As a fifth-year Staff Worker, New Year's Training Conference (NYTC) – UCCF’s annual training conference for all Staff and Relay – is a fond staple of the beginning of another year.
Living near the coast in the North East of England, I am an occasional partaker in a New Year’s Day dip, of which NYTC is comparable: slight trepidation en route, a bracing change of state from the Christmas cocoon, followed by feeling of refreshment, raring to go.
In God’s kindness, despite our current challenges as a fellowship, as ever our gathering delivered a brilliant start to the new year.
We had the privilege of sitting under Scripture together, as Niv Lobo taught us through 1 Corinthians 1-3. God’s Spirit moved among us as His Word was taught in gentle yet powerful ways.
Personally, the mirror of God’s Word was held up to my heart as we dwelt on the Corinthian desire for the messengers and message of the gospel to be more impressive. How similarly I can desire this at the start of term with mission weeks rapidly approaching. I find myself wishing that I, my CUs and our gospel were strong in the world’s eyes. Yet this would undermine God’s eternal plan for the weakness and foolishness of the cross to be the power of God to save.
Please pray that we would be convicted afresh to embrace weakness; to see all that we have in Christ as the Spirit alone helps us.
Mental health first aid training
Alongside main teaching and training sessions, Staff and Relay Workers were able to select a specific seminar track to attend during the conference both for our encouragement and to enrich local CU ministry.
Given the prevalence of mental health struggles on our campuses, I opted for mental health first aid training with Dave Burke and I was not disappointed!
Dave’s years of pastoral ministry, coupled with his experience of training both Christian and secular organisations really shone through. I hugely appreciated his ‘buckshot’ over ‘silver bullet’ methodology. He encouraged us to make the most of the wealth of resources out there.
This helped me to see afresh God’s common grace in the wisdom found in the fields of medicine and psychology whilst not denying the biblical counselling methods and love and pastoral care that Christians often seek to give. From the practical training of how to support someone during a panic attack to wider conversations on how to care for our own mental health, I’m thankful for feeling more equipped to support students in the CUs I work with.
Our uncertainties as a fellowship were by no means brushed under the carpet. I’m thankful for open dialogue with UCCF’s trustees and a desire for a transparent process and care for all involved.
Underpinning this was a prayerful dependency on the Lord, who alone is our help both in our difficulties as a fellowship and our mission to thousands of students this term.
As we return home to our respective CUs, upcoming mission weeks and the unique challenges facing our CU members' universities, we all hold fast to these words from 1 Corinthians 1:18: 'the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.'
Join with us in prayer as we commit this term to the Lord, trusting that though our message may feel weak, the gospel truly has the power to save. To stay up-to-date with our ministry, use our Focus prayer diary to pray for a different CU each day or follow us on social media to hear about events weeks as they happen.
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