Little did I know what putting up posters around campus would lead to. In October 2015 I started a group for Christian students and inquirers at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in Tauranga. Since then it has been renamed Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (merging with Rotorua’s Waiariki Institute of Technology) and I’ve left its employment to begin serving with TSCF.
By the time you read this, we will have held TSCF’s first Celebrate Bay of Plenty event. It’s time to reflect and take stock.
The parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32) comes to mind—a silent, almost unnoticed growth has been going on. God’s kingdom grows from insignificant beginnings into something incredibly significant. I saw it happen when I was a student with TSCF, and I’m filled with hope that it will happen again, blessing the campus community, changing students for life, having eternal consequences.
The Tauranga group began with a handful of students in late 2015. Since then, through campus posters, orientation stalls, Facebook groups, social events and—primarily—through word of mouth, it has grown. This work is all about relationships. The opportunity to come alongside and encourage students, to help them worship and serve Jesus with greater abandon, is precious. And they replicate this in other students’ lives.
At the Tauranga campus, we meet weekly to read, discuss and apply the scriptures. This year, we’ve used the Swedish method to study Luke’s gospel. We also pray for opportunities to share Jesus with other students and had an Easter outreach.
In July, we began connecting with students at Toi Ohomai’s Mokoia campus in Rotorua with the aim of pioneering a campus group next year.
There’s been collaboration too across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. Students from both regions attended Launch in Tauranga to start the year, and they have headed to national conferences together over the past two years. These have introduced students to the national TSCF movement and inspired them to develop a vibrant campus group.
Toi Ohomai means “to aspire to reach great heights.” Students have faith that their pioneering work will also reach great heights. Please pray with us that this will happen across the Bay of Plenty, and that we’ll be joined by new staff and Minterns.
Dave Hodgkinson is the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Team Leader.