Mary Sarife

My name is Mary Sarife and I am a FOCUS missionary at The University of Southern California.

Where I serve

I am blessed to be a third-year missionary at The University of Southern California!

My Story

As a freshman film major at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em), I never imagined I would be a missionary: I wanted to be a screenwriter and director! I searched for a place of belonging in my sorority, my major, and the greater Christian community at UT. I made friends by throwing myself into a million bible studies and organizations. After freshman year, I wondered how I could have many friends but still feel alone and lost.

A wise priest once told me, “Mary, you let people know a lot about you, but you don’t let anyone know you.” He was right. No one actually knew me because I believed lies about my identity: I am what I do, produce, say, and feel. As I identified with my actions, I identified with my sins and fell into shame.

I was at a silent retreat, Junior year, sitting in the chapel, telling God, “Nothing you ever say is personal.” All of a sudden, a chapter comes to mind. Isaiah 43. “I don’t think I’ve read that before. What are the odds it will mean something to me?” The first verse says, “Do not fear, for I have REDEEMED you; I have called you BY NAME, you are MINE.” This chapter impacted me in numerous ways, but I will share two main points:

  1. God knows and loves me personally. The Bible is a love letter written for me.
  2. My identity is that I am God’s beloved daughter. That’s it. I am not my past.

My missionary at the time, Kallin, taught me that my identity is exclusively in my daughterhood. I am made by love, out of love, for love. My identity is not in being a bad friend, bad student, bad sister, or bad Christian, but a GOOD daughter.

I led a bible study for women in sororities, so I could do what Kallin did for me – be an authentic friend and bring Greek women to Christ. Mother Teresa explains, “Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him.” Jesus’ thirst on the cross was not just for a drink; it was a thirst for His beloved. I said “yes!” to God’s calling to be a missionary because I long for others to know they belong with the Father who longs to know them intimately.

Your Impact

When I answered the call to join FOCUS, I made the decision to rely on the spiritual and monthly financial support of mission partners to help me through this mission. I have been blessed with the most amazing people who have journeyed with me as I serve on campus. If you are interested in partnering with me, please let me know the best way to reach you and I will schedule an appointment. I would be honored to share this mission with you.

[email protected]

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FOCUS brings the joy of the Gospel to colleges and parishes across the United States (and beyond)!
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