A Glimpse at Our Community
The month of February has overall been a really great one. I feel like things have settled down a bit from the beginning of the year, and the Spring is always a semester where we get to see great change in our students. In that same theme, I wanted this update to focus on what it is like to be part of our community in UTD FOCUS.
I feel like the best way to get across what this community that I serve in is like, is to tell some stories of my experiences in it this month. So we had our once a semester Pizza Theology event this last month. It was a great event, we dove deep into the book of Exodus and all of our speakers did a fantastic job. One of the most meaningful parts of it for me was seeing my best friend Rhett up there as one of the speakers. It's so cool to be part of a community where I can see this guy who used to be such an absolute goof that he could barely get a sentence out without it being a joke, get up and lead our entire community in this dense topic. What a testament to Jesus' transforming power! I think it is incredibly powerful to have a man like Rhett up on that stage preaching to our nearly 450 students who were there. He is in no way a stranger to those students. He isn't some famous speaker, but their friend. He is a man that so many know on a personal basis, and then he gets to go up there and lead us. I'm so thankful that I get to be a part of the community that lifts people like that up.
Another powerful moment happened for me at Pizza Theology that I thought was so indicative of our community. I was sitting at dinner in-between the teaching sessions, and a student I know came and sat down with me. I'm friends with him, but we don't have a super deep friendship or anything like that. But I ask him how he is doing, and he says something to the effect of "Well not really all that good. I'm realizing that I am dealing with some pretty serious depression, and have felt lonely since some of my friends have moved on to different life stages." He opened up even more than I'll put here, and with so little prompting! This isn't a guy who goes around seeking attention and talking about his problems with everyone if that's what you were thinking. Our community is one where it's safe to share the real and heart level things, even when you don't have a close relationship with the person. It truly is one of the most vulnerable communities I've ever seen in my life. It's a community where you can truly know people, and be truly known. That experience with the student in no way shocked me. It wasn't out of the ordinary for a student that I don't have an intense long-term relationship with to open up about real and intense stuff that they are going through. It's one of the many reasons that I think people feel like FOCUS becomes their family away from family as they are up here in college.
These are just a few reasons that I have so fallen in love with the community here. Hopefully I can keep sharing some more stories along the way to help you get a better picture of it too. But I've got to move on to some of the more personal stuff that's been going on with me this month, because there are some big things.
First off, Darby has had this swollen lymph node on her neck for almost two years now. It started off pretty small, and we got it checked out occasionally, but it has just been growing pretty steadily. We went to get it checked out again, they did a CT scan and all that, and basically they've told us there is a 99% chance she needs to get surgery to remove it. We don't know if it's cancerous or not, but either way it's just gotten to big. Needless to say, we've been pretty freaked out. Surgery in the area around her neck and jaw obviously comes with some risks. So if you could just be praying for healing along with discernment on what we should do about all this, that would be so appreciated. We know that our God is capable of doing great and miraculous things, so if it's in His will, we hope he does one with this.
The next big news for us, is that after much prayer, advice, and conversations, Darby and I have decided to stay on FOCUS staff next year! In fact, Darby will be staying for at least 1 year, and I will be staying for at least 3 years. We've just felt that this is where God has called us for this time in our lives. There is a big need up here for campus missionaries, and we think God has been preparing us to fill that need. This doesn't mean it's not painful for both of us as well. We love our families a ton, and will miss them so much while we're up here doing ministry, but we want to be obedient to what we feel God is telling us to do. The other news on that front, is that it won't be at UTD anymore. We'll be moving to the University of North Texas starting next year! That campus really needs some male staff members over there, and we felt the Spirit giving us the go on moving up to Denton so I can fill that need. Darby will probably end up working at TWU and NCTC which are both colleges up in that area as well. So please be praying for us as we start getting ready to enter into this next season of ministry! I'll be letting you know more about this whole thing in the coming months, but if you have any questions feel free to reach out!