Week 37 - 'I met Jesus in scripture, and then church two years later!'

Imagine coming to faith, all alone, through reading the Bible. When Alfie came to uni he’d been following Jesus for two years but had never been part of a Church community. Discovering Jesus through reading his Bible as a 16 year old led to living a largely secret faith for six or seven months before telling his family and then waiting to discover church through a fresh start in a new city. Coming to study at the University of York was an opportunity to take his very personal faith into community. Alfie shares his story…

“I’ve always believed in God, though I couldn’t tell you why. That sense that God was real didn’t turn into a faith, though, until I was about 16.

When I was 11 or 12 I was given a Gideon Bible at school and remember thinking ‘what a load of rubbish!’ I did have this feeling, though, that I should keep the little New Testament and Psalms, so I put it on a bookshelf where it gathered dust for the next few years. 

Just before the first lockdown in 2020, as I was preparing for my GCSEs, I had a strong sense that after my exams I wanted to explore this Christianity thing a bit more. The exams, of course, never happened, and afterwards I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was such a stark change, life felt a bit meaningless and lonely. I remembered the commitment I’d made to exploring Christianity, so I took down the Gideon New Testament and Psalms and started from there. I started to Psalms, which felt like just the right thing as they deal with a lot of emotional turmoil! 

Looking back on it, it was a very emotional, spiritually intense time. It felt amazing, that’s for sure. I know some people have quite gradual experiences of coming to faith but it all came over me in the space of a couple of weeks. I didn’t tell my parents until quite a bit later because I was quite nervous about it and I was afraid of being judged. I ended up telling them six or seven months later. I’m not really sure they understood too much as none of them had any faith at all. Throughout sixth form I didn’t go to church - I think largely because of that fear of being judged - I just thought ‘once I go to uni and have that independence and the clean slate, I’ll be able to do it’. 

I moved into my freshers flat and met a student who invited me along to something called CU. We had a chilli night, they said grace beforehand and talked about God and prayed at the end; I thought ‘Woah! This is not what I expected!’ My flatmate and I started looking for churches together and after trying about five different churches we settled at the church where we’ve been now for one and a half years. That student who first invited me to CU will become my wife in August. 

I am so glad I found a church at uni and that  I have a community to worship together with. It was such a blessing the first few months of being in a church - I wasn’t used to any of it! I went from praying and reading my Bible alone every day to being able to share those things with other people! 

If someone reading this has discovered Jesus in their teens and is thinking about how to engage with that faith at uni, I would really recommend connecting with a church. If you’ve not been to church before it will be a big jump but it is so worth it.” 


University, as a time of fresh independence, is a great opportunity for uni starters to Try Church again, or for the first time! Churches across the UK are waiting to welcome new students this coming Autumn and you can be in touch with them before arriving through the Student Linkup app. Churches will message and connect, offer to take you for coffee and give you a chance to ask questions or meet virtually - whatever will best serve you in being supported and encouraged as you start this new adventure of uni life. 

Who could you share this story with today? 

Every week of the academic year, we are are sharing a story of student mission. If you have a story to share, let us know

Pippa Elmes

Head of Partnership

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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