Encountering God on Campus

By Robin Shugart
Manitoba Campus Director

Judith has been a student leader in our fellowship at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario since January 2020. When she first joined the group, they were excited about new growth and eager to see their peers discover Jesus and be part of God’s family.
Just a few months later the pandemic changed things significantly, and while the new connections and evangelism they were hoping for was slowed down, the community showed amazing resilience. The student leadership team remained committed to creating spaces to gather and grow faith, and so Bible studies moved onto Zoom, with a number of students joining to learn from God’s word and pray together. Students would stay online to socialize after the study ended, which meant that when restrictions eased and in person gathering was possible there was a core community already in place. Even so, it never felt like they really gained much momentum.
That all changed this year with the full return to campus. Judith and the other three student leaders were able to meet new students at a campus clubs fair. Twice weekly they hold Bible studies in Luke’s gospel and there are also regular social gatherings in an open space at the centre of campus called the Agora.
Since it’s a public space, lots of new students drop by, with the group often growing to about 30, half of whom don’t identify as Christian! Some of these non-Christian students have also been coming to Bible Studies and are eagerly participating in the discussion. After Bible study the students break into smaller groups to share prayer requests and pray for each other, a time that can last for about an hour each week.
Judith sees these times as particularly significant for deepening relationships as students share items of praise with each other, as well as places of pain where they need God to meet them. She’s met several students struggling with mental health and other challenges who are finding a space where they can be heard, learn about Jesus, and experience healthy relationships.

Throughout the pandemic it wasn’t the same, but it was still a community.

“You know that verse that says ‘you shall be known for your love for one another’? That’s what I want our community to be like.” Says Judith. “That people would see that we do love one another because God loves us, and to join us, recognize where that love comes from and lean into it.”
Across the country there are students like Judith who are eager to see God transform their campuses, and even more students who desperately need to encounter God. Please keep us in prayer and join us as we gather momentum, growing campus communities where students discover, experience, and share the good news of God’s Kingdom.

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