Hi everyone! Happy March! It's been a fun month of ministry and I'm excited to show you a few of the highlights.
Misc. Ministry Things!
You may remember Will from a ministry update or two last semester! He and I get to lead a Core (small group) together once a week. He's an insanely talented piano performance major and just had his junior recital!
A big group of FOCUS students went to support him on his big day! Love these guys.
Speaking of FOCUS students, meet Kay! He came to our weekly fellowship meeting for the first time, after having stumbled onto UTA FOCUS meeting some of my close friends from college! He just graduated and is getting ready for medical school next year. He lives close to SMU so he thought he'd surround himself with peers who love Jesus before he heads off to whatever school he ends up picking! I'll be teaching him how to play disc golf later this week. A man after my own heart.
Every 2 weeks some guys in FOCUS will get together for a guy's night! Usually we'll visit a local restaurant, play board games, or have a movie night. It's been a great way to get closer! In the picture above we visited a seafood restaurant just off campus called Half Shells. David, Will, Ethan, Jonathan, and I enjoyed it a lot!
A candid of Jonathan during one of our leader meetings
Last thing in this burst of pictures is a video clip from an event UTD FOCUS hosted called RELEASE! To wrap up Black History Month, a ton of black students at UT Dallas got together to put on a production showcasing talented black individuals who are in FOCUS, graduated from it, or are friends of people involved. It was so cool! This clip is of a West African drum group who opened the show.
We need your help!
The last thing I wanted to share about is pretty unique; it's a first for me in my ministry experience so far! Long story short, there are presently regulations set in place by the Department of Education that protects religious student organizations like FOCUS by allowing them permission to make organizational decisions based on "sincerely-held religious beliefs."
However, the department has recently announced that they will be rescinding that language, as it has been deemed "unnecessary" when combined with the preexisting First Amendment rights, granted by the Bill of Rights. In practicality, though, what is likely to happen is that when a student's rights are being infringed upon by a University (especially a public University like UTA, UTD, UNT, etc...) students will lack knowledge of their rights, nor the drive to properly take the university to court.
So in summary:
When push comes to shove, our students' rights, as well as FOCUS's rights, to religious expression will be in danger should this change not be prevented.
So what can we do about it? FOCUS, as well as other religious student organizations (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) are coming together asking students, staff, and supporters to write comments, sharing why this wording change should be reconsidered before the deadline, March 24. I don't want anyone to feel pressured but did want to invite each of you to participate with us as we try to protect our students and our small piece of God's mission for the college campus!
Here is a link to a page that will explain a bit more, and tell you about what steps you can take to help: https://anyfocus.org/campusaccess/
Thank you all for taking the time to read this update about how I've seen God working on the college campus. And thank you again so much for your support! I'm so grateful I get to do what I do and that wouldn't be possible without you. Have a blessed month!
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