Saturday, 23 February 2008

UCLan mission on reflection

Yesterday the week-long mission at the University of Central Lancashire came to its conclusion, the third and final mission held by CUs in the region in which I work.

I've found that, of all of the sorts of universities in Britain, it's at university campuses of the nature of UCLan that are hardest to reach with the gospel. Whereas traditional universities have many things that facilitate proclamation (such as large halls of residence with fairly open access, and suitable central venues for events), at newer universities there are no such blessings. Add a large number of students that commute in from other towns, and university buildings spread right across whole towns and it sometimes feels like an uphill task. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the widespread perception amongst students at such institutions that the gospel is irrelevant (as I have written about before).

With this context in mind, then, reflection on the mission at UCLan gives plenty of reasons to be thankful to God. There were a wide range of events (from pub quiz to five-a-side competition to beginners' salsa lessons!) where the gospel was clearly explained in a down-to-earth manner by the ever excellent Steve Casey (who was in his element this week in the UCLan context). Each event had between 25 and 70 non-Christians. Many were intrigued and several have signed up for the CU's 'Encounter' course that starts next week. Unsurprisingly, most were the friends of CU members - but it's pleasing nonetheless to work alongside a CU that evidently isn't a Christian bubble, and where students have obviously sought to live out 1 Thessalonians 2:8. It's really good to work alongside other Christians that have deep convictions that lead them to live and speak for Jesus.

I was also really chuffed by the number of CU students that were willing to come and do questionnaires. We were given the full run of the student refectories: this meant that students weren't having to rush past in the cold and rain, but were willing to talk. I personally had several conversations that went on for well over an hour. Please pray especially for Dan and Owen. I also had a three hour long conversation with John at one of the events - really looking forward to carrying conversations on in the future.

Perhaps the highlight of the week came for me yesterday. Some of you will have heard me speak about Martin, a student who made a profession early in Autumn term, but who had gone incognito. It turned out that he'd been shaken by reading parts of the Old Testament and the character of God there.It was brilliant to meet with him, to hear about his concerns and ultimately to point him to the cross. He's certainly still trusting Jesus (perhaps more so now he's seen more of the holiness of God). A brilliant reminder of 2 Peter 2 - that God knows how to preserve his people, even against the odds.

Yesterday didn't really feel like it was the end. It felt much more like the latest step in ongoing relational evangelism. Pray that's the case.

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