The first aim of UESI is evangelism. Whatever else is included in EU programmes, reaching students with the Gospel must come first.
The last command of Jesus to His disciples was to make disciples of all nations (Matt 29:19). We cannot neglect these words of our Lord.
UESI is a student movement. Our philosophy is to get students to witness to their fellow students. Every EU member should be challenged to be a missionary to his/her fellow students.
The scope of this aim is the college student population of India. Our field is the millions of students studying in thousands of colleges throughout the length and breadth of our motherland.
The result to be aimed at is that many “students may come to a personal experience of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord through the new birth”. We are not aiming at hands raised after an evangelistic appeal but at new birth! Nothing less than experiencing the reality of God Himself through personal relationship with Jesus Christ is required.
What is Evangelism
“To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him to accept Him as their Saviour and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His Church” – Archbishop’s Committee of Enquiry on Evangelism in the Church of England, 1918.
There are four factors in this definition:
- The truth about Jesus is to be presented.
- We must seek a response from those who hear. The truth is to be shared so that men may come to put their trust in God through accepting Him as Saviour and Lord.
- The method employed is to present Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- The believer is to become part of the believing body of Christians.
We must now consider the truths that are to be presented.
The great fundamentals in the proclamation of the Gospel
- God’s nature and character
He is the Creator, and an absolute moral being in His righteousness. God’s universe is therefore a moral universe. The just God must punish those who disobey Him and fall short of the perfect standard of His law. He cannot compromise on His moral standards to accept the law-breaker.
God is also loving and merciful. The cross is the high point of His love for man, and also the demonstration of God’s holiness, wisdom and power. The cross satisfies God’s justice without compromising His moral attributes. This is the way the holy God offers His love to man.
- Man’s need
Man’s will is set in rebellion against God’s will. Therefore, he is separated from God. Man’s basic need is not peace, happiness, success, etc., but having a right relationship with God. It is the power of God, which makes man realize that he has offended God and insulted His authority.
- The person of Jesus Christ
He is to be declared as a real historical person. He was fully human. He went about doing good and giving to man the greatest teaching and preaching ever heard. But the heart of His message is Himself. He made uncompromising claims which show that He is fully God too. He is God become man, the God-man. He is not only unique in His moral excellence but also in His self-authenticating claims which culminate in the resurrection.
- Christ’s death on the cross
To know why Christ died is important. The death of Jesus on the cross lies at the heart of the Gospel. His death is the remedy for human sin. Jesus took upon Himself the judgement of sin, even the sentence of death. Because He took our place, the just demands of God’s broken moral laws are satisfied. On the merit of the completed sacrifice of Christ on the cross, God can declare the repentant, believing sinner righteous and restore him into relationship and fellowship with Himself.
- Christ’s resurrection, ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit
Christ’s resurrection is a well authenticated historical event and the supreme evidence for His Lordship. He is a living person today. After His ascension He poured out His Holy Spirit on all who received Him through faith, so that He indwells the human spirit. The essence of the Gospel is the experience of Christ’s indwelling reality through His Spirit.
- The final coming of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom
He is coming again to judge the world and to deliver those who believe in Him from the presence of sin, bringing them into His Eternal Kingdom. One day, God will require all men to account for their lives and their response to His free offer of salvation. Man cannot blame God, if he goes to the hell which is prepared for Satan and his evil angels. How shall a man escape if he neglects so great a salvation?
- Human response
God has done everything for man’s salvation. But man has to respond to God’s offer.
When the facts of the Gospel have been presented, we must look for response which the Word of God demands. The Gospel is not only an offer but also a command. One must repent of his rebellion against God and receive Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord through faith. Repentance is being sorry for one’s sins and turning to God. Faith is placing our trust and confidence in Jesus. Receiving Jesus Christ involves a definite step of faith.
- The cost of being a Christian
Jesus never won a single disciple by false pretences. He always showed them what was involved in being His disciple. Jesus Christ calls for supreme love, supreme surrender and supreme sacrifice from all who want to be His disciple.
The new believer must be grounded in the assurance which is based on God’s promises, on evidences of new life and on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
Weaknesses in Evangelism
The following are some of the factors that weaken evangelism in the EUs.
- The pressure upon believing students is very strong in the changing social and cultural patterns of living. In many cases moral separation from the world is considered outmoded and unpopular. Many would rather compromise on Christian values.
- Spirit-filled Christian discipleship is a very rare phenomenon. Instead, many are filled with fear, shyness and self-consciousness (Eph. 5:18 and 2 Tim. 1:7).
- There seems to be a guilty, silent majority in most EUs. They lack motivation due to lack of commitment to Christ and lack of continuing in His Word. They lack the conviction that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and that all who are outside of Christ are without hope in this world and in the world to come. They are afraid of human opinion and rejection.
- Those who are highly motivated sometimes do not have the know-how of evangelism. They remain within the narrow circle of EU friends, out of touch both mentally and socially with the majority of the student community. Once having met with failure they become dumb instead of learning from past mistakes and correcting themselves.
- Being a witness is a costly affair. It requires much prayer, patience and above all a consistent life. Sufficient time ought to be given for people not only to be convinced of the truth, but also to be convicted by the Holy Spirit.
- Evangelism can never be done in a ‘hit and miss way’. It requires proper planning. By the time some of the EU committees wake up to the challenge of evangelism it is the time to prepare for final examinations. Others have no clearly defined membership.
- Many people are scared away by the overzealous person who is only interested in the student’s decision for Christ. Instead, there is a need for patient teaching of the Gospel truths in a friendly way and of being interested in the whole person.
- Specific prayer is lacking for specific persons and thereby there is no dependence on the Holy Spirit to regenerate people. More dependence is placed on arguments and on meetings.
- The inter-personal relationship problems take up the whole attention of some EU committees and Satan succeeds in letting them do very little by way of evangelism. Attention has been primarily concentrated on evangelism among Christians and so the Gospel has not been shared in a meaningful way with others. In fact, the life of the EU group is not open and attractive to others.
Surely it is the absence of dynamic groups which limits evangelism. Evangelistic meetings and Bible studies will not be productive unless there transparent, honest relationships and of loving togetherness in the EUs.
Steps to fulfil the Aim
- Let every EU meet the Lord in a new way through prayer and Bible study, so that the Holy Spirit may move us from within. The Spirit will cleanse and empower us to present the claims of the living Christ, so that students may experience Him as Saviour and Lord. God’s life begets life.
- Each member needs to be strengthened by maintaining a daily, meaningful Quiet Time, personal Bible study and memorization of relevant Scripture verses.
- We must forget all our differences and work together for the glory of God in the evangelization of the millions of students in the universities of India.
- We should seek to win a hearing for the Gospel in our universities and colleges: by all God-honouring methods such as evangelistic lectures, evangelistic film festivals, debates, informal discussions, evangelistic literature and book tables.
- In order to train students in personal evangelism, EUs should promote the study of good books on personal evangelism and related topics. Every library must be equipped with such good resource materials.
- Training in personal evangelism should be done in the EUs and EGFs through workshops and short courses.
- Mobile evangelistic student teams may be sent to unreached colleges.
- What truths must we present when we try to win others to Christ?
- What are the causes for lack of evangelistic outreach in your EU?
- What changes will have to be made in your EU/ICEU and in its programme, if you are to win students from various religious, political and philosophical background to Christ?
- What are the possibilities before you to fulfil the first aim of UESI?