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Looking Back as We Move Forward

As believers we do not live under the shadow of a pandemic, but rather under the shadow of the Almighty! That was part of a prayer I heard recently. What a fresh way to see life and particularly the last two years. For international student ministries and indeed the students themselves, it has certainly not been an easy time. These times have affected us all to a greater or lesser degree. For some of us there has been great personal loss. Through it all, we have seen God working in us and teaching us to trust in Him. Often our plans have had to change, and we have learnt to adapt at short notice.

’On many occasions, we have seen the activities we relied on for our initial engagement with international students coming to a complete halt.

However, when we look back, we see with gratitude a faithful God. Our teams across Britain and Ireland have welcomed 30 new staff in the last two years. Together with 90 affiliates and our committed volunteers and partner churches, they have shown resilience, adapting to meet the opportunities presented to us. We are still hearing some of the stories coming out of this time – a number of students coming to faith and others asking to be baptised.  

On some campuses, doors seemed closed to us for a while, but as the lockdown and restrictions dragged on, we were being contacted by those who initially didn’t want us to engage with ‘their’ students. They approached us and invited us to provide support to international students. Restrictions are now being lifted and we can build on those relationships. Challenges still exist, but we have seen again and again that God’s Word was never locked down (2 Timothy 2:8-10). Our prayer is that the lessons— of total dependence on our Lord, of being flexible, adaptable and teachable— will be central as we move forward in ministry.  

Serving with Humility in Multicultural Ministry 

Friends International’s annual conference in January was a real highlight for us. Gathering in person was something that we looked forward to, hearing from one another, exchanging ideas, resources and praying together, while sharing what God is doing through Friends International across the UK and Ireland.  

Several of us could not attend in person, but we are now experts in virtual meetings, and we had the facility to broadcast the Bible readings and morning sessions as well as the evening celebrations. Dr Mary Evans led our Bible readings on ‘Tales of the Unexpected: God Speaking Through Stories’, rediscovering together how God’s Word does not glaze over the ugly behaviour of man; it is only when we recognise our condition that we are able to appreciate His grace. Peter Oyugi helped us look into the theme of ‘Serving with Humility’ in multicultural contexts. In understanding our own prejudice, we can, in humility, adapt our ministry approach to reach those students who find it hard to connect with the average British way of doing things. Several partners in different parts of the UK, Ireland and around the world joined us for our Saturday livestream celebration entitled ‘Behold, I Am Making All Things New!’.

This is our conviction. Our God is on the move. Nothing— no virus or earthly power— will stop Him. His commission for us, his followers is still to take the Gospel to the nations. The nations are coming to our university campuses; therefore, our vision remains unchanged: 

‘To see international students transformed by the good news of Jesus so that they fully engage with the mission of the church in the world.’

Thank you for your partnership in the gospel. For more information in how you can be involved, contact us!

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