UCF Wesley Foundation gets a new director
By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Paola Lemus Bustillos has only been in Corsicana for three weeks.
The new director of the UCF Wesley Foundation at Navarro College moved into town on March 10, having recently served as a family minister at a Maryland church. The slower Texan change of pace has been appreciated for Corsicana’s newest resident, as she immediately started her new role at the campus ministry on March 14.
“The people from Corsicana, and Texas in general, are very nice,” Lemus Bustillos said.
Lemus Bustillos’ role as the UCF Wesley director centers around creating programs to grow student faith and guide the spiritual journeys of Navarro College students by strengthening their relationship with God. These goals are accomplished by connecting students with different mission opportunities and young adult programs and activities. With the foundation, Students are able to partake in weekly Christian Leadership Development programs, bible studies, campus lunches, and music sessions.
During the fall semester, Navarro students go on a civil rights pilgrimage as a means to connect with other people through faith-based support. Students also have the opportunity to attend the Sky Ranch, an annual Christian retreat that provides a variety of outdoor activities while sharing their spiritual message.
For Lemus Bustillos, her own faith based journeys have led her to travel the globe to share those teachings.
Born in Guatamala City, Guatamala, Lemus Bustillos moved to and grew up Miami, Florida since she was five years old. These experiences, with the values and traditions she learned from her mother, gave her a blended bicultural perspective of her own personal identity and the world around her. Growing up as a self professed “church hopper,” she eventually found her place in a small Hispanic Methodist church, where she and her mother felt the most comfortable.
Lemus Bustillos studied for two years at Miami Dade College before transferring to Keiser University to finish her Associates degree. She later finished her Bachelors at Florida International University, where she provided assistance to a local pastor in starting a branch of UCF Wesley on campus. Lemus Bustillos worked as an administrative assistant.
“That is where I saw the importance of campus ministry in a two-year college, and the importance of campus ministry in a four-year college,” Lemus Bustillos said.
After school, the student traveled with her missionary program for two years, following with a Masters in Divinity. These mission opportunities, however, were more an experience with the Wesley Foundation at her university, allowing to to visit such locations as Haiti, South Africa, and Costa Rica.
“I went over there and that is where I felt the after all of those experiences, God was leading me to missions,” Lemus Bustillos said.
She also spent two years in Argentina as part of a global ministry, working as a missionary for Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
“With my experience in the campus ministry, prior to being a missionary, allowed me to have a heart for seeing missions not as a ‘let me go and do something for this community,’ but more of a ‘how can we as faith leaders and a faith community go and learn what they have to offer as much as we have to give and love one another to build that deeper community around the world,'” Lemus Bustillos said.
After her missionary experiences, Lemus Bustillos realized that all she wanted to do with her life was ministry, and continued her theological education.
The new director already has a vision in mind for what she wants to accomplish with UCF Wesley and Navarro College. Lemus Bustillos hopes to create a multi-campus experience for at least three of the four (if not all four) of the Navarro College schools.
Navarro College currently has campuses located in Corsicana, Waxahachie, Midlothian, and Mexia. A new UCF Wesley chapter recently opened at the Waxahachie location in the past year. UCF Wesley also recently started a sports ministry with the Corsicana campus, having connected with a sports director that specializes in mental health for Navarro College athletes. The foundation also has four to six interns every year to grow into leadership positions.
Lemus Bustillos also hopes to have an intern and leadership program for students to be able to connect and develop their skills, as well as continue having a fully multi-cultural ministry that will welcome people from all journeys, ages, and backgrounds.
For now, Lemus Bustillos looks forward to sharing her message with this newest corner of the world, and is already hard at work in planning a variety of new and end of year activities for students and visitors to enjoy.
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