Transition: Mission Weeks

PlymCUMission weeks or events week are where the CU puts on a week of events that give everyone on campus the opportunity to hear about Jesus. It is an intense week. You spend most of the year planning for it, making sure you have speakers, venues, themes, talk titles and fliers.

I think I have been involved in about 12 mission weeks since being a student. This includes going as a student, staff worker and going along as a guest to a mission week in another Uni. It is a hard week and you end up really tired but it is totally worth it. Here are some reasons why I love it:

  • Seeing students really step out in faith and invite their friends along to hear about Jesus
  • Hearing great talks from mission speakers
  • Meeting to pray every morning and seeing prayers answered
  • Seeing students accept Jesus for the first time
  • Reaching people who may of never have come across a Christian or CU or church before
  • The energy from the students
  • The way the students work together in unity to achieve a week of events
  • Watching things go wrong but then discover that the Lord has used it for good
  • Fliering in the rain… (ok that isn’t one of my favourites…)

I think University provides a great platform for events week and it has been wonderful to be a part of these weeks. I remember it was during a mission week that I led a student to Christ – it was amazing and such an exciting time. I learnt so much through that.

It is strange to think that I won’t really be a part of that process any more, but it is probably a good thing as I don’t think that kind of pattern of ministry is sustainable for the whole life of the church. The model works well at University where terms are short, it’s a quick fire paced life and people are living in very close quarters.

But church is a much slower pace, inviting people in from all walks of life and backgrounds, different situations and questions. The whole CU model of mission couldn’t be mapped on to church life, some of it would, but not all of it and I am looking forward to a different pace of life, with different people, rhythms and questions.

I have learnt so much through mission weeks and I have seen the goodness of the Lord where he has sustained me and provided when we have been in need. If you ever get a chance to be a guest in one, then do – it will open your eyes to some exciting student mission that the CU’s are doing across the UK and the world!

Transition: Coffee, Study and Books

biblereadingWhat does a staff worker do all day?

Drink Coffee.
Study the bible with students (Christian and those seeking)
And read copious amounts of books…

There is more to it then that, but in a tight nutshell, you could boil the years as a staff worker down to those things and throw in the travel that goes between them.

It has been a privilege to have the time and space to do those things. To spend hours preparing a bible study that will help my students gaze upon Jesus. Looking intently at scripture, opening commentaries and praying for insight as we prep notes and ideas to help students engage with the text. I love the fact that my job is to read the bible…

Now drinking coffee is important. It has to be good coffee. It’s the only way to get through the day, especially the afternoon. Coffee shops became my office and my students knew it! If I asked to meet up with them, they knew it was going to be in a certain coffee shop in town… Welcome to my office. It got to the point where I would walk into the coffee shop and they would know my order before I even asked! Coffee is indeed, a pleasing aroma…

I don’t know how many books I have read over the years, but I have a whole bookcase of books that have been generously given to me and most of them I haven’t read yet! But its been wonderful to have the space to sit and read and get into good theological books, making my brain hurt and fuelling good conversations with friends. Some of my favourite books over the years have been:

  • The Good God – Mike Reeves
  • Serving without Sinking – John Hindley
  • A New Name – Emma Scrivener
  • Popologetics – Ted Turnau
  • Desiring the Kingdom – James K A Smith

Wonderful books that have challenged me, shaped me and it was part of my job to read them! Although none of these things need to stop next year, I just wanted to share my appreciation of having this opportunity and also all the free books. Thanks IVP!

 

Transition: Conferences

NWA1I remember my first real conference. A conference where I was a punter but also part of the team. I was a relay worker and was about to embark on a two-week conference. Lanyards were around our necks, instant coffee was steaming in the corner, nervousness was filling the air. Good times.

Conferences are a strange place. People who look like each other gather together to listen to talks and buy books and drink bad coffee. Sometimes people camp together and it nearly always rains.

I haven’t always enjoyed the conferences I have been to over the years, but the Lord has certainly taught me a lot through them. I have met amazing people and I have heard amazing people speak. I remember listening to Mike Reeves talk about the Trinity for the first time at Forum and I thought my world had collapsed. It was amazing.

I have been a part of the team that serves behind the scenes or in yellow jackets telling herding Christians where to sit and being rather surprised by how angry and rude they are when they can’t sit where they want. The heart spills out, eh? I have also been on a planning committee, working out how a conference should fit together, how best to serve the people, how to problem solve and praying that the Lord would change hearts. I learnt that conferences take a lot of time and effort.

I have been a speaker, opening the bible with people and sharing Jesus, doing group work and seminars. Spending months in prep and prayer. I loved having that opportunity.

nextleadersI have loved conferences where I can meet up with fellow staff workers and chat and pray together, sometimes not seeing each other until the next conference which is months away. I love the randomness, the sharing of rooms and the cake eating.

I love it when students come to Forum or ForumSW and they encounter Jesus. They start to see afresh what the CU is about, they start to catch the vision and then they start planning.

Also conferences are a chance to say goodbye. It is currently Relay 3 as I write this and the relay workers are saying goodbye right now. I remember that and the reality of not staying in touch with people afterwards, but glad of the opportunity to say goodbye. On staff we have final team days next week, a time to say goodbye and thank you. It is good to have time and space for that.

Conferences are a strange bubble. I often find it hard being away and being so close to people that you can’t find any time to just be alone. But conferences have been a huge part of my life over these 6 years and I am glad I have been to them. So thank you for that opportunity.

Transition: Where it all Began

It all began 10 years ago.

Stepping onto campus as a fresher, stuffing all my things in my room, putting the pot plants on the side knowing they will die in a few days. Bringing hundreds of pots and pans for cooking like everyone else and trying to work out how it was all going to fit in the kitchen.

Freshers week was a mixture of working out what kind of person I was going to be and how I was going to use this fresh new start.

I had heard of the CU but only through a little leaflet that came in my freshers pack advertising their events. I missed most of their meetings that week. It wasn’t until someone in our halls invited me to the CU meeting on a Thursday night that I actually went along and worked out whether I wanted to be a part of this strange group.

I didn’t know that 10 years later I would have invested my life into campus student ministry. It is crazy to think that. I came to Uni wanting to do a computing degree and get a good job and earn money, but the Lord had other plans.

As I look back on those 10 years its hard to imagine what it would have been like if I never went to that CU meeting – I imagine that life would be very different for me.

It makes me so thankful for my time as a student in CU. Thankful for opportunities to serve on committee, to organise a mission week that gave me a flavour and ideas for reaching the campus.

I am thankful for my staff worker willing to meet up with me and answer all of my questions. I am thankful for the friends I made in CU and on my course. Thankful for those years of forming my theology as a young Christian and placing in my heart a high priority to reach the lost.

I am thankful to my church who loved CU and supported me through my time at Uni. I am thankful for the relay workers who spent time serving us and guiding us. I am thankful for the training I got through UCCF and thankful for the people I met.

I am thankful that my staff worker put me in touch with a geeky guy from Reading who was on committee at the same time as me, which resulted in the geeky guy becoming my husband.

Those 4 years of serving in CU, where it all began, where so formative for me. I made so many mistakes, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and yet I was allowed to have a go and develop skills and convictions and passions.

It was near the end of my degree that I realised I wanted to serve in CU for longer and that led me on to the journey as a relay worker in the UK and then in Peru and then as staff worker in the UK.

I really treasure my time as a student in CU and I know it wasn’t perfect, but the Lord used it to change me and form me and I am thankful for all those that invested in me, helped me, corrected me and walked with me on this journey.

Transition

flowersI am about to enter a huge transition phase of my life. Things for me are changing, two of which are fairly huge – leaving my job and moving house.

Last year a friend of mine did several transition posts which helped her reflect on her time as a UCCF Staff Worker and also process what is happening next. I thought I would do the same. I am going to look at it all in three areas: past, present and future while thinking through some of the highlights and challenges that I have been through and some that I will face in the future.

What Ali wrote in her post was really helpful and I will use that as a template:

Things past….(think back on your time)
What have you done? Who have you met? What are you thankful for? Do you have any regrets? What have you learned? How have you grown and changed personally and spiritually? What have you loved? What have you struggled with?

 Things present…(think about the months left )
What people, places, situations do you need to say goodbye to? Who will you keep in touch with and how? What do you need to hold on to? What do you need to let go of? What will you miss? How are you feeling about leaving?

Things yet to come…(think about life after)
What are the next steps? What do you need to do before then? What things will be different? What will be the same? What are the uncertainties? What are your fears? Hopes?

My hope is that it will help me process and celebrate this transition and it will also give you an insight into the life of a UCCF staff worker as well as help you process things, incase you are also going through a time of change as well.

So over the next few months I will putting these posts up in and around other posts I will be writing. I very much welcome comments as I write these posts. Thank you!