Commercial and bureaucratic hindrances collided with an uncontrollable reality: the faith of many players.
University Christian Unions organised carol services all around the UK to share the good news of the Incarnate Christ with thousands of students. Christmas dinners were organised in other European countries.
Christian Unions (CUs) in the United Kingdom have held more than 100 carol services, throughout December, reaching at least 20,000 University students with the gospel.
“I never tire of speaking at CU carol services”, said Richard Cunningham, University and College Christian Fellowship (UCCF) Director.
“The crowds of unbelievers who come are incredibly open to hearing a clear, engaging message and each year hundreds of students make clear responses and join Uncover follow-up groups”, the leader of this IFES movement in the UK added.
A LOT OF PREPARATION
CUs thought about these services very carefully, seeking to make them as accessible as possible.
Christian students dreamt big and packed out large venues, such as castles, caves, cathedrals, football stadiums and great halls, to give as many students as possible the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
With the aim of enticing students along, live reindeer, local celebrities and flash mobs were all also used to advertise events. Besides, other student societies were invited by CUs to be involved in their services, providing music, sound and lighting.
Carol services are also a strategic opportunity for CUs to prepare their members for spring mission weeks and introduce their non-believing friends to a CU event.
EVENTS ALL AROUND UK
The London city-wide CU carol service was the most international, especially when John 1:1-18 was read out in Portuguese, French, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Cardiff and Exeter CUs saw more than 3,000 students attend each of their carol services in local football stadiums.
Although there was a huge downpour in Lancaster, students came in droves to the CU’s carol service, which was held in the city’s castle, perhaps spurred on by a message of good wishes to attendees from Buckingham Palace, and the #CarolsintheCastle hashtag which was flying around on Twitter.
Birmingham CU, who saw 1,600 students across their two carol services, were joined by a BBC2 talent-show winning a capella choir.
At almost every carol service each person received an Uncover John Gospel to take away and read.
Through these services many students came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Many more have joined a follow up course or now meet one-to-one to read the Bible with a CU member.
Two years ago, Birmingham student Emma went along to the CU’s carol service. She donned a Christmas jumper and enjoyed singing well known carols. However, what she wasn’t counting on was hearing the life-changing message of the gospel.
“In the space of a year I went from singing carols for the sake of tradition to singing carols knowing the truth of the words with joy in my heart”, she recalled.
UCCF Staff Worker Rich Pitt got home from Birmingham CU’s carols to find a Facebook message from a student who had come along to the carols, had taken home an Uncover John Gospel and now wanted to find out more.
He replied, and met with her the following day, eventually looking at the woman at the well using a Gospel of John Bible study. The student finished the study by saying, “Jesus is saying the living water is him and he can give to anyone, even this woman, even me!”
These are stories which were repeated many times last month as CUs creatively drew students into their carol services and engagingly shared the gospel.
CHRISTMAS EVENTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES
In other countries across Europe and the world, Christian University students also organised creative Christmas events. Although they were not as crowded as the ones organised in the UK, there were many opportunities to share the gospel with fellow non-believers students in a natural and creative way.
In many cities of Spain, for instance, Christian students have organised Christmas dinners attended by dozens of non-believers who ate good homemade food, listened to an evangelistic message or a music concert, and received a card with a gospel.
Some abstracts from this article were originally published by UCCF.