Rachel and Graham attended Southampton CU in the late 1980s. Since graduating they have supported UCCF in several ways, including praying, giving financially and connecting with students through their local church. They have also indicated their intention to leave a donation to UCCF in their wills. Here they share their story:
Having become a Christian aged 13, Rachel loved the fellowship and encouragement she found in the CU while studying in Southampton. She regularly attended main meetings and ran a small-group Bible study in her second year.
‘After my first year at university, three of us from the CU decided to live in a house together with three non-Christians. During this time, one of the girls who wasn’t a Christian decided to trust in the Lord – and has since gone on to become a Methodist minister! The people you live with can be the hardest to witness to because they see everything, so it was very exciting.’
Unlike Rachel, Graham wasn’t a Christian when he arrived at university. Despite having gone to church for most of his life, he would not have said he was a believer when he arrived at Oxford in 1979 to study biochemistry. While he was there, however, he heard the gospel preached at a mission run by the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU) and, through the encouragement of Christian friends, decided to give his life to Christ. He greatly appreciated the teaching he then received from both OICCU and a local church. Later, while studying medicine in Southampton, he found the CU to be a great source of friendship and was involved in leading the Christian Medics group.
Rachel says, ‘We both feel we received a huge amount of encouragement during our time in the CU; we were encouraged to read God’s Word, grow in our faith, take what we learned and apply it daily – and we’ve carried this on throughout our lives.’
After graduating, Graham and Rachel lived in Leicester and then Solihull, before settling in Bristol in 1998. Over the last 30 years, while changing jobs, moving churches, packing and unpacking boxes, they’ve continued to support the CUs. They’ve given financially to UCCF, prayed for the work, and have even ‘adopted’ students through their local church (taking them out for the day, having them over for meals and encouraging them in their outreach events).
Reflecting on why they’ve continued to be so engaged with CU mission, Rachel says, ‘The thought of going to university as a Christian and not having the support of a bigger group of Christians, of trying to live out your faith on your own, would be very hard.
‘We’re passionate about seeing students get the same teaching and encouragement that we had, especially in today’s world, where there’s so much “fake news” and truth can be belittled.’
When they were deciding which charities to support in their wills, it was obvious to them both that UCCF would be high on the list. Rachel says,
‘We want to carry on the work we’ve been supporting all this time. We want to see students hearing the gospel truths in the Bible, being encouraged to read God’s Word for themselves, applying it to their lives and sharing it with their friends and family – and going on from student life equipped to stand firm in their faith.’
The work of the Christian Unions is still as life-changing now as it was 30 years ago when Rachel and Graham were in the CU, and as it will be in 30 years’ time. We are most grateful to those who give in this way, helping the next generation of students to continue to share Christ with their friends and grow in their faith.
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