By Jo Blackwell, serving with Agape Europe in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos courtesy of Olivia Hill
GSLW stands for Global Student Launch Week. It’s a time when Agape Staff and volunteers from all over the world cast their nets into the ocean of universities around them. They are fishing for potential student leaders who follow Jesus and have a passion to start movements for Jesus. They are fulfilling the Great Commission just as the church of Acts did! However, instead of travelling to ancient cities, they are travelling to their ancient history classes. Instead of bringing their camel hair cloaks, they are wearing leather jackets. Instead of sharing in the city centres and synagogues, they are sharing in their cafeterias and classrooms.
Starting a movement is daunting, especially when you feel alone and ill-equipped to reach the people around you. This is why teams of Agape Staff and volunteers visited 17 cities to find followers of Jesus, bring them together and teach them the tools to engage the people around them. They cast their nets far and wide. Sometimes they find many students who follow Jesus, but sometimes the nets come back almost empty.
The latter was the case for the team that set out for Regensburg, Germany. One of the team members, Olivia Hill, said, “This was my first time working on a launch. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew that I would be working very hard to find key students and share the gospel with those interested, as the Spirit led.”
In preparation for their launch week, the team cast their nets wide, reaching out to and connecting with students using social media. “I was so amazed at the way we were able to connect to the students from Instagram and from Facebook. There was a student that had seen and replied to our ad on both Facebook and Instagram and he came to our interest meeting,” Olivia said. The team was excited about the positive feedback and the prospect of already having fish in their net!
At the interest meeting, however, the majority of students who attended felt apathetic about starting a movement on their campus. Not only that, but throughout the week there was only one person who showed any interest in starting a movement at the university. Unfortunately, she was afraid of beginning something alone.
“We left Regensburg discouraged and thinking that maybe this launch wasn’t meant to be successful,” said Olivia.
We have all had those feelings of discouragement or defeat. Maybe you are feeling them now, especially in a city, country or continent that feels disinterested in anything spiritual. But remember, God’s plans often look different than our plans and he is always working, even when we don’t see it.
Olivia found out a few months later just how God had been moving since their launch week.
“The amazing thing was that this movement happened after we had left. The student that was nervous and seemed a little unsure found another student who encouraged her.
“The two of them began to meet together and plan their vision for the year. They did the Key Volunteer Challenge with some other students and started a Bible study and prayer group. Now there are four or five of them who meet regularly, and they’re developing and growing towards being a movement.” - Olivia Hill
So, to all of you who “have been working hard all night and haven’t caught anything,” (Luke 5:5) take heart and be encouraged, because Jesus is with you, and so are we, your partners in the other boat.
About the author: Jo Blackwell is serving with Cru in Barcelona, Spain. She works as a content creator on the Agape Europe communications team. She enjoys the outdoors, knitting, photography, writing and connecting with people.