Left to Right; Izzy, Tea, Jemima, Annabel, Minnie, Connor and me.
Neither Izzy or I (Jiawen) had ever led an Explore group at conference before so we were both very excited to be asked to facilitate this evangelistic Bible study with 5 students who were not yet Christians. We were well prepared going into the week but Izzy and I soon learnt that we had to modify our plans on the fly, as we wanted to answer any questions the students had from the conference content and they all had lots to ask about!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”- Ezekiel 36:26
This verse unexpectedly ended up being the key verse for our group Peter Sommervell (main Speaker)had used this verse in one of his talks and had explained to the students what it meant. On that same day, I had shown the group The Case for Christ, wherein Lee Strobel’s wife prays this verse many times for her husband. I quickly found myself praying this for the students and I later discovered that one of the students had also begun praying this for themselves.
I had such an awesome time getting to do this. Izzy and I were the youngest Christians of all the staff at this conference, so it was a privilege to share what we had discovered about knowing God. It was a great pleasure to see God transform these students over the course of the conference and ultimately see all but one of these students give their lives to Him.
Here are a few highlights and prayer points from each of the students in out Explore group:
Jemima was always asking questions and honestly processing with us. One of the questions she asked was about whether Izzy and I had experienced the Holy Spirit. To our huge surprise, Izzy sharing her answer to this question suddenly prompted Jemima to remember that she had genuinely given her life to God when she was ten and she vividly remembered believing it at the time. Jemima ended the week with making a commitment that she would get to know God again. I’m so grateful that through those interim years, God has continued to keep drawing her to Himself. Please pray that she would continue to grow and abide in Him.
Annabel’s twin sister brought Annabel to the conference because she really wanted to see her come to Christ, despite Annabel being adamant that she didn’t want to be there and that nothing could make her change her views towards God.
However as the week progressed she became amazed that there was so much in the Bible she was never taught. She became very interested in Jesus and even started reading the Bible in her own time. After a few days she shared with us how she had never met Christians like us before and was having serious doubts about her original beliefs. By the end of the week Annabel had amazingly made the decision to pursue Christ seriously. Annabel is currently meeting with Regan, one of the Canterbury staff members. Please pray for both Annable and her sister to be strengthened and encouraged in their walks with God.
Connor was genuinely trying to figure out what it meant to be a Christian. He asked a tonne of great questions, prayed to God that He would make a change in his life during the week he was at conference and found a deep sense of hope and relief in learning that his wrestle with sin could only be covered by God’s grace and not his own efforts. I could tell he had reached a point where he wanted Christ to be in his life and I challenged him to pray that his heart’s desire would be for God to be Lord of his life, thank God for dying for his sins and that God would give him a heart of flesh? It is incredible being a part of the moment that someone is brought back from death to life! Please continue to pray for Connor to grow in his love for and understanding of God.
Tea probably gave Izzy and me the biggest shock out of the whole group. On the second day she told us how she had gone away by herself after Peter’s talk and that she decided to pray to God and let Him take charge in her life! Most of our chats with her centered around our experiences as new Christians and answering questions she had.
I gave Tea a book written for new believers by Michael Patton, which she started reading immediately. She then told us that she also wanted to go door knocking and sharing the Gospel to people of Queenstown. Unlike a lot of the mature Christian students there, despite a lack of training, she just wanted to share with anyone and everyone what God has done in her and how they could experience Him too. Please pray that God would continue to nurture this zeal in her and that she would continue to be an encouragement to others.
Minnie was the one student in our group that hadn’t come to Christ by the end of the week. She didn’t know what it was that was stopping her from being able to trust Christ fully but she has continued to meet up with Jacinda, one of the Canterbury staff, to keep exploring the faith. I was so glad that I had the chance to sow the seeds and that someone else is continuing to water them, especially since she was pretty sure that nothing could happen that week to change her mind. I hope you’ll continue to pray for her.
Author – Jiawen He