Ministry Blog for August

Hey Y'all!

It's been such a crazy month! God has been doing so much on campus at SMU through FOCUS and I am so excited to share that with you. I hope you'll take some time to read through and pray for the people we're interacting with!


SICM

Thank you so much for everyone who prayed about our SICM experience. This student leadership conference was an amazing time of empowering our students to not only be leaders but also disciple-makers on campus; it also gave all of us space to grow closer to God in His beautiful creation. During that week, we had around six hours of teaching each day over spiritual life, discipleship, evangelism, and campus ministry practicals. 

Out of all of these talks, one that was most impactful to me was a session about our inner life and remaining connected to God and the Holy Spirit. It reminded me that the best people that God can use are surrendered people, which doesn't come naturally for me (does it for anyone?). I was reminded that I must lay aside my own goals and desires and seek out God’s plan for the ministry He has called me to. What a good reminder to have going into the busiest season of the Apprenticeship! 

A group of the SMU students and staff who attended SICM. This was the night we all roasted marshmallows while watching the sunset!


Welcome week

Welcome week, which refers to the first couple of weeks of school where new students are welcomed on campus, is one of the most important times for college ministry. This is a time where students, especially freshmen, are the most open to new friendships and community and are willing to be bolder and try new things. Having SICM so close to welcome week this year really was a game-changer for every campus, but especially at SMU; our leaders did an absolutely amazing job reaching out to close to 200 students during those weeks and inviting them to all the events we had going on. 

Since everyone was coming out of COVID, we saw an eagerness in many of the students we met to come to events and meet new people since everyone was ready to form new friendships with others. This was a huge win for us as we attracted Christian and pre-Christian alike to our community. 

Events we had included playing games on campus, hosting a coffee house with live music, playing glow in the dark capture the flag, and having a worship night. We were able to advertise these events on campus as well as invite all of the people we met to them and had an amazing turnout! 

This was taken at our fireside event where we got to make s'mores and hang out!

All of these events built up to our first Thursday Night Fellowship, which is our large group gathering that has a time of worship, teaching, and fellowship at the end. We had twice as many people attend than ever befor, so much so that we had to bring out folding chairs for the overflow. 

We also invited students to the church many of us attend, called East Plano Fellowship. We had a great turnout and even brought a girl named Kauai who had never been to church before. She also ended up coming to the small group, called core, that I co-lead with a Junior named Laura, which was so awesome! 

All the students from SMU that attended church last week!


We call our small groups core because they are the core of our ministry; we believe building deep, genuine friendships with same gender groups while also exploring and growing our faith together is such an important part of the college experience. My core experience at UT Dallas completely changed the trajectory of my life and those relationships I made over four years still mean so much to me to this day. For our first core, we had a great turnout which included some people who were not Christian; this is such an amazing opportunity to love them well and show them who Jesus is. 

During core, a girl named Anisha, who is a grad student from India, shared that she is on an accelerated graduate course load, but thought coming to core was important enough to carve out time for because she is so excited for the relationships that she can build and was really impressed by how kind the people in FOCUS were. I’m so excited to see what God‘s going to do in her life through studying the bible as a group and building these sweet friendships!


Classes

While I spend about half of my time working on campus and doing relational ministry with students, I also am taking a handful of classes with the other 18 Apprentices. One of them is a graduate-level Old Testament Course taught by Iain Provan, a professor at Regent College in Canada. For this class, we have been reading through the Old Testament while also listening to the audio lectures and discussing them in our weekly class time. 

I have learned so much about the first four books of the Bible than I’ve ever known before and have really started taking into perspective the historical and cultural context those books were written. I get to dive deeper into God's character through these books with the other Apprentices and with the guidance of our wonderful staff, who are amazing teachers. Thank you so much for investing in my faith walk and supporting me while I learn more about who God is through an in-depth study of the scriptures. 



What’s to Come & Prayer Requests 

Since welcome week is over, we now are focusing on the students that have gotten involved in our cores and thinking about how we can best love and grow them in deep friendship and in their faith with Jesus. One thing that I would love prayer about is our Bible study that we do, called focus on Jesus (FOJ for short). We are going to start asking the people in our cores to start that study this week and next week, which is an amazing opportunity to build a deep one-on-one connection with  students and to see where each specific person is in their faith and how to push them to grow. 

I’m so excited personally to start asking some of the students in my core to study, so I would love prayer for boldness for me and the other leaders who will lead them, as well as an openness in the hearts of our students, especially people who are not yet Christian, to be willing and excited to commit to them. 

I would also love prayer specifically for a girl named Kylie. She isn’t a Christian and has a busy schedule, so she has been unable to come to core so far, but she’s interested in joining our girl's nights that happen on Fridays, which is the girls in our community getting together and spending time with one another. I want her to be so blessed and surprised by the genuineness of each girl there and hopefully start forming relationships with them that will make her question who Jesus is and how he affects other people in their lives.

Thanks so much for reflecting with me on this past month and for your prayers going forward! I am only able to do this because of your support and faithfulness to the Gospel.

In Christ,

Siena Walter



P.S. Here's our student testimony for this month!





 

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