Sending to University
It had been coming for months. The warm weather and beautiful limestone buildings passed almost unnoticed as we drove into Bath. Young adults trying to look nonchalant, followed by parents carrying crates of belongings, reminded us of the hopes and anxieties in many other hearts that day. We were moving our eldest child into her hall of residence and later we would take our leave, making the long trip back to Scotland without her. Our hearts were full. Among the plates, bedding and art equipment was a young life about to turn a particular corner towards independence.
Going off to university doesn’t usually come out of the blue.Most young people spend quite a lot of time considering their final choice. As Christian parents, we cannot afford to make the mistake of helping them prepare in every other respect, yet omit speaking with them about the biggest and most crucial component of life: Jesus Christ. Being a living example of authentic Christianity, long before our young people leave home, will shape and influence them for good. Truth does resonate. In my own final year of university, I wrote down these words of Donald Harvey Tippett: ‘If Easter means anything to modern man, it means that eternal truth is eternal. You may nail it to a tree, wrap it up in grave clothes and seal it in a tomb. But truth crushed to earth shall rise again. Truth does not perish...’ Speaking unashamedly with our children about the truth of a better life, a better way, a unique salvation, is crucial. We mustn’t be put off by how cool or intelligent they are, or how shy or indecisive they seem.
Although we were well aware of the valuable work done by UCCF, having a daughter actually going to university put a new spin on things. Eager to encourage her that Christians can stand tall wherever they are, we showed Naomi the UCCF website while she was still in sixth form. She logged on to individual CU websites and Facebook pages and began to talk about what the CUs looked like; the talks and events they had on. Seeing the scale of UCCF’s work and its relevance brought real expectation into her life – the anticipation of forming friendships and sharing university life with other young people, enriched and sustained by the Lord Jesus.
Once Naomi confirmed Bath School of Art and Design as her choice, she investigated local churches. Knowing that we were due to move away from the south-east in August, we specifically made a trip in that summer to attend a local church. A kind older couple took an interest in Naomi (and the rest of us!) and stayed in touch, ensuring that Naomi had a caring face to look out for when she arrived on her first Sunday. We soon realised that this solid, student-friendly church would be a good place for her to worship and grow in, and we are deeply grateful that it has proved to be so.
Our appreciation extended further as we learned the names of the local Staff Worker and Relay Workers in Bath, and read with fresh thankfulness of their support of the CUs. We began to pray, and through that summer, as the CU at Bath Spa planned its freshers’ events, and the church lined up people to cook food for their student lunches, they were already beginning to minister to our daughter.
Do you know someone starting University in the autumn? Have a look at our starting uni resources.