What happened at Freshers?

Freshers.

New faces. Lost faces. Confused faces. Bold faces.

Introductions – to people, places, courses, more people, more places, more modules, more tutors, more, more… more.

Meeting those people you know are gonna be your friends. Meeting those you know, probably, won’t be…

Partying. Hiding. Discovering. Sleeping.

Awkward conversation. Great conversation. The same conversation. Over and over and OVER again.

Just a few recollections of freshers for me. And some of them were definitely still familiar this year! What is about freshers that makes some want to chat to everyone? And makes some just want to curl up in a ball?

Luckily this year I was quite happy to chat to everyone. (Well, most people!) And I thoroughly enjoyed talking with a big mix of people that I probably wouldn’t normally talk to. Being a part of all the CU freshers events made this inevitable and the conversations I had were all pretty exciting.

Take one…

Myself and one of the co-pres’ were delivering toasties to flats at our txt a toastie event one evening (where people txt a question about God/Christianity and we deliver a toastie with an [attempted] answer!). We had 4 events like this, even one with pancakes! And we would deliver A LOT of food, which obviously then results in A LOT of conversation. One flat was a most prominent highlight in my mind, we were invited in for a cup of tea and all 7 of them living there were sat around the table, all with their own questions! Can science and faith work together? What is the trinity about? Can you believe in God but not in the bible? What is a Christian’s view on contraception? Why do we have natural disasters? These were just a few of the questions, and how good it was to have people genuinelty interested and listening and talking about it as a flat! And being able to sit down to talk to them! We may not have answered every question but when we left they felt like some of their views had been challenged and they needed to re think.

Take two…

I talked to many at our question for a cookie events. We were using Solarium cards (check them out here if you’re not sure what they are http://mysoularium.com/ ) and asking people 3 questions.

1 Which photos best represented their life right now?
2 Which photos best represented how they would like their life to be?
3 Which photos best represented their view/perception of God?

Question for a Cookie

You can imagine that arty students are pretty drawn to a table of photos and cookies so we had many stop by. There was one guy I was able to talk to for about half an hour. It was pretty awesome when his questions that he first asked me were directly related to the study I had been doing just that week and even that day! He was currently reading the quran and was clearly searching and since he has just studied philosophy and ethics, he was a pretty deep thinker! Normally I would feel a bit out of my depth, as I’m certainly not a massive deep thinker, but we had a good two way conversation where I could ask him what he meant by certain things and not feel stupid in doing this! And we in turn chatted about pre destination, free will, the trinity, homosexuality, women in the bible… the lot really. And he downloaded the bible on his phone there and then!

Take three…

Tea and Toast. My favourite event! Crazy conversations happen at the best times i.e between 11 and 2 on a student union event night! One night I even went just went to watch a film with a group of international students who had come to us for film snacks! We even stood holding hands in a circle praying together while waiting for toast to be ready… as they said to me ‘we’re just praying to Jesus, do you want to come and join?’ They thought this would get them toast and hot drinks since they weren’t drunk!

Take four…

The freshers fayre. This is a time where the uni turns into a bit of what I would imagine a market place looked like in the bible. So much free stuff for students to get there hands on and where sports clubs and societies try to get people to sign up! We gave out 500 tins of beans with the details of the CU meetings and free meals on and how to get in contact. We also had 68 people sign up, which was certainly a good number! Great conversations also happened and we had one guy come up to us and say

I don’t want beans and I’m not a Christian, but I just want to say you guys are my favourite guys on campus, I love what you’re doing.

And this was after only a week of freshers events. So we must be having a positive impact!

Freshers Fayre Beans

So in the midst of cream teas, free meals, toasties, pancakes, cookies, bbqs, quizzes, films soo many people must have asked questions, been asked questions, been challenged, encouraged, unsure, hopeful, excited and most of all heard about the character of the amazing God that I know and that loves us.

I wonder what the rest of the year holds?

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Out of my depth…

We get a lot of questions from people of all different beliefs and in all different places through our CU events on campus. To be honest many of them are put on for the purpose of questions being asked like ‘text a toastie’ and ‘text a pancake’ where people text a question about God/christianity and we deliver the toastie/pancake with an answer. And then there’s question for a cookie where we have a stand of cookies and we engage in conversation with students and explore their questions of faith. And generally the questions we get are great and we have some amazing conversations and these are the things we pray for!

Some examples of questions we had at text a toastie on Friday…

Is there a prominent duck in the bible? Does God change clothes? Why is Jesus white in paintings?

And more serious ones like: If God was human what would he look like? What are the difference between the various versions of the bible? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where was Jesus in the 3 days between his death and resurrection?

All questions that I feel I could attempt to engage with.

But nothing prepared me for last nights and tea and toast.

I think the drunkeness of the people we’re talking to must defintely bring out the more difficult questions.

But what do you answer to someone asking about setting up a pagan society? And can you spread the word about it?

And someone asking what you think on the thought that without religion there would be nowhere near as much war?

And the girl crying on you and talking to you for an hour who has been thrown out of churches because her sister is a lesbian and she loves and accepts her for that?

I don’t think I have ever left an event feeling so useless, overwhelmed and out of my depth.

Luckily it’s not about me knowing any answers…

Trying to rest in the knowledge today that God knows each of these people more than they even do and he can speak to them exactly where they’re at.

Starting Uni

So 1000’s of students are starting university this month… personally I think this is one of the biggest transitions in life. For me it was a time of moving 7 hours away from home, for the longest amount of time I had ever been away, to a completely different place, not knowing anyone, not having a clue what to expect and not even knowing how to scramble an egg! University is it’s own unique world. I don’t think there is anyway to actually be prepared for it. This transition is seen by many as a way to become a ‘new’ person, to ‘re invent’ themselves. But many aren’t quite ready for everything that it throws at them. People get sucked into ways that they were sure they would stay away from, the freedom can be too much and what really have you got to lose in this new place where no one knows you? Others might want to start afresh, be a ‘better’ person. As you enter a new environment, meet new people, start a new course, have to clean and cook and learnt to be independent; you are challenged to think about how you look at things. Change is inevitable. And with change comes new challenges.

When I started uni, I was completely blessed by having had been able to get in touch with the Christian Union before I came (not that I had wanted to, but God had different plans and got me to make one of those spur of the moment decisions at a youth conference in the summer) and I made connections that would start me off on the path that was the best path to go along. That doesn’t mean I didn’t still struggle with the many temptations that uni brings, but it brought me to the place where I had people around that were supportive, and with that, an amazing, relaxed environment where I was free to just be me. Faults and fears and craziness and all. And looking back and at where I am now, God had bigger plans that I could ever anticipate in just that initial push to link up with the CU.

In the next 2 weeks we have got many many events as Falmouth freshers start uni. I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new people and being able to get alongside them as others got alongside me. I’m also looking forward to the many exciting conversations that are had from events like text a toastie, question for a cookie and tea and toast.

In a place where people are experiencing the most ‘freedom’ they may have ever had, it is exciting to be able to share about the real freedom that is found in Christ. The security that my identity is in him and through that I can go into these 2 weeks reminding myself of that and thinking ‘what actually have I got to lose?’

Here’s a list of all the events happening, have a look at what’s going on, it’d be great to have people praying for them!

Freshers Week 1 Freshers Week 2