January

Hey, everyone! I hope your Christmas was a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus with friends and family! As sad as I am about the Christmas season ending, I am excited for the new semester which starts very soon. I think the Lord is going to do something big this semester, but before I get into that, I would like for you to read about Timothy, a student from our UT Dallas campus. Have a peek!


Staff Retreat:
Every Winter, our entire FOCUS staff from all over the metroplex gets together for a 3 day retreat to meet, and discuss various things that help us prepare for the new semester. This Winter Staff Retreat was perhaps the most thought provoking one I've attended so far. We read The Life and Narrative of Frederick Douglass. It's about a former slave who fought tooth and nail to learn to read so he could  eventually escape the horrific slavery of the South and be free. This was a freedom that he prepared for years to execute, while suffering through some of the worst experiences I can imagine. He also called out the hypocrisy of the church during this time. To say it was eye opening isn't a strong enough sentence. His story revealed so much about our American and Christian history, and gave me so much perspective about the things I worry about. I often worry about things as if my life depended on it, and it never does. His life actually did depend on the things he worried about. He persevered through suffering for the freedom on the horizon, and it reminds me of Jesus hanging on the cross for our freedom. So this calls us Christians into the question: In what ways have you been called to look like Jesus through suffering? I'm still thinking about this, because I think I have been fighting for comfort for so long, and suffering is a guarantee for all of us.


Prayer Request:
Earlier I mentioned that I think God is gearing up to do something really big this semester. Through my prayers, reflections, and own pondering, I feel led to say that I think the Lord's plan is to reveal the true life he offers to our students sooner rather than later. I think that's always his plan, but timing is everything. More now than ever, our students are struggling with anxiety, depression, and isolation. So, my ask is that you would join our staff in prayer for our body to be filled with hope, and the Holy Spirit, and to reciprocate to the invitation of Jesus wholeheartedly. An awesome opportunity for the students to encounter Jesus is our Winter Camp which is upon us! Thank you so much for praying for us. I'm excited for our students to encounter Jesus this semester in a life-giving way.

In Christ,

Shayla

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