'But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.' – 2 Corinthians 12:9
This spring, the Christian Unions learnt what it truly means to be weak.
Each year, January signals the beginning of the mission week season: weeks of high-profile events that make a big impact on campus and reach hundreds of students with the gospel. They hold events in marquees, hand out flyers, free food, string up banners, wear jumpers, and give announcements in lectures.
However this year, they could do none of this. It seemed that the very things that had always given their evangelism power had gone.
But, the CUs did not give up. Instead, they relied even more heavily on God and trusted Him to work through their efforts. They boldly proclaimed the gospel despite these weaknesses and limitations; using social media, Zoom, podcasts, post and even radio to speak of Jesus.
And what happened?
To combat Zoom fatigue, several CUs strategically spread their mission events across a fortnight or a month, rather than a traditional week. As a result, some were surprised to find that, despite Zoom fatigue, record numbers were tuning in. Others saw unusual levels of interest in the gospel.
‘Praise God for all the unbelievers who engaged with Brunel CU’s mission week,’ says Naomi Hollands, Staff Worker in the Midlands, ‘It was such a blessing for the CU, who haven’t seen this kind of response in a long while.’
York CU were overjoyed to have up to 1,600 views on their events, with over 70 devices tuning in – their highest attendance since the pandemic began. After the mission, one local church saw six new students come along to their service the following Sunday, and many students spoke of friends who had softened to the gospel in ways they hadn’t before.
Mission weeks this year were also key in growing young evangelists who have yet to experience a ‘normal’ year of CU mission. Queen Margaret CU fresher Phoebe, for example, was initially apprehensive about inviting friends to events, but received positive responses. She says, ‘I’ve been really encouraged that inviting friends isn’t as terrifying as it seems, and also that they will come and are actively interested!’
‘At last year’s mission, we packed 400 students into a marquee. Putting that atmosphere online has been tricky, but God’s Word is always powerful – perhaps even more so in our weakness. Indeed, Praise Christ for the chances we’ve had to share Jesus.’ – Alexi, Staff Worker in Manchester
Finally, there were several stories of students finding new life. Many who had been considering Jesus for a while decided to finally make a step of commitment.
Katherine (name changed) had previously explored Christianity with her friend in Cambridge Inter-Collegiate CU but stopped after becoming distracted by her studies. After receiving an invite to come to their Story mission week this year however, she confessed she had ‘seen how Christians lived and didn’t want to put off her investigations any longer’ – she gave her life to Christ on the phone to her friend a few days later.
Similarly, a York student called Becs professed faith on the final night of their mission week Life – having come to three previous mission weeks!
We praise God that He is strong where we are weak! As Staff Worker Megan Conway says, ‘It’s amazing because our usual strategies have gone out the window, but it’s not about strategy – it’s about the Holy Spirit!’
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