January Ministry Updates

Happy New Year! I can hardly believe that half of my apprenticeship is done! Looking back I am so grateful that I get to do this job. God has been so faithful to show up not only in my day to day ministry but in my transition to Arlington and all other aspects of my life. He has been too good to me. The past five months have been a whirlwind. I've been learning so much about what it means to be a disciple. I want to thank all of you once again for partnering with me and making this possible.

Now onto the highlights!

Our UTA/DBU student leader team

Last month we had our annual Christmas party. We all came together to worship, eat, and celebrate the reason for the season. There was also a core competition. Every year each core (our small groups) prepares a skit/video to showcase at the party and we vote on the winner. They are usually pretty silly and sweet. I always love getting to watch all the performances!

UTA core


Staff retreat happened this past week and was such a blessing. I am so privileged to work on such a sweet and hardworking staff. We spent the week discussing the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and perseverance in the face of suffering. Reading about Frederick Douglass's life and all that he faced as a slave was eye opening. He had every reason to be bitter and give up but he didn't. In fact he even seemed to care about the slave masters. At one point Frederick even discusses how having a slave made one of his masters transform from a sweet caring woman to a mean and harsh master. This book not only put my own suffering and hardships (if they can even been called that) into perspective but has also reframed suffering in my mind.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

God can and does use suffering to grow us even if we don't see it or understand it. I want to be better about remembering ways God has already worked through suffering and used it to build my character so that when I face suffering again I can face it with joy and a new perspective. I hope to use what I have learned this week to enrich my ministry and how I approach suffering in my girls lives.

Some of us went on a hike during retreat.

I also have wonderful news about Keep FOCUS Growing. It was a massive success. We were able to raise over $70,000 dollars to invest back into our ministry allowing us to continue to invest in college campuses all over DFW. So thank you for any prayers or donations! Your support is so appreciated!
In other news, I am so pumped because Winter Camp is only a little over a week away! Winter Camp is a weekend where all of the FOCUS community from each campus come together for a time of learning, worship, and community. For many students (myself included) this weekend is a big turning point for them in their faith and their buy-in to Christian community. I remember the first time I went to Winter Camp as a freshman. I was blown away by the Christ-filled community I saw that weekend. Not only did I make and deepen friendships, I deepened my relationship with Christ. The spiritual energy and level of excitement at Winter Camp is insane and I am so excited to see how God uses it to transform students lives this year! It is happening January 18-21. Please join us in praying for a fruitful weekend that deeply blesses our students.

Many Blessings,
Emily Umstead

P.S. please enjoy these extra photos from the month and the student testimony below!

Ice skating!

This is my core from last year! We had a sweet reunion over the break.


  1. Hey Emily! I think those discussions about suffering were so timely and helpful. It's easy to feel like whatever is happening to me is just terrible, but it's important to put those things into perspective and realize how God can use bad situations for our good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that!


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