A Life Changing Week - Word Alive 2023
The bathroom door in the chalet doesn’t close properly, the wind whistles around the marquee, the Wi-Fi is at best variable, while we invite students to build sandcastles sometimes in the rain.
It must be Word Alive! But those things quickly become incidental compared to the joy of gathering more than 100 international students from all over the world, along with team members and group organisers, as we enjoy a week of contextualised Bible talks, small group discussions and seminars, all focused on encouraging students to follow Jesus more closely, no matter where they might go after graduation. The experience of worshipping God alongside thousands of Christians within the wider conference never fails to make an impact on students, some of whom will return home as the only Christian in their family.
The international track is certainly challenging work, but remains a highlight of the year for many on the team, giving FI staff and volunteers the opportunity to work in close partnership, sharing life and modelling the gospel to international students from different centres. This year Peter Teagle taught from 1 Thessalonians, marking his tenth year as the main speaker on the track. Some key moments from 2023:
- D (China), who gave his life to Christ after WA2022, returning to tell us how God has changed his life;
- A new testimony and Q&A session with students from China, Singapore and Nigeria sharing their stories with clarity and conviction, as well as others who spontaneously talked about God’s help through tough times;
- Students enthusiastically showing off national costumes on the Wednesday morning;
- A consistent crowd of more than a hundred students at every event on the track, from the welcome meal and sandcastle competition, to the teaching and discussion times and the day trip in Prestatyn.
We give thanks to God for His goodness in providing students to fill chalets at the last minute, enabling the track to run smoothly, and arranging for team members who had appropriate cultural experience, including groups from East Asia, South Asia, Latin America and Africa.
It was hugely moving to hear students say on the final day that the marquee had become a “home away from home”, to see their desire to obey God’s Word expressed in Slido questions, and through the week, to witness team members praying with individuals who came with concerns and burdens. All this is perhaps best captured in the words of O, a Nigerian student from Bournemouth: “I left part of myself behind at Word Alive – the heavy part.”
Please pray that as the Lord continues to do His work, the seed sown will become deeply rooted, bearing much fruit in students’ lives for years to come…
Sue Burt and Lynette Teagle (On behalf of the WA planning team).
Photo credit Simon McClure.