CMF divides groups in the UK and Ireland into nine regions roughly aligned with those used by the Christian Union movement.
Within the island of Ireland there are seven CMF groups: three in Dublin and one each in Belfast, Cork, Galway and Limerick. Unique to our groups is the large number of international students in medical programmes in the Republic of Ireland and so our CMF groups include students representing various parts of the world.
The CMF groups are active on their respective campuses, holding regular meetings for members and holding outreach events to share God's word with their peers.
Given the large distances between all the colleges, our annual student conference provides an opportunity for all of us to meet up for the weekend. For the past few years, the CMF Irish Student Conference has been in County Athlone. This is an opportunity for all the CMFs to spend time socialising, worshipping and looking at the Word of God. With many students returning for conference year after year, it provides an opportunity to catch up with conference mates and spend time encouraging one another.
This past conference, we looked at Luke's Gospel, focusing on some of the encounters Jesus had with people and how each of those encounters is similar to our encounters with Christ in our day-to-day lives. In one of the talks, we looked at the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and how he came to be saved. In the passage, we see Jesus call him and Zacchaeus' joyous reaction and repentance, juxtaposed with the reaction of the crowd, grumbling about Jesus going to Zacchaeus' house. What stood out most to me from this passage is that Jesus came 'to seek and save the lost' (Luke 19:10) and that he seeks us out the same way. I was beginning to feel the pressures and struggles of being a fourth year student, so being reminded that God seeks us out because of his love and care for us, came at the right time.
A mainstay of conference is our worship night on Saturday followed by toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate. In previous years, we have also run Confident Christianity and Saline Solution day courses on Saturday, with a time of reflection and a more structured service on Sunday.We will again be having our CMF Irish Student Conference on the last weekend of October — if you're in Ireland or Northern Ireland, ask your CMF leader for details. Hope to see you there!
Samuel Gunaratnam is a medical student in Dublin