Over the past 7 years the church in Guildford has recognised the importance of reaching out to nearly 20,000 students at the university and two prestigious performing arts colleges, representing nearly 300 nationalities, in the town.
With training through Pioneer run discipleship programme DNA, backing from local Christian charity the Matrix Trust, and network & resource support from national student mission movement Fusion, a number of student workers, have been released to support and promote mission amongst the student populations. Current student worker Georgina Micklewright explains the importance of student ministry in Guildford:
“Studentdom is often the first time young people ask the core questions of life. For the first time they are away from the security of home and school, and the prospect of all that life seemingly holds for them such as career and family becomes unsatisfying…the ‘what is the point of it all?’ questions become all too real.
The opportunity for us and their fellow students to present the gospel to them is therefore wide open. For Christian students, it is also a testing time for them to maintain and grow their faith with all the challenges that university presents to them. As a student worker my aim is to encourage Christian students develop their identities as missionaries during their time at university or college, to join local churches and support one another through cell groups and communities such as Christian Union, and help them to not feel restricted in the ways that they can reach out and serve their fellow students in presenting the love of Christ.”
Alpha for Students and social outreach have been successful, however from experience there is no substitute for friendship evangelism. Christians aren’t often described as radical by non-Christians, however their student peers often find an interest in Christianity through the non-compromising way that Christian students live their lives. Having an open confidence in God for their provision and an assurance in his guidance for the future has proven a more powerful evangelistic tool than any course or activity that we can put on.
“I remember a conversation with some students who had a heart for international students” Georgina recalls, “and they told me of a Chinese girl, who’d come to Surrey to study after a member of her family had returned to China after studying here, and had become a Christian. On asking her why she had chosen to come to Surrey, she said that she had seen the change in her sister, didn’t know anything about God or Christianity, but wanted to go back to China having finished her degree and having become a Christian”.
Written by Tim Raynes, DNA