Thank you for praying for students around the world in 2023. As this year draws to a close, we’re delighted to share these updates on how God has already been working through your prayers.
Churches Catch the Vision in the Cayman Islands
In February, we prayed for Latavia as she left home in Jamaica to further student ministry in the Cayman Islands. We prayed for her efforts to help more churches understand the strategic value of the ministry and support their work with finances, resources, mentoring, and pastoral care.
Latavia says God gave her an idea: student ministry launched in the Cayman Islands in 2013, so why not do a 10th Anniversary Church Tour around the islands to raise awareness and seek support? Since September, she has taken this tour to six major churches. She writes:
“We’ve had opportunities to give presentations to congregations, where students were able to share their testimonies and minister with songs. We’ve also had info booths that enabled us to chat with church members after services. Through these interactions, we’ve received donations, connected with alumni, and a few individuals have also signed up to volunteer in different ways.”
- Give thanks for these responses and pray that God will continue to inspire and guide Latavia and the team through the coming year.
Mental Health Awareness Deepens in Côte D’Ivoire
In March, we prayed for Nina and her LCI project promoting mental health on campuses and asked for restoration and hope for students who are struggling.
With your prayers and the ongoing support and sponsorship of the Logos and Cosmos Initiative (LCI), Nina’s project continues to evolve (watch a summary). Over 750 students have now been surveyed about anxiety and depression. In September, 17 volunteers from the national movement received mental health training from an NGO, equipping them to provide mental health support to their peers in collaboration with professionals. Many of the volunteers have had their own experience of mental health and the training was particularly restorative for those with disabilities – a group that often faces discrimination and rejection in society.
One volunteer was particularly impacted: it gave her a fighting confidence in her abilities as well as strategies to overcome the stigma. Nina sees the difference the project is making:
“Whether it’s students from inside or outside the student movement, the training courses, workshops and focus groups are helping at all kinds of levels and proving to be a time of restoration.”
In November, she facilitated a conference with GBU and leaders of the university Student Union, which allowed eye-opening testimonies from those suffering with mental health issues to be heard. This has provided the momentum needed to implement the next phase of her project – an experimental support system for students including free, professional counselling, Bible studies and follow-up from the trained volunteers.
- Praise God that Nina’s work is changing perceptions in Côte D’Ivoire. Pray for her and two other LCI Catalysts working with her – Eustache Hounyeme and Geneviève Guei – as they turn awareness into practical change.
Student Leaders Commit in Singapore
Also in March, we prayed for students in Singapore who experienced a reawakening of faith at post-COVID camps. We asked that, amidst the busyness and burnout of their second semester, students would continue to be filled with courage and commitment and make good choices for the Lord.
Jeremiah Goh, FES General Secretary, writes:
“The struggle of post-pandemic workloads and activities continues, with many involved in ‘revenge’ travel, school, internships, and gatherings to make up for what was lost. This coming and going means it is a challenge for student leaders to build a stable and consistent community identity in the Christian Fellowships. But what has been hopeful is that our student leaders are still committed to leading these groups and that they see the importance of Christian fellowship and Christian witness on campus.”
- Give thanks for the good choices the student leaders have been making despite the pressures around them – and ask God to give them grace and wisdom as they seek to foster community.
Hopes Remain for the Federated States of Micronesia
In May, we prayed for Mark in Guam, for guidance and opportunities as he explored planting student ministry on his home island of Pohnpei.
David Walter, Regional Secretary for the South Pacific, tells us that Mark is still in Guam, working at the FSM embassy, and that they’ve not yet had any solid leads on the best next steps for FSM. But David hopes to visit in 2024; they continue to pray for the Lord’s guidance.
Here’s a story that reminds us prayer doesn’t always produce the immediate results for which we were hoping – that it’s an ongoing conversation with our Lord as we seek his lead.
- Pray for Mark, David, and all those hoping to plant student ministry in the FSM – that they will prayerfully and joyfully persevere and know God’s leading in the coming year.
Seeds Sprout in Eurasia
Also in May, we prayed for seeds being sown in sensitive countries in Eurasia – especially that student leaders inspired by last year’s training events would grow further at the 2023 summer gatherings.
Werner, an IFES Coordinator in the Eurasia region, tells of the impact from this year:
“One guy was so touched by the story of Peter leaving his nets that he immediately contacted friends and – while he was still at the conference – sold his technical equipment so he could be free to serve the Lord. Another guy moved with three other students into a flat and shared the gospel with them. This week one of his flatmates accepted Jesus. I talked yesterday with this new believer. What a joy!”
- Give thanks that seeds sown are already sprouting into new life. Pray that the Lord will protect and encourage these young leaders as they take steps of faith and count the cost.
Graduate Students Thrive in Canada
In September, we prayed for (post)graduate students in Alberta working through issues of culture, work-rest balance, and self-worth. This term, studies in Luke’s Gospel helped them consider the many gifts they’ve been given by the Spirit to equip them for life and work.
Alan Chettle, IVCF staff, says:
“They’ve been seeing themselves more in line with how God sees them. They’ve found encouragement in the midst of a full and busy workload. A recent study took us to the crucifixion, which was definitely a space where God deepened our love for Him. It also spoke into what it means for us to follow Jesus as our crucified, exalted King.”
The planned evangelism training has also been going well, with students asking good questions around how to care for their friends at different stages of exploring faith. And the group has been encouraged by some MENA students who connected with them through social events but recently decided to come to church with them.
- Thank God for this deep engagement with faith and outreach. Pray that it will bear fruit in their studies and relationships.
Openness Continues in Cape Verde
In October, we gave thanks for the open door for pioneering ministry in Cape Verde and prayed for Lawrence and Berenice equipping students to lead inductive Bible studies there. Since then, eight students from two of the university’s leading campuses have received training. Berenice can see how the confidence to lead such groups has grown.
One highlight was on World Student Day, when the group was permitted to use the university auditorium for a time of prayer. Lawrence adds, “on that day, one of the local Baptist Pastors joined us at the university, which was very significant.”
- Let’s pray for those good relationships with university administration and church leaders to continue and for those eight new leaders as they start to lead Bible studies on campus.
We hope you are encouraged to see how God has been at work through your prayers and the faithful ministry of students and staff over the last year. As we head into 2024, may our confidence remain in him. Let’s keep “asking, seeking and knocking” – in the knowledge that we have a good Father in heaven who gives us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:5-13).