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January 2021

UTA Staff with the gifts we got in our secret santa. I seriously love this team.

Earlier this month we had our annual winter staff retreat. It was smaller than usual and many precautions were taken before going but I am so glad we got to do it. Staff retreat is always so sweet and restful for me. It gets me excited for the upcoming semester. I get to see staff members who work on other campuses and hear about what God has been doing there. This year specifically we had two sessions where we talked through the history of FOCUS. (Those who couldn't attend in person joined us on zoom.) It was a time for each person in chronological order to share about how God brought them into FOCUS and then brought them on staff. We heard from those who were there when Focus came together in 1996 at UTD a campus that had no student life let alone christian ministries to get involved in. FOCUS actually started the first welcome events that UTD ever had in a effort to bless the campus and reach out to classmates. (Some of those events are now run by UTD staff!) Stories of how each campus was started and what kept people around and who invested in who was shared. A theme of being intimately known, loved, and fought for emerged. People felt really seen for the first time. FOCUS was a place they could explore what it meant to follow Jesus in the context of sweet and deep friendship. Some people were shocked by how nice people were, that upperclassmen wanted to spend time with a freshman, that they could mess up and still be loved so they stuck around. Many of our staff weren't even christians when they came to college and now they are working to make God known on those same campuses. That is the vision that God would drastically change the pathways of the students we get the privilege of coming into contact with. That they would encounter the creator who loves them so much that he became human and made a way. How incredible is it that God used just a couple of college students who said yes 25 years ago to establish his will in DFW. A rag-tag unimpressive group that grew in God's blessing. 

I was born the year FOCUS started. Because those students said yes, I was able to reap the benefits when I came on campus. There are babies being born now that will be impacted by our yes now. By your yes to partnering with us in ministry. I look forward to seeing what God does over the next 25 years. All the lives he will touch and transform. The possibilities are endless. 

Ronnie's Class

This week Ronnie, the senior pastor of a church that helped FOCUS get started and has supported FOCUS over the years, is putting on a class about how to internalize the gospel for our students. Each day for 2 hours students are tuning in to learn about God and how to share about him with others. About 80 students from all of our classes signed up for the class. It is so encouraging to me that so many of our students are excited and eager to learn. In addition to Ronnie's class the winter activities our UTA staff has put on have continued!

Scripture reading! We read Amos that day.

Austin's book club on the book Kingdom Come

Virtual cookie baking

School starts back up on the 19th at UTA so we are getting geared up for the students to return and what another semester of ministry in the midst of COVID will look like. Please be praying for us as we enter this new semester! 

Thank you again for so faithfully supporting ministry at UTA! Don't forget to check out the student testimony below!

In Christ,
Emily Umstead


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