8:21 Monday 3 April 2017
In 2011 I went to university. I was a relatively new Christian with little experience of leadership, but I had begun connecting with Onelife. Through Onelife, I developed the confidence and tools to lead and pursue the things I was passionate about. Following a trip to South Africa to work with street children, I discovered a deep passion for social justice – and went into my second year of university looking for something ‘justice-y’ to get involved in.
To my surprise, of the hundreds of Christians I came across at church and CU, almost none were doing this sort of thing. This seemed at odds with what I’d learned in South Africa over the summer – that there were over a billion people living on less than £1 a day, millions of victims of modern day slavery, hundreds of people sleeping rough on the streets of Oxford – each of them with their own story, their own family, their own dreams – and made in the image of God. Made in the image of a God who said that true worship was to loose the chains of injustice, who said that justice was the foundation of His throne, who said that whatever we did for the least of our brothers and sisters, we did for Him.
I met a few other Christians who shared my passion for justice, and we spoke about what to do next – there were various causes which we could go and volunteer for, but that wouldn’t really solve the problem. Wouldn’t we have so much more of an impact if we could encourage every Christian student to be passionate about social justice? So, we formed Just Love and this became our vision – to inspire and release every Christian student to pursue the biblical call to social justice.
Soon after we set up Just Love Oxford, connections with other universities started to form, and Just Love became a national movement, spreading to Durham, Bath, Glasgow and Cambridge. The Just Love student groups did all sorts, from befriending homeless people and praying for the persecuted church, to 24-hour anti-trafficking events and collecting 750,000 sanitary items to donate to foodbanks and refugee camps.
We soon realized that the potential of Just Love went far beyond all of the campaigning, fundraising and volunteering we were seeing at university, as exciting as this was. We want students to develop a passion for justice that lasts a lifetime. We believe that soon, thousands of Christians will be graduating each year who will consume ethically, give generously, and transform the industries in which they work – becoming leaders and innovators in the charity sector, bringing integrity and change to politics, bringing radical generosity and social responsibility into business, and leading churches who are known for the compassion they show to local communities.
As Just Love’s momentum gathers in the student world, we need to build up our resources so that we can continue to train and develop our student leaders across the country. We are running a fundraising evening at St James the Less Church, Pimlico, at 7pm on Thursday 25th of May. There will be excellent food, inspiring stories, and a chance to meet some of the Just Love staff, students and trustees – we’d love to see you there!
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested or just want to find out more.
11:34 Monday 27 February 2017
I’ve never thought of myself particularly as someone with the gift of hospitality. I always think that hospitality is for the people who always keep their houses clean and tidy, who have some freshly baked goods at the ready at any given time and those who are organised enough to organise dinner parties every other week.
Maybe my view of hospitality says more about me than it. I’m someone who doesn’t really try at anything unless I think that I’m going to be the best at it - and as someone whose room will always be slightly messy nor enough time to bake cakes - I’ve seen hospitality as something that maybe wasn’t for me.
I’ve recently moved churches and it’s taken a while to make friends and settle in, for a while I would find myself going along to church and not speaking to anyone when I went in. I would pray, “God would you please make someone come over and speak to me!” while standing by myself being a millennial and staring awkwardly at my phone. Until one Sunday I felt God challenge me that I should be the answer to my own prayer and use the initiative He gave me to talk to someone. So I went up to some stranger and started talking to them, it turned out to be their first time and meant that it was in fact my job to welcome them to the church rather than the other way round. I got to have a really good conversation with this girl and even though I haven’t seen her since, I think that she went away feeling like she had experienced some form of hospitality.
The thing is that hospitality isn’t really about having a nice home or good housekeeping skills at all. It’s about making people feel welcome. Making people feel valued in the situation they find themselves in no matter where or when. If it’s in your home or not, if you feel welcome or not. Even in a situation that I didn’t feel at home, God gave me the opportunity to partner with Him in the welcome that He has for each one of us.
As leaders, we need to be the people who are always willing to step out and follow God even when others don’t seem to be. As a leader I’m therefore an influencer and if everyone was influenced to step up in their hospitality and speak to all the people standing by themselves then I wouldn’t have been one of those people coming in without anyone to speak to for weeks before God challenged me. So wherever you are today, whether in your own home or somewhere that you feel completely out of place, why not take up the challenge to be as hospitable as possible? Jesus was the absolute best at making those who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable around normal society feel totally at home with Him. We have that same ability today; and as we step into being more hospitable, others will follow.
10:31 Monday 6 February 2017
I love the term open-handed. It seems slightly different than generosity, instead of the strain of taking something away from ourselves to give to others, it’s the recognition that everything we own is God’s and therefore we are only holding it for Him temporarily. It means that our time and money are held out as an offering to God, a living sacrifice if you will. If we have this view then the challenge of leading with generosity starts to look a bit easier.
I know for me, the challenge of being generous with my time and money has more often than not been a one-sided one. I’ve accepted and embraced giving up my time whilst shying away from parting with my money. I think this has something to do with the reward of seeing the smile of the person you’ve helped or the kind words that you hear when you’ve served in your local context. However, the feeling we get when we see that direct debit come out of our account every month or the anonymous passing on of the offering doesn’t quite provide the same warm feeling. Which is why I want to focus on the more uncomfortable of the two.
I’ve often thought about the story in Mark 12 with the widow with two coins, so often the lesson I’ve taken from that is that Jesus wants us to be willing to give our whole selves to Him. That he wants us to be willing to sacrifice our lives to follow Him. That the money the woman gave represented everything she had, and that as a response I should yet again sing a song telling God that I am willing to lay my life down to follow His call. Yes, this is God’s call, but what if Jesus was saying something a bit simpler, after all this isn’t a parable. What if Jesus literally meant that we should be willing to give all our money to Him? To sometimes forget our budgets, our perception of what we can afford to give and just lay it all down. To say ‘God, it’s yours’ and ask Him what He would have us do with it. What if that is the reality of the call of being a Christian; are we still up for it?
When I think about my history of generosity with my money I come across a lot of excuses. First I was in school and didn’t really have any money to spend, then I was at uni and the money I did have was a loan and so not really mine to give away and now I’m an intern and I’m not making money.
Then again, when I was at school I didn’t really have any money to spend but I did have enough to buy sweets after school with my friends, then I was at uni and the money I did have was a loan and so not really mine to give away but it was mine to spend on nights out and plenty of coffee and now I’m an intern and I’m not making money but I do have some spare change to go to the cinema with my friends at the weekend.
Looking at this I can see that I actually did have money to spare for what I thought was worthwhile all the time telling myself that I didn’t have enough money to be giving. Our priorities become clear when we look at where our time and money are being spent.
As leaders, we need to be setting an example in everything we do, 1 Tim 4:12 says to set an example for the believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity*. I think part of setting an example in our lives is letting our money reflect what is happening in our hearts.
For each of us this might mean something different. It might mean starting to tithe to your local church, it might mean starting to donate to a charity or it might mean that you should buy a friend or maybe the homeless guy you pass everyday a coffee at some point this week. Being generous with our money means being open-handed with it, not in a frivolous way but open to be used by God.
So what does this look like for you to lead with generosity this week? To openly lay down your finances and let God into every area and decision you make? Why not take five minutes to pray about it and decide what you want to do. Then text a friend. First, to ask them to keep you accountable. And second, invite them to join you on the journey of living a life wholly sacrificed to Jesus.
*Why not check out our current app series bases on this verse?! Search Onelife Leaders on the app store.
9:46 Tuesday 13 September 2016
Over the past few years Onelife have launched a number of events and conferences all designed to connect and equip young people and students to become exceptional leaders in every sphere of society. We're delighted, thrilled, humbled and stunned by what God has done in and through the lives of hundreds of individuals all over the UK.
As we prepare to take Onelife to the next level we have been carefully working on strategy and priorities. We feel an urgency to get ready for growth and want to be in step with the Holy Spirit as He establishes this amazing Onelife vision for years to come.
We've been developing resources and experience in raising young leaders over the past decade, and it's time to make those resources more widely available. To write, innovate and multiply our learning. 2017 will be a year for honing and shaping a number of Onelife resources that will give churches and young leaders practical and inspirational tools to fully apply the mountain top experiences we try to craft in our events and conferences.
To make space for this priority, and innovate some of our current models, we've decided to rest our national conferences for 2017. It's taken a lot to let go, but the team have great expectation for all that we are planning to work on.
Having launched our Onelife Oneday events during 2016 we will continue to run a number of these around the UK. This includes a date in London on 11th March 2017 that we hope many of those who plan to attend the usual England Conference in the February half term will be able to attend.
Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers, and we all hope to see you at one of our Onelife Onedays soon!
The Onelife team
14:20 Wednesday 18 May 2016