YOU ARE HELPING STUDENTS KNOW AND EXPERIENCE JESUS.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:1-4
1 John 1 has been an important passage for me this year as I consider the work that God is doing amongst students in Canada. It is a passage that has served to both simplify my thinking and call me deeper into God’s heart for the next generation! What’s striking for me about this passage is the relationship between the experience of encountering Jesus, the privilege of proclaiming Him, and the joy that it brings to us. We’re invited into fellowship with God, with one another, and then out of joy, we extend that invitation of friendship with God to those around us. This is the story of what God has done, and continues to do, through the ministry of Power to Change – Students!
Across Canada this year, there have been stories of how God has brought young people into an experience of who He is through the person of Jesus. All this, because faithful staff and students have joyfully and courageously shared their experience of encountering Jesus. And from these encounters, we see vibrant communities of believers experiencing shared life in Jesus, on campuses across our country.
So as we close off another year of “proclaiming what we have seen and heard about the Word of Life,” we’re excited to invite you into the joy of celebrating alongside us. These stories are your stories, as you’ve partnered with us through generous giving and faithful prayer.
We write this to make our joy complete,
Power to Change - Students Interim National Director
"WE LONG FOR THE DAY WHEN NO STUDENT GRADUATES WITHOUT ENGAGING WITH THE LIFE-CHANGING MESSAGE OF JESUS."
Journeying together: Sonya & Teri
Having been raised in a Christian home, Teri had regularly attended Sunday services and participated in her church youth group as a teenager. She had given her heart to Jesus at a young age, and in particular, benefitted from the spiritual influence of her mom and grandmother. But without many Christian friends, she didn’t have a community of peers to share in discussions of faith as she navigated high school.
Sonya similarly grew up in a Christian home, and attended a Christian school during the final eight years of her education. Volunteering at a local church for a year before pursuing post-secondary studies, she entered university with a strong foundation to her faith. But during her time on campus she recognized her need to go deeper in her walk with Christ. In Sonya’s words, “I had a lot of head knowledge about the Bible and who God was. I knew I loved Jesus dearly, and I was confident in my faith. However, I lacked an intimate, vulnerable, and authentic relationship with Christ.”
When they returned for their second year of studies, Sonya and Teri started doing bible studies together on campus. Though this was not exactly a new experience for Teri, it clearly marked a new beginning to a faith journey she had set out on many years prior. In fact, it led to a major turning point in Teri’s life as she began to fully realize how much Christ sacrificed for her. Her greater understanding of His love enabled her to grow more loving towards others.
Woven into their journey was the fact that Sonya had gotten involved with Power to Change in her first year on campus, a connection that had a huge impact on Sonya’s life. As she points out,“I grew so much in my personal relationship with Christ because of my involvement in P2C. From day one it was such an encouragement to know that I had people praying for me and a safe place to voice my questions and doubts about faith.”
“I had an overwhelming feeling that God had brought me here for far more than just an education.”
As Sonya’s friendship with Teri continued to develop, she naturally wanted Teri to become involved in the Power to Change community. But Teri felt uncertain. “I was apprehensive to go because I didn’t know who was a part of Power to Change. Finally in my third year, I attended the first potluck of the year and was introduced to several members of the P2C family in Halifax. They welcomed me with open arms and so much love, even though they didn’t know who I was besides being a friend of Sonya.”
As Teri connected further with P2C, she decided, as she describes it, to “take a leap of faith” and attend a P2C weekend retreat called Summit, in September, 2018. Recalling her experience Teri notes, ”I grew so much that weekend at Summit; it led me to a point in my life where I really began to prioritize God in my life and to focus on my relationship with Him.”
Recently asked what it’s like being involved with a community of faith on campus, Teri is quick to respond. “The impact that P2C has had on my life has been nothing short of a positive experience throughout university and I am very grateful that I have had this opportunity to become a part of the P2C family.”
Sonya similarly notes, “Coming to university, I had an overwhelming feeling that God had brought me here for far more than just an education. Being part of P2C on campus has helped me to see and learn what it looks like to live out the two greatest commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
With Teri graduating in May and Sonya graduating in January 2020, the future is largely uncharted. But wherever their journeys take them, Sonya and Teri know their steps are in God’s hands. As Teri sums it up, “No matter where I end up, I know I will be following and serving the Lord. God works in His time and not ours...I will continue to trust and keep my faith in Him.”
Addressing Life’s deepest questions
A few of the many outreaches we had this year:
154,000 visitors view P2C digital resources during the school year
P2C UofT sponsors an interfaith dialogue surrounding LGBTQ issues, featuring Sam Alberry , author of Is God anti-Gay?
SFU runs a four part God and Reason lecture / discussion series featuring four Christian SFU profs
P2C launches a new podcast called “Undiscussed” to reach out within the digital community.
McGill P2C hosts a panel on social justice focused on dealing with the homeless and fighting sex trafficking.
Over 160 international students attend an international student welcome feast at UofS
P2C Summit conferences across the country attract over 600 students who gather to worship, meet with other Christian peers and be challenged in their Christian walk.
P2C sponsors Alpha studies on Canadian campuses for students to explore the Christian faith.
McGill, UofT, UofA and UofC host large outreach events called Relevant in partnership with Ravi Zacharias Ministries.
More than 1000 Students gather at P2C Plus in December to go deeper in their Christian walk and be inspired to reach their peers with the gospel.
A day in the life of P2C community across Canada
University of Victoria, BC
Larissa is leading the prayer meeting on campus at the Interfaith Chapel. The students gather and listen as Gavin reads John 1:1-5. Each receives a card with a specific country or city to pray for. Larissa invites them to pair up and share their prayer requests and also pray for the information on the card. Today, Kate and Lawren pray for the people in Paris.
John Abbott College, QC
Michelle knows that Sarah becomes easily stressed out before her chem lab, so she asks to grab coffee with Sarah to talk about it. Michelle listens while Sarah describes her worry about her grades and how challenging the transition from high school to university has been. Michelle offers to pray with Sarah, and gives her tips on how to prepare for labs and tests.
Mount Royal University, AB
While heading to his Philosophy lecture Dave runs into Tyler. “Hey! How’s it going?” he asks. Dave and Tyler recently met in the cafeteria through a mutual acquaintance. Tyler’s mom has been diagnosed with cancer and he’s been struggling with the load of helping take care of his younger sister, managing his job and his studies. Dave prayed about how to best serve Tyler. Now every Friday, Dave has Tyler and his sister over for a dinner and movie night together with some other friends.
Dalhousie University, NS
Cam and Joe bring in another picnic table to accommodate the growing number of students. Dan is grilling burgers as Rachel offers drinks and greets people. The campus team invites more students over as a group congregates on the outskirts of the field to play ultimate frisbee. Justin meets international students from India, China, England, and Italy. Among them, a young man asks, “Does God really exist?”
University of Toronto, ON
Elisa and Jade meet to partner in sharing the gospel. Elisa loves connecting with students on campus by listening to their stories and bonding over common interests. Today, Elisa and Jade speak with a student named Esther, whose family recently sponsored another family to come to Canada. Jade shares how her family also emigrated from their home country due to violence, so she understands the hardship involved. Jade offers to host a food-drive, so that students can provide practical resources to help the family adjust to life in Canada.
University of Saskatchewan, SK
Tim and Karla’s small group visit their campus Starbucks, laptops, textbooks, and Bible studies in tow. Jess grabs a seat by the window and pulls out “Rooted,” a Bible study they’ve been working through together to learn what it means to be rooted in the gospel.
McMaster University, ON
Emma and Andre noted that many international students express feelings of loneliness and displacement while studying away from home. Emma connected with a local church, and together they decided to host an “International Student Dinner” each month. Today, Andre meets up with Robbie, an international student from China and they head to the dinner together. Mid-bite, Robbie asks, “Why are Christians so loving to people who don’t love them back? Why are they willing to help foreigners in their city?” Andre smiles and says, “We love because Jesus first loved us.”
A Parent’s View of Power to Change - Students
by Edith van der Boom
Our daughter and son grew up in the Christian environment of our home, and as they each in turn left to pursue post-secondary education, we were concerned that their faith would not continue to grow in a strongly secular environment.
It was important to my husband and I that they connect with other Christians on campus soon after entering university. In the case of our son, Kyle, this proved to be invaluable.
Kyle connected with P2C a week or two after Orientation Week, in September. There he met a number of dynamic Christian students, one of whom took him under his wing and became a mentor to him. They are still friends to this day and challenge each other in their Christian walk!
Small groups really played an important part in Kyle’s Christian life and by the time he was in his third year, he was leading a small group for young men. What most impressed my husband and I was that Kyle‘s friends at P2C were so excited about sharing the gospel. While this hadn’t been a strong focus during our son’s high-school years, we now found him challenged to take this next step in his spiritual walk and he was excited to share with us when other students showed interest and made commitments in following Christ.
During our kid’s university years, instead of doing at gift exchange at Christmas, we decided that a great gift for each of them would be to help with some of their expenses for P2C Plus, a conference that helps students learn how to go further in their walk with Jesus. They really appreciated the gift and found the conferences had a significant impact on their lives.
When I think of what I might say to other parents who are sending their kids to university or college, I always encourage them to tell their children to check out P2C. It really is such a great place for kids to get connected, make friends and be encouraged in their walk with God.
Through P2C, the spiritual growth in our son during his university years was phenomenal and we are forever grateful for that. It was at P2C that he developed some amazing friendships and it was also where he learned to share his faith and disciple others.
Just knowing there are groups on campus like P2C is amazing — where students are inclusive in their love for one another and intentional about reaching out with the gospel!
On a windy Saturday in mid-March, close to 100 Christian young adults from as far away as Laval, Gatineau and Quebec City gathered in Montreal to talk about hospitality, the theme of the most recent Convergence conference.
A new ministry initiative within Quebec, Convergence began in the fall of 2018 in an effort to broaden Power to Change’s scope of ministry beyond university students. Collaborating with churches and other ministries, the goal is to help young adults across Quebec remain active in their faith, sharing the good news of Jesus with relevance, love and conviction. Given the growing cultural, religious and sexual diversity in Canadian society, people tend to stay within the boundaries of their tribes - with others who are like themselves. God, however, calls Christians to step out of their comfort zones and meet others. And this was the primary focus given to the day.
Several guest speakers spoke about hospitality from a number of different perspectives. Fiona Crossling, director of the community organization Share the Warmth, set the tone of the day by inviting participants to unburden themselves from the many misconceptions often held about hospitality.
One misconception she mentioned was perfectionism, which in the end, makes hospitality more about us than about our guests. Mikaël Theimer, cofounder of Portraits de Montréal, a Québécois version of the popular blog Humans of New York, spoke on the importance of listening to other people’s stories. Mikaël’s presence was particularly inspiring in that, though he is not a Christian, he felt very comfortable taking part in an explicitly Christian event. Attendees were also inspired by Marie-Paule Villeneuve (a resident) and Encarnación Eloina Martínez Boza (an assistant) at L’Arche Montréal, a home for the physically and mentally disabled.
Local pastors, Power to Change staff and leaders from other ministries across the city also participated, each contributing to the day being a richly diverse experience of learning and collaboration. A genuine sense of warmth was experienced among the participants as they sat around tables discussing ideas presented by the speakers.
And a shared meal of authentic Mexican food significantly contributed to the family atmosphere. Everyone left encouraged and inspired to put hospitality into practice in their respective communities and to take the initiative to reach the people around them with the love of Christ.
Renegotiating Faith: The Delay in Young Adult Identity Formation and What it Means for the Church in Canadais the fruit of a research partnership between Power to Change - Students, InterVarsity, Youth for Christ, Truth Matters Ministries and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Renegotiating Faith answers the question: How can we help young adults who are transitioning from high school to the next phase in life stay connected to church and faith? It looks at this life transition for Canadians 18 to 28 who had a Christian religious affiliation as a teen.
Highlights from the study:
Delayed adulthood is a real thing.
Young adults are currently experiencing a 5-7 year delay in their capacity to make adult decisions or lifelong commitments, compared to previous generations. Since following Jesus is a lifelong commitment, it is one of the decisions that needs to be negotiated as a youth emerges into adulthood.
The most significant influence on the faith of emerging adults is their identification with a community of faith as they negotiate their adult identity and role. When they aren’t actively engaged in a faith community, they are far more likely to jettison their faith as a way of differentiating from their parents and developing their own identity.
The study also affirmed the value of Christian campus groups in the faith formation of young adults at this critical phase in their lives, recognizing that such groups provide a valuable faith community.
That is just one of the significant benefits of the P2C community on campus in that it allows emerging adults to make their faith their own as they form their capacity to operate as adults and Christians in society.
The Role of Mentorship
The study also revealed that by far the most critical factor in whether or not a young adult made a transition from their church youth program to a campus community of faith or new church, was the presence of a mentor in their life who helped them make a connection.
The biggest barrier a young adult had in entering a community of faith on campus or a new church was not knowing anyone.
Also noted in the study is that: “Young adults going on to post-secondary studies are four times more likely to connect with a Christian campus group or chaplaincy if someone from their home church tries to make a connection for them... most young adults need someone to create a way in for them through either an invitation or an introduction”.
To help facilitate this connection, Power to Change is partnering with churches and the community through the NEXT initiative to connect high school graduates to Christian community.
Making Timely Connections with New Christian Communities is Critical
75% of young adults who connect with either a campus group or a new church do so within the first month of starting at a new school or location.
Recognizing this fact, on campuses across Canada, P2C staff and students host welcome week initiatives and outreach events during the first few weeks of school. There is a significant amount of follow-up throughout September to help get students connected and integrated into Christian community on their campus.
All too often, the faith development of young adults entering post-secondary institutions grinds to a halt as they encounter new freedoms and new influences, not to mention the pressures of life on campus. But studies have shown that young adults who are well connected to churches and Christian communities continue to grow in their faith.
The NEXT Initiative focuses on helping students transition from high school to college or university, and in particular, helping them to connect with a Christian community while on campus.
To do this, P2C-Students’ staff and volunteers reach out to Grade 12’s and youth influencers, sharing about the importance of maintaining connections with a Christian community. Meeting with students in their high schools, youth groups and at youth events, NEXT team members establish connections with them before they even step on campus.
The community offered through Power to Change – Students is one where relationships matter, lives are changed and students are involved in a cause bigger than themselves. It is a safe space where young adults can ask questions, discover Jesus and go deeper in their faith through small group Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship, mission trips and annual retreats and conferences.
Behind every story of a student’s life transformed by Jesus, there are dedicated partners who take steps of faith to give and pray.