"Тиждень місії" у Львові: 75 охоплених студентів й 2 покаяння!

In Western Ukraine, Easter is a time filled with many traditions, church services, rituals, and fasts.  However, ultimately our hope is that students in Ukraine would know that these different traditions point to Jesus Christ!

During Monday and Tuesday2-3 April 2018, the week before Easter, CCX L’viv hosted our first Mission Week!  We called the event “Googling God – What are you looking for?”We chose the theme of “Googling God” because we hoped to engage students intellectually and personally, especially at this week leading up to Easter.With our current resourcesand our few Christian student volunteers, we were eager to engage students with the good news of Jesus and find ways to invite them to see how the death and resurrection of Jesus impact their personal lives as well as their eternity.  

Our team consisted of 4 CCX staff workers, including 2 who are InterVarsity/USA Link Staff, and 4 students, 3 from L’viv and 1 CCX student from Kharkiv. We had 9 local volunteers representing 4 different churches (1 Baptist, 5 Pentecostal, 1 Presbyterian and 2 Evangelical) who helped with many project tasks, like soundman, cameramen, skit personnel, and coffee servers.  

The Mission Week focused on the largest university in L’viv, Ivan Franko University.  Two of our student teams spent their time having conversations and inviting students to participate in our evening gathering.  These teams included a Big Question Survey team and a Free Coffee Survey team.

The Big Question Team used a big wooden board which showed our question of the day. Passing students were asked if they would like to vote on our question. After answering the question, Christian students asked their peers why they voted the way they did and how it connects to their thoughts about Easter.  

Monday’s question was: Jesus:  1. only a myth, 2. A good teacher, 3. A dissident or, 4. God? Tuesday’s question was:Jesus’ death: 1. Did Jesus die and stay in the tombafter His crucifixion? 2.Was his body stolen and hidden? Or 3. Did he rise from the dead?

In two hours’ time on the first day, 190 students voted on the Big Question. One high light included a student, a self-proclaimed Satanist, who stopped to talk a long time at the Big Question.Despite the strong wind and snow, he asked many of his personal questions.  He spoke with Renata (student) and Tanya (staff) specifically about questions surrounding Creation, The Fall of Man into Sin, and the relevance of Jesus to the Old Testament.  He shared that this was the first time someone was able to answer many of his questions about the Bible.  He was genuinely curious to learn more in his life.

In three hours on the second day, 290 students voted on the Big Question. Overall, many students of different confessions, agnostics, and atheists had positive experiences with Christians and you could even hear people discussing the question of the day as they walked by.

The second team included a student and staff who offered students Free Coffee if they would fill out a Spiritual Survey about Easter.  Many of the students were curious enough about the project, that they did not want the free gift of coffee, but just wanted to talk and fill out the survey. More than 20 students filled out spiritual surveys near Ivan Franko University.

On Tuesday for an hour and a half, we also had a 3rd team of Live Art near the L’viv Polytechnic University.  Two students and one staff invited students to comment and talk more about what they liked of the artwork,which included a scene of the three crosses on a hill and a quote from Matthew 28:6 on Jesus’ resurrection.  

Each evening event included coffee, tea, and snacks as well as a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  Music was playing, and students were greeted as they came in.  Student emcees welcomed everyone and introduced the project and question of the day. 

The first evening included speaker Pavlo Lozynskyi who gave a clear presentation answering the question Jesus:  a myth, a good teacher, a dissident or God?as well as a clear articulation of the gospel.  He especially invited people at different places in their spiritual journey to just take one step deeper.  They could consider researching more about the history of Jesus, read the New Testament for themselves, be involved in an Uncover small group, or make a step toward God.

This was followed by a musical performance and personal testimony by our musical guest Bria Blessing.  After a few songs both guests were interviewed about how they personally related to the question, followed by Q&A from the audience.  In the end, each person was asked to fill out a contact card on how they responded to the night, and if they turned them in they had a chance to win a prize (CCX Cup, Flash drive, or power-bank for a cellphone).

Thursday night followed a similar format, but with our second question, “Did Jesus die and stay in the tombafter His crucifixion, orwas he stolen and hidden, or was he raised from the dead?”  The talk was by our guest speaker Mykhailo Khromiak and was followed by a skit about Jesus’ death and resurrection and how it brings healing and forgiveness. Then our musical guest Andriy Hryfel gave a performance and testimony. Again there was a time to interview our guests and Q&A for the audience.   

Our goals for this Mission week were

-- 25 new students each evening talk would hear the gospel clearly articulated and have the opportunity to respond.

--students would become more curious and build trust with Christians (especially CCX L’viv), connect more students to CCX L’viv,

--1-3 student respond in repentance.

Here are the results:37 people (31 students) came to our evening program the first night, and 55 people (44 students) visited us the second night. In addition, two people wrote on their contact cards that they made decisions to follow Jesus. One of those students said, “Today I decided that Jesus is my personal savior and Lord”and said: “Before I had many doubts about who God is, but after tonight I know that Jesus is my God!”

It is also worth noting some other milestones: we gave out 400 flyers and 12 T-shirts.

We wanted our theme and questions of our evening events to capitalize on this strategic time, a week before Easter, where students are thinking about spiritual things more often than normal. We saw in how people voted at the Big Questions that even though L’viv is seen as a very “religious” region, a large portion of students when polled said that Jesus was just a myth or just a good teacher (first day) or that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead his body was just stolen (second day).  On girl Ira, a self-proclaimed atheist, said at the end of the second evening event, “I still do not believe in God yet, but I see my thoughts on the subject changing!”.  Through experiences like this, I think this theme was relevant to students in L’viv, especially at Ivan Franko University.

When the Mission Week is over, we plan to have a follow up to the project which will include 3 more apologetic talks in the following 3 weeks, a Bible Study discussion group, and continued invitations to English Ministry.

Let us draw a conclusion now. With limited resources and few volunteers, we began our first Mission Week in L’viv with realistic and simple hopes and goals.  We saw students’ curiosity grow, we saw atheist and agnostic students become more open and think more deeply than they had about these themes before.  

We saw Christian students become more confident in their faith, by equipping and providing them with compelling intellectual and logical answers for why we believe the faith .The Mission Week provided discipleship opportunities: Christian students actively put themselves out in front of other students, proclaiming their identity as Christians before their peers, and inviting others to come explore and understand this Jesus who has so strongly impacted them.  

The goals may have been small but they were also attainable and realistic. We are excited to look to the future for further partnerships with churches and with CCX students around the country, and to see even more students make decisions to follow Jesus!

Author: James Alderson, InterVarsity Link staff in CCX L’viv