Convinced? Manchester City Wide Mission Week Report

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The Idea

This was the first time that all the universities in Manchester had joined together to attempt a city-wide mission week. Such ventures had already been pioneered in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. With 3 of the 4 institutions all located next to each other along the main road into the city, it made obvious sense to attempt such a venture in Manchester too. (UOM – University of Manchester, MMU – Manchester Metropolitan University, RNCM – Royal Northern College of Music, and Salford).

convinced

However, despite the fact that there are four universities in the city and many Christian students, the number that are regularly involved in the Christian Unions is low, with many opting to only get involved in their local churches. Thus the team of students involved at the outset did not number many more than 100. It was, then, with some trepidation, that we set about planning the mission, wondering if it would fly.

The Preparation

A massive amount of diligent preparation by the team of student leaders from each of the universities had gone into the week, ably supported by the UCCF staff team and their brilliant leader, Adam Jones. I was impressed by their dedication, diligence, and tireless efforts.

Much had gone into preparing the Christian students. Michael Green and I had been to speak at the weekend away of the largest CU (UOM) and Gareth had gone to speak at the weekend of the MMU CU. I had also gone back to speak at a superb carol service for all the groups, which included a breathtaking orchestra from the RNCM and drew a crowd of nearly 800.

The Team

We drew together a large team of over 40 guests. Among the other speakers were Michael Green, Lindsay and Ann Brown, Dick Dowsett and Slavko Hadzic. Other guests comprised UCCF staff, other workers, and international guests from Croatia, Belgium, Netherlands, Bosnia, Armenia and the Faroe Islands!

The Plan

Days started with a joint prayer meeting before we split across the universities. Each institution organised first-contact evangelism (in the rain and snow!) and lunch bars.

Praying

UoM Stall

An international supper was hosted each night in a local church hall with Dick Dowsett speaking.

The main evening event was held in a local church, but the hall had been transformed with round tables, low lighting and mountains of cakes, ice cream and desserts and a free beer or wine. The evenings included music, drama and testimonies along with preaching from Michael Green.

DramaMichaelG

The Impact

At the UOM lunch bars we saw numbers grow through the week and not even heavy snow could keep them away on the final day. MMU and RNCM, though smaller, saw a good proportion of guests coming along too. Salford had a tough first day with low numbers but the second day saw some of the best attended events they have ever done. After a slow start at the internationals’ events, the room was overflowing, especially with students from East Asia. Similarly, after a quiet first night at the main event, the numbers grew and the room was filled with up to 300 on the following nights.

Final Night

Each morning at the packed-out prayer meeting we had time for sharing news of what had happened the day before. Even after doing so many missions, I was struck by the sheer number of stories flowing out from the students. Unexpected interest from friends, chance encounters with people who had been prepared by God, internationals seeking Christ, others weeping their way into the kingdom.  It was evident that God was doing more than we had asked or imagined and doing what we could never have planned. One example of this stood out. Each day the team contacted those who had left their details on the feedback forms. One of the team had been unsuccessful in trying to get through to their contact, as the phone number was incorrect. On the final day they felt led to go and sit by a student in the lunch event and discovered that it was the very person they had been trying to contact all week. He asked ‘Why did you fill out the feedback form?’, and the student replied, ‘Because on Tuesday my life was changed forever!’

The Legacy

The great lesson of such a mission is that when we unite together we can often achieve so much more. Four CUs working together were able to achieve far more than they could have done on their own, just as each CU is able to achieve far more than any one local church could in isolation. Unity is also one of the greatest apologetics for the gospel. I love it when non-Christian students ask why the church is so divided?… for all I have to do is to get them to look around at the CU, who show that we can also be united, around that which is most important.

My prayer and desire is that. not just in Manchester, but across the UK, churches grasp the potential of the united Christian Union witness. Some churches can have the tendency to overfill the diaries of their students, which results in students not having time for the Christian Union. It is so much better when they gladly encourage their students to work together in the CU. No one church could have achieved what was accomplished last week, but the fruit of the week will be known across the churches as some new believers go to church for the first time on Sunday!

 

1 comment

Christine

a report that makes me tear up is a good report. Delighted to hear of what God did in Manchester

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