With lockdowns on university campuses across the country, many students, including freshers, are currently experiencing an isolating start to the term. As missional communities on campus living and speaking for Jesus, Christian Unions are doing all they can to adapt to this new unusual context – courageously working to build community and share the hope of the gospel.
Here are five ways you can be praying for them:
You may have noticed an increased presence of students on the news – many are back on campus although sadly university life is far from normal. Students are ‘locked down’ in halls of residence and new students in particular will have had very little opportunity to make friends and build community. It’s an isolating start to the term for thousands of students.
Please pray that universities would act wisely in finding a workable balance between keeping students safe and helping students make the most of the time at university.
These words taken from the conclusion of Psalm 29 describe a God who is unphased by what we might see as disastrous. In fact, it goes beyond that – in writing this hymn, King David is drawing our attention and confidence towards a God who doesn’t find natural phenomena, disaster or disease in themselves to be problematic, but ‘they are God's creation, serve his purposes, and demonstrate his power, wisdom, glory, faithfulness, and even love.’ (ESV Study Bible, Psalm 29).
Join me in praising our God for His majestic power, which is not subject to natural phenomena, disaster or disease. Thank God that through our unusual times He, as the Psalm ends, shares His strength with His people.
God’s mission on the universities up and down the country does not exist because the opportunity amongst students is ripe or because students are particularly strategic for the future of our nation and culture – although those things may be true.
God is active on campus because it is integral to His character to move outward in love. ‘Being triune, God is a sharing God, a God who loves to include. Indeed, that is why God will go on to create [and recreate in salvation]. His love is not for keeping but for spreading.’ (Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity). God cannot become anything other than who He is, so His mission to unite all things in His Son, regardless of our historical moment, continues unabated.
Please pray that Christian students would be encouraged in their faith as they start the university year. Pray that they would grow in their understanding of God’s gracious character and be joyfully motivated to share Jesus with others.
A big part of the shift in ministry for this year has been a move to prioritise smaller groups, seeking to help students to build community. CUs have already started Impact Groups: student-led virtual small groups, a place for students to study the Bible together and discuss questions. These have begun to take off, with brilliant stories already emerging of both new students and older students joining groups and engaging with the Bible studies.
Heddwen, a student from the University of South Wales says: 'We were so encouraged to have three freshers join our first couple of Impact Groups and start interacting and creating friendships! It’s so lovely to have returners coming alongside them as well, giving them advice and encouraging them as they start at uni. It was also so great to see people actually getting engaged in the study, answering the questions and encouraging one another along in their faith.'
Please pray that CUs would be well-equipped and full of boldness in sharing the life-giving news of Jesus Christ.
The CUs are already adapting to the challenges of our uncertain times and it is a huge pleasure, emboldened by your support and prayers, to working alongside these teams of young people doing some of the most cutting edge ministry around. Thankfully our God has not changed since last September. The good news of the reign of Jesus is ancient and is ‘the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16). In the coming months there will be loads to learn, many ways to serve and lots we will have to depend on our enthroned King for.
Please pray for UCCF staff as they seek to serve and equip the CUs.
Elliot Hyliger is Staff Worker in Nottingham and Lincoln, equipping the Christian Unions as they share the gospel in the universities.
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