Entering college can be an exciting and scary time. It’s a whole new world of possibilities and temptations, trials and tribulations. It’s easy to stray from the path of faith because of all the hustle and bustle of campus life, but having a friend by one’s side can make the stumblings fewer. That’s what the missionaries from the Fellowship of Catholic University Students do: They bring students closer to God.
FOCUS is a campus ministry group made up of over 700 missionaries placed in 200 campuses across the world. There are six assigned campuses in the state of Indiana. The missionaries’ focus is to share the joy of the Gospel with college students, which they do by establishing friendships, leading Bible groups and mission trips, and sharing the Catholic faith on campus.
The missionaries of FOCUS are trained in teaching prayer, in evangelization and in discipleship. It is their collective hope to inspire students to go out into the world and spread the word of God.
Brittany Scher, a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is a missionary of the FOCUS program. She has been blessed to be a Catholic all her life, she said: She attends Saints Peter and Paul Parish in her hometown of Huntington.
“Standing where I am now and looking back on my life, I truly believe growing up Catholic is what has shaped me into who I am and guided me where I am today, Scher said. “As I get older, I am more and more grateful for my faith, because I know it has brought me to exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Her 2016 degree is in tourism, conventions and event management, which she channeled into serving God as the director of finance and special events at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis before being called to apply for FOCUS.
Scher met some missionaries on the IUPUI campus her freshman year and has been involved ever since. She joined a Bible study and participated in a mission trip to Haiti. Later, she started to lead her own Bible study on campus, which further sealed her calling to be a FOCUS missionary.
“After college, I maintained friendships with a lot of the missionaries I had met over the years and that led to me wanting to apply to be a missionary myself,” she said.
Scher’s faith has gotten her through hardships throughout her life. A turning point for her was going through a broken engagement.
“During that time, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either let this circumstance define me or I could fall back on the faith that I had grown so much in during college. The words “Talitha Koum,” “Little girl, get up,” from Mark 5:41, echoed in everything I did. Through the stories of the saints and Jesus Himself, I learned how to suffer with joy. I learned that my suffering could bring me closer to Him, if I would let it.” said Scher.
Sharing her story and faith with others and continuing to grow in it is something she is passionate about. She looks forward to the journey of becoming a missionary and touching the lives of others.
Building relationships with students is an important aspect of being a missionary. In her time on campus talking with students, she has found that just like everyone else, college students just want to be seen and loved. Her approach to building those relationships is being a friendly face and being warm and welcoming to everyone she meets.
“Sometimes I meet students by just introducing myself to them as my team is walking around campus or walking out of Sunday Mass. Sometimes it’s just going out to play yard games in the grass on campus and inviting them to come play as they walk by. We exchange phone numbers and then I’ll invite them to another event that we have going on at the church. I’ll seek them out at the event and start to build a friendship. I’ll invite them to get coffee with me and share my story and why I’m on campus” she said.
There are times where some students say no to participating in FOCUS activities, but Scher makes it a point to never stop trying to build those friendships. “Joy is contagious and especially joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus. If we just go out and be Jesus to those we meet, we cannot go wrong,” she added.
There is one story that resonates with her the most since being a part of FOCUS. It’s about one of her students from the University of Toledo in Ohio. This student attended one of FOCUS’s national conferences called SEEK, in which she was “transformed”, said Scher.
“She encountered Jesus in a new way, and it lit a fire inside of her that I pray burns for the rest of her life. At SEEK she was reconvicted of the need for disciples on our campus: not just followers of Christ, but disciples that can help bring others to Him as well.”
Seeing students establish themselves in their faith is a moment of pure joy. “Every small victory is a huge win in my heart” she said.
In order to be a FOCUS missionary full-time, go on mission trips and continually build the organization, missionaries must fundraise for their expenses, including their own salaries.
“The money that I fundraise goes to paying my salary, helping students attend SEEK and mission trips, and more. All to give them an opportunity to encounter the Lord more deeply and learn how to be His disciples in this world.” said Scher.
As she continues to move forward in her journey in Denver, Colorado, she hopes to continue investing in students and fellow missionaries across the world. Scher will be working on logistics and planning teams for mission trips.
When asked how mission trips impact students, she said, “When you get a student on a mission trip and away from all the typical distractions and noises on a college campus, I have watched lives being transformed. They radically meet Jesus in the poor communities that we are serving. Mission trips have made a huge impact on my life and on the lives of so many of the students that I have gotten to walk with, so I am very excited to see what the Lord has in store in my new role.”
Anyone interested in learning more about FOCUS can visit focus.org.
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