In an online world

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hello! I feel like at the beginning of every month, I'm shocked at how quickly the previous month ended. In some ways, time flies in campus ministry, and in other ways is slower than molasses. 

I've finished my first month at Richland. It has been so exciting for students to be back in a more official capacity! But I'd be lying if I said August was all peaches and rainbows. While we've had to transition a good chunk of our ministry online at the beginning of COVID, there was a part of me that believed this would all go away by the time school started back up. We all know that hasn't been the case. Richland announced at the end of the summer that they would be completely online and that the campus would be closed. How do we do campus ministry during a pandemic when the school is completely online? I asked myself this question over and over. How do we meet students? How do we get them involved in core? A few of our students don't have transportation, how can they get to core? So much was unknown. 

I started praying, God let your will be done. If just 3 people come to FOCUS, you want those 3 people to know you just as much as the 100 we might have met getting to be on campus. We had an online welcome week where a few new people came to different zoom events we had. We reached out to a few hundred people on Instagram and showed up to any online event the university had. It felt discouraging at times. Our student leaders are awesome and time and time again, the staff found ourselves so encouraged by how faithful these students have been. They are so excited to be leaders, and most of them are first-year leaders. They are willing to do anything and everything to reach out to students on campus. They have caught the vision for what it can be like to share the good news on their campus and they deeply want to facilitate a family environment within the ministry. 
I am seriously so thankful for them. 

I recently read an article in Christianity Today and I found this quote (and the article) to be really helpful, 

"The COVID-19 crisis merely confirms what Christians should already know: Ever since the Fall, life has never been “normal,” and the days have always been unnaturally evil (Eph. 5:16). Satan, this world, and our sinful flesh continually conspire to distract us from God’s call on our lives. Yet his grace still empowers faithful Christians—inside and outside of classrooms—to seek God’s companionship, to know his mind and designs, and to accomplish His purposes in this world."

The article left me thinking, what's something you have you stopped pursuing/ grown in because of COVID? What is God wanting me to learn that I am missing because I'm so focused on myself, my fears, and blaming it all on COVID? I encourage you to sit and ponder this question. 

The 2020-2021 Richland Leader Team!
The 2020-2021 Richland Leader Team! 
from top left: Erika, Bridgett, Sayuri, Dayo
from bottom left: Sandra, Me, and Sirak

we had a social- distance back to school kick off at a park near the campus. We had so many students from last year show up! it was an awesome event! It was really encouraging to see how gear our students were to be back together again. While COVID is making everything different, something I think it has had us do is slow down and practice intimacy with God. I keep being encouraged and reminded that this year might just be teaching that to our students. to slow down and just be with God, be with his community. To commune with him and his word. 

Here are some more sweet pictures from that event! 

We had our first "real" Thursday night fellowship nights, or Thursday Night Thunder, as Richland calls it and it was equally encouraging! When having an open sharing time, many students talked about loving FOCUS's family feel. It was really exciting to hear referring to the ministry as a safe, family style place so early on in the year! Once again, God is breaking down my expectations and replacing them with something even better. 

I continue to hear him say be faithful. 
be faithful. 

- Please be praying for outreach. With Richland being all online, we have to get really creative. Please pray for boldness for our students, they they would rest in the freedom of the spirit when they reach out to their classmates online and not the fear of being awkward. 
- Please be praying for our cores (small groups). These small groups are a big part of our ministry and we are trying to do these as safely as possible. Please pray that our small group leaders will be bold and be faithful with God has given them. It's easy to measure success by numbers. Please pray that they would see success as following God's will and never by trying to be impressive. 
- Please be praying for the safety of our ministry. We are having our students social distance, wear a mask, and follow other CDC recommended guidelines so we can still be together. 
- Please also be praying for the emotional safety of our students. So many of them are alone and don't have much interaction with the school being closed. Most of our students live at home and might not be able to come to any of our in person events. God created us to be communal beings. We were made to be together. Please pray that they will be quick to move their feet and talk to one another. 
- Please pray for the girls that I am meeting with this year. That they would come to know God and be shaped by him
- Please pray fo ray fundraising! I am $400 a month away from my minimum goal of $2500 a month! God was so faithful and I believe he will provided the rest. If you know anyone who would be interested in partnering with me in ministry, please let me know! 

I'm so thankful for your partnership and I am excited to share with you the neat things God is doing at Richland College! 

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