Sunday, August 6, 2017

And so it begins...

Guys. I am so beyond excited right now. I am excited to FINALLY begin my campus ministry apprenticeship after knowing I've wanted to do this for several years. I am excited to move to Arlington in a week and begin investing in the relationships God is going to use this year to change me and my friends to look more like Him. I am excited to dive headfirst into welcome week at UT Arlington and reach out to students hungry for friends and a place to call home. I am excited to continue studying the Old Testament, as well as other biblical and ministerial topics, with my fellow apprentices in order to know God better. And I am excited to continue building upon my relationships with the FOCUS staff and my fellow apprentices, especially after staff retreat.

2017-2018 FOCUS Staff (love these guys!)
This is Sarah, my pastoral supervisor (and sorority sister, apparently)

Speaking of staff retreat, the senior FOCUS staff and we apprentices just got back from spending three days together worshiping our Lord, sharing about what He's done in our lives, and setting our hearts on Him before being sent out to our campuses. As I reflect on my experience at staff retreat, two moments stand out to me as especially impactful:

1) On our first day together, we sang one of my favorite worship songs, Oh You Bring by Hillsong United. God has used this song to minister to me greatly in the past, as the repeated lyrics "oh You bring..." and "all honor, all glory, all praise to You" serve as constant reminders to me that God is the source of hope, light, life, peace, joy, and love to whom I as His campus missionary must point students, rather than to myself. Singing this in solidarity with my brothers and sisters on staff seemed like a small taste of what Heaven is going to be like.


2) One of our times of worship contained space for each of us to share about how God has called us into ministry, whether as a long-term or seasonal vocation. Hearing about how God has been faithful a) to pursue relationships with all us when we don't deserve Him and b) to use us to accomplish His purposes despite our weaknesses in character and in skill moved my heart into a posture of worship and reminded me why I want to devote these next ten months, if not my life, to serving Him as a campus missionary.

After an encouraging staff retreat, my prayer is that God would continue to knit us tightly together as a staff, and that our love for one another would overflow into our campus communities. If you would join me in prayer over our team, as well as the following events and people, I would be so thankful:

1) Please pray for our new and returning student leaders, that they would be bold to love students in the name of Jesus without fear or shame. Pray also that they would be filled with a spirit of endurance and zeal to get through the craziness that is welcome week.
2) Please pray for the students we will encounter this year, that God would prepare the soil of their hearts to receive the good news of Jesus, and that God would bring us to those who are ready to encounter Him.
3) Please pray for our apprentice studies, that we would be brought face to face with a good God and that we would translate our knowledge into a deep love for Him and His image-bearers.

These are my fellow apprentices! I love them a lot and their names are (from left to right): Jalen, Dawn, Kristen, Rhett, and Eddie (not pictured: Caitlin)
Thank you so much to all who are supporting me with your prayers and finances. I would not get to do what I am doing if it weren't for your answers to God's call to invest in me and the UTA ministry. God is doing real ministry on our campuses and transforming real lives with His goodness. I hope the student testimony below encourages you as it does me.



With love and gratitude,
Jalen