December 2012 - Vol.  64

Personal Encounters
by Finja Schmidt
Koinonia is an ecumenical Christian university student group based in central London, UK. Members are from different Christian traditions: Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox and Protestants. Koinonia aims at being an intentional community where Christian faith comes alive, whether it be through prayer, conversations, growth in Christian life or time spent together. One of Koinonia's five essential elements is 'profound encounters'. Finja Schmidt, a 2nd year student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London, and a Koinonia student missionary, shares her experience of a personal encounter with God. 
Some of the highlights of my involvement in Koinonia this past year, times that brought me closer to God and closer to my friends, were moments of what we in Koinonia-lingo call 'profound encounters'.

During a Koinonia retreat last year, while I was praying about my struggle to live my faith authentically among the mates I live with, I felt a strange prompting from God to open my Bible to "page 333" - which turned out to be a passage from 2nd Chronicles, chapters 19 & 20. These words from 2nd Chronicles fit my stituation exactly:

"...we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you... For the battle is not yours but God's...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you"
The following day, I had the chance to invite my flat mates to attend church with me - and to my surprise them came! When I shared about this incident afterwards at a Kononia prayer meeting, Mark (our Koinonia Director) told me that he and some of the other Koinonia leaders had received the same word of encouragement from the Lord for this year of service in Koinonia. Their sense from the Lord made me feel like God had really confirmed my place in the greater mission of Koinonia.

Last February I traveled to Dublin for the Kairos Weekend (Kairos is the international student network that Koinonia is part of). I again encountered God in a very personal way, but this time it was when we decided to go out into the streets of Dublin to pray for the homeless. I had a chance to chat with a homeless man and then pray with him. After our team had gathered in the pub, some of us were inspired to go out once again into the city and do more of the same witnessing. We prayed together before heading back out and again someone flipped open the Bible to a passage that fit our situation exactly. We had really good conversations with the homeless who were often very resonant to praying with us. The feeling of working together on a mission for God completely changing the way I see the homeless, and it left me falling into the rickety youth hostel bed that night at 4 am with a huge grin on my face.

Profound encounters are moments that stretch my understanding of who God is and what he is capable of doing in and through me. ‘Profound’ goes beyond superficiality, describes an encounter that is meaningful and leaves you changed. Instead of speaking and learning about God, he speaks directly to me. A real ‘encounter’ is more than a fleeting interaction over facebook, it is really taking the time to see someone as they are and to engage with them.  It is moments like these that have changed my relationship with God and with others.

 Living Bulwark (c) copyright 2012  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom