Two weeks ago at our church we ran our freshers mission week called Love Your Campus (LYC); it’s our student outreach week that runs across Fresher’s Week to simply pour out love to people. After all, God first loved us so that we could also go on to love other people.
Before the week actually began, LYC was already in full flow. A few groups of students from LYC all went over to some of the University Halls to help new Fresher’s move in! This was a great opportunity to practically help people and then if appropriate sharing what we were doing and invite them to a few events.
The first few days of the LYC week consisted of us each morning meeting for worship, prayer and teaching. The teachings had three themes; Loving God, Loving People and Changing the World. We discussed what it means to love God and things that prevent us from that love, such as modern day idols. We also discussed how we should love people and spread the word of God to other people. One verse we used was Acts 1:8 which talks about when you receive the Holy Spirit you will then receive the power to be witnesses. This comes through loving well, confidence and boldness, discernment and words of truth. Another verse used when discussing how to approach others was Colossians 4:5-6 which says “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ Therefore we should be gracious in our speech, ensuring to bring out the best of others within that conversation and not put them down.
Post It Notes
One of the key things we spent time doing this week was writing and then sharing prophetic, encouraging post-it notes. Whether they said ‘Have a Great Day’, ‘You’re never fully dressed without a smile’, or ‘You matter’, we aimed to encourage and brighten up peoples day whilst at the same time sharing a few truths about Gods love for them.
After writing these notes, we spent two afternoons simply blitzing Sheffield with these. We started at Sheffield Hallam Students Union as they had a society fair on and safe to say by the time we were finished you couldn’t see a part of the building without any of our post-its. It also gave us the opportunity if people asked to explain what we were doing and more importantly, why! I was putting up some on the mirrors of the girls bathrooms when a girl told me what a great idea it was putting a ‘You are beautiful’ note up on the window, leading to a conversation of why we were doing this. We also gave notes to people we met, hoping to brighten up their day and show them how much they are loved. The second day we went over to Weston Park, again covering every surface you could see with notes of God’s love. I even sneakily put a few on the wing mirrors of a few council vehicles so that they would have to read it before they could drive off!
All of these notes at the bottom had the hashtag “#LYC” so that if they wanted to they could find us on Facebook or Twitter. I actually tweeted one of the notes I had placed on a wall at the Students Union which stated ‘You are significant’ and amazingly it was retweeted by both Sheffield City Council and Sheffield is Super. Sheffield is Super has 12K followers on twitter so the amount of people to see that they are significant on that day could be incredible.
However the highlight from the #LYC was that two separate people, completely unconnected to us tweeted #LYC with the encouraging note that they had either received or seen!
I’m going to be honest here… when I saw treasure hunt on our program for the week I honestly thought we were going on a treasure hunt! Safe to say that is not the case, and many who have heard this term before will surely be laughing at my stupidity in this. Treasure hunting is actually when during prayer you wait on God, through this you may hear a word from God or see a picture, anything could happen! Then you head out into town and talk to
people you meet, whilst keeping an eye out for a person that you feel that word or picture is about. Often you may not hear anything or meet the person you feel you the word was for, but that is okay! So that is what as a group we did.. and so I just want to share a few stories provided by some of our students of what happened on this day;
The KFC Chicken Lady
Whilst we were in KFC, I saw a lady sat in a booth alone eating her chicken and chips. I felt that I should go over and give her this laminated card which I have in my wallet, it says “The holder of this is entitles to life through Jesus Christ”. As I did this I said to her that God saw the troubles she was going through and wanted to let her know that he cares and loves her. She then told me that both of her parents had died in the last 11 months. I then went and sat back down but felt bad for just leaving like that so I went back and sat next to her and asked if I could pray with her. I prayed that she would have peace and be comforted during this time. As I prayed she carried on eating her chicken and chips! She did however keep the card though.
A Yellow Jacket
During the time of prayer before our outreach both myself and another student Abi received “yellow jacket”. After the outreach I was walking home and I felt I should walk up past the hospital, which is completely out of my way but I did it anyway. As I went this way I bumped into a woman wearing a yellow jacket who seemed a bit agitated. I told her that it was super strange but felt that I should tell her what we were doing and that I should talk to her about God. She said that it was okay and how she used to have faith when she was around 18/19 – she was now in her late 20s. She said that she was cold and invited me to walk with her so we walked around the block. As we walked I prayed that she would know that God cares for her, wants to be in a relationship with her, and has countless thoughts about her. I told her not to worry, to which she answered ‘How can I live a life without worry?’ I told her of how she can give those worries over to God and prayed over that for her. I think it impacted her, she was a little intimidated but as she was walking away was crying.
On the Wednesday evening we had a party! Our small groups at church are known as a Lifegroup, and this week we collected all of our Lifegroup’s together to have a party together. There was free pizza and cakes, table tennis and table football, board games, and most importantly great conversation. It was such a good evening and we had many new students who came along, some of which were Christian but the majority who were not.
There was one particular highlight for us all during this in that a girl who attending with one of our students actually gave her life to Jesus during this! Here’s just a glimpse of what happened…
One of our students Sarah invited her friend, Lucy, to come along to the party. Just as they got outside Lucy actually asked Sarah if she was sure it was okay to come as she wasn’t a Christian, which of course she could! When she was inside they had a really good time chatting to various people and Lucy wound up talking with our student pastor Ben. In the end they talked for over an hour! Ben was cautious to keep light general conversation but Lucy just kept asking question after question, persistently wanting to know more about God. At the end of this Lucy was certain that she wanted to follow Jesus, she was told that she didn’t need to decide there and then, and that she could sleep on it and pray about it. But Lucy was definite in that she wanted it there and then, so with the help of Ben and Sarah they prayed and she committed her life to following Jesus! Lucy was that thrilled that she text her mother straight away telling of how she has decided to follow Jesus. Amazing!
On both Thursday and Friday night a small group of us went out to do club outreach, giving out bottles of water and sweets. It was an amazing opportunity to meet people in whatever situation they were in, take a step in their safety and end up in some brilliant conversations.
The first night on the Thursday we went out to a club called Plug in the heart of the city and did just that, we gave out sweets to those waiting in the queue, bottles of water to those coming out and passing by and just chatted to people as they went. We spoke to people going in and coming out, those passing by, those employed by the club to manage the people and even aided the medical representative who actually said that we had been a ‘God send’ for him that night due to providing the individuals he was helping with water.
What I did find out through the hours we were there, which many of the others also felt, was that my heart was just broken by what was around me. Looking back at the people I was blessed to speak to that night there was just so much pain. A girl was sobbing due to a mistake made, two separate people spoke of grief due to deaths that very day, two homeless people created their shelter for the night in a door further up the road but when I went to speak to them were just not with it, and finally gentleman who knew and recognised the work and love of God for others could just not believe that he is worthy enough to deserve it or see how God could forgive him for past actions. Every single person was suffering in such a variety of ways but that was the brokenness that surrounded us. Through these conversations we were able to pray there and then with some of these people, which is just so incredible.
The second night of club outreach was spent outside another club in the city centre, Corporation. The evening followed the same format of handing out water and sweets, but it focused less on conversations with people but more providing help for those who might need it, giving us a great balance of both aspects of our aims. It was another really successful night of which all of us involved personally got something out of it too.. alongside being propositioned by one drunken man for children! We finished the night with a well-deserved take away which was definitely welcomed by us all.
Party! Party! Party!
The final BIG event of our LYC week was on Saturday night when we held a huge party at the Antioch building. The night consisted of an ice cream van with free ice cream, free pizza, laser tag on the streets surrounding church, the rugby streamed onto the wall and then even a prize give away! That could literally not have gotten any better! The party was a huge success with around 75 people attending, of which at least a third was all unbelievers.
Overall, our Love Your Campus week was a huge success! We had so many amazing opportunities to just show love to people, which was our exact aim for the week. Not to ‘convert people’ or have ‘deep meaningful conversations’ but just to love! All the rest that came along with that were just added bonuses. Across the entire week, including our Freshers Sunday service, we were blessed to witness two people make the decision to follow Jesus, how amazing is that!? Far beyond our expectations for the week. But none of this incredible week would have had a slight impact without the knowledge that it wasn’t through our strength alone, but God working through us and his love which allows us to love. God is Good!