As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
A Cameroonian studying in a French university and a Serbian High School student share their impressions after the European Student Evangelism conference “Presence 2017”.
This Easter more than 1,700 students from across Europe gathered in Aschaffenburg, Germany, to consider how our lives can testify to Jesus on campus.
Presence 17 was the tenth IFES European Student Evangelism Conference, aimed to resource students to take seriously the call to make disciples, and to see the impact of the gospel in the university, church, and society.
The conference brought together participants from Estonia, the Netherlands, Latvia, Spain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, Scandinavia and Serbia (amongst others), with Easter Sunday marked by 2,000 students partaking in the Lord’s Supper.
Students were encouraged by so many people coming together from across the continent.
Cameroonian student Cadmiel Tchandeu Fosso, studying at Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambrésis in northern France, said: “I just could not imagine that there would be this much diversity in the body of Christ.
“If I had to sum up what I received from the conference I would say we ought to evangelize with God alongside us; not in our own strength. The gospel is powerful itself and God can use us wherever we are.
“Besides the main speakers, what I most liked were the discussions we could have with people studying in different countries. We are from different cultures but we share the same challenges: to live the Gospel and spread it. This was obviously enriching and encouraging.
“For me, I came not to simply meet with Jesus, but with the desire to learn how to live in his presence once I get back home.”
Serbian high school student Danijel Trajkovic also remarked on the diversity of participation at Presence being a major benefit.
“Seeing so many believers coming together from different nationalities is something I’ve never experienced before. For me, being at this conference was life-changing.
“Witnessing more than 1,000 people from different cultures, nationalities, come together to speak the same language was an unforgettable experience.
“We are different, each person unique, but for the Lord we are all the same in his love.”
Daniel added that being at Presence reminded him personally of the difference Christ makes.
“Before I was a Christian, I saw how dirty I was before God. He gave his hand to me and saved me.”
For Daniel, it was also the chance to listen to God carefully.
“While I was praying during the morning session, I heard only one word and that was “wait”. I saw that the Lord was preparing me for something, and then one night as we were listening to Michael Ots, the Lord spoke to me saying, “This is for you - I want you to be part of mission week outreaches.”
So how does he plan to put that into action?
“I am starting to help another mission week now and wish to be part of the IFES movement in my country.”
IFES is a movement of students sharing and living out the good news of Jesus Christ locally, nationally and globally. It connects more than half a million students in over 160 countries.