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).
It was a weekend packed with seminars, plenary sessions, tips and ideas for evangelistic events, times of sharing and prayer; all of this greatly encouraged me and made me so excited that I couldn’t wait to get to work back in Ancona. I really enjoyed the time spent together, especially since it helped me realise that all Christian students, regardless of the subject we study, the city in which we live, our family background and least of all the denomination of our church, we all find ourselves in similar situations and face the same problems; and when we share these problems and commit them to God in prayer, we receive the most extraordinary encouragement. As a result, we grow to become a true and proper family, one in which every member is listened to and helped in the best way possible.
During the Training, God spoke to me loud and clear, giving me clear signs. As a matter of fact, while we were planning events for each local group (a fundamental step in being able to face the academic year efficiently and well-equipped), I received messages from some of the contacts I’d made during the last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read messages along the lines of: “I’m really pleased because a few days ago I thought about what you said to me months ago, and I’m convinced that God is prompting me to share Jesus with other students at my university.” I can now officially say that I am no longer alone in Ancona, thank you Lord!
The Student Leaders Training equipped me in the best possible way in order to be useful for God in the work he’s doing in my university. The morning at Roma Tor Vergata University spent speaking with students one-to-one and discussing their religious background also taught me a lot.
It’s unlikely that I’ll ever forget this weekend, and I pray that God would help every GBUer to “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12)