How could 15 students stir up the spirits of some 17,000 others? What could we do for our university?For the past three years, huge waves of crime have swept through the Universidad de Oriente (UDO) in Venezuela. It has not been uncommon for students there to witness daily clashes of various people with state officials, looting of delivery trucks, and even murders within yards of the classroom. 'Our university was crumbling before us,' writes Rosarelys Martínez, coordinator of the local group of MUEVE, the IFES movement in Venezuela. 'The situation was complicated; much more if we consider the extreme indifference of university officials, student leaders and even the affected student community.' In the midst of this critical situation, students of MUEVE asked themselves what they could do. 'How could 15 students stir up the spirits of some 17,000 others? What could we do for our university? ‘We decided to be like Daniel. Someone said that before getting involved in such matters it’s necessary to have thick skin like an alligator, but we have a better hope – the support and protection of Jesus Christ. 'We started praying in the streets, buildings and entrance to our university. While we knelt and sang "We Shall Overcome," we prayed to the Father for fair and professional student leadership, a committed student body, for people not to remain silent about the problem. Some non-Christian students joined us in the road.' They continued to call on all leaders of different student associations to join them in establishing working groups to discuss the conflicts within the university and seek solutions to them. The first meetings were marked by poor attendance, but soon they were joined by groups as diverse as the Communist Youth of Venezuela and the Mathematics Students Association, and their small meeting place became packed with people. From these meetings emerged great ideas; one of them to convene a general meeting of students led by MUEVE members. Rosarelys continues: 'The first meeting was unforgettable. After praying with arms and legs shaking, we went to the auditorium. Jesus was the true moderator of the meetings, not us! At least 300 students debated calmly, and even better, they kept coming up with excellent proposals. About 30 students committed themselves to work with us in collecting signatures to encourage the development of a safety network. 'To think that fifteen students worried whether trust in God was enough! We glorify God because he enabled us to rely not on ourselves, but on the truth of the gospel. We made the decision to be leaders in each of the activities that are now underway, and this has allowed us to greatly influence the process with a biblical perspective. We praise the name of the Lord that each activity has shaken not only students but also our university authorities, who now have given approval for this safety initiative.' Give thanks with us that the students of MUEVE were bold in entering into the university's political arena by organising others to take a strong stand against violence within the university. Pray for wisdom as they continue to take the lead in making the university a safe place. Pray too for IFES movements all over the world as they face issues of social injustice, political turmoil, various forms of discrimination, and other important contemporary problems: that they will not be afraid to bring biblical principles to bear on these concerns, but instead will be leaders in bringing change to the university and society.
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