Palmy is still Palmy. It’s never too hot, never too cold. It just is. But even though the weather and the city are not that exciting, students do a great job making opportunities to share Jesus with their friends.
Our focus this year has been helping students encounter Jesus through the Bible. Some of that has been through events like OCF’s Christmas in July and MUCF’s Sports Night, where we’ve built relationships with the hope of seeing our friends come to know Jesus through what is said about him.
The weekly Bible studies and discussions have also been a place where we have welcomed students from all different backgrounds and been able to explore who this Jesus guy is and why he came.
This year the Palmy students have also worked hard at inviting their friends to explore who Jesus is through the book of Luke. This has been exciting, both seeing students being bold and also seeing people come to meet Jesus for the first time. We’ve also been privileged to have Robert Clow working one day a week on campus, pictured here in the red jumper. Robert is interning with a local church. He has been meeting with some non-Christian students on campus; here is how he met one of them:
The temperature hadn’t yet reached double digits, but the six of us from the Massey University Christian Fellowship were handing out hot chocolates to the students to make their morning a little more bearable. We want to serve and build relationships with students, and through these relationships share the good news of Christ. That is how I met a Japanese exchange student who knew very little about Christianity but wanted to know more. What started as small talk about how he is finding New Zealand turned to Christ and his interest in meeting up to read through the Bible together.
Through the time getting to know him and reading the Bible together, I have learnt that:
1. People are often not against discussing religion, though we assume they are.
People are far more open to discussing Christianity if we are on campus with the intention of serving and building relationships. Everyone has an opinion on religion, and our role isn’t to argue them into the Kingdom of God. Rather, out of love and compassion, we show them the gospel and how it has impacted our lives. By just going out and connecting, God opens up opportunities for us to weave the gospel message into our conversations.
2. Relationships are key to effectively present the gospel.
Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences with Christianity. This was especially true in the Japanese student’s case. Yes, there is one gospel, but there are countless ways of presenting it. Regurgitating a prescribed message will not work. Getting to know him and understanding cultural differences allowed me to present the gospel so that he could best understand it. I emphasised how Christianity isn’t just a Western religion confined to a particular culture. Christ is universal. He breaks through cultural divides. Being a Christian didn’t require this student to forsake his Japanese identity.
3. Evangelism forces me to know the gospel inside and out.
Reading the Bible with a non-Christian is daunting. I had to define sin, the Trinity, and how Christ is fully God and yet fully man. Going through Luke with him forced me to understand the gospel in all of its complexities and to explain it in ways he could understand.
When we get out of our comfort zone, God grows us spiritually. Our time together has been a steep learning curve. I am excited about what God has planned for MUCF and OCF for the rest of the year.