I’m not sure Levy’s going to get invited to speak at Word Alive this year. Or ever! He should be. But I suspect his latest post on Reformation 21 may be the penultimate nail in his coffin. If not the final one! It’s all about UCCF training women to lead women. You can find it here. It’s very short; a little over 200 words. But you can say a lot in a few words! And he has.
I know nothing at all about the current student scene. Students aren’t a massive part of our gospel ministry at Christ Church Balham. Most of the Christian students St George’s Hospital go to St Nicholas’ Church, Tooting, Shofar (a South African Charismatic Church on campus) or their own home church if they live with their parents in London. We have a few. They’re terrific. And we’d happily welcome more. But it’s not what God has us doing at the moment. And so I don’t know a whole load about what’s going on in UCCF. But I agree with Paul, wholeheartedly.
It echoes my own experience. Donkey’s years ago, when I was a freshman student at the University of Warwick, I ventured into the Christian Union. I was a young man, recently converted, sent to university by the Royal Navy and already part of the university rugby team. I was met by a female dominated CU. They were lovely. But they were women, with lots of hair as I remember (it was the early 90s – think Jon Bon Jovi soft perm). I looked around in vain for the blokes and the lads who’d take me under their wing and help me grow. And it’s not like I didn’t need it. Those early months at Uni were a mess. I desperately needed someone to get hold of me and help me put the Christian life together. But there was no one. There was a wonderful UCCF Staff Worker called Jenny Brown. She was great. But she couldn’t disciple me or the other two lads that I’d dragged along with me. It’s what we needed. We were all newly converted or woefully untaught. All three of us had been selected by the Armed Services because we were thought to have leadership potential. That could have been put to good use, one would imagine. But it wasn’t until well into our second year that, in God’s good providence, we stumbled into Saltisford Evangelical church and a godly pastor called Nigel Lee decided to give us some of his precious time. At that point and being recruited for Christian summer camps we started to make progress. From that summer camp, a man named Rupert Mackay travelled up from London to come and read Romans with me. That was some commitment but it was hugely formative in my Christian life. And kept me from making more mistakes than I did. It was that sort of input that we were crying out for. But there was no one to provide it.
It was only when Krish Kandiah (and whatever happened to him?) pitched up and was appointed Student President that things started to change at the Christian Union. He was mature enough in his own Christian faith to be able to disciple his peers. But that was too late for me. I used to look with envy at the personal work ‘done’ with friends at Oxford and Cambridge. They had guys who invested in them, discipled them and trained them for service. It was a missed opportunity at Warwick. There were guys to be trained but there was no one to train them. If Levy’s right (and he tells me he usually is) then a new generation of student work is making the same mistake.