As we approach the end of the year, we are looking back at our favorite Conexion pieces from 2020. Though each story is different, they are all connected by the theme of God’s power and faithfulness. We hope looking back on these stories will encourage you to continue trusting and walking with God in the new year.
“There are also issues of identity. No-one’s asking, ‘who is God?’ anymore. Everyone is asking ‘who am I?’ The self-help books tell you not to worry, just be yourself. But how can you be yourself when you don’t know who you are? And how can you know who you are when you don’t know Christ?”
Even before the pandemic, a staff leader from InterVarsity USA was noticing dire mental health issues in her students. She tallied the number of those she knew were suffering and found there to be 44 people. Research from IFES also indicated that mental health is a primary trend affecting student ministry around the world. With prayer and professional help, many of these people found holistic healing. As many have endured a lonely and difficult year, we hope this story will remind you that there is always hope.
“Faced with the invisible and pervasive danger that surrounds us, we must not forget, dear friends, that there is a refuge, a fortress, a help which does not reside in us, but in God!”
Back in March, the world was just at the beginning of a pandemic which would impact this entire year. This message, from Acting General Secretary Jamil Chabouh, reminded the fellowship of human frailty and God’s power. His advice to turn our eyes upward, resist fear, and rely on God is just as timely now as it was in the spring.
“For Muslims around the world, this time of year is normally characterized by the sounds of family and friends bursting through a lively home filled with delicious smells. Yet in a time of COVID-19, this year’s fast will look different.”
This year has been difficult for anyone celebrating a holiday. Though many Christians are now facing disrupted Christmas plans, Muslims were experiencing this months ago during Ramadan. At that time, we encouraged students to show love to their Muslim friends using five simple ideas. While we hope that holiday celebrations in the coming year will be different, these five suggestions are still useful for anyone wishing to reach their Muslim friends during Ramadan.
“Being a believer has really helped me to stay hopeful. Having many meetings online and praying both with friends and alone makes me feel so much peace. The feeling of speaking to God and knowing He cares has been really important for me. I have new available time to pray and study the Bible, and doing these things helps me avoid anxiety.”
Many people have been isolated from family and friends this year but imagine bearing this isolation in a completely foreign country. That is what Nigerian students Theophilus and Hyellai endured earlier this year. Though they suffered from loneliness and homesickness, they experienced God’s peace. We hope their testimony will encourage any students who are still currently isolated from family and friends.
“Students are indomitable in their spirit. They have found a new way of meeting.”
Students have faced innumerable challenges this year, from disrupted study plans to isolation. Since ministry requires personal connection with others, many believed that this would be a lost year. However, students have proven that a pandemic will not stop the message of Christ. Since this story was written, they have continued to creatively shine in this dark year. Read these three examples to discover how ministry in a pandemic was thriving from the beginning.
Reflecting on 2020
As you reflect on this year, we pray that you will remember the incredible opportunities that God has provided students to continue his ministry amid challenging circumstances. Through the many hardships, we remember his desire to meet us where we are and to faithfully walk with us. May these testimonies be an example of the many ways students around the world courageously continue to follow God’s guidance.