blog | 01.11.19
The university work of Christians in Sport has been running for almost as long as Christians in Sport itself. There were student sportspeople invited to the very first gathering in June 1976.
There are many reasons why our university work is both an exciting and a vital part of the ministry. We have the privilege of working with Christian athletes at a particularly formative stage in their lives, as they go deeper in their faith and go further in their sport. We work alongside them as they develop further as young leaders, and vitally we’re there to support and equip them as they share Jesus with their teammates. A substantial number of those who now support the work of Christians in Sport with their time, gifts and money were involved in a university group.
However, despite the many joys of being involved in the university world here in the UK, globally the work is very different.
Significant university work is very rare, especially in Europe. There are so many wonderful, creative and robust sports ministries in existence but so few of them work with university students directly. This is really significant because it means that many of them are missing the opportunity to share the gospel at a stage in people’s lives when they are typically most open to listening. And it also means that they are neglecting a crucial time for leadership investment and development.
With all this in mind Christians in Sport are now working closely with the European Christian Sports Union as we seek to establish a European-wide university sports ministry. It is a big task but an immensely exciting one. Starting this Autumn we are hoping to facilitate the formation of university groups across the continent with a similar format to those in the UK but inevitably with their own distinctive regional feel and flavour. The vision is to see some form of sustainable student group witness established in the top 100 sporting universities in Europe. This includes the likes of Bordeaux (ranked as the best university in Europe for Sport) and Strasbourg in France, Coimbra (top of the European Universities Sport Association championship for the past two years) in Portugal, Seville and Valencia in Spain, Vienna in Austria, Zagreb in Croatia, Jonkoping in Sweden and Bologna and Verona in Italy to name just ten.
We cannot do this on our own! First and foremost we will be prayerfully relying on the Spirit to guide us to the people and places of His plan. We have already been led to some gifted student leaders through the European Sports Mission Summer School (Ready Set Go Multiply) run by the ECSU. We will also be working with friends and partners from across Europe. Most notably we plan to work very closely with IFES Europe (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students).
IFES Europe connects 41 national student movements across the continent. The British member movement is UCCF. We have already started to connect with key leaders in some of these countries and are making plans to meet, train and work with local groups in some of the key university cities. The movements in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Serbia and the Faroe Islands have all already been really welcoming. As part of this partnership with IFES we have been invited to attend Revive (previously known as the IFES European Evangelism Conference). This is taking place 27 December to 1 January in Germany. Thousands of Christian undergraduate students are going to attend. We will be teaching seminars on how to reach the world of sport as well as running the sport and fitness for the event. We hope to find many Christian student sports players excited by the vision of the work. Revive is just one of many exciting opportunities on the horizon.
As we embark on this venture please join us in praying for the students we trust we will meet. Pray for all the challenges of travel, training and language barriers that will inevitably present themselves. And please pray we see gospel fruit in the universities of Europe!
Owen Brown is part of both the student and international teams at Christians in Sport. He is a member of Cardiff Runners and is a member of The Bridge Church in Cardiff. Owen is married to Rhi and has two children; Ella and Freddie.
Christians in Sport is a UK based charity that aims to reach the world of sport for Christ. We mainly work with sportspeople in competitive and elite sport.
Registered Charity England and Wales 1086570.
Registered Charity Scotland SCO45299.
Company number: 4146081
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