“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG Version)
Let me tell you about my friend Denise.
Warm and bubbly, she always greets me with a hug and a grin. She is kind hearted, passionate, and refreshingly honest. All the endearing qualities that shine from her are the fruit of her passion for Jesus and the fact that she leads her life in constant conversation with God. It’s worth knowing that Denise is an Italian student, so she’s over here for a limited time as part of her degree. Through getting to know Denise over the last few weeks, God has spoken to me about perspective shifts and broadening horizons…
Watching Denise’s face light up with awe as she spoke about the churches in Loughborough and the opportunities she has as a Christian in the UK, something hit me. We are embarrassingly unaware of, and occasionally ungrateful for, the position we are in as Christian students in the UK. The more she spoke, the more I resented the voice of frustration and negativity with which the church is often referred to. Whilst we sit on a goldmine of opportunities in our churches, on our campuses, and in our halls, Denise has come from a country where finding a fellow Christian friend at university would be a literal miracle. Now in Loughborough, my Italian pal has gotten stuck into serving at her local church, is continually inviting her flatmates to different church events, and has intentionally sought out discipleship from older, wiser people.
This got me thinking; are we even aware of how privileged we are over here? Through the general noise of everyday life, and classic excuse of a chokka diary, I have definitely been guilty of missing excellent opportunities for discipleship and kingdom-advancement. Thankfully our God is kind, and patient, and keeps speaking even when we prioritise life noise over his voice. When I finally got round to sitting and reflecting on the train of thought that meeting with Denise had triggered, I heard Him ask, “What’s on your doorstep?” which then led to a flurry of other questions: am I “stuck into” my church? Do I whinge about church too readily? Am I sharing enough of my life with people, both Christian and not? 4 weeks into a new job, and leaning on the excuse of “busyness”, reflecting on this lead to an uncomfortable realisation; the fire I carry for Jesus was being kept to myself. Oh.
It also got me thinking about the UK. We have the whole of Europe on our doorstep. Or, hundreds of students like Denise, who are passionate disciples of Jesus but lacking Christian friends, and would do anything to have a CU at their university, or a small group they could go to weekly. As on-fire students in the UK are receiving discipleship, sharing the gospel with friends, and have the honour of having student workers who live to follow what God’s doing in this generation, Europe is crying out “us too!”. Students, Europe needs you.
Europe is a pretty big place, but you can still play your part. How about going on a mission adventure to pray for European universities, connect with churches, and put student work and mission on church leader’s radars? With Escape and Pray 2017 looming in the distance, ask God what opportunities He has for you outside of the UK’s doorstep, and as you go into your next busy, noise filled week, ask God what opportunities are on your doorstep for you as a Christian student. Let’s share our fire.