Minister's Message Spring 2019 

Minister’s Message Spring 2019
Once again, it has been my great privilege to be a 'College Guest' at the Cambridge University mission week. It's a tremendously busy, tremendously exhausting and tremendously wonderful week! The purpose of such weeks is always the same: to pro-claim the Good News and to see people coming to Faith and being discipled as Christians. The structure of the week is also regularly repeated: 'main speakers' and their teams are invited to lead lunchtime and evening talks. The events include a warm welcome, question and answer sessions, food and follow-up - usually in the form of discussion groups. Heavy emphasis is placed on encouraging a response from folks who come along to find out more about the Christian Faith. Typically, attendees are invited to fill out a comments card and to tick a box that says either, 'Count me in' or 'Tell me more'. All the responses are passed to the relevant college Christian Union (CU) so that contact can be made to arrange a coffee and a further chat.
College Guests are put to work supporting each college CU in the build up to the mission week and throughout the week itself. This role might well involve meeting with students who have filled out a response card. The role always involves convening a daily, early morning prayer meeting, coordinating the outreach efforts of the CU, attending all the 'main' events and lots of inventive 'street' outreach. This year, for example, we tried standing outside with a big display unit. Written on all four sides of the unit were various contentious quotes and ideas, all of which linked to the theme of the day, in some way or other. Passing students were asked to write down their thoughts and reflections about the quotes. This gave an opportunity to engage them in conversation and invite them to a talk on a topic that they were already demonstrating some interest in. It was a successful tactic and plenty accepted our invitations. The tactic of offering a free meal to accompany the talk was also quite successful in bringing students to the gath-erings!
For me, the entire experience was a joy. I was based at Pembroke College:
• My friendship with the CU members began at Christmastime. We started to meet for coffee and conversations. We also attended the carol services together and spent time in the Junior Common Room afterwards, meeting people and chatting about the services.
• When the mission week itself began, I spent a precious hour of prayer with CU at the start of each day. As the week progressed, we wrote a long list of Pembroke students who had been attending talks or who had been affected by the mission in other ways. We committed to praying for about five different students each, to cov-er the 46 on our list. As an aide-memoire, we each made a brace-let with the initials of the folks we'd agreed to pray for. We all end-ed up carrying a kind of 'evangelistic rosary'. I still have mine wrapped around my notebook!
• I ate my meals at 'The Trough' - Pembroke's dining hall. The CU members and I were tactical about where we sat. This led to lots of conversations and all if these were focused on the Lord and His astoundingly gracious salvation. One student explained to me that he'd have to go to a meeting and cut out conversation short. The Lord had other plans. Instead of leaving, he called the friend he was meeting and asked him to join us in exploring the Faith!
All of the College Guests had a daily meeting, too. This meeting was hot on the heels of morning prayers. The Guests had come from all around the world. These meetings were a time of laughter, fellowship, mutual encouragement and much, much prayer.
As my third Cambridge University mission week drew to a close, I felt very privileged to have been a part of it all. The Pembroke CU kindly invited me to a formal dinner on the last Sunday evening. We sat together, reminisced about the week, laughed and, most importantly, prayed and thanked the Lord.
Jim East