July 2012 - Vol. 61

Koinonia students, gappers, and leaders on retreat together
Surprised by Zeal
by Paul Michael Graham, Koinonia Mission Leader

As seems to be the norm for Koinonia, we hit the ground running this year, and where we ran unsteadily, the Lord secured our steps. The plan at the beginning of term was to gather a small group of students who could, as they came closer to Christ over the course of the year, grow into positions of service and leadership in the areas of discipleship, evangelism and community. Instead, the Lord brought to Koinonia a core of already zealous disciples, both new students and students from previous years, who were eager to claim a place in the mission of building a culture-impacting community where people can encounter the Lord.

The result? The level of people feeing a sense of belonging to Koinonia has soared. “Reload,” our renamed, revamped, regular prayer event, has changed in accordance with what the students want to see done in that time together. Students are competing with Kairos gapers, volunteer staff workers who moved to London from other places for a year of service, to see who can bring more people to events. When 40 people came together to celebrate the end of term, it was the students who organised and ran the entire party. And they love it. One student put it like this: Koinonia is what the whole church should be like.

It is a characteristic of our generation that, even in a profoundly cynical era, young people’s response to any phenomenon depends on how involved they can be in sculpting it; witness open source software and wikis, the Occupy movement, and other grassroots political activity. This is not news to a God who has for millenia been equipping and entrusting responsibility to those who are “only youths,” and I am inspired to see brothers and sisters stepping up, for such a time as this.

A Joyful Weekend Retreat for Koinonia
by Camille Chippewa

Last January some 40 university students and staff workers for Koinonia held a weekend retreat at Buckden Towers, an historic castle dating back to the time of Henry VIII, and located 50 miles north of London, UK.

Our lives as Christians are often woven with paradoxes. For instance, one generally wouldn’t think a group of forty university students would discover the immense and deep joy of the Lord in the very castle where Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, was held under house arrest between 1533-34. The house of oppression became a house of praise for us.

Joy was tangible the whole weekend. From the start of the retreat on Friday to when the weekend ended, the air was filled with an infectious laughter. If a stranger walked into the retreat, he or she might think that the group had known each other their whole lives, not a handful of days. The provision of the Lord was evident in the relationships formed, in the ease and comfort that they reflected. The worship throughout the weekend had an ease and abandon not commonly found among strangers. 

Imagine 40 people with a common vision gathered together in one room. Now imagine 40 people engaging in worship of the living God, uniting their purpose and voice to rejoice in the Lord. Joyous worship abounded over the weekend. Saturday night was set aside for a prayer meeting. Prior to the meeting Koinonia leader PM Graham gave a talk on worship and rejoicing in the Lord. The worship was powerful. The overwhelming presence of the Lord inspired awe, fear, joy and exultation. 

Lives were changed. Like the voice of God coming in a whisper, the joy and the presence of the Lord crept in to everybody’s lives. There weren’t any thunderclaps or lightning bolts, nor were there torrential tears, but the Lord was clearly present. God’s love, God’s joy were as real and tangible as the delicious food that was prepared over the course of the weekend, and similarly fueled the students.

The Lord was truly at work. Between tiredness, GAP years, exams, or whatever else a 20-something could be going through, the Lord worked, because that’s what the Lord does. He works in us and actively participates in the adventures that are our lives. 

See next > How I Found Christian Community at University of London, by Lucy Trewinnard
Also see > A Showering of God's Favor and Faithfulness, by Mark Jordan, Koinonia Director.

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