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CLAIRE BROWN’s REPORT CELEBRATION OF PARTNERSHIP UNCUT - STUDENT INTERVIEW PRAYER AND WHAT’S COMING UP
At our recent team weekend, we took time to look back and be thankful for the way in which God has blessed the ministry of Festive in the last five and half years. Quantifying the work of Festive can be hard, but we found reviewing some facts and stats encouraging, re-energising and challenging. We hope they do the same for you. In England alone, almost 79% of 16-18 year olds choose to continue their education at school or college (Association of Colleges). There are currently 407 Further Education Colleges in the UK spread over many campuses; add to these the numerous school based sixth forms and you have a huge mission field! We are encouraged that for September 2012 – January 2013 Festive had direct contact with 76 sixth forms or colleges in the UK, 74 in England or Wales. Praise God for the practical and prayerful support we have been able to offer in these situations.
‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’. Colossians 3: 17
in the 7 weeks it was online. We are also thankful for the 822 individual visitors to our website last term, and pray they will have found their visit helpful, whether they are a student or a supporter of the work.
Comparison of Number of Downloads in Term 1 of 2011 and 2012
Do join us in giving thanks to God for the many opportunities over the last five years. As a team, we’d like to thank you - our supporters. Without your generous financial, practical and prayerful support, we would not have been able to do the work that has led to such encouraging outcomes. As we look ahead, let’s continue to pray that we see a vibrant Christian presence in an increasing number of colleges and sixth forms. Claire Brown Admin Assistant
Our online resources are a valuable tool for many students in running CUs; between September and December 2012, 4699 student resources were downloaded from our website. Our handy term planner proved very popular at 141 downloads and ‘Ten Ideas for Christmas’ was downloaded an amazing 191 times
CELEBRATION OF PARTNERSHIP By Bob Dawson
When I studied at Durham in the 1970s I was aware of a handful of international students scattered across the university. Initially international students were mostly present in higher education with numbers rising decade on decade to the present figures of just under 300,000 undergraduates and another 300,000 postgraduates, not to mention 400,000 English language students, an study in the FE sector. increasing number of whom stu Friends Fr International exists to support the local ex church in welcoming ch these students, so it th is no surprise that it has ha begun to consider ways wa to work with the significant numbers of international students in both independent education and the FE sector. Recently I met with Toni Coulton to explore whether Friends International in partnership with Festive could combine limited resources, and be more proactive in reaching out to international students in the FE sector. This seems a great idea but we still need to work out how it might be expressed. It should be made easier as we are both in the business of partnering, as far as possible, with local churches, equipping volunteers, etc. The reasons are essentially the same as the reasons for reaching international students in higher education: each human being needs to hear the gospel; we have a unique opportunity to reach students here,
02 Director of Ministries: Friends International www.friendsinternational.org.uk
e’ whereas ‘over there’ ult it may be difficult es and sometimes % impossible; 80% he of people in the me western world come he to faith under the me age of 30; some d ti l opportunity t it andd students because off educational qualifications will become leaders in society back home; and some international students in FE will progress onto university as well. So what might an expression of partnership between Friends International and Festive look like? So far we have created a link through the Friends International Affiliates scheme. This means that Cathy Williams, already involved in Festive, is also an Affiliate with us in Friends International. Practically this means that Cathy is a communication and resource link in both directions. With access to Friends International, Cathy can make our experience and resources available to those working in the FE sector. In return, she can bring to eness of the challenges Friends International an awareness and opportunities of witness to international students in the FE ay sector. Together we can pray and work to bring the Gospel of ly the Lord Jesus more effectively he to even more newcomers to the UK.
True Story from an FE College this year. (Names and places have been withheld for obvious reasons.)
Imagine living in a country where you can’t openly find out about Jesus because it would put your family in danger. Then the opportunity comes to study in a Christian country – the UK - and someone says: “Look for the Christian Union”. Brilliant if you are off to university, but it could be tough if you end up in an FE college. God is good and this student did go to a college with a CU. Now picture the CU. In walks an Asian student who asks, “How can I follow Jesus?” Whilst this is what we all dream of, are we in the west ready to answer such a direct question on a first meeting? Praise God this CU was ready and the student is now a growing disciple of Jesus linked to a local church. But much prayer is still needed as the student’s family holds the purse strings and it is far from pleased with these developments….
UNCUT - STUDENT INTERVIEW
(For obvious reasons the name of the student and college has been witheld.)
Can you give us a bit of information about yourself? I am currently in my last year studying the Uniformed Services course, hoping to join the Prison Service some day. What about the college you study at? It’s a big college, consisting of around 5000 people I think, all doing various BTEC courses in different areas on the campus and all coming in on different days. I go in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for example. Some would say it’s not the nicest environment to be in (which to some extent I agree with) as it’s easy to get in with some bad people who aren’t particularly bothered with their education but have gone there because they have to. I have heard it called ‘Reject Central’, which makes me laugh but also makes me very annoyed because it’s served me very well with my course. What are the some of the students who have to be there like? There’s a lot of negative stuff going on in their lives; drugs and violence are big ones. Just recently three people (one I know) were arrested for assault and carrying a lethal weapon. How does this environment affect you as a Christian? As much as I enjoy what we do (for the most part) I also struggle. I mainly struggle with rebuke from my peers. Some harmless banter, but other times they don’t know where to draw the line. I find myself everyday near enough having to defend my Lord and Saviour and my faith, which I do enjoy doing, and I believe it makes a big impact if you can do so with a
compassionate heart as Christ did. But it does start to wear you down.
Is there a Christian Union at the College? As you can imagine, being in such an environment is tough as a Christian and it would be extremely difficult to set up a CU. At the moment I’m unaware of any other fellow Christians around, and am certain there are no others out of the 300 or so of us on my course. There was once a CU that tried to get off the ground but the guy who was trying to start it struggled because of lack of support and logistics (people coming in on different days, different courses, different break times, etc.), and he said he didn’t know where he stood with the faith any more too. What are your plans? As much as I’d love to start a CU I’ve decided that I have too little time - as in time on campus and available time because of pressure of work. So I’m just carrying on talking about the faith in casual convos with peers! It’s going well though otherwise; people learn to respect you after a while, and after they see you ain’t backing down. How can Festive help further? Just prayers and advice would be much appreciated! I would love to see some of the guys on my course change and want to know Jesus - and the faster the better really as I’m only there until about June/July time. Anything else you’d like to say? Please feel free to use my story! That’s great you came to me. I ain’t a private person: only publish it if it’s useful and encouraging/helpful to some people. Hope it all goes well!
Director’s comment: Well done to this student for being faithful in such a tough environment. Come on everyone tely committed to - get praying for him and his course mates. Stories like this show why we at Festive are passionately seeing the church get behind these young ‘Ambassadors’ in support and prayer. It also shows how w lonely it can be and what a benefit a CU is. Again it shows why Festive is convinced these groups ps need all the support we can give them so they stay the course and the leaders do not struggle too oo much.There is also a note that time is short and we need to help students to hit the ground running ng when they start at college and get stuck in right from the start. Not at all easy but with God nothing ng is impossible and support along the way really helps.
PRAYER AND WHAT’S COMING UP
If statistics excite you, you will have already given thanks to God when you looked at the front page. If not, then now is the time to thank Him for all the growth in the contacts Festive has had, and the service we have been able to provide.
In January we prayed for… Team Weekend – We left with our heads reeling from all the information we shared. We are thankful that God has really blessed the ministry and it was so encouraging to hear of growth and think through future development. UNITE (Youth Conference) – 169 young people attended this event and we received some great feedback for Amy’s workshop on stepping up for Jesus – Thank you Lord! Cover for Maternity Leave – We are half way there! Cathy Williams, who is featured in our newsletter as the Friends International link, will take on the core response part of the work. What a great provision from God.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS Partnerships Friends International – Please pray for both organisations as we work together in the future. Scripture Union – Thank God for their prayerfulness for our work, their fellowship in inviting us to their days away and their public support for what we are doing.
Other Themes from this Newsletter Students who stand for their faith at College and are subjected to everything from ’harmless banter’ from their peers to outright ridicule in class from their lecturers. Students who lead CUs that they may walk well with God, remembering they are in the front line of a spiritual battle. Remember too staff and chaplains and the pressures they are under – especially in matters of faith and belief. International students studying in our schools and colleges and especially those from backgrounds where the Gospel is not openly shared.
COMING UP... Karen is taking part in a youth leaders’ training day at All Saints Riseley on Saturday 23rd February
Growing you ng disciples 201 2/13 for
h and children’s
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Exhibiting: ‘Growing Young Disciples’ Youth Leader Training March 2nd (Rugby)
VENUES “Really helpful and totally relevant to my work” “Down to earth, but so inspirin g” “Great ideas, great variety. Brillian t”
SOUTHAMPT ON: Saturd rday 13th Octob
Above Bar Church
er 10aam– m–4.30
LONDON: Saturd rday 24th Novem
All Souls Langh
RUGBY: Saturd rday 2nd March
ber 10 0–4.30pm
2013 3 10 0am–4.30pm pm m
10 practical workshops to choose from!
Bible by the Beach May 3rd – 6th (Eastbourne)
Andrew Pag e
author: The Mark Experim ent GYD 2012 flyer
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Christian Resources Exhibition May 14th – 17th (Esher). Do pray for us, but also come and see us. (And get your free event tickets to the Christian Resources Exhibition via us!)