What are you searching for? Love? Satisfaction? Success? A few weeks ago, us folk at Lancaster Christian Union were searching for opportunity in their mission week ‘The Search’.
We kicked off the week with thirty five gathered to pray on a Monday morning focussing on Acts chapter 12 with our speaker for the week. So many hours preparation had gone into our mission and now we were here, it was going to be a long week and hard work at time however “Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” If God can break Peter’s chains, we needed to be taking the same approach in earnest prayer. Peter was in prison and still able to get the gospel out, we certainly weren’t going to be put off by the odd rejected flyer or logistical stumble.
With that in mind, we were all set and ready to go, flyers in hand. Twelve thousand student on campus and we wanted to make sure every one of them had heard about our mission and had the opportunity to join the search.
We had lunchbars every day ranging from soup to sandwiches to egg fried rice and to begin with they only grew in number with 60 searching for the good life on Monday, 70 searching for truth on Tuesday and 80 searching for answers in times of suffering on Wednesday. We were really gathering momentum now.
Each evening we took over the upstairs room of a local bar and lounge in town. On Monday we kick started our evening events with an acoustic and dessert night featuring a local Christian band and the response was amazing. Twice we had to go and get more chairs, firstly from the local church next door before the event had even started and then again from the bar area downstairs, strategically taking them one by one when the bartender wasn’t looking to accommodate for all the people still coming in. We also had to make a mid-event trip to get more desserts. We put John’s gospels on every table in the hope that people would be inclined to take them home and looking around, it was so encouraging to see people at the event gathering in groups, Christians and non-Christians alike to read them as they listened to the music with no prompting from any kind of talk. It was clear we needed to me going into this week with much more expectant hearts, what an encouraging lesson to be taught.
Tuesday saw us beginning our series of talk, testimony and dessert evenings with the Search for mindfulness, including an inspiring testimony from a recent Christian and CU member with a Buddhist background and even some creative skills from CU guests including song writing and film making. But like every week of events it came with few slight hiccoughs including having to completely clear the venue last minute resulting in us staying late and carting all the equipment to the church next door late at night and meeting and promptly meeting at seven the next morning to move it all again. The morning prayer meeting was so encouraging on day three though, nearly doubling the list of names and stories of people engaged in good conversations or showing a keen interest and wanting to know more. We spoke about the second miracle in acts 12 of Peter actually being able to sleep soundly in a time of turmoil and it’s true, sometimes in missions week, sleep really can feel like a miracle, particularly when it’s day three and you’re already wondering if you will ever wake up from each prayer but through God’s strength we were able to carry on and even have a night off the evening events to rest up for the rest of the week.
And the conversations only continued. Lunchbars ran from 1pm-2pm and at half past three there were still people delving into the talk and questioning the topic of suffering. We had flyerers and questionairrers on constant rotation in the square and one of our mission week guests was able to stop and chat for over two hours with one girl about his faith.
Day four and we were all reenergised after our restful night, adding again to our list of encouragements in prayer meeting. Our small groups conducted their own ‘dialogue dinners’ inviting friends into conversations over a meal before bringing them along to the evening event. It was amazing to think how many different conversations were going on about Jesus all over campus, all at the same time. In the evening, the atmosphere was incredible, the whole room was buzzing. People were flooding in and just kept coming for the first half an hour. Again we had to go back to the church and get yet more chairs. By the end there was standing room only with people spilling into the corridor listening to a truly inspiring talk and testimony on the search for love. One girl was so moved she was left lost for expression and so expressed everything she was thinking entirely in Italian. As for us, we were left just praying our thanks and praise on the street at midnight before collapsing in a totally satisfied heap on our beds setting our alarms for 6 hours’ time, knowing we wouldn’t get that many hours sleep. But that doesn’t matter when every effort is made worth it when you have those conversations where you can physically see people coming closer to Jesus before realising that every person has come a step closer to Jesus just by walking through the doors.
The whole week was so encouraging and amazing to be a part God’s great mission and we may have all been cream crackered after the week, feeling like we could hibernate for another week but I wouldn’t have changed anything. It is such a privilege to be able to partake in such an exciting adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂