My name’s Stephen, originally from the South Wales Valleys, I’m now a 3rd year Aeronautical Engineering student at the University of Southampton.
Already a Christian, I came along to church during my first week in Southampton, based on a couple I knew there, and never really looked back. It’s a decision I have never regretted. It has helped me make good friends, friends who have stood by me helping me through the difficult times and who have been there to celebrate the good times – encouraging me with the truth of God’s word, and showing me his love in the way they have acted towards me.
During my first year, I joined a student air force unit called the University Air Squadron. This gave me some incredible opportunities to travel the country doing extreme sports, pretending to be a soldier and even having a few flying lessons. As an aeroplane nerd – this was too good an opportunity to miss! However, there was a strong drinking culture on the squadron; much like most university societies here in Southampton. I knew that being a Christian at university meant that I was probably going to make some choices that were different to the people around me, but I never wanted that to stop me from being friends with anyone. It’s definitely not always easy to make decisions that are in line with my beliefs, especially when you’re surrounded by the opposite, but after a few uncertain weeks, I started to find my feet and began to live out my faith again.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16.
I’m not in the Air Squadron any more, but I do play a fantastic sport called inline hockey, and live with 5 non-Christians and have plenty of course mates who don’t know Jesus. I now also lead a team of students who regularly go and feed the homeless in our city; It’s a great way to meet people, love people and share the gospel!
Living with others is a challenge and a blessing. They see every side of you! They see what makes me tick; so I have to be real with them. They see me when I act like Jesus, and the times when I don’t. Some people may have thought that living with non-Christians would be tough, however I think because they see you in every moment, it has deepened my faith. We’re all called to be salt and light wherever we are. It’s always a challenge, but by the grace of God, it’s one we never face alone.