Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Although it's been said many times, many ways:
A Ku Odun Keresimesi! Merry Christmas!

This Christmas, I have thought a lot about the greeting,"Merry Christmas." As I wrote Christmas cards this year, and as I responded to seasons greetings from cashiers, and friends, and Salvation Army ring-a-bell-ers, I couldn't help wonder what exactly what we mean when we say "Merry Christmas." The words conjure up red and green, candy canes and a pot-bellied Santa.

The angels who heralded the first Christmas used these words:

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger . . . Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

(Luke 2:10-14)

I have decided to memorize this greeting and use it in lieu of "Merry Christmas" from now on. Okay, maybe not. But I do pray for myself and for all of you that as we share Christmas greetings, we may be filled with joy by the incredible Gift of a Savior; and we may look beyond the manger and marvel at the cross on which the gift was completed.

"Merry Christmas," "Joyeux Noel," "E ku Odun,"--whichever way you say it or hear it said, I pray the words bring you joy, fill your heart with peace, and cause you to glorify God by proclaiming the gift of His Son to the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

December "Mini" Update

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." 2 Corinthians 5:14

It's been a busy, busy, busy month! But, praise God, it's also been a very fruitful month. We got a new Bible study off the ground. Last Friday, I sat down with four students invlolved in orchestra and co-led a Bible study for them with Brent, one of the students. (I was excited to observe his understanding of God's Word and His love).

I also had the joy of following up with six girls who attended the orchestra outreach last month. I had lunch with them at separate times; I learned a little bit about their current spiritual stance and where they want to go, spiritually. They were all at different levels--a couple of them still not sure if they want to follow Christ, one a new Christian (she received Christ at the outreach), and a couple of them presently struggling in their walk with God. Please pray that God would give me and other Student Venture laborers the wisdom and discernment to guide these students in their walk with Him.

God took me this past week to revisit 2 Corinthians 3:12-5:21. These were passages of Scripture that God placed on my heart two years ago when I first recognized He was calling me to ministry. It was so encouraging to be reminded that it is GOD'S LOVE compelling us to bring his gospel to the lost, and it is GOD working through us as His ministers--clay vessels though we may be.

I will send another newsletter this month--God willing--to recap the end-of-year events and share with you testimonies of God's work at Newman Smith High School and in Carrollton. Please keep me in your prayers as I prepare for my finals!! Also, pray for our leadership students as God continues to lead them to invite their friends for our January conference (FastBreak). They prayed to God to fill a whole bus with their friends/classmates (that would be 50 students) and they have 28 students signed up so far!

Thank you for your continued prayers--they are working! I'm also grateful to those of you who gave additional financial gifts this past month. God bless you all, and I'll write again soon. For now, I'm going to study! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Giving Thanks

"Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" Psalm 106:1

"Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Happy November, friends!

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. You and I know that our gratitude to God is not limited to one day or one month in the year, but while we have "thankfulness" on our minds this month, I'd like to dedicate this update to thanking God for His goodness and His faithfulness.

In the past month, I grieved with dear friends who lost a son and brother; I rejoiced over a young girl who received new life in Christ. I reached across and held the hands of a woman in jail whose heart was aching because she had lost a son during her time of incarceration; I shared the joy of a friend who delivered a beautiful baby boy . . . .So much has happened in one month, and none without the knowledge of the One by whose hands all creation was formed.

As I read Psalm 136 a few days ago, I smiled as it dawned on me that the Hand that "struck down great kings . . .and killed mighty kings (verses 17,18) is the same Hand that "gives food to every creature" (verse 25). How can we remain thankful in all circumstances? We can because the most important thing of all remains constant-- His love endures forever.

Prayer Requests:

When I began my internship, I had only reached half my goal for financial support. The support I have been receiving has dwindled even more and my account is short on the money I need for outreach and conference costs, training, materials, and salary. I am trusting the Lord that He will raise $400 in monthly pledges before the end of the year. Please pray in agreement with me that God will raise this support, and also prayerfully consider giving a monthly pledge.

Pray as we prepare for Fastbreak, our beginning of the year Student Venture retreat. A few of the SV students who are now core Christian leaders at their high schools received Christ or rededicated their lives to Christ at past Student Venture retreats. They are eager and excited to give their classmates an opportunity to do the same, so they are prayerfully working toward bringing at least 50 students from their high school to Fastbreak. Please pray along with us that God will honor their faith and their heart for their lost friends.

Pray for our upcoming outreach events for the rest of the year. This Friday, Dave, one of the student leaders, will be hosting his orchestra group at his home. He will share his testimony, and there will be a gospel presentation. Please pray for God to open the hearts of the students who will attend. We are praying that God will create an interest and the students will be open to joining Bible studies designed to fit their schedules.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Mercies

"This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, for His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23.

Praise God for a new month, a new day, new mercies!

The past month held its share of discouragements and setbacks, and the Lord taught me to rely on His grace. Not only did I deal with personal battles, but it appeared that everywhere I turned, I encountered someone who was experiencing difficult times (friends experiencing loss, people dealing with health and financial issues, students I work with experiencing emotional turmoil . . .)! Has anybody been there? Can anyone relate to these hardships?

There's great news: we have a loving and compassionate God who "sees our frame and knows that we are made of dust." Each new day brings new mercies; each trial comes with a special dose of grace. In the same way that the Israelites had to learn to trust God for manna on a daily basis, God teaches us to rely on His compassionate hand day by day while we go through life's "deserts". Praise God!

Continuing on this note of praise . . .

God has provided a place for me to stay in Carrollton so that I can be in closer proximity to the high school students I work with. I'm already enjoying the benefits of living so close--I was able to attend the high school football game last night. I won't comment on the score, but I did enjoy waving a green and yellow pom-pom and screaming "Go, Trojans, Go!"

Our October outreach--JELLO FEST--was a delightfully messy experience (Stay tuned for pictures). I got jello in my ear, but best of all TWO STUDENTS PRAYED TO RECEIVE CHRIST!

Prayer Requests

Please pray for an upcoming "team talk" for Varsity and JV volleyball players at Newman Smith (October 15th). Team talks involve delivering a motivational message to a group of students, then encouraging them to become a part of a small group study where they can learn about God and grow in their relationship with Him.

It has been difficult getting groups of girls together for Bible studies due to time conflicts in the busy, busy lives of these high school girls. Please ask that God will grant us wisdom in structuring the Bible studies so that we can accomodate the various schedules.

Please pray for a student I've been "hanging out" with, K.E. She comes from a dysfunctional background and she is carrying a lot of emotional baggage. K.E. loves the Lord, and she is staying strong, but she is constantly battling negative thoughts and feelings. Ask that the Lord would strengthen her and grant me wisdom as I strive to point her to Him.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" John 13:35 (NIV).

Natalie, a Student Venture member, is a sophomore at Newman Smith High School. She plays volleyball and has a nice smile. Oh, and one more thing. She is a Christian.

Now, I don't simply mean that she calls her self a Christian, and I am not implying that she lives a sinless life. She doesn't walk around with a Bible strapped around her head or anything--no, she's a pretty normal teenager. Coach purses, boy issues and all.

Let me share a story with you, and you can draw your own conclusions.

School resumed this past Monday for Newman Smith students, and Natalie noticed that one of her friends, a fellow Student Venture member, had not bought any new clothing for the school year. So, she did what any normal Christian would do--she went to her room, looked at her own pile of new clothes, and thanked God that he had given them to her. She also sent a cursory prayer in her friend's direction, that God would take care of her financial situation.

No, it did not happen that way. What Natalie actually did was call her friend up and ask her what her favorite clothing store was. Then Natalie went out and bought a gift card from that store, and gave it to her friend. Two days ago, as I stood among an after-school crowd at Newman Smith, the girl who had received the gift shared with Tom, Brooke, and me, the story of what Natalie had done for her. There was a smile on her face, a smile that Jesus put there. But He used Natalie.

God calls us to come to Him through His Son and experience His love. He also calls us to demonstrate His love, and by it all men will know that we are His disciples (John 13:35). What a witness! The Bible says of the early Christians:

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer . . . .Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need . . . .And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved"
(Acts 2:42, 45, 47).
The Christians' love for one another was a witness that led to salvation. Pray with me that God will enable us this school year to reach Carrollton high school students not just through our words, but through our demonstration of God's love for one another.
Other Prayer Requests:
  1. Pray for God to direct our steps as we plan for our first outreach for the year--a pool party to welcome freshmen.
  2. Ask that we would keep our plans aligned with God's will as we map Carrollton campuses for ministry opportunities this school year.
  3. Please pray for me and other new staff or volunteers that will be coming onboard this year, as well as current Student Venture staff, that God would give us His vision and grant us the grace and humility to stick to it even when "results" are not apparent.

I love you all and I sincerely appreciate your partnership in ministry. I am truly blessed!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dave Bryant--Testimony

Watch Dave Bryant share an abbreviated version of his testimony. Dave is a senior this year at Newman Smith High School, where I am an intern with Student Venture. He has a passionate heart for God and for leading others to Him. I tell you, folks, God is raising a generation for Himself that will bring revival not only to this nation, but to the world.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Crossing Boundaries

Each time I read about Jesus' ministry on earth, I marvel at the way He was able to reach people at every level: poor, rich, outcast, high-ranking, young, old. It was not His worldly status that opened doors for Him to build relationships with people. And He was not exactly an orator -- in fact, it was the very simplicity of His profound words that caused (and still causes) people to pause and listen. I conclude (and I think you might agree) that it was pure love that enabled Christ to make the difference that He did in the lives of those He touched.

I am always thinking about the idea of crossing boundaries. How do I best break through the walls of pain, or insecurity, or worldliness to reach that teenager for Christ? How can I demonstrate God's love to this person or that person when I don't know what their needs are? God is constantly reminding me that it is His work to make a difference; it is my work to simply love. And for that matter, I don't have to muster this love on my own. The Holy Spirit is with me to empower me to love as God has commanded.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to enjoy watching God work through a teenager to overstep a boundary in love and share words of hope with a bitter, young African-American man. I took seven Student Venture students to a local mall to share the gospel with people there. One fifteen-year-old student, Josh, felt a nudge to approach a young man whom he described as looking "all tough . . . like a gangster." With God's boldness, Josh initiated conversation with the man: "Looking at you, people will probably assume that you're a thug." The man, surprised, explained that he had just had the same conversation with his friend. Apparently, throughout the time they had been in the mall, he and his friend had been trailed by a caucasian policeman, and this young man was experiencing feelings of bitterness and remorse because he felt that in spite of his "good standing" and his college degrees, he was being judged for his appearances. Josh was able to talk to the man about a relationship with God, assuring him of his value in God's sight.

As each student shared his or her experience after our outreach at the mall -- explaining who Jesus is to an Iranian soap kiosk-salesman, taking a 10-year-old girl through the plan of salvation, receiving encouragement from a fellow Christian, and so on -- I could not help but smile as I realized that we had done what Jesus did during His ministry on earth. We had made ourselves available, and as one student, Courtney said, "deeply felt God's love" for these people; and God had taken care of the results!

Friends, thank you for your partnership in making these opportunities possible. Whether you give financially or spend time in prayer for me and Student Venture Carrollton, "your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Someday soon, we will stand before our Righteous Judge and rejoice that we played a part in restoring the lost to Him.

I love you all, and you are in my prayers always!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Freedom Month!!!

Hi friends!!
Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July.

I returned from Colorado last Friday, volunteered at the Celebrate Freedom Christian concert in Dallas on Saturday, and hopped into Laura's Kentucky-bound vehicle on Sunday.
Yes, it's been a busy past couple of weeks, but I've had the blessing of visiting with many of my ministry supporters in a few different states, and reuniting with friends.
As I promised, I've got pictures from the Colorado Rocky Mountain Getaway Conference!!! Three students from Carrollton accepted Christ at the conference; one other student, raised a Muslim, also received Christ, but is having a difficult time with the idea that he can only serve one God. Please pray that God will continue to work on his heart. Several other students from other regions also received Christ at the conference.
The students at the conference all had the opportunity to share their faith with the community on the last full day at Estes Park, and through these students, God brought salvation to many of the inhabitants of Estes Park and surrounding towns/cities.

I have now raised up to one-third of my financial support--praise God!!! God is reminding me everyday of His ability to do over and beyond all that I could ever ask or think. I pray that you all experience the joy of resting in the assurance of His presence.
Prayer Requests . . .
I will be working together with a couple of other volunteers to oversee the summer Student Venture ministry in Carrollton. Please ask that God would use us to nurture the students and lead others to Him.
Please pray that God would grant the SV Carrollton staff the wisdom and discernment necessary to select and train student leaders for next year.
PLEASE let me know how I can be praying for you. Love you all!!

Main building on YMCA Camp, Estes Park

Rock Climbing :)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

2nd Day in Colorado

Colorado is BEAUTIFUL!!!

I don't have lot of time to write right now, but I'd like to give a summary of the Colorado trip so far.

I left Dallas at 8pm on Friday in a bus carrying 50 high school students; the bus arrived at Estes Park, Colorado at 3:30pm on Saturday. Suffice it to say that by the time we arrived in Colorado, I was well-versed in every random topic the teenage mind could conjure :)

Did I mention that Colorado is beautiful? As the bus climbed up the mountains to Estes Park, my head swung back and forth to take in the view on my left, then my right. I didn't want to miss a bit of it. By the way, for those of you who care to know, Estes Park reminds me a lot of Julian, California.

Last evening, Sean McDowell shared with us about "Engaging God with your Mind." He blessed our lives with the testimony of his father, Josh McDowell, and encouraged the students to seek the truth about Christ for themselves, rather than live off words passed down to them by others--"because if you genuinely seek truth, you could find no possible conclusion other than that Jesus is truly the Christ, Savior of the world."

What a blessed truth!

Sorry I have no pictures yet. They will come in time, I'm sure. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rocky Mountains, Here We Come!!!

Hi Friends!

Can you believe it's the middle of the month already?! I just want to send out a quick reminder that in approximately one week, Student Venture, Carrollton will be off to the Colorado Rocky Mountains where we will join hundreds of other students in the region for a week (June 22-29) of drawing closer to God. Please, continue to be in prayer for the students who are trying to raise funds to attend the Conference. We had a successful car wash fundraiser last Tuesday, and another one coming up on June 19th. This picture is actually of last year's car wash . . .but many of the same students were present this year :) Also pray that the Lord will guide the students as they recruit their friends to attend this Conference that will impact their lives for eternity. Finally, ask that the Lord would meet with us as we devote the week to seeking His face, that we would all come back changed.

If I have access to the internet (and time), I will try to keep you posted on the day-to-day goings on throughout the conference.

God bless you as you continue to fulfill the Great Commission!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

June Newsletter: Few Things Beat Seeing My Dad :)

Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,

What an exciting end to the month of May! Here are some highlights:

Visit with my Dad!
Yes, yes, my dad visited from Nigeria, and during the last week of May, I went to hang out with him in New York where he was a guest minister at a local church. It had been exactly a year since I last saw him (or my mom), and it was certainly a joyful reunion :) As exciting the visit was, I bet there was not as much rejoicing in heaven over it as there was over this next point . . .

Pool Party
Our end-of-year pool party outreach was a success--as are all things God has a hand in! Quoting a report on the event: "The leadership students encouraged those in attendance . . . shared their testimony and the Gospel message, and two students indicated a decision to trust Christ! One of those students, Illya, was born in Russia, is now a US citizen, ranked in the top 2% of his class, and who decided . . .to make that most important decision!! . . . Two of Illya’s good friends who are SV leadership students (Dave and Danny), took him out to Starbucks three months ago and shared the Gospel with him, but Illya told them that he was not a Christian and that he could never be passionate for Christ like his friends Dave and Danny …. I guess you should never say never!!" Praise God!

Several of our Student Venture members graduated from Newman Smith High School. We held a "send-off" ceremony to celebrate them. Three of the leadership students spoke at their baccalaureate service (one shared the gospel) and they were an encouragement to all who attended the service.

Prayer Requests . . .

Please pray for the upcoming SV Conference in Colorado, called "Getaway" ( From June 23rd to June 28th, several hundred high school students (including the Carrollton SV students) will gather at the conference site in Estes Park, Colorado, for a time of worship, adventure and growth. They will return home empowered and fired up to reach their friends for Christ. Ask that God will make it financially possible for the students to attend, and that we would be able to enlist a large number of lowerclassmen who can return home carrying the baton for witnessing.

Praise God! I have raised a quarter of my support, and I'm still counting. God has been showing me that He is more than able to foot the bill for the work He's called me to. Please pray that I would continue to trust God and not be discouraged.

God bless you all, and thank you so much for your support. I pray that God will continually reveal is power to you.