As could be expected, the first week back for the Uni semester was a little chaotic for me. I drove to Sydney 3 times in the space of a week. First to visit with Grandma before she passed away, second for her funeral, and third for an AFES Board meeting. It meant that I spent very little time on the campus and missed out on my first FOCUS meeting for the semester. By the end of last week however, I was starting to get my head around the timetable and get a picture of the things I need to be doing each week to make sure we stay on track.
This past week has been much better. I feel like I’m settling into what will be my normal routine, and I’ve really enjoyed being back on the campus.
Monday afternoon was a little disrupted – I drove to Sydney for an AFES Board meeting. I enjoyed the trip however. It gave me a chance to listen to some talks from the 1979 AFES National Conference by Leon Morris on “Christians and the World”. I found a couple of CD’s that had remastered copies of old AFES national conference talks (1978 and 1979 with Dick Lucas and Leon Morris as the speakers) and took them up for the AFES national office to add to its online library of past talks. The Leon Morris talks were very stimulating and it’s strangely encouraging to hear someone preaching the gospel in a fresh and challenging yet faithful way from the year you were born!!
While in Sydney I was able to spend some valuable time catching up with Con Campbell (a mate and the previous staff worker at UC), it had been several months since we had chatted and the trip would have been worth it just for that. I had dinner with Michael and Julie Morrow, 2 other dear friends, and got to see their gorgeous daughter Alicia who seems to get cuter every time I see her. The AFES meeting went well, there are many things to praise God for in the way he has provided for our movement – both financially and in terms of amazing gospel servants. Apart from the early start on Tuesday to make it back to Canberra in time for work – it was a great trip.
The rest of the week followed the currently normal course. I spent some time catching up 121 with several blokes. I’m finding this really encouraging. Some of the guys and I have been meeting since they were in 1st year – now they are 11 weeks from finishing Uni. It’s brilliant testimony to God’s Spirit at work to see the way he has been working in their lives. I find that I’m learning a great deal and being very encouraged as we read the Bible together.
The highlight of the week, as it soo often is, was the Wednesday – the day when most of our ‘official’ FOCUS activities happen. We have an outreach time in the morning, where we encourage students to come and work a stall and engage people in conversation. Some days in winter it can be very hard work, in the cold, with people hurrying to get to the next class. This Wednesday we had heaps of conversations, and one guy had a great opportunity to share the gospel with a girl who came up to the stall with a lot of questions. We met quite a number of Christian students who are starting this semester.
The main meeting went really well, we had very good numbers of people, many of them new and who we met on the stall. One new girl brought a non-christian friend. We lost our regular meeting room from last semester, which was initially disappointing, however, we have got a team of students who reorganise the new room each week. We clear out the desks and bring the speaker out from behind the giant lecture podium. Everyone sits in a couple of large horseshoes of chairs and there is a much more intimate feel. It also make it more difficult for people to slip in and out without some one talking to them, as everyone tends to sit closer together. There was a great vibe on Wednesday and a lot of the new people commented on how much they enjoyed FOCUS.
The passage for Marcus’ talk was Rom 1:18-32, possibly one of the most difficult passages to hear (even though pretty easy to understand). It’s all about God’s wrath on unrighteous humanity. There was a definite sense of squirming when the passage was read for us. Marcus handled it really well and preached the sinfulness of humans clearly and sorrowfully, but then brought home the glorious news of the gospel strongly. It was a great talk for the start of a semester with new people checking out Christianity. Praise God for his word! The talks should be up on the UC FOCUS website soon.
Next week is our campus mission with John Dickson coming down from Sydney. Details of what is happening and when are all on the UC FOCUS website. Please pray for the students. Nearly all the organisation and planning has been done by the students, and it looks to be a great time. There are some really creative outreach ideas. We just need God’s Spirit to strengthen our hearts and give us the courage to invite people along to events.
This afternoon, I will be running a crash-course in understanding world-views for students who will be running the World View Survey on the campus next week. If you haven’t heard of this tool, its a great resource for encouraging people to think and talk together about what they believe. It was initially created by the UCCF in Britain and should still be available from their website.
My mother and aunt are coming to stay and visit with our Canberra-based family this weekend as well. They are finishing-up dealing with Grandma’s affairs in Sydney and will fly back to Brisbane from here. It will be a busy weekend and week ahead, but much excitement and joy in relationships with each other.
Here’s a passage I’ve read during the week. I’m currently on a joyride through the Minor Prophets (the 12 little guys at the end of the New Testament). I was struck by the beauty of this phrase in Hosea. It speaks of God’s initiative in winning us to himself. It is the greatest comfort when we feel dry and distant in our relationship with God. If you know John Donne’s Holy Sonnet XIV that goes “Batter my heart Three Person’d God” you can see where he gets the imagery.
2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.