Belgium: Meeting the Mayor 

Big things happen when student workers serve their cities. In October two Ichtus Vlaanderen student workers, Ruth and Sem, wrote a letter to the mayor of Kortrijk asking her to address the needs of the students during the COVID-19 crisis. They had a proposal: to make spaces available where students can safely follow their online classes in the company of other students. This was a need the city had already been thinking about and the extra helping hands were gladly received. Little did they know that their relationship with the mayor would lead to more opportunities. 

After working with Ruth and Sem, the city asked them to oversee dedicated study spaces during the exam period. Due to their continuous presence, students and members of the city council started to recognize Ruth and Sem, creating opportunities for them to share about Ichtus. 

But they didn’t stop there. During the exam period, student workers in the city began the Coffee Brigade. Every Thursday they loaded their cargo bikes with coffee and snacks (all provided by the city council) and visited students around the city, handing out coffee and fruit. &

During the rounds it became clear that students were craving social contact, longing to be with their classmates on campus again. After a couple of weeks, the brigade would find some students eagerly waiting outside their door, cup in hand and with their mask on. They said that getting coffee, even from a stranger, was a welcome distraction from their isolation. 

When the exams finished, the city council agreed to keep the study places open throughout the entire term and appointed Sem and Ruth as people students could go to for a listening ear. 

The workers made an impression on their city, even capturing the attention of local newspapers who recognized them for their service to students.  

What is clear is that God opens doors in Kortrijk if we have to courage to try the handle. It was never our intention to get media attention or to become close with the city council. For two years we have been having prayer walks in the city and on the campuses asking God to open doors. We wanted to serve the students in our city and God led us to the people who could help us with that.”

Sem and Ruth, student workers, Ichtus Kortrijk 

Student workers like Sem and Ruth are shining bright in a dark second year of the pandemic, refusing to let difficult circumstances steal their capacity to serve others. Praise God for these brilliant examples of Christ’s love and pray with us that the city and students of Kortrijk will be impacted by their efforts.  

  • Pray that the relationships that Sem and Ruth have cultivated with the city will continue and lead to more partnerships.  
  • Pray for the students they have come in contact with through the Coffee Brigade and study spaces. Pray that they would come to Ictus events.  
  • Pray for a new project in Ichtus to encourage the 3800 residential students of Kortrijk. They still need the right contacts within the city to achieve this and are also still looking into how to pioneer in this city next year. 

Do you want to find creative ways to engage your university and society, like Ruth and Sem? The Engaging the University initiative can offer ideas, support, and training to help you bring the gospel into modern issues, topics, and conversations.

Engaging the University

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