of people came and bought tickets for the show, and bought artwork and photography from the art sale we have with it. So many people volunteered their time and efforts, and we're so thankful for that. It's such a neat deal. 


Here's all of our current FOCUS staff at Spring Showcase
As you go about your next few weeks, please pray that our student leaders are finishing the year well. They have tests coming up and their classes will be wrapping up in the next month so pray that they have the gas to really do their best for this last stretch in ministry and in school.

That's all for this month! Thanks again for all your support, and I'll talk with you guys again soon!

Ryan

Saturday, March 4, 2017

February

Hey all,
Welcome back! I hope you've had a great month. Lots of exciting things have been happening this month at Collin, and I am glad to have people like you guys supporting me and praying as God continues to work on these campuses.

One  of  my favorite experiences of the past couple months has been learning about the Holy Spirit in our Into to Pneumatolgoy class. The other  apprentices and I read a book called Paul, the Spirit and the People of God by Gordon fee and we had an instructor meeting with us weekly during the past couple months to teach us and facilitate discussion on more of the ideas of the Holy Spirit that scripture talks about. I had not grown up with much knowledge or understanding on the Holy Spirit and what his work in our lives could look like, so this class was very much a learning experience for me, and I'm really thankful for it. I have already begun to be able to see and understand more of the Spirit's work in our ministry and in my own personal life. If you are curious about this topic as well, I encourage you to look into that book that we read. It has multiple scripture references built in so you can deepen your understanding of the Spirit and how being in relationship with him is such a big part of God's intent for working in us and through us in our daily lives.

Pizza Theology
Another neat thing that happened this month was Pizza Theology! We only get to have one of these once a semester, so they are very special. Just for a refresher, this is the event we do that brings all the campuses where FOCUS is together for learning and pizza. This semester's topic was on race and racial reconciliation. We wanted to provide a place for students to learn about what it looks like to be a person who treats this very sensitive race issue in a way that honors God. In addition to exploration of the Bible's references on this topic, and a sociological examination of where race is at in our culture, we also had different students in our communities prepare thoughts to share beforehand on what their experience with race issues has been, and that was extremely meaningful and eye opening. I'm so proud of those students who were bold and shared. They can be people who help our entire community approach this topic with a listening ear and a heart that is seeking what God would want for us in this area.

Discipleship Class. Students get an opportunity to have an extremely in depth study on a certain book in the Bible. In this case, it's the book of Genesis. 
Parent Night was another highlight of this past month. It's something we get to do every year. Parents of the students are invited to come and see what God has been doing on the campus that their student has been attending, and they get to meet the people who have been pouring into and loving their child, which is always such a neat experience. We had a great turnout, and some parents were even able to come up and share what they had been seeing God do in their child's life over the past few months, which is exactly the kinds of things we as campus ministers love to hear.

Wednesday Outreach Time at Spring Creek Collin
March is always a busy month in campus ministry because we have something called SSI. This is a time when students from a campus ministry in Washington state come down and spend their spring break here in Texas doing outreach on our campuses. I always have loved this part of the year. It's such a blessing to have these students spend their Spring Break serving people, and the more people we can have doing outreach on our campuses the better. Please be in prayer for the group of students who are coming down. Pray for energy, as they will be having many conversations with students and traveling a fair amount. Pray for them to be encouraged and inspired to go back to their own campuses and continue to outreach and connect with students their as well. We're excited to see God's work during that time, and I'm sure I'll have neat things to say by next month about that trip.

Students eating together after our large group meeting on Thursday nights. 
Thank you guys so much for what you do, and for being willing to be a part of the campus ministry at Collin. I think of you guys often and am so grateful to God for giving me people like you who are investing in his work on these campuses.

Much Love,
Ryan


A student named Sam getting baptized!

Another student named Sammy got baptized this month!