Adjusting in August
Change After Change
I started my apprenticeship with FOCUS! Now, I knew being a pastor with FOCUS meant doing one-on-one, interpersonal campus ministry, but I forgot about the other half of my apprenticeship: classes!
One of the classes that I am taking right now is a course on the Old Testament, in which we not only discuss the books in the OT, but also have to read each one over the next few months. During the first week of August, I read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I read more that week than I have for the rest of the year so far (anyone who knows me would not be surprised, but for those who don’t know me as well, I must confess that I am not much of a reader). I hadn’t read some of those books before, so it was an eye-opening experience. I am slowly learning to love reading.
For those who may not know, FOCUS has ministries across several college campuses across the DFW. This year, I am back at UTD, my alma mater — but not as a student this time. The past two weeks have been Weeks of Welcome at UTD. During the first week, students move into their on-campus housing, and the second week is when the real chaos (aka class) begins. I still remember the start of my freshman year — in a new city, away from my family, with only one high school friend who also attended UTD. It’s a daunting time for most students, and that’s where FOCUS comes in. We use this time to meet and really welcome new students and show them a positive potential trajectory for their college experience.
What do we do during Weeks of Welcome, you ask? Events, events, and more events! We host events every day on campus to foster community. It’s also a great way for our student leaders (core facilitators, or “corefa”s) to begin building their cores (what we call our small groups). I have met so many new students, and hope to see many of them at my first core of the year later today. Cores are weekly small group gatherings where students get to build friendships and explore their faith together. I myself met my best friends through core, and this year I have the unique privilege of leading core with Jadon, one of said best friends who also happens to be my roommate and one of my former corefas. Please be praying for me during this time to help students get involved in core and make core a place where they feel that they belong and that they look forward to going to.
The beautiful thing about Weeks of Welcome is all the people you get to meet and all the stories they have to share. Every student has a different story to tell, and I love hearing them all. It’s such a privilege to usher them into community and just be a friend during a time of so much change. College can be a huge adjustment, even in the best of circumstances, so getting these students started off on the right foot is really important and makes a big difference in their lives.
Something I’ve come to learn over this past month is that being a pastor(-in-training, since that’s technically what an apprentice is) is a totally different experience than anything I’ve ever done in my life before. Campus ministry is both so challenging and so fun. It’s a 24/7 job. I am just getting started, but already I am so excited for what the next nine months have in store for me. Please be praying for me as I start a new journey in my life, that I would always keep God at the center of my ministry as I shepherd students and grow in my own faith.
I am grateful for all of your support, whether financially or by prayer. Campus ministry means a lot to me and thanks to all of you, I am able to invest in our students full-time. Because of your support, students' lives will be changed this school year.
Every month, we feature a student’s testimony of how their time in FOCUS has grown and shaped them. Here is this month’s: