There is a powerful force at work on campus, and it goes by the name of FOCUS. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a Catholic outreach program for American college students founded in 1997 by Curtis Martin and Edward Sri, who holds a doctorate in sacred theology. Martin and Sri are former students of Scott Hahn, theology professor at Franciscan University, who holds a doctorate in systematic theology.
Today, FOCUS ministry has more than 550 missionaries on 125 campuses throughout the country, and Franciscan University is lucky enough to be one of them. Both full-time missionaries and part-time student missionaries reach out to the students on college campuses to spread the truth and the joy of the Gospel.
Nathaniel Binversie, the FOCUS team leader at Franciscan, is eager to call students to join the mission of evangelizing today’s youth.
Binversie said that we all hunger for God, whether we know it or not. But in a world rampant with moral relativism, materialism and an overwhelming amount of harmful propaganda in the media, it has never been easier for young people to lose their way, he said.
With so many counterfeits out there, young adults are trying to fill that space in their hearts with things like sex, money and earthly glory, said Binversie. They are buying false promises in exchange for eternity. They may not want for food or shelter, but their souls surely want more.
FOCUS recognizes this urgent need on college campuses, both Christian and secular. Its missionaries seek to spread the joy of the Gospel, but are not always well received, said Binversie. On secular campuses, the presence of relativism is an obstacle preventing many students from receiving the truth of the Word and the truth of their identity in Christ. That is not so much the case here at Franciscan.
But at Franciscan, according to Binversie, a certain “sense of spiritual pride” can hold back some students from reaching their full potential. This pride can prevent students from seeing that the changes others need to make in their lives apply also to them.
On the other hand, he said, many students here “are ready to be missionaries. They have the eyes of missionaries, and that’s really beautiful.”
FOCUS team members recognize the immense potential of discipleship and collaboration with evangelization staff, RA’s, student life and households to foster a strong sense of unity. They have collaborated with Franciscan students and staff for the past five years and have made particular progress this year, said Binversie.
The mission of FOCUS is to pursue college students with intentionality and love and to lead them to a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This starts with authentic friendship.
“By loving our brothers and sisters and making ourselves available to them, the love of Christ shines through us,” said Binversie. “God has given us a joy that cannot be contained, and they will wonder how we have it.”
Binversie said that the second second step is divine intimacy. It is not enough to merely discover the Gospel for the sake of knowledge or wisdom, said Binversie. Christians must delve into the Word of God so to draw closer to him and deepen their personal relationships with him.
FOCUS missionaries call on their brothers and sisters to seek God in this way while continuing to deepen and strengthen their own relationships with him. This close relationship with God equips disciples with the “clear vision for spiritual multiplication,” said Binversie. God commanded Christians to “go forth and make disciples of all nations,” and it is through this intimate relationship with him that Christians are equipped with the tools to do so.
All Christians are called to spread the joy and truth of the Gospel. According to Binversie, missionaries “need to be willing to walk with someone on their journey, which takes trust and love.”
FOCUS even has an acronym for their team members: FACT, which stands for “faithful, available, contagious and teachable.” The members of FOCUS are excited about their faith. They makes themselves available to their brothers and sisters and speak with intention. The God-given joy that they have is contagious and their hearts are open to ongoing conversion and spiritual growth, said Binversie.
Senior Asaph Bashioum said, “I was moved to join FOCUS because of the great need for love and truth on college campuses. I wanted to be real with people and help them see that there is so much hope and joy in life through Christ.”
Indeed there is a powerful force at work in FOCUS, changing the hearts of our students and creating some incredible disciples of Christ.