Special Feature: Tabah Tangguh—Let’s Convey the Space for Dialogue on Campus (Issue 494)

Barry Chung
General Secretary
[email protected]

Christian college students from around the world, along with general secretaries, staff, and board members, participate in the quadrennial IFES World Assembly. The theme of this year: Tabah & Tangguh – Indonesian words conveying strength, fortitude, resilience, and perseverance, is a response to the challenges of the past few years, especially the pandemic. We used Psalms as a link between the various sessions, and reflected on the campus situation, justice, mourning, and caring for the creation.

Below is sharing from the participating students:

Challenge and Growth

We Christians from different countries have different ways of worshiping, face various social situations and even religious persecution. Nevertheless, God enabled us, who are so different, to overcome the pandemic and all the hassles of the immigration process, to come together as a cross-cultural fellowship. It was all by HIS grace.

In one of the seminars, the speaker reminded us that we should challenge the people around us more often. He said he once had a conversation with a Christian business undergraduate, and the conversation began in a very ordinary way (just as we often ask freshmen what subject they are studying and whether they are busy). He then asked, “What do you think is the difference between a Christian business college student and a regular business college student?” This question made him start to look at and rethink his identity, and then he had a better chance to integrate his faith with his studies.

This reminds me of the current situation of the fellowship in colleges and even the church in Hong Kong. We often maintain a respectful, peace-oriented attitude. Respect is good, but if we never go beyond that, we kill the opportunity to get closer to the truth and grow in our faith. Of course, the purpose of our questioning, our challenging of others, is not to tear down or exalt ourselves, but to build up, to guide each other on the path of our spiritual journey.

Student evangelism is a movement, and so is our life. May we all continue to be faithful witnesses to God by drawing on His strength in our own situations without ceasing.


Unity and Prayer

There was a debate on homosexuality in the conference, which caused considerable controversy. After seeing this, some students organized prayer meetings in the gaps between the activities. This once again impressed upon me that IFES is a “Fellowship of Evangelical Students”, a place where students are encouraged to take the lead. It also reminded me of the primary purpose of the fellowship—to bring students into communion and unity with one another before discussing the big issues. This unity is not about speaking out to people in the form of signing and drafting resolutions. Instead, it is about turning to God and speaking out to Him. Students observed that the student evangelical movement was in a different situation in different parts of the world, and thus realized that this topic was not easy to deal with.

What we seek is not to win over those who disagree with us on this issue, but to insist on practicing our unity as brothers and sisters when making decisions. For God Himself is three in one, the Holy Trinity.

Our faith is not an argumentative faith, we should return to prayer and listen to God’s will. The conference emphasized prayer many times, as John 17 says, “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”


Gospel and Dialogue

This experience made me revisit the idea of campus fellowship. As the name suggests, “Campus Fellowship” is a group of Christian college students who study the Bible, reflect on our faith, and grow together. Yet it is more than just a group keeping warm inside themselves. It is a campus evangelical movement that proactively reaches out to non-Christians. We are living witnesses of Christ on campus, demonstrating the reality of our faith, Godly values and community character in the campus harvest field.

In addition, I have also learned how to have dialogues in the context of today’s times. Instead of merely focusing on the world of the Bible and ignoring the issues of today’s society, we can share each other’s views on different issues through dialogues, search for Godly values in the Bible, and construct a view of faith together.

Finally, I thank God for making it possible for me to meet with each of the students and staffs, and to continue to pray and walk with each other after the World Assembly. These life stories not only inspired me to serve in the campus fellowship, but also showed me their perseverance and courage in their faith journey and God’s marvelous grace in the campus gospel ministry.


Full text is available in Chinese version.



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