Agapé Connects with Students in Irish Universities
By Chloe Hanan
(From the January - March 2018 issue of VOX)
Agapé Ireland (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) is committed to the great commission of Jesus, and to the spiritual renewal of Ireland. Working in universities, staff members and interns are committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ before they leave university. Agapé began work in universities Ireland in 1973 and also brought the Jesus Film, which was a popular outreach in the 1990s. The team is currently based in Dublin, with monthly trips made to other cities in Ireland to foster movements there.
INTERNSHIP: THE STORY SO FAR
This year, five courageous graduates took the challenge to join Agapé for a year of training in mission. They are nearly half way through the academic year and have already been immersed in the student culture, travelled the country, fostered new relationships and shared the Gospel widely. Monday to Thursday the team are out on campus in Dublin, with one trip each month made to other cities in Ireland. Fridays are the ‘classroom’ day when they get intensive good oul’ book learning.
The tenacious team have travelled recently to help launch a spiritual movement in Bordeaux, France, where they spent a week learning what spiritual multiplication is (2 Timothy 2:22) and what it looks like in practical terms - finding young leaders, passing on a vision, facilitating rather than spearheading and growing others’ leadership. Training also featured leading ‘catalytically’- a fancy way of saying using technological means to advance student movements where there are no staff present.
Here’s what the interns have said about the year so far:
“This internship has been challenging, rewarding and I’ve grown a lot. It’s been a great bridge between university and workplace.”
“I have cried, I have laughed, I have experienced community, training and learning what mission looks like - beauty in the madness”
“I have never seen myself grow so much in such a short period of time.”
“It’s an opportunity to have to trust Jesus in the midst of challenge.”
We live in a world that thrives on story, and when it comes to telling God’s story, we want to get the main events featured. Spiritual conversations can take you by surprise, so preparation is key. At Agapé, we train people in how to simply communicate God’s story to others, so that when that moment comes, there is a framework to start with.
The Four is a modern take on the traditional Four Spiritual Laws or Knowing God Personally booklets that have been used widely in past generations. This is the full millennial updated version with wristbands and suitable graphics to boot. It is centred around four images: Heart - God loves you, Division symbol - we are separated from Him because of sin, Cross - Jesus interrupted the story by dying on the cross, and lastly a Question mark - we all have a choice to make.
This is the bare bones. The training equips individuals to be able to communicate the story personally in a way that makes sense, and also to tell their own story. Check out the @the_four_ie for our instagram and www.thefour.com for the international website.
NATIONAL STUDENT BELIEF SURVEY
This year, we kicked off the academic term by launching a new National Student Belief Survey. There are three steps to this process: Create, Collect and Collate.
We wanted to be sure to include factors in the survey that would interest us and the wider Christian community when it comes to what students believe. We like to know things like what students think about Jesus, and His main message. But also measurable factors like scaled questions of interest in faith and God, and what is important to them in their lives.
To collect responses, our team of five interns and three campus staff hit the road. We talked to students across Ireland, in all four major cities, to get 1000 surveys that have a wide representation from all the major universities. The aim of the survey was not to have a spiritual conversation, although if the participant asked questions we were always happy to continue the conversation after the survey was finished. Too often surveys can be used disingenuously, with no collation or publication planned. Students are no fools, and any hint of masked motives only serves to hinder.
We are still in the process of finishing and then finally collating the surveys, but in the meantime we have published results on www.irishstudentbelief.com. It has a brief overview of the survey, some snazzy pictures of students, a chance to do the survey and then a results page that we update when we pass a 200 mark. At the end, we plan to publish a report of the findings. So stay tuned.
In October, we launched a new endeavour called Doyle’s Sessions. This was born out of a passion for having a place where students can hear the Gospel, and a place where Christian students can invite their friends, without having to explain an unfamiliar “meeting” culture. So we hit the pub! Doyle’s is a thriving hub of city centre students, so we saw no better place to set up shop than their upstairs space.We invite people to hear a podcast recording on a range of subjects like ‘Grace over Karma’, ‘Heart over Appearance’, ‘Sacrificial Love’. As organisers, staff banded with alumni student leaders to launch it, and our core value was that there was a clear representation of the Gospel in each session.
We had a wide attendance of students from many different walks of life, a lot of craic, and each week we talked about Jesus in the pub. It was with glee that one of our staff members found, in the toilet cubicle, graffiti that proudly stated (amongst a wide range of other ‘statements’) “There is a flag flying high in the castle of my heart, in the castle of my heart, in the castle of my heart. There is a flag flying high in the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there.”
Chloe Hanan is a Dublin/Wicklow native, and has worked in ministry since a young age, with Agapé since 2009. Her passion is to see spiritual transformation in Irish lives.