The Start of New Things

     Before I get to the great new school year, I have something exciting to announce. For the first time in a while, UTD FOCUS is putting on an Alumni Night. It will be November 17th at 7:30pm in room HH 2.402 on campus. For all of you that are alumni of our ministry at UTD, we would love to have you join us for this service, so you can see our ministry now, and hopefully be encouraged by the students that you have helped lay a foundation for. 

    Now, on to the new year. As soon as students began to return, we hit the ground running. On Monday, August 14th, we held our Mission Launch day. Mission Launch is a day of training that we use to prepare our small group leaders for the upcoming weeks of outreach. From 1pm-6pm, we prepared our leaders on how to invite people, how to follow up with people, and how to be on the look for where God might be working. After this we had a time for dinner, and then we returned and invited all of the returning students in our ministry to join us for worship and prayer for the mission of this year. It was super encouraging and exciting to get things off the ground, but the real work started the next day! 

    Following launch day, we started our outreach at the on campus dorms. In years past, we have set up games inside the buildings, but this year, the housing office barred us from entering, so we set up outside instead. The first day, this was a big hit to us, but shoutout to my supervisor Peter, he adapted our plan and the next two days were the biggest two days of outreach we have ever had at UTD. It was hot and miserable, but so many new people got to meet us, make friends, and find ways to get plugged in not just to our group, but also the things that people around campus are doing. It was so cool to see just how faithful God was to be with us in spite of what happened on campus. 
    After a couple of days of doing outreach at the dorms, we started doing more event based outreach. On Friday morning from 9am-2pm we set up a booth and would help new students find their classrooms, so they wouldn't be lost the following Monday when classes started. We had so many people come by and meet us, and even more encouraging than that, we had so many of our student leaders there ready to meet these new students and show them the campus. The night we had a short event called Zombie Tag, and then invited everyone to join us at Whataburger. The Whataburger off of Coit and the George Bush Tollway staffed up so that we could bring a group of around 100 students with us, and they gave some merchandise away to help us welcome the new people to the area. The next night we had our Fun on the Fields night. We reserved the soccer practice fields at UTD, and had a bunch of fun outdoor games set up for the students to come by and play. This one was a lot less popular this year than in the past, but many of the students we had already met came by and continued to get plugged in more and they continued to meet more members of our community. This was something that encouraged me a ton this year compared to the last two years. The last two years, we have definitely been dealing with COVID hangover. The New students this year are way more excited to try new things and get involved in things that aren't inside the walls of their room. They are also very vocal about how excited they are that we exist. As move in week came to a close, and classes were about to start, we decided to cap it off with a night of unplugged worship on campus. Which we had great attendance and participation at. I think the momentum we set up for students was definitely carried through the next week!

    The next week was the start of classes, which for me was a very busy week. I lead our on campus outreach for that week, which had us on the Plinth (the campus center) from 10am-2pm every day Mon-Fri. It was VERY HOT, but we were also super successful in reaching and meeting new people! One thing that definitely helped was that we were giving away free Cold Brew to everyone who came to talk to us. Through the week we had events again, but my focus was on the day time outreach, and the coffee prep. Though the run through those last two weeks was exhausting, it was also so extremely life giving! At our first Friday Night Fellowship, we had an attendance around 190, which is the first year that we are starting bigger than we were before COVID. How exciting is that! (A sneak peek for next month's blog, but we have continued to go up in attendance!)

Thank you all so much for your prayers for our community! I write this as the year begins to settle into rhythm, but it is so encouraging to look back at how good God has been in answering our prayers, and how faithful he has been to go ahead of us and prepare the soil. I am looking forward to an awesome school year!  


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