We come to Mid Year Conference season. These annual, five day conferences for university students are some of the most important ministry opportunities of the year. Each day doubles the impact of the conference as students dig deeper into what God says in his word. To take a week off, in order to study the Bible in depth, in the company of one’s peers, is a rare privilege of a wealthy society. The conferences have a great unifying effect of the Christian witness on campus. It’s where students get to know each other, plans are laid for second semester missions, MTS apprentices are trained in leading conferences and the group identity is forged.
University students are not special, they’re just sinners in need of a saviour like the rest of us. But they do have great freedoms to spend time in study and incredible opportunities to witness to others. Furthermore, they are at the first stage of adult life where so many choices and decisions lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. To serve them is to take hold of a great opportunity to teach God’s word to another generation.
It is at MYC that many students finally come face to face with the truth of the gospel as they finally see the implications of naming Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. For some it has been their conversion. For many it has been a significant step in reorienting their lives to be consistent with the gospel. For most it has been the moment to change their understanding of the sovereignty of God or their expectations of sexual relations or the priority of work and ministry.
Yet one of the most significant elements of the week’s study is the discovery of reading the Bible for itself. It is usual to see students:
- start with over-confidence in knowing what the Bible says,
- move to finding out that they really don’t know much, if anything, by mid-week, and then
- develop some skills in reading the Bible for themselves by the time the week ends.
The students’ discovery of sitting under the authority of God’s word instead of imposing answers to life’s questions upon the Bible is so exciting to watch. They discover that they can read the Bible for themselves, as its message is plain and God meant the words that he used. It gives them freedom from experts and authorities other than God and his word. It is the wonderful liberty of changing their mind in the light of what God has said in his word which will set them up for life.
These conferences, more than any other I’ve seen, have been life forming for generations of undergraduates. There are few better ways to spend a week than encouraging young men and women as they wrestle with God’s word than is afforded by these conferences.
Most university Christian Unions around Australia will be running similar week-long camps in this mid semester break. Please pray for the impact God’s word will have upon the students at these conferences and camps. Pray that the students will be suitably prepared for witnessing to Christ on their campus in the second half of the year. Pray for a deep work of God’s Spirit in their lives that another whole generation of students will be prepared for a lifetime of evangelism and Christian service.