UPDATE: Mission Week at Five Canadian Universities
Posted by RZIM Canada on January 18, 2017
Topic: University Missions
This week, RZIM Canada launched it’s most ambitious university mission week ever. Since Monday, our team has hosted almost 40 planned events between University of Toronto, McGill University, and Queen’s, with more scheduled for Guelph and McMaster. That’s five campuses in five days, engaging thousands of university students. Over the past four days, our team has introduced and discussed the gospel at lunchtime talks, workshops, and evening sessions. Each event is specifically designed to engage and inspire dialogue around issues of the day in order to help remove barriers to faith.
Monday night, around 300 students attended a debate at the University of Toronto between Christian Andy Bannister and atheist Ronald de Sousa, which included a Q&A from the audience. The event was co-hosted by the University of Toronto Secular Alliance and Christian ministry Power 2 Change. We had the chance to speak with two members of the Secular Alliance. Watch their interview below or click here to watch it on Facebook.
Meanwhile, at McGill University in Montreal, just under 300 students attended a dialogue between Rabbi Mark Fishman with student organization Hillel McGill, Imam Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa with the Muslim Student’s Association, and RZIM author and speaker Abdu Murray, a former Muslim. Abdu held an impromptu conversion with members of the Muslim Student Alliance after the event:
We also interviewed students to see what they thought after a talk on sexuality and love,”Uncovering Love: A Conversation Between a Christian Pastor and Queer McGill On Same Sex Relationships” with RZIM’s Sam Allberry, including an interview with Michelle Li, Administrative Coordinator for Queer McGill:
For more video coverage throughout the week, click here.
The Q&A panel discussions following each of the talks have been thought-provoking and engaging. Students are invited to text in their questions anonymously, are welcome to ask in front of their peers with a microphone or can dialogue with the speakers individually following the event. Specifically in Michelle Tepper’s talk on “Why Would God Judge Me?” students asked questions such as “are all sins equal in God’s eyes?”, “how do you reconcile violence and love in the bible?” and “how do we love God?” After each event concluded, students have been remaining in the room and deeply engaged in conversations with their peers – and with speakers – reflecting on the talk and their personal responses to the event.
After their Q&A panel on “Is God Against My Freedom?” Michelle Tepper and Andy Bannister spoke for an hour to three active members of secular society at the University of Toronto. Michelle and Andy challenged them to restart this week with considering Jesus in the context of the questions from the panel. The three students admitted that if what they believe is true, it’s creating a “lost generation” that they identify being a part of.
“I think a lot of people feel, but don’t really know about the apathy this culture has for the church. I really believe it is at a different level in Canada. It’s not that people necessarily have contempt for the Church, they just don’t really care. Canadians tend to prioritize harmony over truth. We would rather privately disagree and get along than risk sharing a belief, true or not, that may make others uncomfortable. You might work beside someone for a decade, know their family, personal, and professional lives in detail- but still have no idea what they think about Jesus,” Pak said. “You see it in terms of your colleagues at work, in terms of the students at schools, and very much so at the University of Toronto as one of the imminent academic institutions in the country.”
Speaking to the importance of RZIM Canada’s presence on Canadian universities, and at the University of Toronto specifically, Pak said, “This is where the whole world comes. [University of Toronto] is where some of the elite of Canada go. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. This is one of the most prestigious universities in terms of its rankings in the country. So, you mix all that together, and you have such a massive opportunity for the Gospel to be spoken at a place like this. The whole world is coming here.”