June 2021

First Summer Focus of the year!

We love because he first loved us
- 1 John 4:19

I like you just the way you are
- Fred Rogers

Summer FOCUS kicked off this past month and has been such a huge gift from God. Getting to worship together as a body again was a such a sweet thing to come back to. I was filled with so much joy that first night. I hadn't realized how much I missed worship like this and how God uses it to fill us up. We have started a sermon series focused on growing our affection for Jesus that so far has been so powerful. Each week a staff member comes with a story about Jesus from scripture that touches them. They also bring some form of art or media to help us connect to the story itself. If you want to watch a sermon yourself you can access past broadcasts here: https://www.twitch.tv/utdfocus/videos

Staff who are leaving this summer being prayed over. (Since I leave at the end of July they are going to celebrate me later).

 Graduated students getting training for transitioning to the next chapter of life

In preparation for those of us who are transitioning off of staff this summer, Focus provided us with a class specifically focused on transitioning and moving into workplace ministry the last week of May. I feel so blessed to be on a team that thinks investing in a class like this for those stepping off is valuable. Transition and change are hard and processing through what ministry will look like in the work I am stepping into is so vital. I got the chance to do some of that reflecting through the guidance of Victoria a fellow staff member. Victoria in the past year just came back to work with Focus after four years in teaching where she processed what it means to be a minister in the workplace. If I wrote down everything she helped us to process this blog would be a novel but one thing has really stuck out to me that I want to share with you. She had a us read this article at the beginning of the class. In the article Wendell Berry discusses these "two economies" we operate in. The "Greater Economy" (could also be called the kingdom of God/God's economy) and the "lesser economy". The Greater Economy values things God values. Sometimes things that can't been seen or measured. Such as the value of each person or generosity or love. The lesser economy tends to focus on what can be measured. The lesser economy can only do so much and sometimes tries to control things it can't. When working in sync with the Greater Economy things reach their potential and flourish and when working against it destruction can happen. Victoria had us look at two different men who had perfected working for the greater economy in their jobs. One of them was Fred Rogers. Through his show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers worked to instill in kids their value and worth. He helped them to process emotions and tragedy and taught them how to relate to and respect others. He could have very easily made a silly and loud kids show like all the other TV shows were doing. But he chose to operate in the greater economy. He was lifting up the image of God in each of the children watching his show. He had a great conviction in what he did. How can I work in the greater economy in my upcoming social work? In what ways can I further the truths of God and his gospel where I go? I highly recommend watching the Won't you be my neighbor? documentary about Fred Rogers. It is a sweet and uplifting story about a man of God who raised a generation of kids through television.

Celebrating Brenna's bday!!

We also got to celebrate the end of the year as a staff this past week. It was a sweet time of remembering the year and honoring those leaving staff and those who have made new commitments to stay on. Those leaving got a beautiful handmade keepsakes box made by a student. It was filled with encouraging letters from each person on staff. Only two more months are left on this staff team for me and I can hardly believe it. My prayer is that God helps me to be faithful with what is left and that he would guide me in my transition to the next phase of life. 

Thank you again for your faithful partnership with me through this ministry. You have all abundantly blessed me! Don't forget to check out the student testimony below!

In Christ,
Emily Umstead


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