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27: Interview with Ryan Collier the Raleigh Area Director of FOCUS

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George
The Truth Network Radio
August 22, 2020 10:00 am

27: Interview with Ryan Collier the Raleigh Area Director of FOCUS

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George

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August 22, 2020 10:00 am

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Look at the crossroads connection is the show all about having conversation surrounding life, ministry and culture on is a quick thank you to our friends at the Truth Network for airing this program and thank you for joining and listening. Today I am Tyler and I'm joined As always, by Jamie how are you Jamie hey Tyler, how the going good so you also got Andy joining us as well and eats good to see Matt how you doing I'm doing very good and welcome both to you and Jamie as well and of course welcome to everybody right now for listening to this program you know is is, highlight of my week that we could see come together to record this and then to Eric.

You're on the Truth Network at noon on Saturdays and I love all the sport.

By the way, so you might not notice both you didn't share these but Alaska.

We have gotten several emails and comments about people listening to the program and how much they appreciate it.

So everybody really do appreciate all people are listening and I'm excited about this particular episode and this particular show is got a wonderful guest on you know when you think of the fall, you often think of school. Now I know right now it's you look a lot different. I am excited to talk to Ryan Collier from focus in particular focus Raleigh which is a fellowship of Christian universities and schools that really geared towards sixth through 12th grade students is a wonderful ministry. When a great conversation with in a can we jump into it. Now we did. It was a fantastic conversation, so we should really get right to it. Let's hear a quick word from our sponsor and will jump into the perhaps you've asked yourself this question.

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Visit at sea number three our arrival we are back from the break with a very special guest Ryan Collier with focus and focus. Raleigh Ryan, thank you so much for being with us on the program today really appreciate it anything to have me excited to be here. Absolutely what Ryan I'm pretty excited just to learn more about what focus really is and as we are talking just a little bit ago. It's a national organization but housing of the website. It was like there's places all over the country and of course, here in Raleigh. But before he jumped and said that Ryan wants to just tell us little about you. How did you they say from Raleigh.

What were you from originally. Great great way to start. So I grew up was originally born in Fayetteville North Carolina and moved pretty soon after that, the Southern Pines Pinehurst area little town I grew up in is called balance but it's it's one of those I just skip over because no one said I took the trip to Raleigh for college, but since he stayed graduated in 2011 the four years in a victory lap to get out of there and met my wife there and then I started working for focus in 2012, which is the same year that we got married. So everything just past three year anniversary.a four-year-old little boy named Mills two-year-old daughter named Berg you actually are expecting a baby mid October.

Congratulations, thank you. Amidst all the craziness was like compound yeah why not just add just get it all done this year is crazy.

Yeah and no background in student ministry for a long time. I first caught the vision for it is a senior in high school, three young life and had an area director lasted to be a student leader and served with youth in college throughout college and then I worked part-time for church, the apostles ministry and then found a way to focus so it's been really a lifelong lifelong journey in a call that I really enjoyed the up so you are a wolf pack graduate so notes from the north and so I've been here long enough now to know the. The animosity between some of the schools here so I got to ask you though the question is if it came down to which school you dislike more either Duke or Carolina which one is it I mean it's there's really no gay yeah I try to play as neutral as I can and try to back away from the stereotype that needles and seascape fans. But yeah, I know in college, I created a Facebook group about disliking Tyler Hansbrough. I all create a Facebook group on and that's that's pretty and as you grow older you know you maybe will always be there less excellent. That's wonderful so you you are now part of focus. So please tell us what what exactly is focus all about you hit the mission and vision about it. I know it's an acronym is already stand for something and so talk us through what it's all about. So focus stands for the fellowship of Christians in universities and schools.

We really had its origin in the New England area. When our founder looked at boarding school life. 40 school communities in the New England area and thought if there were students there and there were that needed to be shared this good news, and given them a chance like corporately and like in a discussion-based environment. Ask big questions of life and of the Christian faith. No one was really going there and is there and boarding schools. They can't leave campus and so that was the original vision was to create a greater safe place to go into some of these elites boarding school and prep school cultures and meet this subgroup of students that can often be neglected because they're seen as they've got everything to the world are wealthy their affluence will carry them through and we really exist to redefine what abundance which are abundance really is. We want to be a part where of their life or they can asked meaningful questions. Some of the other like beginnings of focus started with a ski weekends where students get so comfortable asking some really challenging questions in the 60s and 70s. Obviously I say there's a lot going on Lewis today and so we provide space for me presents the gospel, which is a part of her mission setting to present the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so even our posturing ourselves in a discussion-based way that we want to have conversations about.

We want students to feel comfortable going through this journey of the Christian faith with us, knowing that they can be considered in this place they can ask questions that are relevant to the Bible to their world to their life where they may not be able to ask those questions anywhere else, and I'm sorry vision is to to reach students in those private schools, independent schools with the gospel. Jesus, hoping that true abundance is really redefined in their minds and they would live out a life that's rooted in Christ. Then now is someone who has resources and someone who has access and opportunities is making decisions for Jesus with what they have with their life that that's that's incredible. And what a great venue in such a great need an environment of going to schools and so just to dial in a little bit so you are in universities.

Are you also in high schools and elementary schools, middle schools, what was the, the range that you all really dive into were sixth through 12th grade, primarily for programming the acronym is a little bit of a misnomer when focus began. It was really for college students and the one voice was prep schools, but we are the true account of classic fit of sixth-grade starting middle schools high school senior year and asked students going to college. We want we want to give them relationships in three different ways. One, with their leader, one with each other so they have a lot of shared experiences as they go through private or independent schools… Similar nature to a lot of them and mostly with with Christ have a long life, long-lasting into eternity relationship with Jesus.

But once they get to college. There's opportunities to lead to be a party leader Bible studies to turn out with me and think of how I radically live as a college student that is Jesus, and that sort of our relationship with them one if the college and beyond.

But we we stay in the stone of 6 to 12 grade metals industry high school ministry and how critical that is to equip students to be able to defend their faith on the college campus. I mean that I was youth pastor for 15 years and I found that that often as we would walk student ministry in on students through our ministry that the big concern was always sending them off out of the student ministry to colleges and and it went really neat. See the ones who really own their faith and and really developed in high school below the standard round in college and of course you have ones that that struggle and kinda do that.

So some so glad you are doing that in the high school setting a middle school setting. So Ryan what is. As you navigate been optimistic for a while now, and Jamie, you're not a student, a more correct here little bit out of Harris well silly like that of that agent know, but it's what it would've you found Ryan as one of the biggest questions that students ask you just wonder as there whether agnostic or have no got is or Armand Gilchrist what we think. Currently currently right now click it say what was your 10 years ago or 15 years ago, but are at the core.

A lot of those questions probably revolve around the same spiritual need of God. But men think things have changed and schools are, and students are facing things now that I mean I was going through right now supports one of the biggest question or two that you get faced a lot students all give you a question or two. Also, just double down what you're saying in terms of defending faith or sort of being able to stand strong when faced with adversity when hearing just as you know the Bible says this is a nonbeliever sister believer right so even before the questions began.

You have to have to cultivate a place where questions are okay that's great that's really good that students feel like your focus will forever be a place where I'm not ashamed of asking a question where the conversation goes on and goes on and goes on because as you said. I mean, in one respect, the landscape changes their new questions because of current relative events of what's going on.

On the other hands a question like the Odyssey like is God good Weiser suffering right is been discussed forever if so I'll caulking you want to niche category. So I think students are still asking the big question of observing the world around him and say if God is good. How is all this happening. Yeah it is. If there is a good God which are telling me guys. If there is, why is there racism.

Why is there starvation. Why is it so hard to be kind of people. Why are people dying around and so we really try to zone in on like okay what does the Bible say what is the ministry of Jesus look like in the midst of some of those questions because often they want to answer students wanted. We all want answers, but if you can't get an answer.

The next best thing is I I will be like a ministry of witness, which is what Jesus was all about.

He was with people in the struggling he himself suffered and so there's just an element of like okay as we have these conversations. Let's look at the ministry in the life of Jesus and just observe okay. How did he walk through life with people who are really hurting and what he say about the brokenness in the world.

He never turned a blind eye to it and he also doesn't expect you to have one faith, and so you kind of reconcile the two and given non-satisfactory answer. Sometimes it's just like a let's keep journeying together and push towards trusting that God is good segregating account of the second compartment is all of the white hot topic questions today. Sexuality is a huge one legalization of different you know recreational drugs. I get the question all the time especially with junior seniors college students where's the line on drinking is Godzilla about this and you know, especially with what's going on in our world with Cove in 19 notes this is pandemic and there try to figure out you know where is God in this and then with that with racism.

You know the Bible clearly has so much to say about the social construct of race and how Jesus interacts right in the in the in the face of that and we are constantly trying to create platforms whether it's 112 on one or corporately for students to dig into those questions and it to be again accusing like conversational but discussion based like one of the apologist will be one of the apologist to say like what you think about that. Yep this only if you spit back on them and give them a chance to have metonymy and say, think about us more or I don't really agree.

Here's why I then I thinking. College, they will be shaken by know somewhat about college professor who says this the next Right you have the tools to navigate through and that's what I think it's is really essential yeah and I really like what you said because you know you can. You could fake it right you. You're smart enough you could fake an answer and be like all this is wines, come up low smoke a little bit but I think students for the most part see through a lot of that and just having a team of people that are authentic and can honestly just say I don't really know the answer that but here's what I think built so much good rapport and just trust right and it builds trust. So, in light of that, one of the things I actually love we talked our partners is his hearing testimonies about what it what is God doing and not just you, not just in theory, not just behavior works.

This is what the skill look like. But in actual testimonies arrived.

You have something that absolute confidentiality side you can keep his confidence was possible, but what what's when you think of focus and think specifically of focus Raleigh. What is our story or testimony to just pops in your head and so yep, this is why we do this. I love to hear that yeah well, as you work with different independent schools.

There are students with different backdrops.

It's so easy I think to give what we all would receive testimonial lies is like that's a pretty radical amazing story – this person came from all of this. His parents were divorced he went through like alcohol and drug use, and came to know Jesus. And wow, look at this miraculous transformation.

I think we can get beyond that and see that there's really no vanilla testimony need all of it is a rescue story right so there are so many students that think that we got a really vanilla story I my parents are Christians. We've always grown up in church where's my big like coming to faith moment and focus is really all about is the journey with students to remind him again and again to the ever rescue story.

And so the audiologist I briefly explain, almost, is that where a student was going through one of the schools we serve at the Christian school and he had all those checkboxes of my parents are Christians. We have devotions we pray together daily. My parents are encouraging me to read the Bible were having all of the things like enemies.

Apparently John got a job, deftly doing all the control I want to make sure and he's in. Meanwhile, he's just he's living in apathy and living in his being inundated with the Christian faith and that's so dangerous right it's almost more dangerous than the person, has the transformational like right Honda plea in need. I have spiritual poverty. It's so easy enough to think like I can just close like this for the rest my life. I really can I have the money. I have the opportunities the doors are open for me, but to see the student be starving for community starving for a place where you can really share a place where he is like look man, I'm just not feeling and not feeling God Frank's name. I want this to work on putting all the puzzle pieces that Americanize spreadsheet he tells me makes me a good Christian New Mexico Scottish is not working to see them come through his first year at Chapel Hill to experience real Christian community from from his words like just like really thought a group of guys, and now he's going through some really hard morning of family members who passed away really difficult diagnosis from family member into have firm ground. He is now transition for like sometimes God allows this things to happen so that we can press in on him in belief and dependency and just watching her progress from like being apathetic to really pushing back on his apathy and then God growing his faith growing his hunger for him and him feeling spilled spirit and and feeling like I'm in a really healthy, thriving place now because a lot of future meeting factors that studies the person study center at Chapel Hill and box versus a lot of really cool stuff that's played a part in his like to get there. That's it.

That's amazing and it really is the goal right. It's the it's the prepping of in the equipping of when they're young so when they go off to school like Chapel Hill and other places that they you know as their works will wrestle with the right will wrestle with questions will wrestle with our faith will wrestle with life and all these questions, but they have some sort of base and know that there some of the thing go back even talk with and and revisit those conversation is pretty special. So right as you look forward to focus in Raleigh area.

What's next what's what's your hope and dream of what's coming up next for ministry. And like I take it as of right now with all things covert related that things have changed dramatically for you.

So, I guess, preface that with how is this how is Cova changed the way that you do convince your business up and focus hasn't stopped but it by looks a lot different than it did last year, leading into forward subsumes a big-time year for you off little what it was cause you to innovate differently going to the fall.

What's next well God's word in ministry and our souls are in a really good place.

God is doing the work in us as we plan to lead people and it's it's been a time that he got really to this like what is productivity in ministry look like during coveted yep work.

What are my metrics of success and how is the house got really transforming the way that I view my ministry my ministry right and so it's just taught us like how do we trust in none.

I know that Jesus grabbed 12 people for and that's not an arbitrary number. There is meaning behind that but how can we move forward as a ministry that's programs for people RCP people over programs and focusing and trusting the like. This just might be a season of depth and not Brett Jeff that is so hard. Yet that is hard because in ministry. You want to be in the masses you want the next kid to be coming through the doors how you how you like really rationalized hunkering down and saying it might be 25 students and we really, really can be with import into this the season of this year because it is contradicts every lie that you believe NCIS like more bigger.

What's like the next school you can start what's the next Bible so you can start and God is about numbers because our growth status for all people.

Knowing him, but how we sit in this season and feel assured that okay Lord like nothing other than beautiful passage of the woman pouring out this perfume and in Jesus saying she did what she could. She did what she could and we just might be. I think we really are in a time where we just have to do what we can and and really trusts you have here is powerful and effective. That is, this is really the ones to awakens their heart and awakens her soul and despite Gracie even wants us and on me being a part of his team's original predilection as we put people over programs on showing up. However we can whatever medium we can we can be with kids leaders and families that got us can use that you and I'd I don't have an answer for like what's next I'm going to see like, keep asking a question like okay what's next you what it I yeah that's the point.

I think what we are to you.

Even as a church.

I'm assuming most churches are like that were we could plan all day long, but we have no idea sometimes will see will happen next week at this point and it's hard to think that way so it does cause us to do a lot more trusting and even innovating.

Just trying to do things differently than we would have before.

So with that Ryan out one final question for Ellen what you go is how can people get involved with focus.

What would what needs do you have and I know that Cova deprived cheese and a little bit but wouldn't eventually be out of covert into another. Whatever is next reality for so how computer get involved and how can you will get more information from you about focus on thanks and things are asked not be as we scale and want to be invested in the lives of students. It really helps to have as many people who love Jesus in their life as possible and so if there's a young adult, or even a older adult that feels like it's been some time with prime school kids, it's a little bit niche and so if you if you know that community or self compassion for that subculture. It would be so great to have hands and feet to serving in an leading we need mentors as we bring in all these college and young adult volunteers of their people are like, I would deftly grab coffee with a guy or girl once a month.

That would be fantastic. We have a national prayer calendar and for people to just pray and just just realize that notices a ministry that is meeting of the critical need that this is really a demographic that is not really a Leica, a feel-good group of people to serve and walk with just to have compassion and love for them.

The people that we know we love spell is your sick couple tangible ways, absolutely.

And what's the best way for people to get a hold of the ministry there served two quick like a web address in an email that would be super helpful would be in\Raleigh in\rally in then's email address so ask us to switch around in order. Those words will get you wanted to place absolute arrive. Thank you so much.

Truly, for what you're doing in our schools with our students and I thank you for your time to really appreciate it.

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