Tempo di lettura: 4 minuti

By Aoife Beville, university researcher and former GBU student


Ahoj! – that’s how they say ‘hello’ in Slovakia, where I visited at the beginning of October. I’m Aoife (pronounced Ee-fah), I’ve been involved in different IFES groups: Cork (Ireland) where I’m originally from and where I was co-coordinator of the Christian Union during my BA; Bologna, where I did two years of InterAction, an IFES international voluntary work programme where I supported the students of the local group; Naples, where I was co-coordinator of the group during my MA. Now, I am back in Naples and still at university, but on the other side of the lectern! I research and teach in the field of English linguistics. You may be asking yourself ‘what does Slovakia have to do with it?’ Good question!

Good News for the University

Last year at an IFES conference I met Sara, a VBH (GBU) staff worker in Slovakia. We started talking about the usefulness of having Christian academics involved in the work of national movements. I believe that the gospel is good news for the university and I would like to be able to support and serve GBU students as I do my work. I told Sara about my research on irony as a persuasive strategy in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. A linguistic and literary study that, due to the nature of the text, touches on various interesting topics (apologetics, atheism, etc.). Sara invited me to come to Slovakia to give a lecture at the university on the topic of this research.

“The Trouble about Argument”

Aoife and Sara at lunch in Prešov

So, through Sara’s contacts I was invited to give two lectures in the English Language and Anglo-American Literature courses at the University of Prešov. The lectures were entitled: “’The Trouble about Argument’: Irony and Rhetoric in C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters” and presented the stylistic analysis of the text. The text, for those unfamiliar with it, is a sardonic epistolary novel consisting of letters from one demon to another with detailed instructions on how to ensure the eternal damnation of a human ‘patient’. Linguistically, it is a fascinating text that makes use of neologisms, irony, bureaucratese and other peculiar stylistic features to persuade the reader of the intellectual and spiritual validity of Christianity. Written more than 80 years ago, during World War II, it presents a lucid and surprisingly relevant critique of the objections to the Christian faith. The lessons went well, the students participated actively and I had the opportunity to chat with both them and their professors.

Aoife giving her lecture at Prešov University

A Polarised Society

My lectures in Prešov took place during election time, a time of high tension and strong division in the public debate. Given the themes of the lectures, the local student group also invited me to participate in evening activities in a café near the university. We advertised these evenings under the title ‘Polarised Society’ and while handing out leaflets our team had some interesting conversations about it with students on campus, the topic certainly attracted their attention. At the café we welcomed guests with ice-breakers and questions for discussion in small groups. Following this, I was interviewed using questions from attendees that arrived via app (Slidoo; highly recommended for similar events!). The discussion was wide-ranging and touched on various topics: my personal journey to faith; tips for healthy debate in a divided society; questions on the validity of the Christian faith. In fact, even after the official end of the evening we stayed chatting for so long that we had to order pizzas to feed the crowds. As a good adoptive-Neapolitan perhaps it is better if I don’t comment on Slovak pizza!

One of the Cafè nights

Good News for GBU

The VBH is a national movement with different challenges than the Italian GBU. For example, there are only two staff workers – Sara and Graham (also Gen Sec). However, the vision is the same! The events in Prešov were part of an attempt to revive the group after a slowdown caused by the pandemic. It was encouraging to see some students better understand the purpose of the local group – not simply a club for young believers but a space to welcome those who would like to know Jesus. The students seem to have been empowered and encouraged by the events we held together, their feedback has been really positive. Many Ukrainian students – who are now studying in Slovakia because of the war in their country – came to the Cafè Nights. It was a joy to see the Slovak students welcome them and offer them the kind of community – safe, hospitable and friendly – that they so badly needed. I am grateful to the Lord for the experience and for the blessings we received during those days. I also feel that no local group or national movement is too small to think big and organise such events!

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

Soon you will be reading the latest news from GBU students all over Italy. You will probably find reasons for praise that you have already read in other newsletters, prayer requests that you have prayed for in the past for a group, news of events from an enthusiastic group that, however, are not exactly new to you. In fact, they are often activities that have already been done in other cities, by other groups. Activities and prayer requests that you yourself have prayed, if you are a former GBU member, or that you know about because in the very last newsletter you read, another GBU group had done or asked for something similar in some other city. 

But why, then, would you read this newsletter? What’s new about it?

If you’re in a hurry, don’t read it. You might not find anything new. But if you devote a few minutes of concentration to reading, if you pay attention, you may be able to catch the spirit in which the students wrote those few lines. You will be able to find expressions such as “supercharged”, “finally”, “restarted” that powerfully express all the joy that  the students have  now they are getting back to meeting in person , relating  with other students, organising creative events, Bible studies and prayer meetings. In short, to Share Jesus from student to student, as they have always done, even during the pandemic, but with a new enthusiasm.

And that enthusiasm will sweep you away!

Then you’ll understand that the GBU still has that ever-new enthusiasm  typical of the young, new generation of believers, which is renewed from year to year, particularly in this post-covid restart year (we hope!).  You’ll realize we’re on track, we’re charged up, and you will feel involved, eager to do something: to pray. The Holy Spirit will guide you, speak to you, and with your prayer and support you can continue (or begin) to be a part of this mission, the mission of GBU, to make the Lord Jesus known in universities.

Domenico Campo (GBU Staff worker in Sicily)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiMarch has arrived and for many of us it feels like we’re living in a movie we’ve seen over and over again, like a time loop from which we can’t escape. A year ago many in our country were scared, skeptical, terrified, hopeless, but we would never have guessed that a year later so many of these feelings would still be in our hearts and minds. The fact is, although time has passed, for many, the situation seems to be unchanged.

Students are still in distance learning and universities seem to be functioning only online , with a few exceptions here and there. The thrill of stepping through the door of the university classroom for the first time for many is gone, for yet another semester. For others, however, the experience of online graduation will become a bittersweet memory to be recounted in the future.

The daily life of GBU groups has also changed now. Online Bible study meetings, thousands of messages in chat rooms, social promotion, and online events have become part and parcel of a normal GBU day. But don’t let that fool you. The essence remains. That desire to share Jesus with one’s friends, the commitment to witnessing the gospel, and the fellowship that spurs growth in one’s own faith and the faith of others is there for anyone who wants to see it.

In times like these, where challenges against our faith are piling up, we cling to the Word and the hope we can find only in Jesus. He is the one who assured us that He would be with us until the end, pandemic or not. My invitation to you is to go and read the news from the different groups. You will see that instead of complaints or ‘defeated tones’ there are many reasons for joy and hope. There is news  from large and consolidated groups but also stories of the challenges from small groups that have just been born and who enthusiastically recount every small victory. There are many reasons for praise and there are requests for prayer, because the students have now realized that in their life of faith they will not be able to go much further without the prayer and intercession of their brothers and sisters.

What has changed then since the last news report? If we look at the circumstances, not much. But if we look to the One who works every good work in us, who acts when no one else can, and who changes the lives of students every day, then there is much to be seen. So I invite you to read the news, praise the Lord for His work, and pray for the groups, with the assurance that Jesus has not stopped in time, but is at work making all things new.


Carol Rocha
(GBU Staff)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

I love autumn!

I like it because, after the summer, it’s the time to get back to work at full speed. And working with GBU university students is a great job to have!

I like it because finally there isn’t that suffocating heat anymore, but the days are still beautiful, and you can enjoy the pleasant sun (in Sicily at least!).

I like autumn because I like its colours. The green and lush leaves are getting ready to drop, turning yellow, orange, red…

Yellow… Orange… Red…

Thinking about it, this year I like these colours less, much less. In this particular autumn, in fact, it is not only the leaves that have taken on the colours of autumn. [ndt: Italy’s regions have been categorized with these colors depending on the gravity of the spread of covid-19]

But if it is true that for the leaves it is the natural colouring that prepares them to dry up and die on the ground, let’s hope that for the regions of Italy the process will be the reverse, and that they will soon be green and lush again, as we used to see them on maps or on TV weather programmes.

In the meantime, the various GBU groups have resumed their activities throughout Italy.

Students are experiencing similar challenges in all regions, and while it is true that some groups still manage to meet in presence (some groups in the yellow regions), for others the meetings have all moved online (almost all groups in the orange and red regions).

The difficulty to relate with friends and colleagues certainly does not make the work of GBU easier, and certainly affects the mood of the students in a negative way. Many are also slightly worried because at the moment there is a lot of uncertainty about their university career. Some are facing even more serious challenges, such as the risk of not being able to return home to their family, or even worse, having to face the fact that they may have a dear one affected by covid.

This is what autumn is like for GBU students.

It is an autumn where grey seems to prevail, as well as yellow, orange and red…

Yet, you only have to read this news from the various GBU groups to discover that there is much more than just uncertainty and fear in the hearts of these young people. There is creativity, faith, love and passion for the Gospel!

So I ask you to read this news carefully and to support GBU students in prayer.

You will read about students struggling, praying and using their full potential to “Share Jesus from student to student”, confident that the good news of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is powerful enough to change the lives of their friends and colleagues. Even from a distance. Even while they feel uncertain and lost. Even if they are alone behind the screen of a PC or a smartphone.

All because Jesus is the true light!

I am the light of the world; those who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

And light, it is said, is the combination of all colours: yellow, orange, red…

Domenico Campo
(GBU Staff worker)

Read the latest news from the groups

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiTempo di lettura: 2 minuti Every year in Slovenia, ZVEŠ the local GBU/IFES movement organises a festival in memory of Primož Trubar, a very important cultural figure for Slovenia. This is because after his conversion […]

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiFrom 27 until 29 March 2018 the “Bible on Display” event took place at the Magna Graecia University of Catanzaro. The exhibition was carried out in the Department of Medicine and General Surgery, offering an overview of the Bible, its contents, reliabilty of the text from a historical/scientific point of view, the invaluable message of life offered by Jesus, its evolution through printing etc.

It is very easy to set up, as roll up banners are used. The exhibition can be shown in any kind of venue, preferably sheltered.
During the event organised by GBU Catanzaro, a brief speech was given by Giovanni Donato which aroused interest among the students. Questions, doubts and puzzlements were raised, dialogue and debate were prefered and some wanted to go deeper with the Bible message and join the meetings held by students in the local GBU group. Bibles in a variety of languages were also exhibited and New Testaments given out. Read more

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiThroughout the 11 years that I have been working with the GBU, many times I have asked myself why I do what I am doing and if it really is worth it…

In other words, does it make sense to strive for the proclamation of the gospel in universities? There are so many important ministries out there and I want to be sure that I am dedicating my time and energy to something that is really worth striving for.

For this reason, I would briefly like to share three reasons why I still believe that is it extremely important that we bring the gospel of Christ into universities:

1. The gospel needs to be preached wherever knowledge is put on a pedestal above God

The apostle Paul tells us that knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1), and it is true! We can clearly see this in universities. Increasingly, in the minds of many people, especially those with a greater level of education, there seems to be a clear distinction between everything that is rational, ascertainable, or can be empirically demonstrated and anything that concerns faith, God, and religion. In a contest in which human pride rises up against its own Creator, we need to be ambassadors who humbly and confidently proclaim the message about Jesus of Nazareth, for the salvation of those who consequently choose to follow him. Read more

Tempo di lettura: 3 minutif_gbu


When Giovanni Donato suggested I attend the GBU Student Leaders Training, from 30th September to 3rd October 2016 in the small town of Rocca di Papa near Rome, I have to admit that it seemed a strange idea to me. I thought, “In Ancona (the city where I live), there isn’t even a local GBU group. Why should I receive training for a role that doesn’t even exist and of which there’s no hope at my university?” … But wait, let’s rewind.

In January, after years of having attended national GBU events and activities, God laid on my heart the desire to establish a group in Ancona – a university made up of many departments and, therefore, with a great need for Jesus to be shared from student to student. So I got to work and began looking for Christian students with the same desire that God had given me, both in my own church and in other churches around the city. I managed to forge contacts with quite a few students, but unfortunately nothing concrete was established. I then left Ancona to spend a semester studying abroad, and returned to Italy in August. That brings us to 5th September, the day I had that conversation with Giovanni about the Training. Since many of the students I’d met at the GBU Weekend Away in April had warmly encouraged me to attend the Training weekend, I decided to go.

There were 27 of us students (approx. one or two per GBU group, all from various universities across Italy), and we were all gathered and ready for a weekend of intense preparation to equip us in tackling the upcoming academic year as we lead our local groups. The whole weekend was centred around a single theme: Be holy, because I am holy (1 Peter). Read more

Tempo di lettura: 3 minutiWe are very happy to be able to share with you the things that have happened here in Padua over the last few months. As you may already know, for a few years now we have been lacking a stable GBU group at the University of Padua. I found this out in the last years of High School, when I was considering the various universities nearby and hearing more about the various GBU groups in existence. Along with a sense of sadness to not have found anything a desire grew in my heart to start something myself, a desire that only began to take shape with the start of this academic year when a good friend (who had been a co-ordinator of a GBU group for years in Pisa) put me in contact with Chris.

Near the middle of October, after a few weeks, we met to see what we could do and to pray for the birth GBU Padova 1of a new group. In the meantime, we were joined by Emily, an English girl in Padua for Erasmus. We thank the Lord for how he has guided every thing in the course of this semester, what seemed uncertain and difficult He has made possible! At the first meeting there were four of us, we were joined by two other girls: Jessica and Gloria. None of us had had any experience with the GBU, after the initial bewilderment and shyness our first meeting continued with great serenity but was also very exciting, we had the opportunity to get to know each other a little, to share our testimonies and think about how to organise the meetings of our little group. Finally something concrete was born, a response to our prayers and hopes and once again I could see how the Lord does not fail to give an answer to those who want to serve Him. We have decided to study the Gospel of John together, as it is a great place to start thanks to the richness of the verses it contains. After a few weeks we were joined by three more students (Marco, Elie and Naomi) who started to frequent our meetings. Their presence has been a further encouragement and together we have continued with our reading and meditation of John. Read more

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiHere we are at the start of a new academic year with the honour, responsibility, challenge and pleasure of “shining out like bright stars among a warped and crooked generation, holding out the Word of life”!

Whether you are a seasoned student with a long list of successes and failures, or a freshman, feeling that mix of excitement and nervousness over the possibility of getting involved with the GBU, I want to ask you the question, “How do you  easure the success of your evangelistic efforts?” How do you establish whether the effort made has achieved its goal or whether you have failed and so will have to adopt a completely different method and approach next time?

My answer has always been, consciously or unconsciously, to count the number of people who convert, or at least the number of people who have been touched by the message. Or, when I really want to hold on to the smallest acceptable result, I count how many have been “reached”, how many people were present at the event with whom I managed to talk about the Gospel.

Perhaps you could come up with a game of awarding points, three for converts, two for those interested and one for those reached.

I have been frustrated countless times because my score was too low. There are certainly many reasons why an approach like this to evangelism is wrong. Rather than trying to list them, I invite you to look at the book of the prophet Jonah, as we have done recently in Naples together with some members of GBU Potenza.

Read the whole book – it only takes a few minutes – and afterwards ask yourselves, “Who was God’s work focused on?”

It is surprising to note that in a book that talks about the salvation of more than 120 thousand people, God’s attention seems to be mainly focused on the individual who had been chosen to deliver a message.

In contrast to the other prophetic books, the book of Jonah gives very little attention to the message the prophet was called to proclaim. And the receivers
of the message themselves do little more than appear. Jonah, on the other hand is called, corrected, used, rebuked and accompanied by God throughout the whole story. The whole book is devoted to his transformation (we could also say conversion), albeit an incomplete one.

God does not need us to bring His message to the students in our universities, but He has chosen us because He wants to complete a work in us.

This year, try to evaluate what you have learned about God after every effort you’ve made to evangelise, and leave the rest faithfully in His hands!

Francesco Schiano

(Staff GBU Naples)