Last Friday I wrote on Facebook
I couldn’t be in the main sessions or seminars so most of my NTE experience revolved around the strand group Arthur and I were leading. It was Strand 2, which means our people had been to NTE once before (and obviously come back for more!) We were looking at Micah 5:1-5a through the lens of biblical theology. The highlight for me was the students in our group.
They were from unis in Queensland, NSW, the Northern Territory and Tasmania and had a stack of different experiences, including a Uighur girl. Her people are 98.8% Muslim and an oppressed people group in China but she is a believer. Her story was one of asking, ‘Why did Allah make me a woman?’ Warned not to read the Bible because she’d go to Hell, she decided that as a woman, her chances of going to Heaven were pretty slim anyway, so she might as well.
There were also two MKs (missionary kids), one who’d been in the Philippines and another who’d been in Ethiopia. I appreciated hearing their (very different) experiences of being Third Culture Kids, returning to Australia, and of developing a Christian faith amidst in such a unique life situation.
There were students who had grown up in Christian families as well as very new Christians, including one who’d come to know Jesus through Bathurst CU. Despite the range, there were some common themes that emerged.
One was the impact of community. For many students, this was their experiences of their AFES group: a place to belong, a place to grow and flourish, a place to be loved and to learn to love others, a place to be challenged to look beyond their own needs. Interestingly, this contrasted quite strongly with the experience many of them had had of Christian schools. These they described as a ‘bubble’, isolated from the rest of the world, especially non-Christians. But they spoke of their AFES groups are nurturing their faith and that in turn equipping them to reach out in love to others.
We had some great chats with these guys and I felt privileged to get to know them a bit and have a small opportunity to speak into their lives.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.