Our set goals for our mission trip to Scotland were that the message of the Gospel would be proclaimed on the Glasgow campuses and that God would use the trip to call a few of our Canadian students to a longer term commitment to the U.K.
What we encountered was that God had much more in store for us there.
Our short time in Scotland only allowed us a little over four days of on campus ministry. The team of only two staff members in Glasgow had found that their evangelistic efforts were met with much resistance. They hadn’t seen a single student come to faith this academic year. Their hopes were that our group coming would create some momentum that they could build off to engage the 3 campuses that they are positioned to reach.
On the very first day on campus the morale of our team soared as we saw a Glasgow student put their faith in Christ. The zeal for evangelism among the students was amazing, they continued the week trusting God for souls and boldly shared the message of the Gospel. By the end of the week, we saw 7 people place their faith in Christ. On the final day, Ross the director of the Campus ministry gave an emotional address he thanked our Canadian group for their faith and all the gospel work they had done on campus.
I personally experienced the incredible openness of the Scottish students to the Gospel. On my first day on campus at Strathclyde University, I met a first year economics student named Greg. Greg was a wee bit intimidating at first to approach, he was dressed in dark clothes, with heavy black makeup surrounding his dark eyes, and black nail polish covering each of his finger nails.
However, within a few minutes I was impressed by this thoughtful, sensitive young guy. Greg shared with me that he considered himself a Marxist, when asked why he responded that he liked the emphasis on equality and social harmony. He told me that he was very skeptical of religion. As it turns out, much of his interaction with religion was unfortunately hurtful. More than once, a street preacher had zeroed him out from a crowd, no doubt because of his unique style, to inform him that he was going to hell if he didn’t change his ways.
Truthfully, Greg seemed quite surprised that I was willing to sit down with him and discuss his difficulties with religion. He had mostly felt judged and look down upon by Christians. He smiled at me when he said that I didn’t seem like the other Christians he had met. I shared with him my perspective, how I saw the true Christian message when embraced, leads to true social harmony and genuine humility in its followers. The real problem, I added, was not our attitude towards one another, as despicable as it may be, but our attitude towards our loving Creator God.
Later on in the conversation I asked Greg how he thought a person can have a relationship with God, he said with a great deal of sincerity, “Exactly how you described, it makes total sense.” We both smiled, not expected to have such an enriching conversation that morning, as well as make a new friend.
Greg didn’t feel that he was able to surrender his life to Jesus at that point, but he said that his entire view on Christianity had been changed that morning. I left him sitting in the student lounge not expecting to see him again soon.
The next day on campus, in the same student lounge I met a student named Ryan. Ryan jumped out at my because of the large, fresh tattoos that covered in inside of his forearms. In a similar fashion, Ryan in no time admitted his reservations with organized religion. He too, unfortunately, had been hurt more than once by people that claimed to be Christians.
While we spoke Ryan cell phone kept ringing, but he was ignoring it so that he could continue to talk. Finally, he picked it up and quickly informed the caller that he was in the lounge area. Within 30 seconds Greg came in to see his friend. His face lit up as he saw me and sat down with Ryan and I at the table. Ryan, like Greg, had been hurt in the past by religion and had never heard the message of the Gospel that God loves us so much that He came to earth to suffer and die for us, so that we might be restored to proper relationship with Him. I left the two sitting in there at the table praising God as I left the student lounge.
The next morning, I took out one of Scottish students who was new to the campus ministry and had little experience sharing her faith. We approached a girl who was busily working away on her laptop and asked her if she would be interested in sharing her opinions on faith and religion with us. She invited us to sit down with her. She informed us that she was a ‘recovering Catholic’. We began talking about meaning and purpose in life and she was quite aware that she was living without much. Suddenly, in a very animated tone she leaned forward and asked “hey, are you the guy that was talking to Greg earlier this week?” To which I responded, “Yes, I am”.
It turns out that Greg had been talking quite a bit about our conversation earlier that week with his friends. She told me that she didn’t think that he had gotten ‘all religious’ on them yet, but he was certainly challenged to rethink his beliefs about Jesus Christ.
We ended our time together as I prayed that God would truly reveal Himself to that group of friends and the He would bring the peace and compassion that the Scottish long for through His Son Jesus Christ.
It was truly quite a week of ministry. It is so exciting to see how God is working in different parts of the world. Moreover, I was deeply moved by seeing our Canadian students on fire with faith and going out to boldly and compassionately share the good news of the Gospel.
I want to thank each of you for your support to this ministry. This story is just one of many, so many people have no idea how amazing our God is and the truth of the Gospel is for all people. Your prayers and financial support is such a blessing to me and to those who are hearing the good news.
Thank you very much!
Rod Rudd & family