A Year Out with UCCF – Part 3 by Joel Clark

What ho everybody! As I have established in my two preceding articles, I shall be embarking upon an internship (or ‘Relay’) with UCCF, a Christian charity which supports Christian Unions all over the country in an effort to give all students an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. I also outlined ways in which you, as my church family could become involved in supporting me, should you be so inclined. If these particular facts appear unfamiliar, please have a peruse of said previous articles for more context.

For this final transmission however, I wish to widen the scope to explore what UCCF- and of course God through them- is doing throughout the nation and Falmouth in particular. As I have said previously, the Christian Union was essential in helping me settle into university and helping me to thrive here. The importance it plays in helping people feel at home therefore, cannot be underestimated.

But of course, as a friend of mine once remarked, the Christian Union is beyond being merely a Christian social club, or a family for for the homesick, something which would make it indistinguishable from a church, which hopefully fulfils that (and indeed much more) much better anyhow. UCCF’s significance is in its missional outreach to students and its passion for sharing the gospel with them.

As a Christian Union, we typically have a packed Fresher’s Week/Fortnight, effectively balancing socials, with talks, ‘church crawls’ and of course, food! We also frequently run free meals and ‘Tea and Toast’ events whereby students emerging from the big university bar parties in the early morning are provided with refreshments to sober them up. This latter event is so significant that a Student Union staff member attributed it as a significant factor for the low assault rate on campus.

All of this is obviously fantastic, but only of any use whatsoever if God is ‘in’ our interactions and reveals Himself to those we meet. Otherwise, a Christian social club is all we could ever be. Fortunately, he does, though often in the quiet, subtle ways. I will never forget an evening during our events week in March. We had an event where only two non-CU members attended, (and even then, one was a Christian and the other a friend of the president) and for me at least, the whole experience was extremely disheartening and even slightly embarrassing. I found out the next day however, just how powerful and emotional the talk had proved to our guests, with one of them even remarking that they felt like the event had been put on specifically for her. God taught me an important lesson that even when we are preoccupied with trivial details like numbers, He sees the bigger picture and ensures that the relevant people are exactly where they need to be. God sometimes works at a micro level, but that can be just as significant as a whole room coming to know Him.

At the end of the week, when feeding back about all the events, I was greatly heartened to just listen to the sheer number of people we had encountered and spoke to that week. Friends of mine have shared the gospel with course mates and as someone who struggles at evangelising, seeing my own course mates attend not only my baptism but also our carol service was a particular highlight. These events may have no consequence at all, but it is the Christian Union which makes them possible in the first place.

And sometimes, they have the biggest of consequences. Recently, someone encountered God through the CU, and subsequently started going to church and even got baptised last month. I have got to know her a little during this time, and can see the effect that God has had on her life. It is life transformations like this which God and in turn UCCF are all about.

Doing Relay- with responsibilities including supporting their Fresher and Event Week team, leading a Christianity Explored course hosted by the CU and one-to-one Bible studies- allows me to support UCCF’s vision, and to contribute to it becoming a reality. God is working and doing incredible things in Falmouth and I’m really excited to see how He will use me to contribute to this bigger picture.

Joel Clark