The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Acts 20:28

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

One of the pressures in running a student ministry is the thought that the ministry could disappear very quickly.  Just a few years of not recruiting new students would lead to no students and having to start from nothing.  This would be even more daunting since students prefer to relate with students.  It would be difficult for me to gather students together since I am not ‘one of them’.  

As I felt this pressure, so I put the pressure on the students and myself.  We needed to be reaching out to the first year students in evangelism.  The only thing was, that for me, it never worked that way.  For some reason all they saw was pressure, but were rarely motivated to evangelise.   The pressure also came to me to recruit.  I would go to the events held for first year students and see if I could draw in some students, but again little ever came of it.  In fact there was one time when I was at an event for new students and Eva arrived with our children.  I suddenly felt uptight because here I was trying to present a youthful image and now that is blown by everyone seeing that I am married with kids.  My anxieties overflowed in a very poor response to Eva.  The ironic thing is that while Eva was there she began talking to a girl who later came to join us and indeed went on to work with us for a year in the ministry, and brought in a number of others with her.

When Jesus asked me to be a shepherd I did a study on ‘The Biblical view of a shepherd’.  I wanted to know what he meant by the task.  It was quite straightforward, just looking up in a concordance all the references to shepherd and reflecting on the various passages that came up.  One of the things that came up from this study is that the sheep are the Lords and that he gives them to whom he wishes -  “The flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer.”  This had a profound effect on me in terms of taking off the pressure.  If Jesus, who loved me and sent me here, was the one who would entrust me with the sheep then I don’t need to fear running out of sheep.  He would provide, and the reality was that he did.  We never had a very big ministry, but it was actually about the right size for God to teach me to be a shepherd.  Any bigger and I may have had an excuse not to do what he had been asking me to do.

The lack of pressure gave incredible freedom to do what God had actually asked me to do.  That was to go out and proclaim the gospel to people whether they would listen or not.  To that end I went round the halls of residence and talked to people.  Since I did not have the pressure of recruiting, I had a great deal more freedom with people and they in turn did not feel the pressure from me.  As people began to grow more in love with Jesus, rather than growing as a response to ministry pressure, I began to see God working more clearly.  Indeed there were those who came to faith as well.