'I arrived at Oxford Brookes in 2011 with an appetite. I was a 19 year old student, so I do mean that in conventional terms, but more significantly, I had an appetite to get stuck in with Christian things during my time in Oxford. I had been a fairly nominal Christian until a few months earlier, where I had discovered God’s grace to the lowest of all people in fresh wonder (Ephesians 3:8). It was very much a “head to heart” moment.
I rocked up at CU eager to get involved and meet other Christians my own age, likeminded to live for Jesus in a world increasingly resistant to Him. The Christian Union offered a chance for me to be part of a ministry ‘on the frontline’. As Christians, we are always ‘on the frontline’, but being part of a society with a purpose in this way brought a tangible comradery – there was something about being in an immediately present group of Christians wanting to share Jesus with flatmates, coursemates, teammates, and mates that invigorated me in the way a pre-game talk readies the team to play. It was an immensely encouraging environment to be in – meeting each week, hearing how others had invited their friends to an event or had a dialogue dinner or a fruitful conversation in which they had been bold. The weekly CU meeting is now called ‘Equip’ to build that sense of coming together to ready themselves to go back into the world, which captures exactly that resolution the CU is all about. It fed the appetite to know Jesus and make Jesus known!
Now, the far side of university, I continue to be involved with international student ministry, called Explore, through church. It’s incredible to be sharing and talking about Jesus to people who, often, have never even heard of Him. To imagine that, God willing, they could become followers of Jesus and head home to become the first Christian voice in their hometown is immeasurably exciting!
It’s so encouraging to be part of student ministry in any form – from the local church on a Sunday, Explore, and meeting with students through the week. Student years are formative whichever way you slice them, and spiritually it can be all the more significant. To be part of someone’s growth in faith in those years, whether it is right there reading the Bible with them, praying from miles away, or giving financially so that the CU can buy them a Bible, or a Relay Worker could meet them for a coffee and chat. Christian Union is an invaluable corner of Christian ministry, one that goes a long way in bringing young men and women forward in the pursuit of the Kingdom.'
Are you, like Tom, captivated by the possibilities of international student ministry?
Pray for the students, graduates, and churches who reach out to the international students in their city. Please pray that through their witness and faithful, generous friendships, many international students would be welcomed into God’s Kingdom, and go on to make Jesus known around the world.
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