God's Word is impacting my friends
Earlier in the term, a fourth-year Edinburgh medic stood up at the end of a lecture and invited everyone to do Uncover with him. The response was remarkable. We caught up with Ed to find out exactly what happened, and how the group is going.
How did you go about inviting people to do Uncover with you?
Our year is split into four groups so we had one person from each group stand up after a lectureand tell people what was going on. I suggested they say something similar to:
‘I'm a Christian, and a lot of people would say that means I have a blind faith. However, I believe my faith is based on evidence. I think it's really important for everyone to consider for themselves whether or not this evidence is valid. For the sake of intellectual credibility we simply can't write it off as nonsense without any investigation. We'll meet up and talk about some of the eye-witness evidence in the same way you would at a book club – I won't preach at you, we'll just talk about it.’
I also posted on the Facebook page for our year group. People were invited to contact me if they were keen, and gradually people started messaging me. Fifteen people initially signed up. It was such a joy to hear from both close friends and others I don't know so well saying they would be keen to give it a go.
What’s response been like?
Amazingly positive. People approached me who I assumed would not be interested. Others who approached me don't have any Christian friends, so this was a chance for them to find out more. I felt very weak as I stood in front of everyone inviting them to do it, and I know the others did too. I was certainly stuttering and fumbling words. Therefore, to see that God used that despite my weakness is hugely reassuring. It reminded me of Paul's words in 1 Cor 2:3-5: ‘I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.’
In fact, one of my friends told me a few days ago that he appreciated that it takes quite a bit of courage to stand up in front and everyone and say what I said, so he wanted to come along.
Why did you decide to do Uncover?
In October 2013 I attended an Uncover training day where Becky Manley-Pippert spoke about her experiences of reading the Bible with non-Christian friends. To be honest, I'd never thought about doing that with my uni friends. It didn't seem natural and I thought the best way to evangelise was to tackle my friends' questions with apologetics and hopefully point to Jesus from there. But it wasn't working.
Motivated by Becky's stories and equipped by the training day, I decided to pray for and invite everyone in my six-person course group to read Uncover Luke with me. I had them round for dinner then asked each of them individually whether they wanted to look at the evidence together as a group. I was still pretty doubtful, but surprisingly most of them agreed and by the end they were all reading it!
Throughout that course, I saw how God's Word was impacting my friends in a way that my words never had. I'd argued for years, trying to win people over to my way of thinking. But when we sat down together and read the Bible, I could see people really thinking through the issues and asking much deeper questions. I was starting to understand what Romans 1:16 is saying: the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. It is when people see Jesus in action – loving, caring and ultimately dying for sinners – that they are attracted to Him.
How have the meetings gone so far?
The first meeting was good fun. We had a meal then got straight into the reason for John writing his account before looking at Jesus in action in His first miracle: turning water into wine. This turned a few heads...!
The second meeting was split into two groups because people had invited their friends along so it was too big (which was great!). Some of the comments and questions showed clear engagement with the passage from John 4. I felt great joy as one of my friends clearly answered another person's question, explaining how Jesus didn't tell the rejected woman her shameful past in order to mock her, but to show that He still wanted to speak with her despite this. I had to hold back a large grin from appearing on my face as he explained the truth!
It hasn't all been easy – some questions have been very difficult to discuss with the range of people attending. I generally try to suggest we discuss these things later, perhaps after the session one-to-one.
What have those in the group been saying about it all?
One guy told me he found the argument that the disciples wouldn't die for something they knew to be false very compelling. It has helped him to read Uncover as real evidence rather than a made-up story.
Another told me he has read John’s Gospel himself beforehand and also as part of a seeker course but ‘this time it's different’. He says talking about it with his friends is completely different, and he's much happier to question things and sees how the text stands up to scrutiny.
Another guy told me he's loving it: ‘The sessions are really thought provoking.’ He missed a session and asked whether he could borrow a booklet so he doesn't miss out. I'm hoping we can catch up one-to-one instead!
Everyone who has come along wants to return, and sometimes they bring friends along with them!
What are your plans for the group?
We had our final meeting before Christmas and I'm inviting them to the CU carol service this week. We will continue the course in January; they've all said they would like to do this. Give thanks for so many being keen to join and for them engaging in the studies.
Please pray that I would lead these studies knowing the outcome is dependent on God. Pray that interest would be maintained over the Christmas break and that each of them would be brought one step closer to Jesus as they read through these studies in John. Pray that a number would cross over from death to life.
A special edition of Uncover John Seeker Bible Studies for churches and individuals, which will be launched in spring 2015. Go to www.thinkivp.com/new-Uncover to sign up for an email alert when this is ready to purchase.