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Student Conference report

Esther Chevassut reflects on John Lennox, seminars & a 'techno ceilidh'

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).

Yarnfield Park saw a record 500 medical and nursing students unite to be challenged by this example of faith in the book of Daniel.After long journeys from universities far and wide, and a hearty dinner, we gathered for our first main meeting. We were introduced to John Lennox - Oxford Mathematics professor, apologetics lecturer, author and renowned multilingual debater - our gift and main speaker for the weekend. He helpfully and honestly shared some of his experiences, recounting the pressure from his professors when he was a student to 'get rid of this God stuff - it will hold you back academically'. However, Lennox challenged and encouraged us that we, like Daniel, can stand firm in Christ despite opposition and the pressures of secular society.

Over three talks during the weekend, Lennox exposed questions Daniel raises - language, authenticity, organisation, history, values, identity and image. There are many parallels between living as a Christian today and Daniel and his friends living in exile - out of their comfort zone and out of their culture in idolatrous Babylon. We face the same challenges of asking whether God is behind global and personal history and the world that treats things of absolute value as relative. We can learn from these young students whose faith wasn't eroded under pressure; if deeply rooted in Christ it is possible to live in the world whilst not conforming to it.

Alongside digesting these big challenges in the main sessions, we were spoilt with a choice of four seminars out of 18 wide-ranging topics. Brilliant speakers shared their wisdom, insights and experience, bringing Christian perspectives to light on medical careers, mission, gender dysphoria, embryonic ethics, psychosis and evangelism, to name a few.Free time activities included a walk, a jungle speed competition, watching rugby, playing football and the opportunity to tease out a few more of John Lennox's pearls of wisdom during a Q&A session. A Saturday evening favourite, led by some of our wonderful Scottish representatives, was a fantastic 'techno ceilidh' - organised chaos or skillful dancing, depending on where you witnessed it from!

Meeting others from the Wessex area on the Sunday was a great time to discuss ways we can further Connect & Grow, Speak & Serve together in our region and how we can pray for one another. It was a true joy and privilege being with brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the UK (and further afield) on the brink of our careers in healthcare. We finished the weekend by sharing communion before returning home, better equipped to face the challenges ahead.
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