I’m Not Alone…

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.” – Psalm 40:1-2

Loneliness is hard.

Fortunately, we have a God who loves. A God who cares. A God who comforts.

It was great to be reminded of this on Monday. After the weekly CU prayer meeting, I had a 2-hour gap before my first lecture. So I decided to head to the Costa opposite, and someone else from CU came and sat with me. We had a cup of tea and chatted. And I admitted that this time of year I find particularly difficult.

And then she said exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to be reassured. To be comforted. And to be challenged.

Challenged to trust. But not only that. Challenged to escape the vicious cycle of worry, lack of trust, and feelings of worthlessness. We are weak, but God is strong.

One of the things I love about CU is that, at your lowest point, someone will be around to pick you up. But more than that. Everyone recognises that they are not strong enough to pick you up. But instead they point to God – the one whose grace, mercy and love is strong enough.

I listened to a series of talks recently, and one of the things that struck me was when the speaker described us being designed for relationships. And how a relationship with God is the only one that truly satisfies. But how good that it’s offered!

Events Week!

“All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.” – Psalm 145:10-12

This is probably going to be quite a short post, because burnout is real and I don’t want it to happen!

Anyway, this is a very exciting week of events that the CU is running and… I may have volunteered to help for a fair amount of it, and may have somehow got involved with some of the dramas we’re doing, and I may have helped to lead a prayer meeting on Tuesday morning, and I may have actually stood up and invited a whole seminar group to the event today…

As you can tell, it’s a pretty mad week. So many people have come along to events; it’s been such an encouragement, and such a blessing, to see that people are coming along and engaging and hearing the Gospel. God is so good!

It’s been a great week so far, and my prayers at the moment are that it would continue to be a great week. There are so many people on campus to reach, and all of them should know of God’s might, glory and love.

In short: I am excited. I am tired. I am stupidly busy. But God is great!

The best sort of encouragement :D

There are some people in CU who consistently amaze me. They amaze me with their ability to talk to people, with just how empathetic they are. With just how faithful they are in praying for every single person they meet.

One of our college group leaders (CReps) is exactly like that. Like me, she was a Day STYC during Freshers Week. One of our responsibilities was running a “brunch club” (that is, serving people who came into the common room with breakfast bars, pastries etc.) and to be honest, much of the time nothing really happened. A few people came in, took some food, and left.

And then one day one of the college administrators came in. He said that there was a girl who was coming in later who was 17, who had been pressured to drink by her STYCs, who was isolated, lonely and in need of some help. Her name is Laura.

To the surprise of nobody, our CRep took Laura under her wing, went out for coffee with her, and invited her along to events where slightly less drinking would be going on. Many of these were CU events.

Since then, Laura has come along to most of our College CU meetings, signed up to be part of a CU family, made loads of Christian friends (some of whom she’ll be living with next year). She’s also participating in and contributing to our Bible studies, and has even been to Church.

How great is our God! Putting everything in place so that someone at their most desperate can hear the Gospel and get to know His love.

Our House – Our Family

You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” – Ephesians 2:19b

The house I’m living in this year is great.

We often invite friends over, for food, games, even just chatting. And one in particular has commented more than once on the atmosphere in our house; how communal it is, how friendly.

It helps that all of us want the benefits of communal living. We searched in particular for a house with a dining table. We found a house with a dining table, living area, large kitchen (all open-plan) and I love it. I spend far less money on food (as we shop and cook together), and I spend the time I need to with others. I can always retreat to my room if I’m people-d out!

But I think what helps more is the one thing that brought us together in the first place: Our faith.

We are all Christians; we are all a part of God’s Church, God’s family. I know I’ve used the verse at the top before. But I think it perfectly sums up our house. I think the notion of family helps to create the atmosphere that our friend commented on.

We have come from completely different walks of life. We met through CU. We are all adopted in God’s family; we can be like family at uni.

It saddens me that other houses don’t live communally. It saddens me even more that most other houses don’t know of the Gospel. But CU exists to “give every student on campus the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel”. So that they, too, may know the love that God has for us and that we have for each other.

Freshers Week!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:9-10

It’s Freshers Week at university. This means huge numbers of people to serve!

I’ve got STYC duties all week – this involves helping people to move in, bringing people to events and just generally loving them. Move-in day was yesterday, which was a lot of hard work. It was very rewarding, though. There were quite a few things that surprised me. Firstly, just how many people had a top-floor room. Secondly, the number of people who brought vans or multiple cars. (OK, it was only a few of them…) Thirdly, people’s general reluctance to accept help. I thought people would jump at the chance to get help moving in. But people were quite wary and didn’t want to overload us – despite that being our job.

There were other things that really encouraged me. With some of the people who arrived later, we would help them unload their cars onto the porters’ trolleys, and take the trolley to their front door, fully prepared to unload the trolley and take all the contents to the top floor ourselves. Until we opened the door and all their housemates came and helped out as well.

Freshers Week also gives the CU in general, and individuals as well, a massive opportunity to spread God’s love. It will be great to welcome new people into CU, and having such an opportunity to invite so many people to events is amazing. It will be a lot of work, but it will be so worth it.

Forum 2016: Wrapping up an amazing week

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”” – 1 Samuel 14:6

Long post alert! It’s been a long week and I’ve learned a lot, which I’ll try to sum up here. I’ll be leaving out a lot of detail, mostly on the grounds that it would take over a week to accurately describe 5 days…

Not having been to anything like this before, I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived in Shropshire on Monday. All I really knew was that there would be a lot of CU leaders there, and I’d be camping with the rest of my CU.

I’ll try to sum up my Forum experience quite briefly, although there are no promises.

1. Sleep, glorious sleep…

I’d forgotten just how uncomfortable sleeping on a roll mat is. Which combined with long days and late nights means I slept all of Saturday morning.

2. If you can’t sleep, look at the stars…

Living in cities and towns is great. But light pollution is a thing. Quinta, being mostly in the middle of nowhere, had very little light pollution. And so, on the beautiful clear nights we were fortunate enough to get, there were so many stars in the sky. Staying up late and watching the sky was such a treat, a reminder of how awesome God’s creation is.

3. It doesn’t matter how you pray, just do it…

Everyone participated in a track about mission and an aspect of our faith. I went to one on prayer. The first two sessions were about why we pray and who we pray to; this felt mostly like revision, although they were very encouraging. The best one, though, was undoubtedly the final one (about how and what we pray). With what we’d covered in the first two sessions, it was good to know that we have the Spirit interceding for us, so that it doesn’t matter how we pray, as long as we do it. And it made me start thinking about how to encourage others to pray, using various creative means.

4. It’s easier to talk to people than you think…

Being an introvert, camping alongside over 1,000 other people was a little intimidating. But you’d always be able to strike up a friendly conversation with a complete stranger. Mostly consisting of: Name, University, Course, CU role, and occasionally, favourite type of hat. Each of us in our region got a randomly selected other person to bless at some point during the week as well, and I ended up having a really good conversation with my person.

5. Loud music = no voice…

The band at times of worship was very loud. I could barely hear myself sing, and the lines were often pretty high. And I didn’t know most of them. But it was good to try another form of worship to the more traditional things I’m used to. And when we did a piece a cappella, the sound of over 1,000 voices singing in unison was one of the most powerful things I experienced that week.

6. It’s a small world…

I met a few people at Forum who I knew from my home church. Whilst it didn’t surprise me to find them there, I didn’t imagine I’d actually meet people I knew outside of my university.

7. Perhaps the Lord…

If there’s one phrase that will stick with me for a long time after Forum, it will be this. The Lord can do great things. We pray to a Lord who can do great things. Obviously there will always be challenges. But perhaps the Lord can do great things on campus in the coming year.

Forum anecdotes may or may not follow…

 

Looking Forward to Freshers… Again

If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I was wondering what to say today. Well, what is there to say? My summer is going just how I expected. I’m still looking forward to September. Everything is pretty much the same as this time last week.

Well, almost.

Last Thursday was A Level results day. Which means thousands of students have found out which university they’re going to. Looking for housemates, coursemates, anyone who could possibly be a friend.

I hope that the CU can be a friendly face. When I was a fresher last year, CU was so important in developing my friendships. Of course, it helped that the stranger next door to me was also quiet, also a linguist, and also a Christian… But most of my best friends are CU members. Their love and friendship really helped me when settling into university. I pray that this might be the case for this year’s freshers.

The influx of new students also means we’ve got a few new faces to look forward to in CU. It means we can forge new relationships and get some fresh impetus in sharing the Gospel on campus.

I struggled a little when picking the Bible verse for this blog. Because whilst the new is definitely coming, the old has not completely gone. With the exception of final-year students who are moving on to bigger, better things, much of CU is staying the same. Most of us are staying. We still have the same mission statement, the same basis for our faith, indeed, the same faith. But we will have new faces and new opportunities to spread the Gospel.

One month to go until it all begins again… 🙂