Last September I started university, studying at the best institution of higher education in the country. (In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m referring to the University of Birmingham.) So, what is it like to share my faith in a uni environment? Well I have quickly realised that there’s far more to it than I would be able to cover in one post (although if anyone who is reading this is in the publishing business, feel free to drop me an email about a book deal or something — I guarantee I’ll make you a fortune).
The vast majority of my friends at uni don’t go to church or have any connection with Christianity at all. But what I have found out from the past five months or so of getting to know them, is that a lot of them have deep questions about life. Yet church isn’t necessarily the first place they would naturally turn to seek answers.
In my opinion, Christianity has a bit of a PR problem amongst younger people. In a lot of people’s minds, church is boring and Christians are judgmental. What’s worse is that — in some respects — I kind of see their point.
But what I’ve found is that the best way to tell people about Jesus in this setting isn’t by saying very much. Actually what’s been really helpful has been simply being… normal. Just being myself. Not only has it helped break those stereotypes, it’s also showed my friends a little bit of the love of Jesus in the way that I live my life. It intrigued them. St Francis of Assisi said “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words”. I know it’s a very clichéd Christian quote but it’s true. People see more of Jesus through the way we live our lives than in the words that we say. Ultimately talk is cheap, yet clearly if this whole ‘God thing’ is real then you would expect to see something different and attractive about the guys who followed him, wouldn’t you?
In my first week at uni, I met (my now good friend) Lizzie in a club. She was a Christian too and we started going to an awesome church called Gas Street together and ended up becoming part of the same friendship group. Over time, other people at uni became interested in why we were a little bit different in terms of what we did on Sunday evenings, and at the same time how we were incredibly normal people. (Actually that’s a lie, Lizzie is absolutely crazy, but you get my point). Gradually more people started joining us on Sundays, until last week we had a group of nine come to church with us; a mix of Christians, Muslims, atheists and everything in between. It’s mad! People are genuinely asking us when they can come to church with us, and two of them became Christians last week!! I can’t quite explain it properly. God is doing an amazing thing and I get the privilege of being a part of it and taking all of the credit. (That’s a joke, it’s all him!)
The point is this, when people see a bit of Jesus through the way you live instead of just the words you say, then amazing things can happen.
Sam spent two years doing both the Soul 61 leadership course at Soul Survivor Watford and the New Wine Discipleship Year at St Paul’s Ealing, and is now at the University of Birmingham studying History and Theology. He likes anything to do with football or basically any sport, and is also a keen but untalented drummer.
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