Last week, my boss at EU, Geoff, asked all staff members (and, I believe, the student leaders as well) to buy a copy of Lindsay Brown’s ‘Shining like Stars: The power of the gospel in the world’s universities’. I finished reading it this morning and it is one of the most emotional books I have ever read. It brought tears to my eyes and shivers down my spine from the very first page.
By word of explanation and because we all love Christian acronyms, the group I work for, EU (Evangelical Union), belongs to the AFES (Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students) which belongs to the IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) of which Lindsay Brown is the outgoing General Secretary. This book is a collection of stories about that ministry in the world under headings such as ‘Never underestimate what students can do’, ‘The call to sacrifice’, ‘Holding out the word of life’ and ‘The reconciling power of the gospel’.
This was an incredible read, both energising and humbling. It was energising because it brought into such clear focus the great harvest in universities and the need for workers. The stories came from all over the world – to start with some of the As, from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Argentina! It was so encouraging to think that this is a ministry given to us by God and shared with our brothers and sisters from all around the world. However, that was also a humbling experience, because many of our brothers and sisters suffer greatly, to the point of torture and death for the privilege of proclaiming Christ on campus. As I consider the ridicule or criticism I receive for my or EU’s gospel work on campus, it pales into insignificance next to the incredible sacrifice of other of God’s servants throughout the world.
Wang Ming Dao, one of the great IFES preachers in China in the 1940s, imprisoned for over 30 years, much in solitary confinement, for his faith and ministry, said, “Many have good beginnings, but few have good endings.” Reading this book, my heart has been encouraged and my determination strengthened to continue sharing in this work of God through IFES. My great prayer continues to be that until the end of my life or until the glorious return of the King, I will be someone who will “declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among the peoples.” (Psalm 96:3)
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.