At NTE 2014 there was a lot of talk about the AFES nation-wide mission for 2015 – Uncover. For those of you who weren’t able to make it to Cite, the Uncover mission encourages students to read Luke’s gospel with their friends. It was originally developed and used successfully in the UK, and has been adapted by AFES for using with uni students in Australia. Uncover comes with some snazzy resources – a pocket sized copy of Luke with every second page free for notes, and with some passages marked and questions added as suggestions for where to start. It also has links to videos and other online resources via QR codes to scan with your phone, to talk about the evidence Luke gives about who Jesus is, and to go into a bit more depth on questions people often ask of Christianity, like “Does science contradict faith?” or “How can an all-powerful and loving God allow people to suffer?”. There’s more info about Uncover on the AFES website, the Uncover website and on Facebook.
We spent time at Cite thinking about how Uncover could fit into our mission reaching academics, staff and postgrad students at uni.
The morning seminars for the wider NTE program were geared towards Uncover, with talks and training on different aspects of mission, based in Luke’s gospel. On Sunday morning Cite joined in with one of these seminars – “Sent – Listening to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel”, presented by Rowan Kemp and Celia Toose. Rowan went through three moments in Luke where Jesus sends out his followers: sending out the Twelve in Luke 9, sending the Seventy in Luke 10, and sending to the Nations in Luke 24. His goal was to provide a theological framework for Uncover. Some key points were:
- We are now in the phase of God’s plan where repentance and forgiveness of sin will be preached in Jesus’ name to all nations – and just as Jesus involves his followers in his mission from God in the three moments in Luke, we are participants in this mission now.
- We should expect to share in the opposition Jesus faced.
- We should have a global perspective – less than 3% of missionaries are in countries classified as having no access to the gospel, where 30% of the world’s population live.
Celia applied this framework to our contexts, encouraging us to think of specific people in different domains of our lives who we could be reaching with the gospel, and to think intentionally about how we make friends and develop relationships with people at uni.
Chris Swann visited Cite to talk about Uncover and answer some of our specific questions. He showed us some videos from the online materials. Here are some of the questions that came up:
- What’s the difference to previous missions where copies of a gospel have been given out to non-Christians?
Obviously there are similarities, because we always want people to be reading the Bible, but Uncover is intended to make it easy for people to read with their friends. To make this easy it marks out passages to start with, and gives video and web resources to go deeper into how to understand the gospel, and questions non-Christian friends might have.
- Are there other materials available for Christians using Uncover to read Luke with their friends?
While the videos provide an introduction to some tough issues, they naturally can’t cover every aspect of these issues comprehensively. There are some other articles on the AFES website, but it will also be up to people to find out where their friend is at and find other resources that could help in their specific context.
- What about using Uncover with international students?
They are planning to subtitle the videos in other languages in the future. Some people at Cite thought Uncover would be particularly useful with international students, because it is laid out clearly and simply, and has lots of space to make notes.
- How effective is Uncover with different age groups, particularly people older than the typical undergraduate student?
Overseas, Uncover has primarily been used with undergraduate university students, and has also been well received by high school aged students, but Chris didn’t have much information about it being used previously with older age groups. This was a big question for people at Cite, because our colleagues are a broad range of ages, typically older and with a lot of specialised knowledge in their field. Some questions arose as to whether the style of the Uncover copy of Luke might seem too young and not deep enough to engage older academics and postgrads, particularly around the accessibility of the QR codes for older generations.
Personally, I can think of some of my PhD friends who would find the Uncover book really cute (like I do!), and I think would find the questions, notes and videos clear and helpful. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the first resource I would pick up to share the gospel with my supervisors or some of my other friends, but it’s a good challenge for me to think intentionally about what will be most helpful for my friends on an individual level.
Whatever we decide for the non-Christians around us, Uncover gives us a great opportunity to join with the rest of AFES this year in helping our friends to discover for themselves who Jesus is, by sitting down together and reading what the Bible says.