‘Something more’ Edinburgh Mission Week Report

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It was a joy to return to Edinburgh for their third citywide mission week. Edinburgh, Napier, Heriot Watt and Queen Margaret Universities joined together for what proved to be a very tiring yet encouragingly fruitful week of outreach.

A large international team of guests

With 42 talks happening in nine different locations we needed a large team of speakers. Andy Wickham of RZIM Spain shared some of the main talks and a team of others, including current and former MOET associates, covered many of the lunch bars. As well as the speakers, we were blessed to have other CU guests including some from Belgium and Spain.

Lunch bars and Donald Trump

Up to seven different lunch bars happened each day in different campuses across the city. None of these was especially large due to the general lack of good venues – having lunch bars in the chaplaincy dramatically reduces the numbers coming. However, there were still many who did come, often off the back of flyers, and some of these came back to multiple events.

I spoke three times on ‘Would Jesus vote for Donald Trump?’. I had been very nervous about giving the talk and had had nightmares about Donald Trump the night before! Unsurprisingly, the topic drew the largest crowds of the week, and it was especially provident that it came the day after large protests in the city over the immigration ruling. At the end of the second talk, I spoke separately to two American guests – one who had voted for Trump and the other Clinton (thankfully they didn’t meet each other!). Both of them commented positively on the talk, and found it thought-provoking and interesting – which seemed something of a miracle!

Although I had at first been uneasy about speaking on such a political topic, I think, (with hindsight) it was a good idea. For some, Trump is the epitome of everything they dislike about Christianity, so in a week of talks that aims to deal with the main objections to the Christian faith it was very appropriate. You can listen to the talk here.

Overflowing international events
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It was such a joy to have Dick Dowsett with us for the week. His experience and ability at speaking to international students is unrivalled. Numbers built steadily through the week until we had 120 coming each night – a challenge to the caterers providing supper but a great opportunity for the gospel. It was a joy to see some of them respond to the gospel. One lady professed faith in the middle of the week and by the end had brought her friend along – keen to share her newfound faith straight away!

Fruitful evenings

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Each night we met at Greyfriars Church in the centre of the city. Often a church building is unhelpful but its central location and its café style set-up made it an attractive and popular venue and we got up to 400 each night (a good proportion not yet Christians) listening intently as the gospel was communicated through preaching, music, drama and Q&A. The theme for the week was ‘Something more’. Each night we questioned whether the materialistic explanation of human value, love, freedom, guilt and hope could really satisfy, and showed how the gospel offers something more. There was often a strong sense of the Lord at work and you could have heard a pin drop on occasion as people were impacted by the beauty and power of the gospel.

Prepared Hearts

Each day in the CU Guest meeting we spent time looking at passages from the book of Acts. On three consecutive days we looked at the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8) the Apostle Paul (Acts 9) and Cornelius (Acts 10). I was incredibly struck by the fact that in each case the Lord had already been at work – the Eunuch had gone to the Temple to ‘find God’, Paul had been met on the Damascus Road by the Lord himself and Cornelius had been spoken to by an angel. However, in all three places God sends a person to go and ‘finish the job’. Philip is sent to the desert to meet the Eunuch, Ananias to Paul and Peter to Cornelius. In each case God chose to use a human instrument to bring the person to faith even though it would have been easier for him to do it himself. What a privilege that God choses to use us in his work!

Several times during the week we had a similar sense that God was leading us to people in whom he was already working. People came in from flyers who knew nothing of the CU but were searching and hungry. I spoke with one agnostic Eastern European student who had come into the lunch bar early. After the talk they asked me which church I went to. I thought at first they might be suspicious of someone from a protestant church background but they continued ‘Could you recommend a good church for me to go to this Sunday?’. I was able to link them up with a CU member to go together.

One of the most unexpected opportunities took place at a morning prayer meeting. The girl next to me asked if it was ok to not pray out loud as she was unaccustomed to it. We assured her it was fine and at the end of the meeting got chatting. It turned out she wasn’t a student but a friend of a CU member who had just been in town for 24 hours. Coming from a very strict religious upbringing she was blown away by the message of the prodigal son that I had preached on the night before, and the invitation to know freedom and love instead of the slavery of religious obedience. We did an impromptu Bible study and I was able to give her my Bible and promise to send some study notes along with details of local Christians in her home town.

Please Pray

Praise God for what he has done and for the joy we had of joining in. Pray for the CUs now as they follow up the good work that has begun in the lives of many. Pray that many will get plugged into good local churches in the coming weeks. Pray for the CU members that they will have been emboldened to go on for a life time of witness to Christ.

 

 

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