Minding the Gap in London:
speaking to university students about the person and work of Jesus Christ
Tadhg Lynch is a youth leader and member of Nazareth Community in Dublin, Ireland. For the past year he has served as a Gapper in a London based evangelistic training program sponsored by Kairos in Europe, an international youth outreach organization of The Sword of the Spirit. Tadhg shares his experience of front-line evangelism among university students in London.Pizza parties and friendship evangelism
Dave was the biggest guy at my tennis club. He was the same age as me, 6 feet and 7 inches tall, and seemed a good partner to attempt the boys' doubles championship with. We duly reached the final of the tournament in our first year as a team, but it was a disaster. Despite a good start, I couldn’t contain my laughter at his attempts to smash the ball. He missed every time even though he was about twice as tall as everyone else on the court! We lost.
Over the next few years I grew to know Dave better. Dave was very typical of a young guy in Ireland – he was interested in sports, finishing his degree at college and watching football on the television. Although we went to different universities we met fairly regularly for coffee or a drink over the next few years. Our conversation generally revolved around life, ethics and moral questions. He knew I was “religious” and this interested him – more, I think, than he admitted to me – none of his other friends went to church or prayed regularly. Finally, after getting to know one another for about 4 years, he came to the youth meeting of the Nazareth community in Dublin. He arrived late and missed the prayer and talk but helped us eat the pizza. I always felt I had tried and failed with Dave, and now the opportunity was gone…
Gapper in London
My job for the past year has been to speak to people in London about Jesus. In a city of eight million people this should not be a problem. London, however, is a place of extremes - 7, 999, 999 of those people stare assiduously at the pavement whenever they walk anywhere to avoid the other 1 as he bellows “don’t be a sinner, be a winner,” at them. Sometimes its hard to get people in London to even smile, let alone stop and have a chat with a stranger. Our mission in the student outreach is to offer to those who seek, a chance to discover the call God has on their lives and an environment in which to live it out. This has been a year of “waiting for the seekers” and also a year of “seeking them out.” We have met many people during the past nine months. We’ve spoken to many of them about the gospel, brought them to prayer meetings and introduced them to student Christian community.
free cup of coffee and friendship in Christ
Evangelism in London has not been about massive rallies or huge sign-up sheets. Rather it has been a slow process of building friendships with the people God sends us. Even in this the Lord has been surprising – some whom I felt sure would find a home with us have moved elsewhere quickly while others who are not even Christian have shown increasing desire to know about us and about our life. Building friendships has been the most rewarding part of this year – trying to speak to little more than strangers about Jesus is exhilarating – but constructing a friendship for the sole basis of speaking to someone about the gospel (and having them know it!) has changed my perspective on evangelism completely. Its not easy, but no longer is it terrifying. I have conviction that everything I say and do can be used for the Lord, rather than having to squeeze a testimony of my faith into 2 minute spells. God promises that His word “will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This has been tremendously comforting to me over the past year. Some people I have spoken to refused a free cup of coffee, some have been baptised in the Spirit – God promises that neither word, when we speak it in his name, is wasted.
When I go back to Dublin I’m going to look Dave up, take him
out again and have a chat. He owes me a pizza…
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