"If you are who you were meant to be, you would set the world on fire." - St. Catherine of Siena. Although this is something that we as FOCUS missionaries hear often, I don't think we can hear it enough. Our President and Founder, Curtis Martin, has shared this with us several times this summer and I love it every time I hear it. If you really think about what it means, its incredible. If you can truly and deeply align your will with God's will, you would set the world on fire! Let's go!! If only it were that easy. Each day we struggle to align our will with God's in the fallen world we live in, but as we move closer to uniting our will with His sparks are flying and you need sparks before a fire right?
But the idea of "set all afire" is the mindset that I am living FOCUS New Staff Training 2011 with. I cannot believe how fast 5 weeks has come and gone in Champaign. I am so excited for my missionary brothers and sisters; some to begin their ministry and for others to continue theirs. In this post I want to do my best to sum up the last 2 weeks or so of training.
2 weeks ago, we had the privilege of listening to Jeff Cavins present his "Bible Study Timeline". Last year for training myself and the other missionaries (who at the time were in our first year) watched a video presentation of Jeff Cavins "Bible Study Timeline." We great to appreciate him, his sense of humor, and his Biblical knowledge. We also began to place bets on what color shirt and tie he would wear, by the end we realized he really like blue. So to welcome Jeff Cavins we really went all out. Please see here for yourself how much Jeff appreciated our effort to welcome him.
We all wore shades of blue, made signs, and even presented Jeff with some of his famous "Mannana Bread". In this picture Jeff asked all the staff present with Varsity Catholic to take a picture, we were honored. (I am the 2nd from the right)
Although Jeff was only with us for a day, his presence was appreciated. What a intelligent and faithful man.
The rest of the week myself and the other 2nd year FOCUS missionaries had the honor and privilege of listening to Dr. Ted Sri. He has written several books and is a professor at the Augustine Institute. He is very passionate about what he does and for 4 days, he shared his passion with us. Mostly he spoke to us the effect of media on our culture, it was really eye opening and led to some really good discussions amongst the missionaries. Overall we talked about the false reality/worldview that the media presents and that we too often easily subscribe to and the promotion of moral relativism in movies and tv shows. He pointed out to us how often media presents a view opposite of what Jesus instructs and instead of Jesus, Hollywood becomes our basis for how we relate to people. Dr. Sri's talks really got me to thinking about how I use social media and the idea of "egocasting". Dr. Sri also spent some time on apologetics with us, mostly about the Bible and why "Catholic " Bibles have 7 more books than those of our Protestant brothers and sisters. And finally Dr. Sri spoke to us about the new Mass translation and why the changes are happening, changes will go into action during Advent later this year.
Our last week of training was FOCUS's President Curtis Martin talking about worldview and motivating us one last time as we end training and start transitioning to life as a missionary in the world. In this talk Curtis just really talked what we're up against with the culture and on a college campus, that we are in a spiritual battle. He gave us some statistics, which are really sad. It was a poll taken by the Knights of Columbus in 2010. The topic of the poll was "Believe that the following are morally wrong", the responses were in 2 categories, American and American Catholics. Surprisingly the percentages were very close and a few where "Americans" voted more morally than the Catholics. For example on the subject of having sex if you're unmarried, 39% of Americans said this was not ok while only 29% of American Catholics said that it was not moral. I was very surprised to learn this about Catholics, but this is why FOCUS missionaries have a job. We're crazy enough or we trust in God enough that we can and that we are changing the world. To see the growth that FOCUS has made in just 13 years, I would say that it is. To demonstrate just how it is I want to tell this story which I've hear a few times this summer. One of the top women's prep volleyball players in the country was on a recruiting visit to the University of Texas (Longhorns). Her parents told the coach that their daughter likely would not go to a school that does not have FOCUS. So the coach made some phone calls, talked to some people, made some connections, and FOCUS will be at the University of Texas this fall.....I don't think the top recruit has made a decision yet, she's going to be a senior in high school this fall.
The bottom line is there is a need for FOCUS missionaries (or any Christian missionary) on every college campus. I'm thankful that as a FOCUS missionary we receive the best training in the country for college evangelization, apologetics, fundraising, and spiritual formation. Be assured that with trust in God and an openness to His Divine will, we are changing the world. Pictured here are almost all of the missionaries.
I heard this quote from Curtis, I'm not sure if it's original or if he heard it somewhere else but.........."God does not satisfy our desires, He overwhelms them." Each of us FOCUS missionaries has a desire to change the campus we're working on (58 in the US) and to change the world we live in. Slowly, by the grace of God, it's happening. Jesus, I trust in you!
Please pray for all missionaries as they work hard this summer to raise 100% of their salary so that they may set the world afire this fall and reach the millions of college students that are in such desperate need of the Love of our Father.
God Bless you.