If you don’t know us, myself and my wife, Naomi, lead the student and young adults ministry in All Nations Church. We both moved to Cardiff and joined All Nations Church as students, so the fact that we get to reach out to and care for students, just as others did for us, is such a privilege. I was trying to find a title in-keeping with our “Adventures in Acts” series. Since a large proportion of Cardiff’s students and young adults live in an area called Cathays, something like “Capers from Cathays” might have worked. But what the Lord is doing among the young people living in Cardiff is so much more profound than a “caper”. For the students in All Nations Church and those of us reaching out to this community, we are finding that as we go about our everyday life and work, the Holy Spirit keeps leading us on adventures and into the lives of those he is working in. So here are some stories of what is happening down in Cathays, or as we call it – Studentville.
Whose Mission is it Anyway?
The last two weeks of September are when all the students return for the new academic year. With so many students moving in and filling the streets of Cathays, we took the opportunity to meet as many people as possible! So during these two weeks students and young adults from All Nations Church were out on the streets every day welcoming students to Cardiff and inviting them to church. Helped by the students from Covenant College, the 10-month Bible College programme hosted by the church, we got to meet hundreds of new students and speak to dozens of them about Jesus. Almost every house in Cathays received an invite to church through their door and students in the church brought their housemates to the Sunday gatherings and to lunch afterwards. Throughout this period we had so many amazing opportunities to encourage, offer hope, and share the Gospel with students.
And whilst it was fantastic to see the Lord using the events and gatherings we had organised, as the term went on, it was even more amazing to see how the Holy Spirit kept using things in our everyday lives to lead us towards people he wanted to meet. One particular evening I was walking home from Studentville, and as I reached the pedestrian crossing near to my home a bus drove past with someone waving from the back seat. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to wave to several people of day as I know lots of folks living in the local area – be it neighbours, friends from church, families from school, and of course students we know. So, of course, I just assumed the wave was for me and I waved back. As I did so, I saw a rather confused-looking lad staring at me through the bus window. Turning over my shoulder there was another young lad waving to the bus and looking at me strangely. Clearly this wave was not for me. The lad behind me at the crossing found the whole scenario very funny. So we started walking together and got chatting about the challenges he was facing in his studies. From a silly social mishap the Holy Spirit opened up an opportunity for a young man to receive some encouragement when he needed it. Moments like this are forming our expectations in the student work of life with the Holy Spirit – an expectation that every day the Holy Spirit is on mission, working in the world, moving in people’s lives, and each day he invites us to join him.
In November, we were joined by a YWAM missions team from Brazil. I was particularly excited because their house was situated right in the heart of Studentville! They really made the most of the opportunity to share God’s love with the students around them, who they adopted as their neighbours for the 7 weeks they were here. The first thing I asked them to do for their new neighbours was to ask the Lord what he wanted to do in Studentville. One of the team felt that the Holy Spirit was bringing freedom to those trapped in abusive relationships. This is something that the Lord had put on our hearts over the summer. That week, as we all headed out onto the streets of Cathays to share the Gospel and pray for people, part of the team stopped to chat with a lady outside a coffee shop. She looked upset and so one of them bought her a drink. She explained how she had travelled from the US to come and end an abusive relationship. She was rather shaken as she waited for the coach to return her to the airport. The team stayed with her a while, prayed with her and encouraged her with God’s vision for her. Before they left, she said that although she had come to Cardiff to end a relationship, she wondered whether she’d really come just to meet some Christians and hear from God.
As we go through the book of Acts as a church, I am so encouraged that we in All Nations Church are living the same everyday adventures that marked the early church. It is not that either ourselves or the churches spoken of in Acts are perfect, but in both the workmanship of the Holy Spirit is clear. We could write more entries for this blog, stories of everyday adventures from the student community. Stories of how God has answered prayers and provided work experience placements that seemed impossible to secure; of friends asking to know more about Jesus; of neighbours now coming to church because they heard a prayer meeting through the wall; of students arriving from overseas and changing their length of stay in Cardiff because of what God is doing in them through the church; of young people moving in spiritual gifts for the first time and growing in their faith, leaving room for the impossible in their lives. We are so thankful for what we have seen God do in the lives of students and young adults in the last few months and we are fully expectant to see more. Our prayer for ourselves and for the whole church is simply – “Lord may you find us willing in this, the day of your power!”