Joanna Hubbard, 21, has just graduated from Oxford Brookes University and is preparing to do an internship with UCCF, an organisation aimed at helping students find Jesus.
How has Jesus changed your life?
After trying to prove that I’m a good enough person, Jesus showed me that I can try and be good but I’ll never be up to God’s standard. I’ve been able to give my life to Him, rely on Him and get confidence from Him. It means I can make brave decisions and take risks in how I live my life. He’s given me a new value in life. I don’t just look to meet my own needs anymore.
How has your experience of university been?
It’s been a journey. In coming to university, whether you’re a Christian or not, you have a lot of choices to face as you become independent. I know that a lot of people want to discover themselves at university. In chasing that path I’ve realised that I can only discover myself in God. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had its challenges. You’re surrounded by people looking for lots of different experiences, but I realised that none of those things were going to satisfy me. University culture is all about living for self; the kingdom culture is about living for God, which brings joy.
As a group, the Christian Union became aware that there’s such a big mission field at university. People felt empowered by God to have confidence to talk to their flatmates and do bible studies with them. Everyone went out as individuals but knowing that they were held by God and by the support of their friends. We would pray for each other. Despite opposition from the university, we saw over 100 people at each event during our mission week, we saw people give their lives to Jesus and some have recently been baptised. We started to understand what it means to be missional at university and love God more.
For a period, a group of us started praying in a local park. We knew how much God could use the Christian Union and we’d seen him bless us before, but we realised we needed to commit our lives to him daily and pray for one another’s needs as well as for the gospel to be spread at university. That changed the way we spoke about God because we began the day with prayer and expected him to be there throughout the day and expected him to do things. It was something that united us. Our student community house became more welcoming and accepting of anyone who came around for meals, etc. We all had busy schedules but praying helped us to prioritise. Someone from BBC Oxford radio saw us in the park and asked us some questions. We prayed for her as well, which was cool!
Tell us a bit about why you think students need Jesus.
University is a time when everyone is looking for a new experience and learning so many new things. Anything becomes acceptable, and that’s great because it allows people to be themselves, but within that, they’re not being led and things can get distorted. We see that in how people treat each other in clubs and how they don’t turn up to lectures, etc. At the time it seems fun but in the long run, people aren’t satisfied.
People are more open to exploring and want to know what they want to live the rest of their lives for. They’re more aware of how lost they are; they don’t know where they’re headed. It’s a crucial time to show people that Jesus is someone they can be led by and someone they can trust.
It’s what Jesus calls us to do. People come from all over the world and every background, and Jesus calls us to go to all the nations. They come to you, rather than us having to go them. It’s a field to be harvested.
What are you excited for in the future?
I’m really looking forward to having time to purely focus on God, while on this internship, and share the love of Jesus with people, from bible training to meeting people for coffee and helping the CU out with events. The work that God does in me will be multiplied in my years to come, so I’ll have a real foundation in Him and be equipped to really share the bible and point people to Jesus. I love to see the best brought out of people, the potential brought out in them as they find themselves in God.