Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti
Figuring out God’s will for one’s life seems to be a common obsession in the lives of believers.

Perhaps this is because we suffer from a kind of “Sliding Doors” syndrome.
Just like the famous 90’s movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, we think that one wrong choice (in the movie it was a random event, but that’s beside the point) can change the course of our story, causing us to miss out on the best things in life.

Yet God’s will for us is crystal clear in the Bible. Jesus called us to be his witnesses, to the glory of God. Before he ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, “Go and make disciples” and his disciples passed on this same commission to those who believed their preaching. Making disciples of Christ is God’s will for every person who believes in him and follows him. The main answer, whenever we are faced with an important choice and we ask ourselves what to do, should be: “Go and make disciples of Christ.”

“You are the salt of the earth…”

This year at the Festa GBU we asked ourselves how to fulfill the great commission by reflecting on three famous passages from the Gospel of Matthew (5:13-16, 9:36-38, 28:16-20).
“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world…” a disciple of Christ cannot go unnoticed, and the place he is in, he makes it a better place. His new birth and the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life clearly make him different. He is what the dry, dark world in which he lives needs.

So, shine! “That they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.”

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them”

The crowds that live around us should see our good works. What should we see in them? Jesus saw sheep without a shepherd, people who were tired and exhausted, he saw a great harvest, which prompted him to say “pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out workers into his harvest field.”
The practice of fasting (not necessarily from food, but perhaps from the internet, smartphones, TV shows), solitude and silence might help us to be free from the distractions that keep us from seeing the crowds living around us. This will help us feel the compassion Jesus feels for them, as well as encouraging us to spend more time on our knees, praying with a greater vision of the Lord’s work.

Then we will be ready to go, to be uncomfortable, to take risks.

“Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell” (C.T. Studd).

There is a great need to preach the gospel, to teach the Word of God. Those who have dedicated themselves to these things have always faced suffering and persecution, but “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” Jesus told his disciples after affirming that all power had been entrusted to him, in heaven and on earth.

We are not in a world driven by chance, in which our wrong choices can ruin our lives. We are in the harvest field of God, who has all things in his hands, and who asks us above all else one thing: “go and make disciples of me.” Nothing else is as important.

 

Francesco Schiano
(GBU staff worker)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

March 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)

Tempo di lettura: 4 minuti
Salmon are peculiar fish.

They are born in rivers, they spend their adult life in the sea and at a certain point, when the time comes to reproduce, they return to the river from which they came. They can recognize the river through which they reached the sea thanks to their sense of smell and the so-called ‘home scent molecular memory’. Thus, guided by their olfactory instinct, they begin to wander the sea or the ocean looking for the mouth of their river. Once they recognize the way home, they begin to swim against the current to the exact point where they were laid in the form of eggs.

Salmon, therefore, swim in the opposite direction to the water flow: this requires considerable energy, clarity of purpose and stubbornness in the face of the obvious adversities that a similar journey requires. In the Christian life we are often like salmon.

There are many fish in the sea, but only a few swim upstream. God did not make all fish the same, in a similar way that not all human beings become Christians. When we are immersed in the sea of our dominant culture we have many choices and alternatives. When Christian find themselves immersed in their society’s dominant culture and tradition, it is easier to conform to it: no one likes to attract attention because they swim against the current.

Yet, Jesus was the countercurrent by definition.

He was a salmon too. Until he turned 30, he was in the sea like the others. Then his ministry began and he started to go upstream, convincing others to do the same. He said countercurrent words about God, His character and His Kingdom. He spent his time with people who were discriminated against and despised. He was a leader against the current of expectations of his Jewish compatriots. He was nothing like what anyone expected and even today, Jesus and His words cause a stir. The Gospel causes a stir. His death for us on the cross is countercultural compared to the saving of self we hear so much about from the modern pulpits.

Young Christian graduates are like fish in the ocean.

After having swam in calm and controlled waters, most of the time under the eyes of adults first (with family) and then friends (from the end of high school to university), they find themselves immersed in a vast and unknown space, with unstable boundaries: the world of work. They find themselves abandoning the cities and churches they belong to, their families and everything they knew in order to undertake new paths of life and growth, new difficulties and new challenges.

With these premises, it is not surprising that even according to scholars the transition from the condition of students to that of workers is one of the most difficult and painful. Without the right energy, clarity of purpose and determination, it is easy to lose your way home. And our home is not here, but in the Kingdom of the One who created us. It is the House of the Lord, where we wish to dwell every day of our lives.

Cross-current is a project designed specifically for young Christian graduates who want to live their faith fully in the workplace.

Born as an extension of the GBU (University Bible Groups), Cross-current allows young Christians who have recently entered the job world to reflect on God’s purposes for work and for us personally, based on a solid theological approach combined with prayer and peer-to-peer mentoring.

Our first weekend together at Bobbio Pellice was the beginning of a wonderful/beautiful three year adventure. We were in a small group of around ten people, both on Zoom and face-to-face. In the course of these three years we will meet another five times.

Each weekend together focuses on a particular theme linked to work and faith in Christ. In particular, this October we saw how it is possible to redeem work by seeing it as a service to God and to others, starting from the study of Genesis 1 and 2. We also saw how God himself gets to work and we learned from the Word [some teachings on] how a Christian should behave at work.

We also had the chance to share in couples or small groups our difficulties and challenges, as well as praying for each other. Obviously there were many fun moments, both in our free time by taking a walk to the nearest bar for the daily supply of caffeine, playing games and eating chocolate on Saturday night!

Cross-current allowed us to not feel like the only salmon in the sea, helping us to create deep relationships with other young people who live the same challenges we face, so that we have the good energy and encouragement to go upstream. The weekend in Bobbio was an opportunity to make clear who God really is, based primarily on His nature and His Word, thus providing a biblical and positive perspective on work. It reminded us what our main goals as Christians are: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love others as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18).

This first weekend of Cross-current Italy also provided us with practical tools to use every day to see the power of God and His glory come true in our workplaces. In short, it gave us the right determination and ‘stubbornness’ to get to the end of the race.

Last but certainly not least, Cross-current has given us all motivation to truly love our colleagues, our leaders and our jobs, proclaiming salvation by grace in the blood of Jesus through a realistic and consistent testimony carried out day after day.

Cross-current Italy, despite the fact that it has only just begun, has already proved to be the answer to a prayer that I would never have been able to express to God… because the truth is that after graduation I didn’t even know what I needed!

All I knew was that I wanted to follow Christ even as I worked and Cross-current had a scent of Home, just like the river mouth for salmon. It was a great encouragement for me and I am sure my fellow ‘cross-currentees’ feel the same way!

Alessandra Rositani
(GBU Turin graduate)

 

Tempo di lettura: 4 minuti

This year, despite the pandemic, we didn’t want to do without the precious weekend of FORMAZIONE GBU (Student Leaders’ Training) in which young students, willing to serve God at the university, gather to be spiritually charged and start, together, the new academic year. It’s a chance for spiritual growth and training both for “freshers” and for more “experienced” students.

Following you can find the testimonies of two students: Federico Beccati, just getting to know the GBU world and also a new leader in Turin, and Alice Novaria, an experienced leader already on board the mission for a few years now.

Federico writes:

Praise the Lord, I had the opportunity to attend, this year for the first time, Formazione GBU. It was great and encouraging to see fellow students from Italian cities ready and available to serve God also in the context of university campuses. Thanks to the more experienced leaders I had the opportunity to receive helpful advice, both practical and spiritual, to start this task according to God’s will.

I was hesitant at first, being inexperienced, of how I could be of any help to the GBU vision, which is “sharing Jesus from one student to another”.

Instead God responded to my doubts from the very first day with a Bible study on Haggai, an extraordinary text about the devastation the people of Israel were experiencing after the return to Jerusalem from the exile, but where God gives hope: “I am with you” declares the Lord (Hg 1:13). And then Haggai prophecies of the glory of the Lord with the coming of Jesus Christ. Thanks to studying this book I understood fully how everything must be entrusted to God and how we as student leaders are called, in our role, to have only one goal: to give Him glory and to present His Gospel to others.

As I repeated frequently in the days after Formazione, I had never received so much input into my spiritual growth as I did during that weekend. An example of this to which I am thankful for were the workshops on evangelism, for instance through “Sharing Jesus by reading the Bible with a friend”, I found the motivation to fight against my shyness and accept the responsibility of evangelism that Jesus left us after His resurrection.

Another topic that we looked at was how we are called to be leaders, not according to the world’s definition, but according to Jesus Christ. To be a leader is to be a servant who sacrifices oneself for others, whose life is rooted in the Word and who is of encouragement to the other members of the group, helping them to grow.

Although the Covid-19 restrictions limited our interaction, it was good to encourage one another, especially in this new beginning full of uncertainties. I was particularly grateful for the moments of prayer in which we supported one another and I will keep lifting up my fellow student leaders in prayer throughout the year. During the weekend we had the opportunity to share our worries and prayer requests which really reinforced the bond amongst all of the participants.

I want to close by thanking the GBU staff workers who made Formazione possibile, I thank them personally because by being able to attend Formazione, God showed me more so the plan that He has for my life and therefore affirmed the verse that says:

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go”
(Isaiah 48:17)

Alice writes:

This year God granted my desire of closing my long university journey with what is most important to me – sharing the message of the Gospel.

The GBU has always been a great way to accomplish this and God opened up a way for us at Urbino, a university with no Christian witness.

After a couple of years where GBU Urbino stopped due to lack of “student power”, we are back and this fills me with joy. So I had the opportunity, a few years later, to attend Formazione GBU again. The weekend was a leap into the past, and brought back many memories and some nostalgia too! I was surprised to see a considerable generational turnover in the students who came and also some older friends.

We studied Haggai, a book that I had never personally analysed in depth before. I think that God wanted to equip us this year by reminding us that HE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE WITH US. He will be with us even when we are discouraged and when all our efforts may seem fruitless or useless, because the work is His, not ours.

Another great teaching that really stuck with me was the example of Haggai and his “hidden service”. Despite the fact that the book we studied is named after him, Haggai is more like an “extra” than the lead in this story, as one might assume. Haggai faithfully reported God’s message without adding or taking anything to His words – he was only an instrument in God’s hands.

The application I took from this (that was provoked by a simple comment during the Bible discussion) is to be humble and faithful to God.

I want to point this out because I believe that Formazione GBU is a rich time filled with input, with every moment having the potential to be crucial for one’s spiritual growth. In every Formazione session that I attended I always observed a strong desire between students and staff to share and exchange thoughts and lessons learnt. Even in the rare “free” moments between sessions or at the end of the evening, it was beautiful to see that Jesus was at the center of our conversations, on the top of our list of priorities.

Along the same lines, I thought that spending time with our only roommates at meal times (due to Covid restrictions) would be a limitation during this particular Formazione, yet this turned out to be a great blessing. Because of the deeper nature of our conversations we were able to establish stronger, more intimate relationships and encourage one another, with God guiding us the whole time.

One workshop that I found particularly useful was “How to prepare an evangelistic message” in which we also had the chance to do practical exercises. And there’s much more that could I say about the prayer evening, the group Bible studies, the sessions on the leader’s role in a GBU, the panels during lunch…

I think that now, equipped so, we have nothing left to do than answer the call of our Lord –

“Get to work, for I am with you!” (Haggai 2:4)

Federico Beccati
(GBU Torino)

Alice Novaria
(GBU Urbino)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

This was my third time attending the Festa GBU.

It’s always an opportunity for spiritual and personal growth, and also a chance to meet friends from all over Italy.

When registrations began a few months ago, I didn’t hesitate to register, and I wasn’t the only one! Several students from our GBU group in Turin signed up, also because our group was supposed to be in charge of the legendary coffee bar! We were excited at the prospect and were encouraging the new members of the group to come along.

Unfortunately, though, I received an email that I was hoping not to receive…

There would be no Festa GBU due to the Coronavirus. Postponed to 2021. Sad news, but the email also said that we would meet anyway, online. I didn’t have high expectations, but it was encouraging to know we would still have the chance to do something, despite these difficult times.

A couple of days before the beginning of the event, I saw the program and I had to change my mind because I wasn’t expecting it to be so full. It was almost like a regular day at the Festa, including the special guest! So I registered and picked which workshops to attend: this year too there were several interesting options.

And then, the great day arrived, April 25th.

I participated in all the events and I was really struck by them: I didn’t expect to see so many students online together! The morning message and the workshops made me think about my future and helped me to re-organize my priorities. They encouraged me to advance in my pursuit of the will of God for my life and challenged me to cultivate my prayer life in order to experience God’s presence and power in every situation. Like every year, I was enriched by the dialogue with other students who struggle with battles similar to mine, I really appreciated it.

It was a privilege to listen to the interview with Lindsay Brown, what a brilliant mind!

But my favorite moment was the prayer meeting at the end of the day and Johan’s closing speech. During the prayer time I could sense the unity of the Spirit in all of the participants (about 80 people) despite the distance!

And Johan really moved us  when he spoke about the beginning of GBU in Italy, 70 years ago, and showed us some historic photos, or when he showed us the group photo of last year’s Festa GBU. Those historic pictures made me feel part of a ministry and service that go on in time; I’m deeply honored to collaborate with GBU and I’m happy to see how the Lord keeps blessing our groups and uses them as an instrument to reach students for him.

The picture from last year  made me nostalgic for those wonderful moments!

After I disconnected from the call, I found out that I wasn’t the only from Turin to have been moved, and we were all excited and we want to have similar meetings in the future.

For me, Festa GBU Online was a breath of fresh air in this time of lockdown. I really hope to physically attend next year’s Festa GBU!

Luca Montaldo
(student leader of GBU Turin)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

How GBU faces the Coronavirus emergency

Sharing Jesus from Student to Student.

This is the GBU motto. The goal is to reach university students with the message of the Gospel, proclaimed and witnessed by students who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

At the beginning of the school year, students belonging to different GBU groups started planning activities and events to accomplish this goal. University students full of passion for Christ have organized Bible studies, prayer meetings, themed evenings with an evangelistic message, and many more initiatives. It has all been done with great commitment. Students invested time and energy, filled with enthusiasm and zeal, with the joy and the urgency of sharing the message of salvation in Christ Jesus.

The Coronavirus seems to have nullified these efforts.

Today, Italy is locked down, universities are closed. The students are at home and the GBU initiatives have all been postponed indefinitely. We can’t hide our frustration! The students use these events to proclaim Christ publicly, but also to establish relationships and share the Gospel one on one. Now the virus keeps us away from people and separates the GBU students from their friends, those friends who need someone to witness to them about Christ. And yet, we should and we must stop. The GBU students must stay home, not only to comply with the Ministry’s decrees, but out of respect for other students, professors, families and, in general, our neighbour.

However, we find ourselves asking: “Do we just stop? Is our mission quarantined also? Or is it still possible to Share Jesus from Student to Student in the times of Coronavirus?”

With determination and passion for God, GBU students all around Italy are taking charge with creativity to keep witnessing Chris and live their faith in the university. And since the university activities have migrated online and on social media, likewise  GBU students are using these resources to have an impact on the multimedia student society of today. From Messina to Turin, students are implementing many activities: prayer meetings and Bible studies in video calls, evangelistic posts on social media, one on one witnessing with roommates, and many more ideas that are being born right as we speak. All this so that Gospel witnessing  in universities will not stop.

After all, this too is a way of loving our neighbour. Doctors readily and lovingly care for those in need.With the same urgency and the same love, the GBU students want to keep on sharing Jesus with their friends, colleagues and roommates, so that others may choose to follow Him. That is why, in a climate where Italian students respond to government directions with fear or sometimes with blatantly careless attitudes, the GBU students continue to boldly proclaim their faith in God and the hope found in Chris Jesus.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” [Jesus]
(Gospel of John, 16:33)

Domenico Campo
(GBU staff worker in Sicily)

Tempo di lettura: 5 minuti

Stories of daily life: disciples to “make disciples” in the hand of a great God.

April 2019

I was waiting for a new roommate in my Uni residence. You’re never really ready enough to welcome the newcomer, because you have no idea who it could be. I wanted to to be ready. In the face of uncertainty, as Christians, God calls us to trust him and to bring our doubts, fears and desires to him in prayer, knowing that He himself will provide what is better for us, in his own time. Initially, my requests were mostly related to practical aspects of living together: “Someone polite, neat, and, if possible, Italian, please!”

But the more I spent time with God, the more I realized that He was changing my desires; my requests were no longer the same and my thoughts were aligning with His. I had prioritized things that were of little importance. What God was calling me to do was show who He is with my life, to talk about hope in Christ Jesus with my new roommate, with the desire to one day read the Bible with her, at our house! I knew God would send the right person at the right time. As for me, I rediscovered the value and the power of prayer, and the great privilege of being able to enjoy special relationship with God.

But to really understand the greatness of our God, and why this story is His story, we need to take a step back…

During the two weeks of waiting and praying, something rather strange happened. One Saturday morning I was reading the book of Acts, when I heard some lovely music. I knew that melody, it was a Christian song! For a moment I really thought I was wrong, but then I saw an Asian girl with a guitar in her hand, singing and praising God in front of the university residence. I was so excited that I want straight down to the square and, without even knowing her name, I started singing along with her. I met a dear sister in Christ (G. from Berlin) who organizes bible studies at her house every Friday, and that that day was handing out flyers near the University to invite students. We began to hang out regularly and shared our passion for Jesus.

Three days later I met A. my new roommate… from Mongolia! She didn’t speak Italian, and it wasn’t going to be easy to communicate (she only knew a little English), let alone talk to her about Jesus! I didn’t see how I could share the gospel with her, I trusted God and his faithfulness. I prayed that He would give me opportunities to share at least my story, and how he had changed my life, but I didn’t have many opportunities for dialogue. God challenged me to put my complete trust in him, to be able to do it without words but, with my life, to show His love, His joy, His peace, His grace and His forgiveness. A. this perceived it, I wasn’t aware of it yet but God was already working in her heart.

Easter

It is clear to me that God had prepared a special time with A. even though I had imagined a different kind of day. I invited her to go to the park for a walk after a quick lunch, and I brought my ukelele with me. We sat on a bench and I started spontaneously praising God with some songs and explaining what they meant. We spent two blessed hours there, and God gave me the joy of sharing who Jesus is for me, and the opportunity to explain the gospel message in simple words.
“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God had already answered in an incredible way to my prayers, wait until you hear what she asked me!

“What if we started reading the Bible together?”

I could not have imagined that after only two weeks we would already have the first bible study at our home!

May

We had our first bible study in English. A.’s desire to know Jesus was encouraging, but it was not easy for her to understand the text. Even though I had the proof that even wordless God can perform miracles, I felt the urgency that she really understand the good news of Jesus and it would really be great to know a believer who spoke her language with which could have talk and ask all her questions.

Here the story gets interesting: remember G. the Asian girl I met a few weeks before? Well, what I didn’t mention is that his mom is Mongolian. G. knows 9 languages, including Mongolian!

And that’s not all, During the second biblical study with A., I told her about G. and she very spontaneously asked me if it was the same G. that organizes bible studies on Fridays, that had given her a flyer a few weeks, which she had gladly accepted because she was interested in knowing Jesus. You can imagine my reaction! I was amazed at how much God had orchestrated everything perfectly. I realized that this was His work, that I was only an instrument in his hands, and that gave me joy, peace and an incredible sense of freedom. I surrendered control of everything to him.

It was not easy to schedule a meeting between G. and A. For three weeks, our plans kept being cancelled! But God had already shown me his faithfulness and again invited me to trust him, there’s nothing more reassuring!

June

Friday the 14th: the day of the long-awaited meeting, G., A., me and my ukulele, completely immersed in the green surroundings of the park. As soon as they met with great joy and enthusiasm they started talking in Mongolian, while I, not being able to understand anything, sang and thanked God for what my eyes were seeing. G. opened her Bible and began reading and commenting on verses of the letter to the Romans:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10: 9-11)

After a while G. asked me to join them in prayer because A. wanted to meet Jesus personally and start a new path with him. I could barely hold back the tears – it was the greatest joy of my life.

In two months God performed incredible miracles and showed his power: nothing is impossible for him! The wonder was to see how in the hands of a great God every Christian is equipped to proclaim the message of the Gospel to people of every nation and language, because He has already given us everything in Christ Jesus.

As his disciples He calls us to “make disciples” and I am aware that A. is only at the beginning of her journey with God; my prayer is that she can fall in love with Jesus more and more, get to know him through the Bible and decide to follow him with all her heart. We continue to pray for God’s work in her life!

As for me, I praise God for the privilege of being beside her in this journey that, despite small daily challenges, is full of great blessings because “there is more joy in giving than in receiving.”

Alessandra Malta
(GBU Firenze)

Tempo di lettura: 3 minuti

GBU Italy students revived by the IFES Europe evangelism conference

Priscilla was one of 1,700 students. She had come with her friends from GBU Italy to join students from 47 other countries. This was IFES Europe’s student evangelism conference, Presence, held at Easter 2017. Almost two years on, we asked her to reflect on the long-term impact of being at Presence. She shared her reflections:

Priscilla’s story

“I was expecting a wonderful experience. But not something that inspirational. Both for me and for my IFES group (GBU) in Milan.

It was amazing to experience a connection with other students as we prayed together in different languages. And it was amazing to see how big IFES is — to realise that we are involved in a huge international project.

But one stand-out moment for me was hearing a man share his testimony on the last night. He had grown up in a Muslim family in the Middle East. As part of his study, he spent a few months in France as an international student. There he had met some Christian students and started reading the Bible with them. Just three weeks before he left France, he gave his life to Christ.

That man now works with IFES students in the Middle East.

After hearing his story, I felt convinced that we need to make more of the opportunities we have to reach international students. We are used to praying for missionaries all over the world, but what about the hundreds of international people around us? They need to know Jesus! And they can be a powerful testimony in their own communities when they go back. The time they spend in our country might be short, but it could be enough.

A new heart

My friends and I came back from Presence spiritually charged, full of ideas and with a new heart for international students. Since then we’ve started having Bible studies in English as well as Italian. In my university we have a lot of international students — mostly from China, India, Pakistan, South America and other countries in Europe. They are from different religious backgrounds. Generally, we find that they don’t know much about Christianity, but they are more open to speaking about spiritual matters than our Italian friends. Sometimes their questions surprise me. They are curious. Talking about our souls and our sin is not weird to them.

Before Presence I was interested in international students, but I was scared because of the language barrier and I wasn’t sure what approach to take. After Presence we decided not to worry about those things. Our English is not perfect and our Bible studies are not always the best. But the important thing is to make the international students feel loved and welcome.

We’ve started hosting evangelistic events each month — usually themed parties, like The 1950s, Pizza, Movie Night, The South of Italy… We’re learning to have someone there to translate everything into English, and we’re trying to think about how to manage food, games, music and a presentation of the gospel in the most effective way. Sometimes we’ve had up to 60 students! We’ve also gone out to meet students on campus. Now we’re working to create a little guide about how to survive at university here, which includes some information about GBU.

An adventure worth having

To IFES groups that haven’t yet started engaging with international students I would say to risk it because it’s really worth it. It’s a great opportunity to discover other cultures and to test your faith. Pray for your universities and let yourselves be amazed!

And to IFES students in Europe who are considering going to the next European Evangelism Conference, Revive, I would say, GO! When we came back home we realised how much Presence had joined us together as a group. It made us a real team with the same goal and the same vision, the same love for students. Presence was an adventure and gave us stories that we still tell today.”

Introducing: Revive

The impact of Presence was felt across the whole region, as students fell more in love with Jesus and caught the vision for sharing Him on campus. Many mission weeks happened in new cities as a result of Presence. But IFES Europe still longs for more. It longs to see revival. In its Christian students. In its universities. In its nations. Revive, the next European evangelism conference, is taking place in Germany, 27 December 2019–1 January 2020.

(this article appeared on ifesconexion.org)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

Tempo 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 to the evangelical faith, actually during the Reformation years, he wrote the first books in the Slovene language. This year the Italian GBU sent a […]