As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
More than 46,000 students attend Christian Union mission weeks in UK, and many become Christians. CU leaders are trained for it at the Forum, UCCF’s national training conference .
I’m shivering in a tent in a Shropshire field surrounded by more than 1,000 students. Yet the atmosphere here is anything but cold. It’s Forum, UCCF’s national training conference for Christian Union (CU) leaders, and it’s hugely exciting.
Students can go to any number of excellent Christian conferences and festivals over the course of the year, but only one event specifically equips them to lead their CUs effectively and do mission well on campus. Forum gathers CU leaders from across Great Britain for five days of teaching, resourcing and training for the academic year ahead.
This year, Graham Beynon took us through the book of Philippians, and UCCF staff and guests delivered more than 50 seminars and workshops. Our aim is to enable students to return to their universities better able to demonstrate the truth, relevance and beauty of the gospel.
It’s hard not to get excited when we think of the potential impact these students will have upon university campuses, and much further afield, as a result of their time at Forum. Last academic year, more than 46,000 students attend a CU mission weeks and 30,000 attended a CU carol service. Many, many more went to other CU events throughout the year or read a Gospel with a Christian friend. Here are some of the highlights:
‘I gave my life to Jesus at the CU events week in February this year after thinking about faith for a few months. I encountered Jesus before I knew Him simply through the way that, as a society, the CU reached out in love and grace to people like me.
The CU was so important in showing me how to live for Jesus and because of that I get to leave university being able to share my faith with others. Without it, I don't know how long it would have taken me to come to know God, if at all, and for that I am eternally grateful.’ Gemma
Emily, from the University of Central Lancashire, became a Christian this year after years of trying to belong in all the wrong places. She tried Buddhism, atheism and a wild lifestyle, but found an unconditional welcome and eternal life when she was befriended by members of the CU at the start of this year.
Lee* (from China) turned up to Queen Mary CU’s mission week on his own. He quickly got chatting with a CU member who invited him to look at Jesus in Uncover. They completed the studies and he decided to follow Jesus.
Erin* didn’t know anyone in Aberystwyth CU but found a flyer on the floor of her halls for their photography competition. Being a keen photographer, she entered a photo. She was so intrigued by all the talk of Jesus at the exhibition that she attended several mission week events and the follow-up course. One evening on the course they were looking at Jesus being the way to the Father. Erin said, ‘If this is true, which I think it is, then the only response is to obey Jesus.’ That night she decided to put her faith in Him.
Holly* went to Birmingham CU’s carol service and was intrigued by what she heard. She read Uncover John with a friend and attended much of the CU’s mission week. After the Friday lunchbar Holly said, ‘I know I am not free; I know my life is utterly empty.’ Hours later she went to the evening talk on the resurrection and gave her life to Jesus. ‘This decision is going to ruin my life,’ she said. ‘But I know that Jesus is the truth.’ Holly has since led one of her friends to Jesus!
‘Christianity was on the cusp of being relegated to no more than simple head knowledge for me, but the work of the CU during my first year changed that. Seeing students from different church backgrounds unite so that others might be introduced to Jesus caused the gospel to sink from my head to my heart.
CU has really encouraged me to live and speak boldly for Christ, and by God’s grace I’ve had the absolute privilege of praying with close friends as they have become Christians.’ Josh
As another academic year gets underway, our prayer is that students continue to apply all they learnt at Forum so they are as effective as possible at reaching their unbelieving friends and peers with the good news of Jesus.
Kate Duncan is Head of Development and Communications at UCCF: The Christian Unions. To find out more go to www.uccf.org.uk.
*Denotes name has been changed.