We caught up with student mission legend Miriam of Fusion as she drives around ALL (yep, all) the UK’s University campuses in the next two years encouraging people involved with student mission. Here’s some of her thoughts about student life and how stories of those who are persecuted for their faith can inspire us to be bolder, braver and more courageous for Jesus!
How did you get through your first week at Uni?
With not a lot of sleep. I think going into university is a nervous time. There’s the fear of the unknown and not knowing what to expect. But this is how I went through it:
1. I put myself out there and tried to be as friendly and accepting as I could be to everyone, no matter what their opinion was, or what they thought of my faith.
2. I prayed a lot and tried to keep awake to how much God loves all the new people I was meeting and so I tried to simply get to know them as friends.
3. I got through Fresher’s Week by committing to enjoy myself. Despite the fact that I felt overwhelmed and daunted, I decided to go to and enjoy each party. I committed to look out for friends, especially if they were feeling lonely themselves and I also committed to helping people have the most enjoyable and safe week possible. It was about helping everybody bond and connect as a family, rather than worry about myself fitting in. The key is to get on with it, and throw yourself into it.
What’s the most common fear you come across amongst your travels meeting students?
Generally people are afraid of other people’s reactions to their faith in Jesus – but this is often before they’ve often given other people an opportunity to react to their faith.We need to be bold: bold in who God is and bold in simply being ourselves. So many people don’t mention their faith as they assume that it won’t go well. They assume their friends won’t agree and that they might be left out of their community as a result. So they get afraid of a reaction that hasn’t even happened.
By in large it isn’t much to worry about either. People are far more interested than we realise and if we never give them the opportunity to ask the question or find out for themselves then we’ve counted them out and haven’t even let God work in that situation. We shouldn’t be afraid of how people will react to our faith until we’ve actually done it.
So why does this have any connection to the persecuted church?
I think those in the persecuted church offer us a massive challenge. In the UK we often act like we’re persecuted when we’re not. We fail to mention Jesus to our friends, we’re not overt about who we love and why we live like we live. We try and keep it so cool and calm that we never quite get round to name dropping Jesus, as if we’re going to get into big trouble when we do.
The fact is other people, say in North Korea, Nigeria, Iran, they may well lose their lives if they speak up about Jesus – and some do. They speak up about Jesus even when it costs them everything, yet we don’t speak up about Jesus and the most it might cost us is a little bit of street cred. So the persecuted Church challenges me because if they are bolder than we are in the face of real suffering then it makes me want to step up my game and use my freedom to talk about the real reason for being alive.
Why should students be encouraged by stories from the persecuted church?
When you hear somebodies story, someone who’s been brave for Jesus, it releases you to do the same, because you realise it’s possible. Everyday people in difficult circumstances stand up and live beyond themselves – they live beyond what could be possible without the power of God in them.
Hearing about the persecuted church should encourage every Christian student that they can live a courageous life at Uni – it’s true, you can stand up for what you believe in in Fresher’s Week, and be brave and bold, because our family all over the world are doing bold and courageous things. These are just normal everyday people and they are seeing amazing things happen when God moves into that space that risk and courage creates – it’s a space that only God can fill. Hopefully we all get a bit more courageous when we realise our family around the world are living everyday courageous lives.