Relay Blog: January 2017
I sipped my Frappuccino as Annabel went on; ‘So, is faith a last resort for desperate people, or can you have faith even if you don’t feel like you need it?’
It’s Monday night and I’m sitting in a room full of students, chatting about Christianity on the top floor of a local coffee shop. OICCU (Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union) runs ‘The Search’ every week: an evening of warm hospitality and animated discussion on the issues that really matter according to the Bible. A local church worker gives a short talk on a story about Jesus, and then we split into tables and chat for just under an hour, fuelled by Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and blueberry muffins.
Monday nights have become one of my Relay highlights – I’m still slightly amazed that it’s part of my job! I’m really enjoying the variety of evangelistic opportunities that I’ve had this year: from text-a-toasties to chatting with strangers at a college formal, it’s incredible how many students are willing and eager to investigate Christianity.
I’m feeling more confident in answering questions too. The Relay study programme has helped me have a deeper understanding of key doctrines, such as God speaking through the Bible. This has equipped me in conversations, both with Christians and unbelieving students, as we’ve wrestled together with questions of trusting the Bible.
I’ve particularly enjoyed the apologetics training in the Relay programme. Last term, we gave a short apologetics talk, and then received feedback from fellow Relay Workers. This was a great way to practise giving talks and test material. My talk was on the question of truth in a post-truth world, which I was able to use for a college Christian Union (CU) event recently. The prospect of giving a talk was a lot less scary having done a trial run!
Another joy of Relay is the time spent with the student leaders of the CU. Having been in the same position less than a year ago, I can really empathise with the highs and lows of student leadership. I’ve loved spending an hour a week with the college reps at their weekly training, encouraging them in their evangelism and walk with Jesus. I’ve found the time prepping bible studies to do with students so personally beneficial as well – probably more beneficial than if I were simply sitting in the Bible study.
As a bit of an extrovert, I’m enjoying the people-time that Relay allows. I’ve created a group for English Literature students as an outworking of my Elective study on literary criticism, lovingly known as ‘The Englings’. This little group are a joy to work with – their enthusiasm for English, for Jesus, and for connecting the two inspires me as I continue to try to read and think with a Christian worldview.
In the run up to mission weeks (I’m a CU guest in Oxford and Durham) it’s helpful to remember that ‘standing firm in grace’ is at the heart of the Relay programme (and the Christian life!). As I chat to people about Jesus, as I give talks, and as I read and discuss books and ideas, my standing before God is secure. I am clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, and can stand firm in the assurance that grace gives me. People that I talk to might not become Christians; my talk might be a flop; I might not be discerning as I read; but in all I do, I can know that God is smiling on me, his redeemed daughter, and that when he sees me, he is ‘well pleased’.
Relay is UCCF’s ten-month discipleship and training programme for graduates who love CUs.
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