Arthur and I have just got back from AFES‘ National Training Event. We both went several times as students but this was our first time back in a while. Arthur’s going to post about leading Strand Group and I’ll be posting my reflections about NTE as a whole over the next few days.
It’s been 2 years since I worked full time for AFES and the first thing that struck me was how much fun it is, especially in comparison to church work.
Students are fun and relaxed. They might be concerned about what job they’ll have after uni or having a few money issues but basically, it’s a pretty good time in their lives. Even those who are having a hard time have an optimism and an energy about them that I don’t find in people my own age and older at church.
Because of the demographic, student work is generally with people who are bright, interested in big issues and used to thinking and being stretched. If you’re ready to teach, they’re ready to learn and they just drink it all in! They’re even self-motivated: we had one girl who said she enjoyed being in our group because she got to watch how we interact as a married couple which was something she’d been thinking about. That hadn’t even occurred to us!
Of course, NTE is student ministry on steroids – the cream of the crop in some ways. Students who come to NTE are normally the keenest, most enthusiastic of the bunch. So not all student ministry is like this. There are difficulties and complexities to student ministry that don’t appear in church work. But there is also a certain vigor to uni ministry that NTE is both a microcosm and a reminder of.
(Photo from NTE 2010 by David Johnstone)
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.