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!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Greetings!
Hey guys, another month has gone by already! It's still crazy to me how fast these months feel. I hope this February finds you well though. I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that have been going on.


First thing that comes to mind about this past month is Winter Camp! Man what an awesome time it was. This is a yearly event that we do, and it is a way that we celebrate what God has been doing in the FOCUS communities across DFW every year. All of our campuses send their students for a Friday-Monday right before school starts. They have the whole weekend to spend time with each other that they wouldn't normally get, learn about a topic through the sermons in the many sessions we have throughout the weekend, and worship and praise God for the changes He is making happen in so many of the lives that are there. For many students, this is an event that really shapes their understanding of how to be involved in a community, and it gives them a much bigger perspective than just what's been going on at their own campus by showing them all of the students from across the metroplex who come together. Here's a picture of the group that came out this year:


I'm in there somewhere. This was my fifth year getting to go to this, and it was a new experience not being on the student side of things. Putting on a weekend long event for over 600 people certainly has a lot that goes into it, but praise God that things went smoothly.

One of the neat things that often happens around this time of the year is that many students respond to God's call of them to dedicate their lives to Jesus. This often happens because many of those one-on-one Focus on Jesus studies I mentioned in earlier posts wrap up around this time in the year. Many of these students who are in these one-on-one studies are getting baptized and choosing to call Jesus Lord for the first time in their life, and that is such an awesome thing to witness. Be in prayer for these new disciples of Jesus, that their roots would continue to grow deep, and that they continue to respond to the Spirit's work in their lives as they begin reaching out on campus more and more.

One of the baptisms from this past month

One of the new things I'll be doing this semester is meeting with a few of our male student leaders weekly. We call these meeting Peer Team, and It's really been one of the highlights of my week. This is designed for us to build a relationship and for them to continue to grow in their walk and in their ministry. I've loved the time I've gotten with these guys so far, and am excited to continue that this semester. Be in prayer for these guys as they continue to lead cores and do outreach on campus in the midst of being students at Collin College. The students in our ministry spend many hours a week doing ministry on campus and one-on-one, so just pray for them to be energized and motivated and to be growing in their personal relationship with God as they continue to lead in our ministry

We have something exciting going on this month, and that is that we're planting a FOCUS ministry at Southern Methodist University!! This is our first time being at a private school, so there were some challenges to that process of getting in there for sure, but God really moved in some awesome ways to provide people who would help us get started there. This week is the first official meeting, and we've gotten some students who go to our other campuses to bring friends of their at SMU to this event to start building relationships with students already on that campus. I'm just excited to hear what happens there in the next few months, and I invite you to join me in prayer for God to continue working there and that we would just be looking for how to join Him in what He wants us to do there.

Thank you guys so much for reading and for your continued support through this year! Please let me know if there's any ways I can bless you guys!

-Ryan


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hey all!

It's been a little while. December was a fun but unusual month in ministry. The semester comes to a close for the students right around the beginning of December, so our cores have their last meetings before going to break. We get a chance to do some creative things with our time as a ministry as we go into the semester break.

One of the tings we do every year that is a really neat way to end off the year for us is our Christmas Party. This year our theme was Awkward Family Photo Christmas. It was  pretty wack, but the students loved it. One of the cool things to see was the amount of students from our Preston Ridge Ministry that showed up to this. Numbers aren't the main thing by any means, but Preston Ridge has been a fairly small ministry compared to many of our other campuses, so seeing all the people that have found a place to experience God further and experience community with other people is really neat and a huge God deal.

Our Preston Ridge Ministry at the Christmas Party



Another big part of this time of the year is our Keep Focus Growing initiative. I mentioned it in my last blog, but this effort is really is a big part of the push that sustains our ministry financially, and lets us do things like plant new campuses, or grow our administration team. I know some of you gave to this, and I want to say thank you for that, and thank you again to all of you already supporting me this year. You definitely do not go unnoticed or appreciated. I'm excited to see where God leads our ministry in 2017, and Keep Focus Growing definitely expands our capability to respond to his lead with less immediate barriers.

One of my absolute favorite things that has happened since I last updated this blog was our Winter Staff Retreat. This past Monday-Thursday our entire staff from all of our campuses spent time together building our relationships, talking through this upcoming semester, and engaging God throughout the week together. One of the ways we got to do that was through a book we all read beforehand called The Signature of Jesus. If you haven't read it before I really encourage you to give it a shot. We got to discuss different parts of the book that we felt God spoke through in our sessions during this staff retreat, and I really took away from that a better understanding of how God's grace should affect my life and my ministry to students. 

We have couple of big events in the beginning of January that I want to give you guys a heads up on. First of all, we had a Corefa Prep day on Sunday the 8th. It was set up for the core facilitators in our ministry to have some time to think through different ideas related to their small group leadership and one on one Bible studies with the students. This is a big event with all of our campuses student leaders that can really be important to starting the semester off strong for us.  

Also, this next weekend January 13th-16th is our annual Winter Camp!! This is an awesome time every year where all the FOCUS students from the different campuses get to come together and spend Friday-Monday together. We have lots of time for them to build relationships with each other, have fun together, worship together, and learn together, and I can't stress enough how much prayer is needed for this. Pray for students to be open to God speaking to them, for them to experience community that glorifies God over those 4 days, for safety traveling to the camp, and wisdom and guidance for our staff as we lead this event. I'll have things to share from this next month I'm sure so be on the lookout for that. 

I'm so thankful for you guys. Thank you for reading, praying, and certainly for supporting me.

-Ryan

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November

November Update


I can't believe it, but its the end of the semester already! Tonight was our last Thursday night FOCUS, and last night the Wednesday night core group I co-lead with one of our Preston Ridge student leaders had our last official meeting of the semester. Here's a picture with some our guys from that core last night:


It's been a really awesome part of the year this year to get to meet with the guys in this core throughout the semester, both in our group meetings on Wednesday nights, and in one-on-one's throughout the week. Be in prayer for these guys as they continue to grow, and that during their school break they would continue to meet with other people in the ministry, as well as being intentional with their time off. We're already excited for getting back to core when it starts up in the spring. 

One of the really neat events from this month that I mentioned in my last blog was Pizza Theology. It's a topical event we have twice a year and it's meant to serve as a way to engage our community on an intellectual level. All the campuses get together for this, which is always a treat. For this one we were able to have a guest speaker from our sister campus ministry up in Washington state, and he discussed the topic of hearing God. It was an impactful event for sure. I think God was really ministering through our speaker. In the weeks following, our students, student leaders, and staff have all shared the impact that it had on getting us thinking through how to grow in how we are relational with God, and what role silence and solitude plays in that.

The end of the school semester may mean classes are over for the students, but not for us with the apprenticeship classes! In our New Testament class, we've been assigned to write a sermon on the topic of "This is my Gospel." The goal is to get us to think through and share what the impact of Jesus' gospel has had on our life personally. Beginning to think through that has really been helpful for me to remember the work God has done in my life over the years, and I'm excited to hear more about the way he's worked in the other apprentices lives. 

This year we are again doing our Keep Focus Growing initiative. Our goal is to raise enough money to be prepared for whatever God has for us in the next year. One of those things that is looking more and more possible in the next year, is to plant a FOCUS ministry at Southern Methodist University, which would be so incredibly exciting. Be in prayer with us for that decision. Our goal for this year is $55,000. If you want to be a part of donating to that vision, we would love for you to be a part of the team that gives to that. Here's a link for it if you decide you want to do that: https://anyfocus.org/kfg/

The next month will look a little bit different for us! The classes we're taking will continue for a couple more weeks before we break for Christmas, and this time when the students are out of classes often afford us even more opportunities to meet up with them. As we head into December, please be praying for a few things:

  • Pray for our students over the break. That the would remain in relationship with God, and tied into the community. Also pray that they would use their extra time intentionally to build some of those relationships they had less time for during the semester to more depth.
  • Our annual winter camp is next month, and I'll be talking more about it in the next couple updates, but this is often a major part of newer students' year in terms of catching the vision for reaching their campuses. Pray that God would be in the planning processes for that, and preparing the people who are going to be open and ready for God to work in their lives more and more. 
Thank you guys so much for your continual support and prayers. I am so incredibly thankful for your willingness to be generous and support campus ministry. It is worth it. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

October

October come and gone my friends!

When we last talked, we had just come off of Fall Camp, which was a really exciting and fun way to get the semester going strong. One of the cool parts of October was getting to see the bonds that began at fall camp between the students flourish. Core members who went came back knowing each other better and being more plugged into a community where they really can deepen relationships with each other and pursue Jesus well. It's been neat to see the ripple effects of that event in the lives of the students and conversations I've had with them in the past few weeks.

This month was definitely not without it's excitement. As you saw at the bottom of last month's blog, this past month was Focus' 20 year celebration. Hundreds of people came out, Focus Alumni, current students, early leaders, support partners, and current staff. It was a time to reflect on what God has done in the past twenty years since Focus started at UTD as a tiny little group bible study, to the ministry God has allowed to go to so many campuses across DFW. It was so encouraging to hear the stories of people who were involved and experienced much of the same life changes when they met Jesus through people in FOCUS and were invited into friendships with people learning what being a disciple looks like. Here's a picture of that meeting:


One of the other bittersweet things that happened this month was the wrap up of our Old Testament Class. Since August 1st, myself and the other apprentices have been reading through the Old Testament, reading accompanying textbooks and supplementary texts, and listening to lectures from Ian Provan's Old Testament Foundations class up at Regent College in Vancouver. We got to do it in chunks, and come together in a class and discuss it. It really has been one of my very favorite parts of the Apprenticeship so far. My understanding of God's character has grown a tremendous amount. I have come to love him so much more as that understanding has deepened.  I'm definitely sad to see that class end, but I'm also excited because it showed me just how much depth there is there, and I look forward to revisiting those books again and even study them individually. For now though, what I learned about what God cares about has made me all the more excited for ministry in his world. Right now I get to do that full time at college campuses, which is so cool. 

We have more coming up this month! We still have our weekly cores and 1-1 meetings with the students, as well as the large group meetings and outreach at both Preston Ridge Collin and Spring Creek. If you guys would be praying for those times as often as you can, that would be a tremendous help. We really want what God wants on these campuses, and we simply want to invite people into knowing him more. We have to lead people to Jesus and not ourselves, despite our tendency to inadvertently do the opposite, so pray for me to not do that, and to be faithful to show them who Jesus is. 

This weekend on Sunday our sister ministry CCM up in Washington state at Western Washington University is letting us borrow one of their staff for our Pizza Theology. It's a chance for the students to have access to college/graduate level lecture material on a topic impactful to their relationship with God, and in the past they have been hugely helpful and successful. They also get pizza in between the two lectures, which they never seem to be mad about. Pray for that this weekend, its on Sunday November 6th, from 4-9. Just pray for hearts that will be open to what is said and that God would be speaking through our speaker David during that time. 

Thank you guys so much for your continued support and prayers. I can't express how encouraging that is to me to reflect on. 

In Christ,
Ryan

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September

Hey All!

Welcome back!! There's a lot that has happened, and this past month was such a good snapshot of what God is doing on these campuses. One of my favorite things about getting to write these blogs is it gives me a chance to reflect on God's goodness and his work around me that I get to be a part of, so I'm excited for you to hopefully be thinking and reflecting on that with me.

September/October are a couple of my absolute favorite months in Campus ministry. It was that way for me as a student, and now as a staff person it still remains that way. There's a couple reasons for that which have a lot to do with what I'll be talking about today. One, this past month is really often the time where we start to get a better sense of what new people in our ministry really have going on in their life. By this time, myself, the rest of staff, and most of our core-fas have started meeting up with specific students weekly, often studying the Bible with them. During those times we get such a neat opportunity to know them well, and guys THAT is really the heart of our ministry, these one-on-one relationships that are built in these weekly meetings. It's what really stood out to me about FOCUS when I was a freshman at UNT and really seeking what it looks like to know Jesus. So I love these months because those relationships are starting to form all over the ministry. The 30-some student leader team we have at Collin are going out and building those friendships with people God has gifted to them to share life with. It's so exciting, and often in our weekly student leader meetings have time to share good news from those studies and meetings with the new students. It keeps us encouraged and motivated to stay on track with God's work at Collin. I truly believe these relationships are a way God uses people to spread his truths and build up his kingdom here on earth.

Here's a picture of our Monday Night student leader meetings I mentioned above. 
Collin College at Preston Ridge, from the room where my Core group meets every Wednesday night. 
A second reason I love this time of year is Fall Camp!! Fall camp is probably my favorite event we get to do with FOCUS. It's a time for our campus specifically to gather up all the students in our ministry and go somewhere for a weekend and really lay a solid foundation for us spending the rest of the year together in ministry and in relationship with each other. This year was different obviously, being on staff and at Collin instead of UNT, but it was still such a neat time. One of my favorite things we get to do there is something we call a walk and talk. It's pretty simple, we set aside 30 minutes or so for you and one other person to go for a walk around the camp, and talk and get to know each other or talk about something specific that our teaching at camp has brought up. Since our ministry is built around small groups, this gives a chance for people not in the same core (small group) to get to build a relationship. It's just a small scale example of what fall camp is really all about: building relationships across core groups and bringing people closer to Jesus.
One of the fun things we got to do was slip and slide kickball. We heard it was going to rain at camp, and instead of that forcing us inside, we embraced it and set up tarps and kiddie pools at the bases of the baseball diamond. Sounds silly right? It is a little. But also so fun. College students tend to take themselves too seriously sometimes though, so this was a chance for them to stretch that a little, stop worrying about what people think and just have a lot of fun with people.
 Here's a couple pics from fall camp:



This was during our worship night on Saturday Night
A picture I took at the camp we stayed at

Thank you never goes without saying, I really do mean that, so to you who are reading who have been praying and supporting this ministry and my time on these campuses, thank you so much. I love that you all get to be a part of this with me, and I hope if you have given you are encouraged to hear about what God is doing with these college students. I know I truly am. Some things to be praying for this month:
-Pray for those weekly one on one meetings and studies I mentioned in the beginning. Pray for the students who are leading those, that they would be communicating God's truths to people, and being faithful to build good, deep friendships with those students that God has given to them to lead. 
-Pray for myself and the rest of the Focus staff at Collin and the other campuses, that we would lead well and be seeking to simply get on board with whatever God is doing on these campuses, and not pushing our on agendas. 

Thank you guys again for reading and investing.
In Christ,
Ryan

Quick note here: This is some information for our upcoming 20 year celebration. For those of you who can make it, I strongly encourage you to! It's going to be time to reflect and celebrate what God has been doing in campus ministry in the past 20 years.