I love this life we get to live. It’s so crazy full of adventure, isn’t it?
Today I am writing to share some amazing news: Rachel Doerneman will be a FOCUS missionary!
What the heck is FOCUS? Focus is an organization started in 1998 by a man named Curtis Martin. He knew that college students were losing their Catholic faith. He decided to do something about that. He formed FOCUS.
FOCUS: Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
FOCUS invests in college students and equips them for lifelong Catholic mission through spiritual multiplication.
This life-changing Apostolate began in 1998 with two missionaries at Benedictine College and it has grown to over 600 missionaries on 137 campuses. From their website:
FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students. Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in friendship where they are, inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and one-on-one discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up students in the faith, sending them out to spread the good news and to live out the Great Commission: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19).
Curtis Martin has small goals.
Every two years FOCUS holds a massive retreat called SEEK. My own little revival began at SEEK 2015. Read that crazy story here: Discovering Christ 2015: The Prologue.
We have supported several FOCUS missionaries through the years (they rely on donations to fund their missions) so I know quite a bit about them.
But I never expected my daughter to become One of Them.
Well, first of all, 3 1/2 years ago, we sent Rachel to play basketball at Southern Nazarene University. SNU is a fabulous Christian college but it was not exactly a Catholic environment. She had a professor ask if anyone in the class had ever talked with a Roman Catholic priest!
We weren’t sure if her faith would fade or bloom in college.
Turns out, it did both.
Her freshman year was about her missing Mass and running from God. As Rachel puts it, “I didn’t want God to see my choices so I thought I’d hide.”
She went through ups and downs her sophomore year.
Then, mid junior year, she had a “Come to Jesus Moment,” a moment that changed all.
After that pivotal point, her life began to shift. She began to think more about her purpose. She began to read. She began to deepen her faith walk.
Hannah Davis, a faithful friend, was with Rachel through all of this. Hannah, you were Jesus to my prodigal. Thank you.
As Rachel’s spirit was ignited by the Divine Arsonist, she contacted a FOCUS missionary from Oklahoma University, Stephanie Armstrong. Even though Rach was from a different campus, Stephanie spent time with my daughter. She became her friend. She drew her closer to Jesus. Stephanie Armstrong, I know you are a missionary, and technically, it’s your J.O.B. to change lives, but dang, you put something special into my daughter. THANK YOU.
At the same time, Rachel became even more involved with FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. (One of her basketball teammates, Ashley Almond, invited Rachel to FCA her freshman year and it was a lifeline. We love you, Ashley!)
Last summer Rachel was a camp counselor once more for FCA. During the camp, she asked each of her girls to pick up a rock and write their burden on that rock. Rachel put the rocks in her backpack and she.carried.it.all.week.
That alone makes this mama cry. Such love.
My introverted daughter.
As Rachel went back to college for her senior year so many pieces of her life just fell together. She gave her testimony easily and often. She loved bringing people to God.
As she says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” was not a suggestion.
She started the application process to be a FOCUS missionary.
She let go of the idea of what her life should be and she just allowed God to work.
Rachel Nicole Doerneman, daughter of mine, how I love you. You could be contacting schools and interviewing for teaching positions. Instead, you preparing your heart and soul to walk into the unknown. Next year you will be in a totally new place with totally new students.
Using your amazing gifts, you will spend time with those college females. You will laugh with them. You will ask them good questions. You will listen to their answers. You will pray for those women. You will build into them. Until they become friends. And then you will whisper to them that they are loved. That they are chosen. That they have a purpose bigger than themselves. And they will believe you.