Looking forward while looking back

A couple weeks ago I was giving Manuel, an NCTC student, a ride home after one of our fellowship meetings. He hasn't been involved in our community for very long; he just moved here two months ago from Africa to start school. Jon, one of our NCTC student leaders, had been spending time with Manuel. As I was giving him a ride home it began to rain and then started hailing. I pulled over, a bit frustrated and parked under a gas station awning. We talked for a while and he shared about how different things are from what it's like back home in Africa. I've met several students over the years in his position who come to the states just for school and then plan to move back. Luckily he has an Aunt and Uncle here in Denton who he lives with. I can't quite wrap my mind around what that sudden change of culture would be like. I asked him if he has any friends here in Denton. He said, "No, not really, but Jon is my friend." I smiled, agreed with him and assured him that I was his friend too. His response was such an encouragement to me.
 As we finish up some of our final events for the semester I am struck by how much God has taken care of our community and it's interactions like this with Manuel that I don't want to forget. God is taking care of Manuel. This school year our staff has worked hard, strategized and planned, but it's all come together because he has taken care of us. It's easier at times to first look back on the year and ask, "what could we have done differently or what could we have done better?" Those are great questions and needed, but if we fail to see that it was his Holy Spirit at work in us and if we forget to look for what he did, then we might be setting ourselves up to never be satisfied with our work. I'm finishing the year already excited and with ideas to implement for the next school year, but I don't want to forget the day to day conversations with students, like this one with Manuel. When I sit and reflect on unique conversations and situations like this, I can't contribute those to anything or anyone other than the beauty of Jesus. I think about previously this school year when I learned that my neighbors across the street (who lovingly support me in ministry) are the grandparents of an NCTC student we had already been spending time with. That makes it clear to me that God is working on these campuses and paving the way for us to do his work here. It's interactions and situations like this that I am thankful for and don't want to forget.

Spring Formal
We finish out the school year with a formal celebration for our students. It's simply a time to acknowledge our students leaders and seniors, worship together and recap the year. They love this event and especially enjoy the dancing. Our students love to dance! One of our students made this video which we watched at the formal. I hope it encourages you as much as it did me!

Nathan, me,
Sergio, Niko, Jon, Tyrus, Adrian, Drew, Aaron
 This is my peer team at formal. I met with these guys individually every week through the school year. They really are the hands and feet of our ministry. They lead small groups on campus, study the bible one-on-one with students and reach out to others on campus. I meet with them to help disciple them in that process. They have worked so hard and I have seen the Spirit grow them as disciple makers and men of God this year.
Niko and Nathan
 These two guys led core (weekly small groups) together this year. Both incredibly deep thinking, thoughtful, asked great questions and love God and people. 
 Giving God praise through worship for what he has done this year. 

 Last NCTC Meeting
This group has been so fun and encouraging each week. I'm sad to not see them weekly over the summer. Be praying that they take what they have grown and learned this year back home with them and that they bless those around them, with great love and compassion. 

Last Friday Night Fellowship
We had our last Friday Night Fellowship at the park. The weather was great, the music was uplifting and the students are ready to be done! It was a great time to stop during finals week and just worship God and be in fellowship with one another. Here is a video of us during one of the worship songs. 

Student Testimony
 "God has used the community in FOCUS to make me a better friend to those around me. Throughout high school I struggled with making genuine and lasting friendships. I had certain people I would spend time with, but there was no depth to our relationships. By the time I graduated, I sadly realized that I had no peer-friends who cared about what I was going through. In addition to this, I found it hard to empathize with those around me. It was a difficult experience that taught me the value of true, real friendship. During my first semester of college, I was involved in a car accident with my parents and three younger siblings. Those next two months were some of the darkest times of my life. I recall sitting in the emergency room and my small group leader, Nicki, calling to see if I was okay. I can’t remember what either one of us said, but I do remember in that moment feeling loved and cared for in a profound way. It was so precious to me. After some time in the ministry, my youngest sister, Emily, told me that she didn’t know what healthy friendships looked like until she saw how I interacted with my co-facilitator. God was shaping the kind of friend he wanted me to be, and through it, He was impacting the people around me! I am so excited to go on this journey that God has called me to: loving and serving those around me like Christ!"

Catherine Long (Sophmore, Richland College, Echocardiography)

Be praying as we send 90 students to Washington state this week. We are sending them to a discipleship training course for a week. Pray for safe travels, good weather and most importantly that they would be encouraged and equipped to come back to Texas ready to share the good news of Jesus!

Pray as I begin fundraising for the next school year. Pray that I reach my budget for the next school year and that I build new relationships and support this summer. I'm currently in need of new supporters and current supporters to increase if possible. My budget is the same as last year, but understandably we go through different financial seasons and some of my supporters have changed their support for this coming year. Knowing that my monthly paycheck comes from people who are excited about what God is doing on these campuses is a unique position to be in. I have many ties to you, my supporters, as family members, friends, colleagues, previous co-workers, and it means so much to have you support me in ministry and to know we partner together in spreading the good news of Christ on the college campuses. Thank you again and again for your support!


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