|Staff and our student leaders. So thankful for these faithful servants.|
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
-1 Philippians 1:3-6
When I reflect on this year I am blown away by God's goodness and his ability to sustain his people in the midst of a global pandemic. Not only did he sustain us he provided for and allowed us to grow. We are inviting more students to SICM than we ever have, had the largest leader team we have ever had, and had the most successful fundraising year in the midst of great uncertainty. In addition our wider ministry across DFW is poised for a big year this coming fall. We have 19 pastoral apprentices coming onto staff (including my sister Claire!), we are targeting up to 5 new campuses this year, and we have started a new fund to assist ethnic minority campus ministers in raising support. (You can read more about our big year coming up here!)
I am so encouraged by the faithfulness of our student leaders this year. They led in the midst of a weird and tough year. Our big group meetings were not the same with many of them streamed out. We had a guy and girls core completely online where two pairs of leader chose to sacrifice in person fellowship for those more comfortable online. The core in person were also modified with students meeting outside and in masks. They were flexible with many changes in how we would do things, even last minute changes our staff had to make. Their classes were virtually online making school difficult. Our student leaders commit 15-20 hrs each week for free to bring the kingdom to the campus. If there ever was a year to quit it would have been this year. But they all stuck through. And for many it was their first year leading! My prayer is that God would continue to bring faithful workers of the harvest who are excited about reaching out to their fellow students.
|Getting ready for one of our last Deep dives.|
The last week of ministry for this semester was a such a sweet sweet gift from God after a year that was anything but normal. We did our last two deep dives of the year outside because we couldn't get a room on campus. Both days were a little wet and muggy but it was so sweet to get to worship together as a body during our service again. It almost felt normal. My core got to celebrate the year with a dinner out and they gave me a sweet photo album with notes. Our last leader meeting we got to have a dip party and sing karaoke together. And our end of the year party at a park was a success with lots of joyful fellowship. God was so sweet to allow me to have these sweet parting moments that felt like a return to ministry pre-COVID. I am so beyond grateful for how he had allowed me to partner with him through FOCUS all these years. He is so so good.
|End of year party!|
|Claire and my parents!|
The last thing I want to leave you with is a little note from Claire, my sister, who will be coming onto staff this coming August as a Pastoral Apprentice. I am so excited for what God has for her this next year. She is going to be on the Richland College team, a community college in Dallas. Since I am stepping down at the end of July, I would love if you would prayerfully consider coming onto Claire's ministry partner team in August. She would be so blessed by that! Here is her note for ya'll:
My university experience without FOCUS would have been radically different. Coming into university, I had no friends and for the most part, had a negative outlook on life. Through FOCUS, I joined a small group where we had deep discussions on scripture and challenged each other to grow in our faith. I did a one-on-one bible study with my small group leader where I got to process through what a relationship with God meant. And I learned that to God I was valuable and precious despite my brokenness. I got to experience true friends who stuck with me through my battle with depression and anxiety. As I grew into my faith, I became more passionate about campus ministry and eventually got to lead a small group and multiple one-on-one bible studies where I got to share with other young women the immense value that they had to God. Campus ministry had such an impact on me, I want to help continue spreading God's good news and love on the college campus. So please consider partnering with me this August! - Claire Umstead
Thank you again for so generously supporting me and partnering with me in ministry! And don't forget to check out the student testimony below!