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Lives transformed: Student stories from France

Josh Apieczonek serves with the Groupes Bibliques Universitaire (GBU) in France, first in Paris and now in Lyon. He shared some stories of students he worked with and the transformational power of the word of God when applied to life.

Clément is a school student involved in a Bible discussion group not far from his school. He was initially resistant to starting a group in his school because he didn’t rate his classmates—he thought they were all bad eggs and didn’t study their school work enough, let alone the word of God. Yet during camps and conferences, he was challenged and convicted by God’s heart for the lost in the Bible. He began to appreciate his classmates more and grow out of his adolescent self-centredness and self-righteousness. Clément asked a mate if he wanted to read the Bible in McDonalds after school. His mate shrugged and said, “Sure, why not?” before freaking Clément out by turning to two other guys next to them and asking if they wanted to come too. They agreed and the four of them have spent the last six months consuming the happy meal of the gospel with fries and cokes. Clément has grown more thoughtful and concerned about others, and I believe that his love and initiative towards others will have all sorts of fruit in his life and others.

Sébastien is a medical student struggling with peers who are jerks with big heads, head doctors with god complexes, and complicated patients with bad smells. We have read in the word about how our sin was a stench in the nostrils of God, how our arrogance was a pungent cloud and our own jerk-ness a constant annoyance. Yet God pardons us and gives us the grace and power to pardon others. What better fuel for a good bedside manner than gospel grace, patience, love and forbearance? Sébastien knows that it’s a matter of putting into practise his beliefs. He knows that if those beliefs are shelved or abandoned, it will lead to a life of snide asides, contemptuous dismissals and withering pessimism, regardless of the quality of medical advice he delivers.

Arnaud, a geothermal engineering student, discloses that he’s struggling with lust. As important as it is to talk through his habits, routines and internet access, it would have been disastrous if we hadn’t worked through what the Bible says about the issue as well—how serious it is, how much purity matters, how poisonous, enfeebling, destructive and distorting pornography is, and the God-given good ends our sex drives are for. The gospel is crucial here. Without forgiveness, debilitating despair and crippling guilt will snuff out any growth. Without repentance, sexual sin will eat away his integrity and hollow out his holiness.

In the midst of their struggles and sins, all three of these students have been convicted by the word of God to make real changes in their lives. I have had the privilege of witnessing this and praise God for it. The word is active and has so much to say in addressing our identity, attitudes, desires and actions. By it, we can be transformed more and more into the people that God has called us to be.

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CMS has a strong commitment to student ministry because we believe it provides an unparalleled opportunity to reach young people with the gospel and train up the next generation of Christian leaders. Yet there are many students around the world who will graduate having never heard about Christ or without the opportunity to be discipled in their faith. Could God be calling you to go and serve in these places? Find out more information about current student ministry opportunities here.