Hearing From Our Students

Our NCTC group this past week!
Our weekly time at NCTC has been really encouraging. We have a consistent group of students coming who are strong participants, helpful in sharing their thoughts and encouraging to be with. During our weekly time we have been talking about reaching out to our campus. God has blessed us with a group of students who are excited to learn more about Him and are excited about building a ministry there at NCTC. We are growing and God is paving a way for a consistent community to be built there. God has really blessed us and formed a community here at NCTC, praise God!
Our small groups a few weeks ago. 

Some of our students doing a conversation board in the the lobby at NCTC. On the board students could write anything that identifies them and what their story is. It was such a great way to develop deep conversation with people and build relationships with the students at NCTC. 

Creative Worship Sharing
This year I am helping shepherd our worship team. I've been working to incorporate the arts and other creative elements into our services to diversify how we relate and connect with God in worship. The arts have played a big role in my life and how I connect with God. I want to share with you what I've been doing to implement the arts into how we experience God. As a kid I remember drawing on the church bulletin during the church service and making these elaborate homes, characters, animals, made up cars and so on haha. Art has been an interest of mine since a young age. I'm glad my parents saw this interest in me at a young age and put me in classes to continue learning to draw and paint. Just a couple years ago I graduated from UNT with a drawing and painting degree. My thankfulness for the arts doesn't come purely from getting to grow my skill and ability as an artist but through creating art and developing that skill I've found God and connected with Him. When I was in High School I went to a prophetic painting class at my church. A lady named Jennifer Jones who was intimidatingly aware of the presence of God led this class. During those times I learned to communicate with God about what I created. I learned to use painting as a way to not only relax and convey something in my head, but I learned to use it as a way to portray what I heard from Him. I would ask "God, what colors should I use? Who should I make this for, Lord?". This process was uncomfortable, intimidating and strange to me at first but after many times of practicing this I began to develop a rhythm with Him and connect with Him in the process. Over time this formed and helped translate into my day in and day out, "Lord how can I encourage this person? Lord, what are you doing on this college campus?". I think crafts and hobbies can be so helpful in learning to communicate with God. When we sit down to spend time with God we often do most of the talking and expect something huge to happen or have a firm understanding of what God wants us to do.We are so used to instant gratification and being spoon fed the things we want or are learning. On the other hand practicing a craft/hobby takes time and practice. We won’t know how to knit an entire sweater the first time we sit down to knit. If we take this a step further and give Him our skills or remember that He gave us those abilities, then we can move to a practice of listening and just being with our Father. It's from a place of understanding that we truly need Him that we truly learn to trust Him. In my lack of security in painting and giving that process to him, I found Him instead of finding pride in my own ability and skill. So I encourage you to take your craft, skill or hobby, whether it's gardening, cooking, knitting, writing, painting, so on, and ask Him, “Lord what colors should use use when I knit this scarf. Lord who should I make this for?,” “Lord, what should I write about, what are you saying to me?,”

At our Friday night services I have been having students share about the different ways they connect and relate with God in worship. At one of our services we talked about living in the light and that God can handle our struggles, mistakes and fears. And as a community we can handle those too. So I had one of our chemistry majors talk about the science behind light and how when light passes through a prism colors reflect through the other side and in the same way when we let Christ reflect His light on the darkness in our life not only is it exposed but he will transform it into something of color and beauty. That's good news! I had one of our students who is a photography major share about how she has learned to deepen her trust in God. The photo she showed was a photo during a specific time when her trust was challenged by her Mom having cancer. I asked her if I could share this with you. Here is her photo that helped her learned to trust God through this tough season.

"As I follow Jesus, it seems to me, I go through phases of thinking I have defined attributes of Him. But, after these moments of prideful false clarity, He always redefines them for me. There are times where His redefinition's feel like a warm mug of tea on an icy day. There are other times, however, where His redefinition's feel not unlike being suddenly pushed into a massive, mysterious body of water, in which I am unsure which direction is up, and I cannot swim; these moments can be painful, but fruitful, opening my eyes and humbling my heart far more than the prior as I remember that I need someone to pull me to the surface.
One of those 'mysterious body of water' periods in my life is pictured above: March -July of this year, the months in which my mom was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and then had reconstructive surgery done, through all of which I was her primary caretaker. Prior to my mom's diagnosis, I had had to wrestle with how true I thought it was that God was apparently good; however, the conclusions which I had reached were so surface level that they did not withstand the reality that laid behind me in this picture- my mom was sick and I had no control. I could not fix it. It is easy to trust that God is good when your mom is healthy, but it is hard to trust that God is good when you are 21, standing alone in a hospital room with your mother, watching her sleep, helplessly grappling for peace when you have heard story, after story, after story of people being falsely told they were cancer free. In that moment, I felt so small, so insignificant, so helpless. Those few months, I found myself thinking more than I wanted to admit:
Is God really who He says He is? Because if He is, then He is good; but if He is good, why is my mom lying in a hospital bed?
Psalm 91:2: "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and fortress; my God, in whom I trust."
I could not find refuge in God because I did not trust Him.
God, the gracious Abba that He is, has been redefining trust for me, and redefining what 'goodness' is. And that experience has looked a lot like these photos; a weaving together of a veil of misunderstanding, pride, confusion, and false misconceptions, through which I can barely see the Lord's guiding light. However, He graciously reminds me that the veil has been torn, I need only crawl through my false ideas to seek Him and find Him with my whole heart. Through this, I am able more and more to enter into His realm of truth and goodness, the one in which I can see clearly that He is good- even if that goodness looks different than my flesh says it should. When we finally reach through the veil and live in His spirit, we are able to let go of our limitations and walk with Him in peace in a totally different realm; one of light, and truth."

Student Testimony

"Last year, God really blessed me through FOCUS. I experienced a lot of growth and was presented with multiple awesome opportunities. So this year, I was really excited to be a corefa and have the opportunity to give back. Before the year even started, I saw God working on our campus. Welcome Week was a blast; I saw people in our community reaching out to others, loving them, including them, and welcoming them to UTD. Being shy and inexperienced with outreach and talking to strangers, Welcome Week was something I had dreaded.  But the Spirit really inspired me and gave me an excitement for meeting others and getting to know them. The Spirit pushed me to get over myself and focus on others. Since then, I’ve been thrilled to see those freshmen and new students continue to be involved in FOCUS and to see them being invested in the same way I experienced last year. In my own core, I’ve seen real friendships being formed--friendships that are already vulnerable and open to talking about serious issues and struggles. In October, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of FOCUS; I’m celebrating a community that is selfless in its pursuit of loving others."

Be praying for our Fall Camp this weekend. Pray though our students who attend are treated so well that we reflect the depth of love that our Father has for us. 

Be praying for our 1:1 bible studies. At UNT, TWU, and NCTC I would estimate that we are studying with at least 50 people right now. Pray that these students grow in a desire to learn more about Him in scripture and that through truth lives are changed. 


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