So I found myself sat in this Starbucks in Beirut.
I was with a Muslim family from Syria who had just come out of Aleppo the day before. There were four of them, a Mum and Dad and their two grown up children. Both of the parents used to work at a university, the daughter had just finished her degree and the son was in his 1st year studying medicine.
We were sat around the coffee table in this familiar feeling shopping mall but the stories they were telling were just so unbelievable and so distant from our surroundings. Stories of how they could hear gunshots and the screams of people dying from their living room; stories of how they had lost so many friends to the war; how their professors had been killed for disagreeing with the rebels.
Stories of how their lives had been changed completely by the war and would never be the same again.
After a time, my friends and I asked if we could pray for them but their reply took us aback as they insisted on praying for us as well. So we went around in a circle praying for each other; for safety and guidance; that God would end this war in Syria and would be with all of us and bless us.
It was a surreal but beautiful thing!
This was just one of the many incredible situations I found myself in last summer on my 24-7 Prayer mission team to Lebanon. Those two weeks changed the way I look at so many things: how I see God and his heart for everyone; how much I want to share the love, hope, security and freedom that we have in Christ.
"What is a 24-7 Prayer Mission Team?" you may ask.
Well, 24-7 Prayer, the international prayer, mission and justice movement, sends mission teams out around the world every year! Teams of young people who are up for an adventure with God to travel to the not so typical mission destinations. They go to Ibiza, Iceland, Lebanon, Magalouf, Germany, Ireland, Macedonia and many others all over the world to make a difference and share God's heart.
And so this is the challenge to you and to your students: join us. Step out of your comfort zone, share your faith and carry God's presence into the dark places. It’s a great opportunity to support local communities and to learn about yourself, the world and the ways God work - lessons your students can bring back to their uni, their campus and their friends.
One of the fun things about God is that he seems to use us most when we're out of our comfort zones and have to rely on him more than ever before. Are you ready for a challenge? Are your students ready?
Come and join us!