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International Students Club, University of Leeds, Leeds
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Brief history Started over 10 years ago as a result of the vision of two couples in St. George’s Church (a large evangelical Anglican Church in the city centre) who saw the need of the large number of international students at Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University (then Leeds Polytechnic). Although it is formally jointly affiliated to St George’s church and Leeds University Chaplaincy, helpers come from many other churches as well. Aims To show the love of Christ to international students by welcoming them and helping them to settle in culturally. We also offer the opportunity to learn more about the Christian faith through an optional Bible study. Format We meet every Wed 6-7:30pm in the University Chaplaincy. The two main advantages of the venue are: 1. it is more convenient for the students; 2. it is a more neutral venue compared to a church. 6:00 - 6:45pm Coffee, cake and chat 6:45 - 7:30pm Formal programme: slide shows, food evenings, barn dance, cultural evenings, trips to local sights (especially in the summer). 7:45 - 8:15pm Optional Bible Study Students Mainly postgraduate students from many different nations. Average attendance to main programme (6-7:30pm) about 30; average attendance to optional Bible study about 8-10. Christian input Weekly Bible Study (optional): We use the Good News Bible and spend about 30 mins looking at a short passage from one of the gospels. The atmosphere is very informal and we welcome everyone regardless of religious beliefs. Some people just come once, others attend regularly. The studies are evangelistic in nature and we try to let the students draw out the meaning of the passage for themselves by asking questions and through discussion. We leave it up to individual Christians to follow up any spiritual interest shown by students outside the club. Evangelistic talks: We hold special Christmas, Easter and Summer events, where there is a 10min talk which is evangelistic in nature, but very low key. Jesus video: We plan to show the Jesus video in two parts over the summer. We recently took a group of students to see ‘The Miracle Maker’ at the local cinema. Encouragements For a number of years, morale in the club and attendance were low, but for the past two years, the team has pulled together and we have had the privelege of seeing many students growing in their awareness of their spiritual need and some becoming Christians. Several factors may have contributed to this: we moved from the rather cold and severe chaplaincy church building to the much cosier and friendlier chaplaincy common room; we revived the monthly prayer meeting for the club; we moved the Bible Study to the end of the club programme, so that we had more time for discussions and felt less pressurised for time. A key strength of the club has been the presence of a number of individuals who have tirelessly visited the students or invited them to church/social events. Challenges We are short of helpers this year as a number of key helpers left last year due to marriage, retirement, further study etc.. We need to pray for more helpers to ensure that quality relationships continue to be formed with students who come. We need to pray especially for more postgraduate student helpers. The number of students who have been linked up with church has not been as many as last year. We need to pray that all the helpers would take up their responsibilities to follow up the students who show spiritual interest and not just rely on a few individuals to do this. Other Postgraduate/International Students Groups in Leeds Global Cafe: a weekly international students group run by Leeds University CU. It’s a place where British and international students can meet in a friendly and informal atmosphere. Meets every Tuesday from 7pm at ' The Greenhouse', North Lane, Headingley (near the cricket ground). Mandarin Bible Studies: The Leeds Chinese Church runs two mandarin Bible studies, one for seekers, the other for more mature believers. City Church International Students Club: run by City Church and aims to support international students during their time in Leeds. Activities include social events, opportunities to get to know Leeds and Yorkshire & a weekly group meeting. WYSOCS (West Yorkshire Society for Christian Studies): Aims to integrate the Christian faith with comtemporary issues and academic study. Not strictly a postgraduate group, though most of its members are staff or postgraduate students at Leeds University. South Parade Baptist Church: SPBC also runs an international students club.