Relay Blog: Conversations
There is just something about a canopy of fairy lights that makes a room feel welcoming!
Add to that four 10ft trees, the greatest number of potted cacti ever to be seen outside of a garden centre and a coffee shop style sofa area punctuated by the yellow and grey of Uncover Marks waiting to be read, and you have the first impressions of an Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union events week, this year called HUMAN.
On arrival, guests were met with a smile from greeters, freshly prepared food, and the self-evident time and effort that had transformed Oxford Town Hall into a warm and inviting space to explore humanity’s biggest questions. Guests were invited to sit around small tables, designed to encourage discussion before and after talks. At the end of each event the café space stayed open, allowing conversations to continue and creating a great environment for friends to just hang out.
It was so encouraging to see students bring their friends to the events. Some brought friends with whom they had just begun to speak about Jesus, and others friends with whom they had been reading the Bible for months. For each guest, the week was able to complement the evangelistic work that had gone before, and encourage it onwards. One of the greatest inspirations for me was chatting to students who had invited friends that didn’t come, but who they continued to faithfully love and invite their friends even though they had been let down, all the while trusting in God’s timing and not their own.
An events week is a high-profile week of evangelistic events. In Oxford, we hosted daily lunchtime and evening meetings, and were joined by fantastic and faithful speakers, former UCCF Staff Worker Niv Lobo and pastor and author Tim Keller. But for me, the real encouragements of the week came in the conversations.
As a Relay worker in Oxford, I have the privilege of supporting students here to live and speak for Jesus. Events weeks are perhaps my favourite time of year, because it’s a great opportunity to serve alongside the students in sharing the gospel. At the first event, I began talking to a student from St John’s college. By lunchtime on Wednesday, he was the one asking his Christian friend to come along to the events! We sat together for the rest of the week, chatting through everything from science to the empty tomb. After the last lunchtime talk he agreed to read Uncover Mark with me, a resource designed by UCCF to help students to explore the Gospel of Mark with their friends. We’ve since done the first two studies and it’s so exciting to see him beginning to understand all that Jesus has done for us.
Events weeks are full of ups and downs through which God loves to use our weak efforts to glorify himself and bring people into his kingdom. What a joy it is to take part!
Jacob Glover is a Relay Worker with Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union.