“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Mid-May, 2011. We got up at 4 AM and drove 671 miles towards our new calling…FOCUS missionaries!*
Dene’ and I had been waiting for this day for months so we didn’t mind the long drive from Pike Road, Alabama, to the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on the campus of the University of Illinois. Any excitement we had felt turned into nervousness as we were immediately surrounded by over 250 other recently graduated college students. Each of these persons had a beaming smile on their face. And, each of these persons, as we now realize, hid the same nervousness, excitement, and questioning that we were experiencing:
- “How are we going to raise our entire income by raising funds?”
- “Where are they going to send me?”
- “Will I like my team?”
- “How come I’m not as holy as all these other people?”**
That evening, we walked into the church for our first holy hour with FOCUS with these questions and more running through our head. The already beautiful church was completely dark except for the spotlight on the tabernacle and the hundreds of candles that lit up the sanctuary, creating a sense of romance and calm.
Then, he said it, “It begins here and it ends here.”
I will never forget the founder and CEO of FOCUS, Curtis Martin, saying those words. He was referring to prayer of course. All our efforts, be they evangelical, intellectual, physical, or social, begin with receiving the love of God first and giving our love, imperfect as it may be, back to Him.
If we are to 1) know we are loved and 2) give love effectively, we must pray for “apart from me you can do nothing”, Jesus says. So, over the next several days, I will be sharing how I pray throughout the week. My method is not the perfect method, nor do I do it as consistently as I ought, but I hope you will find some encouragement and inspiration as you begin to figure out or continue with the prayer method that works for you!
*FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
**This being the most frequent question as we speak with current and former FOCUS staff members.