National training event is an opportunity for Christian student University groups from all over the country to get together and be trained in gospel proclamation and mission. This year’s theme was all things new – as described in Revelation. The main evening talks were centred on this, but what I loved most was how well they informed our strand group time.
Strand groups are more personal training groups, they’re made up of about 10 students from around the country and two leaders (AFES or Bible college students or pastors who’ve volunteered their time). Strand one is for first timers to NTE, strand two for second timers, and so on. This year Angas and I lead strand three on resurrection. As a group we undertook a Biblical theology of resurrection. This encompassed Jewish ideas of a general resurrection, prophecies that the Messiah would rise from the dead, Jesus resurrection, receiving life in Jesus now and physical resurrection from the dead for those who are in Jesus, and what this means for us – those in Jesus, and those not in Jesus.
I loved this, it was a joy to prepare for and to delve into with our strand group. I so enjoyed reading and discussing the truth of who Jesus is, what he has done, and what that means for us now and in the future. I relished the time I got to wallow in this goodness of our God and see students discovering the greatness of Jesus and the depth of life in Him.
Our group, picture just below, were so eager to know God more. It was a real privilege and a lot of fun to spend the week with them. Our time culminates with students preparing a 10 minute talk or talking points for conversation so that they are prepared to teach or share what resurrection is. It was astounding how good these talks and talking points were. Not because we expected the talks/talking points to be poor, but because of how clear and meaningful they were. I was struck that these students were in love with Jesus and already how keen they were to share Him. I was struck that God was already and will use them for His kingdom in such mighty ways. Not only is this true of our strand group, but the thousands of other students at NTE (its so good I’m getting a bit teary writing this, what a good God we serve that He would chose to involve us in His plan for the world).
We also got to hang out with students from Swinburne. The strand group structure at NTE means we are training in students from other uni’s and our students are trained by staff from other Uni’s. I think this is really valuable, sometimes it takes a different person, a different perspective to lead to new growth or better understanding a concept. This allows us to spend time just getting to know our students and to be sounding boards for things they are learning during the week. Below are some photos of time spent hanging out with our students followed by some from official NTE photographers so you can get a feel for the event.Main sessions
This last one is students writing letters to people in ministry all over the world.
This year at NTE (national training event where CUs from all over Australia come together in Canberra) we’re leading Strand 3, where students look at the the resurrection and prepare a short talk on it using systematic theology. In preparation we’ve been spending the majority of our time reading all the Bible passages we can find regarding the resurrection (both Jesus’ resurrection and the general resurrection). It’s been really time consuming but so filling and convicting. Please pray that our preparation would be really useful to our strand group, that we would teach well because we ourselves know the truth of what we are sharing but mostly that the Holy Spirit would be at work in the students, so that they would be alive because they are united to Jesus.
“having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
My traineeship (scheduled to finish middle of next year) has involved a discernment process. Discernment about what form ministry will take in my life going forward and what is the next step. These has been both hard and really enjoyable. I feel God’s been teaching me how to better trust that I am his, he’s got me and will use me in more real ways that before.
A few weeks back we had some training in overseas mission (spoiler: I don’t think God is calling me to other country as a missionary at this point in my life). Our trainer shared that of the hundreds of people, couples and families that come through their mission agency preparing to do overseas mission, very very few of them know specifically where God wants them to go in the world. They are willing and go through a discernment process to discover whether they are well suited to overseas mission, where there is need and where they will best fit. This really encouraged me. Though my discernment processes at this point hasn’t lead to overseas mission it still reminded me that God doesn’t have to speak from the sky for you to be sure of where you are going.
I’ve already chosen Jesus, and I’m going to keep choosing Him, that’s the main decision. For a few weeks now I’ve been sitting in peace about what it next after my traineeship, you can praise God for that 🙂 However, I’m yet to figure out what this looks like practically. I want to keep giving everything over to our good God and continuing to trust him in the big picture and small things. I’d love you to pray for me in this.
At Swinburne the semester is over, students are now studying for exams. The end of semester marks the beginning of planning for next semester.
As a staff team we’ve started to think about ways we can create time and space for students to try out different evangelism strategies. In week 11 we had a forum with students where we chatted about who we want to be as a group into the future and in week 12 the student body elected the 2017 student committee.
As we look to next semester please be praying that we’d be in tune with what God has in store for us as a group, that we’d be unified in Jesus and spurred on by the goal of more people knowing Him. Thank you 🙂
I loved seeing what God was doing in and through Emma while she was at Swinburne. I asked her to share how Christian Union was involved in this. Here’s what she had to say. 🙂
“I began attending Swinburne CU regularly in the final year of my degree after over a year of struggling in my personal life and my faith in God. I was fragile, broken and trying to navigate university life feeling distant from God and distant from people. I had not forged any friendships on campus and felt isolated, I noticed that I did not fit in to university subcultures and I was empty.
I decided in my final year that I wanted to draw near to God again, I wanted to know Him and I wanted everyone else to know of His goodness. In the most incredible way CU encouraged me in every way to do this. I reconnected with Angas, we caught up for a coffee and I felt God beginning to reignite dreams and passions for evangelism and apologetics that I had discarded. In my core group with Meredith I remember knowing that I had found the place I was so desperately longing for during the first few years I was at Swinburne. I didn’t waste any time and sought to know God so much more deeply and personally, it drove me to do things, cool things but also crazy things like reading my bible every day on the way to university because I became so hungry for knowing the heart of God. I was also so encouraged by the faith of the other young people in CU that I started to become bold about the things of God and it made me fearless. Fearless in the face of all sort of situations that should have made me terrified and would have previously ran far away from, like sharing my faith in my classes with the professors, with everyone. I will use one illustration, only to highlight how awesome God is and how he can plant a seed with whatever we do for His glory. In one of my Philosophy classes we regularly discussed deep existential questions and it quickly became apparent that I was not like everyone else. Things became a little more tricky when the professor would ask questions about social issues (such as gay marriage) I answered these questions with love and honesty. I would always speak with those in my core group and ask for them to pray and they did, I prayed for them too. During the final philosophy class of semester a young woman approached me, we had not regularly spoken but what she said was such an encouragement. She asked me if I was a Christian and said she had noticed my beliefs were very different to that of most of the class, she then said she wanted to thank me because she didn’t know their were Christians like me. God moved in my heart as I aligned myself with his word, as I was encouraged in my walk with God through regular support and love particularly with Meredith and I am so thankful for that love and kindness. CU changed my university experience, it enabled me to draw near to God in a new way, it enabled me to find meaningful, purposeful and loving friendships and it became a place where God showed me who I am and how I can live that out and I am so thankful for it. I would encourage everyone to get behind this ministry, God is working so powerfully in and through it.”
I central aspect of my traineeship is growing in my relationship with God, my ministry skills and discovering what form ministry will take for me into the future. Recently God’s given me peace and excitement for what is in store. I’d love you to pray that God would continue speaking into my life, to discern how to best build his kingdom.
Part of my job at Christian Union is to lead core groups, like small groups or Bible studies. However, this role isn’t exclusive to staff, we also train some of our students to lead in this way. Each Thursday core group leaders get together, and Angas our campus director, leads all the core group leaders in a core group following which we prepare for each of our core groups together.
I’ve been really enjoying this time for several reasons. We’ve been looking at 2 Corinthians together, this book talks a lot about why it’s worth suffering for Jesus and the gospel, which so encouraging for me and I like the opportunity to learn alongside our students. I also get to see how someone more experienced than me leads students in reading and applying the Bible in a group setting.
This was our first core group leaders meeting where we chatted about what we want core groups to look like, their purpose and how they are integral to what we do at CU as they allow more people than the staff can reached to be known, loved, challenged and encouraged. We usually work in a room with a white board to pull the passage apart.