Expanding Reach and Impact on University Campuses in 2019
Posted by on November 22, 2018
Written by Logan Gates
“I know that God is loving, but what I can’t believe is that God would love me.” These were the words of a young man named Bryan* at the University of Alberta, as we sat together for breakfast in a café on the edge of campus. Bryan had attended a dialogue the evening before on “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” This session was part of the RZIM university mission week, “ReThink.” After the event, Bryan and I spoke late into the night. His questions at first were lofty and hypothetical, but as the hours passed, they became more personal and more sincere. Bryan had walked away from his faith years ago, but saw himself now on a journey back to God. He hadn’t expected that the turning point would come from the woman he was dating, whose bleak outlook on life as an atheist led Bryan to think there must be something more.
We agreed to meet for breakfast the following day, along with a staff worker from the local campus ministry. In the morning, in a cafe on the edge of campus, Bryan poured out his heart to us that morning. The message he had heard the night before, of a God who loved him even in his sin and had laid down his life for him on the cross, struck something deep within him. He explained, “I have more money than I know what to do with. My life is going fine.” But his eyes grew watery and he struggled for words, as he wondered, “how could it be that God was not only loving, but that He actually loved him?”. I had the chance to pray for Bryan that morning, that he would receive God’s love, freely offered on the cross, and enter into a relationship with Him.
Available on University missions are full of stories like Bryan’s. For one week, RZIM speakers travel from across the globe to come alongside Christian ministries on campus and present the gospel in a way that speaks to the deepest questions university students are asking. Each day features two or three talks, themed around a different tough question, such as, “Has science buried God?”, “Why would a loving God judge me?”, and “Where is God when life hurts?”. In each talk, the gospel is presented and students have the chance to respond to the invitation of Christ and start a relationship with God. Each talk is followed by an open time of Q&A, where no question is off-limits. However, the greatest impact often comes in the conversations that happen afterwards. Our speaking team is on-call all week, available to grab a coffee with students, like Bryan, who want to speak further. By God’s grace, on each university mission we see students come to faith in Christ, and many more sign-up to join courses like Alpha, to continue exploring the Christian faith after the mission week has ended.
This past year, we had the privilege of leading mission weeks at three major Canadian universities. In the year to come, we’re excited to say we’ll be expanding from three universities to five! Between November to January, our speaking team will be literally crossing the country for university missions, from Montreal to Calgary, Ottawa to Edmonton. We began university missions in Canada three years ago at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto, with little more than a big idea and a lot of prayer. As the stories of what God has done on these campuses have spread across the country, so have the invitations for us to partner with more universities. We are humbled by the opportunities that we have to reach students who will become the future leaders of our country with the good news of Jesus.
Thank you for your partnership and prayers that make these university missions a reality. I know for myself and many on the global speaking team, these missions are some of the highlights of the year. It is a privilege to engage with students at this crucial and unique time in their lives, when they’re working out who they’re going to be and what they’re going to do. What joy there is among our team and in heaven above, seeing young people like Bryan encounter God for themselves and discover the wondrous love that He offers us in Christ.