Winning at Life on Campus
By Clare Potter
How do you tell students who have just rocked up to university about Jesus? Over the years, Agapé UK teams up and down the country have been coming up with great ideas to help Freshers discover Jesus even in their first few weeks on campus.
At Newcastle University, the team offered students a chance to win a moral dilemma: Streets vs Beats (a variation on the Goat vs iPod competition). The winner got to choose between a donation to a local homeless charity and a pair of Dr Dre Beats Headphones, but the process of engaging in the competition led many to think about what they really want in life, and also to many meaningful conversations.
At the University of Birmingham, the team gave out free sweets, pens and trolley coins from a wheelbarrow, which helped to grow connections with students and then invited them to their weekly community nights. President Kate Newton said:
“God was clearly at work. We shared with many people about what we do, invited them to our events and had some great conversations!”
Birmingham and Oxford ran a poll at their Freshers’ Fairs asking, ‘Is God Real?’ At Oxford, 1,000 students entered the poll in total with some interesting results:
Definitely – 340,
Probably – 153
Not Sure: 231
Probably Not – 333
Definitely Not – 233
Don’t Care – 103
In addition to gaining an insight into the thoughts of students, the poll created opportunities for many interesting spiritual discussions.
In London the team hosted a BBQ social and a football event, which enabled them to build relationships with students and form new contacts, whilst also serving the university.
Nottingham ran an event called Drunk Decisions, in which staff members Ben Evans and Jonny Staton shared their alcohol-themed stories of how they came to know Jesus personally.
Oliver Gillespie, a student at the University of Nottingham, describes his experience of the Freshers’ fair: “It was exhausting, particularly when we had to compete for attention against companies giving out free vouchers and delicious pizza! Yet we had something far greater to offer: the opportunity to know Jesus Christ. This kept us going. The results of our efforts are in God’s capable hands. We are hopeful.”