September 21, 2011

Got Mass?

We had just finished freshman move-in and the first Sunday of the semester was only a few days away.  I began to think that if the new freshman didn't go to the first Sunday Mass, they would be more likely to fall into a habit of not going at all.  So I asked various students and missionaries to help chalk for our first Sunday Mass.  This meant that we went all over campus and wrote chalk messages on the sidewalks, tellings students about Mass.  This is what we wrote:   "Catholic? Student Mass, 6pm.  Meet by the UMC fountains at 5:40pm to walk together."  

When Sunday rolled around, I headed over to the UMC fountains to see if anyone showed up.  As I rounded the corner of the building my jaw dropped: there were around 40-50 students gathered together, all waiting to go to Mass!  I was so excited that I started talking to students left and right, and consequently lost track of time!  With 10 minutes to spare, we headed off to the church, and I felt like a mama duck leading all her little children to the best destination on earth!  We walked in right before Fr. Peter processed in, and his face was full of surprise and joy.  We cannot thank God enough for bringing all of those new students to Mass, and I hope that by chalking every weekend for the next few weeks we can continue to meet more students who are longing to be loved by Jesus Christ.   

~ Jessica Connelly, Missionary at University of Colorado in Boulder
     To join Jessica's support team, visit her support page link: Support Jessica

The workings of the Spirit!

Last week, my teammate Mary and I set out on the Winona State University campus during our weekly barehanded evangelization time (which basically means that we have intentional conversations with random students on campus about their opinions on faith, the Church, and Jesus Christ). Just inside the doors of the student union, we spotted a young woman sitting at a table, working on her laptop. We sensed the Holy Spirit calling us to talk to her, so we walked over to her, introduced ourselves, and struck up a conversation about college students and their struggles with Christianity. The student (Elizabeth) noted that she was a Christian and was determined to stay true to her faith even though there are many distractions in college, especially for a freshman, like herself.  We asked her if she was looking for ways to continue striving in her faith. She said she was, so I invited her to the women’s small group/Bible study that I was leading that night in one of the dorms.

(Mary and Emily)

At the beginning of my small group that night, not only did Elizabeth show up, but she brought her best friend with her, too!  Afterwards, Elizabeth’s friend (Brigid) approached me and asked if I could explain more about Catholicism. Both her and Elizabeth had been raised in Protestant churches and most of what they knew about Catholicism they weren’t sure was true. “What exactly do you guys believe?” Brigid asked me. Surprised by such a rich question, I began sharing the message of the Gospel with her. What followed was an hour-and-a-half conversation about the Catholic faith, completely driven by questions from both Elizabeth and Brigid.

It was going on 11:00 pm when Brigid and Elizabeth decided they should head back to their dorm. As we were walking out, Brigid turned to me and said, “Thank you for answering all of my questions. You’ve completely changed my view on the Catholic Church—in a good way!” Both Elizabeth and Brigid have committed to coming back to my women’s small group for at least the next four weeks so they can continue growing in their faith.  Praise God for the beautiful promptings and aid of the Holy Spirit!
~Emily Weber, Missionary at Winona State University
To join Emily's support team, visit this link: Support Emily

September 14, 2011

Go Greek!

My teammate Chris approached me at the beginning of our semester here at Minnesota State University about reaching out to the Greeks on campus.  He has had them on his heart for a long time and he invited me to reach out to sororities as he reached out to the fraternity brothers.  I agreed, but as the two week sprint of outreach continued, I started to feel overwhelmed.  My teammate Alison and I made it a point to check in with one another about the women that we had met or invited into our Bible studies and we started to grow anxious about whether or not we were going to be able to lead enough Bible studies to encompass all of the groups that we had a heart for.  I had run into many more upperclassmen women than freshmen at first, and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to have an upperclassmen study and a sorority study as Chris had suggested with the other studies that were already forming.  Last Tuesday, our regional directors, Mark Bartek and Paul Wilburn came into town to see how we were doing.  In the evening, Chris got a phone call from student leader of Greek life who he had met the week previous.  There was an all-Greek meeting on campus in 2 hours and if we wanted to say anything about our ministry we were invited to do so!  Chris was pumped….and I was nervous!  My experience with Greek systems was pretty limited in my own undergraduate experience and I had the pressure of creating too many studies in the back of my head. 

I arrived in Ostrander Auditorium to find hundreds of Greek-life students chanting different cheers for their house, laughing and running around to greet people they had not seen over the summer.   I scanned the crowd and immediately found, Amber, a girl that I had met during my first days on campus.  She was an upperclassman that I invited to Bible study.  She moved slightly to the side and behind her was, Christine, another junior that I had met the same way.  One by one, all of the women that I had met during outreach showed up in the same room!  I couldn’t believe it and I immediately got the butterflies about how cool this was!  I didn’t have to worry about trying to pull junior and senior women together with sorority sisters or be anxious about creating too many studies to serve them well because God had put them all together for me already!  Moral of the story?  God had a heart for Greek brothers and sisters on MSU’s campus WAY before Chris and I had a heart for them.      
~Samantha Davenport
FOCUS Missionary - Minnesota State University in Mankato
To Join Samantha's support, visit her link: Support Samantha

September 7, 2011

Fall Outreach Begins!

It is that time of year again, as missionaries head out onto campus to begin the school year reaching out to students. It is a critical time of year to help students to put God and the church into their very busy schedules for the rest of the semester. We will be sharing some of these amazing experiences as well as stories from the missionaries all across the region so that you can see the beautiful witness that FOCUS is to so many young people on our college campuses. Stay tuned for lots more to come!