“I don’t believe in God, do you think people here will judge me?”
He’d never been to a Christian event before and it was all quite new for him. But he’d loved the atmosphere and was also struck by hearing God discussed in intelligent and concrete terms by relatively normal people. But he didn’t know how welcome his questions and doubts would be.
“Not at all,” I replied to him, “people here absolutely love people who don’t believe in God, you’re like their favourite people. and they enjoy honest open discussion… you’re definitely in the right place.”
An expression of relief came across his face as he smiled back at me.
“Good,” he said, “because I have so many questions and I think these are good people with whom to talk about them.”
We were speaking in a soviet-era film studio in Kiev, Ukraine, which now doubles as cultural events venue. It was the fourth evening of five in which we invited students from across the city to an evening of music, making friends, and engaging talks.
I’d just given my talk. It was my first one at the evening studio events. But I’d already given several elsewhere: Every lunchtime, I’d spent a couple of hours in the linguistics faculty giving presentations on hot topics like “Why Does God Allow War?” and “Science and God: Is There a Conflict?”.
Another three universities also hosted lunchtime events during the week. Nik Hookey, chair of Chrysolis, was with me for the week and giving lectures in one university. All the events, including mine, saw growing attendance throughout the week and many new contacts made.
My evening talk, though, had not been that great. I was definitely not happy with it and felt it was the weakest I’d done in years. It was a surprise, then, to find so many students wanting to talk about what I’d shared. People like this guy who said he didn’t believe but wanted to know more. Or others like the two newcomer girls who told my Ukrainian friend Marina that they want to join a kind ofAgnostics Anonymous group (called Uncover), investigating more about Jesus.
The best outcome of all from the talk came a couple of days later when two Christian students went met with a young woman and her mother who are enduring a difficult time right now. They ended up reading and explaining the prodigal son – the subject of my overlong talk in which I was so disappointed – and mother and daughter decided to become followers of Jesus on the spot. Funny how all that stuff about God’s strength working through our weakness turns out to be true!
So, it was quite an incredible week in the end. Some people just had good discussions. Others decided to investigate more. And some started following Jesus. Please pray for this group as they continue to follow-up on all the new contacts made, and as they launch their Uncover groups this week.