What is the most courageous thing you have ever done? Building a culture of courage amongst students is one of our core values as a movement. In a world where it is all too easy to hide behind screens or masks of who we think we should be, courageous mission on campus moves us from a place of anonymity to a place of visibility.
Courage is defined as a mental or moral strength enabling one to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty firmly and resolutely. Although bravery and courage go hand in hand and are used interchangeably, they are not quite the same thing. Bravery looks like jumping in front of a bullet, or running into a burning building to save someone. However courage requires something much deeper, like deciding to tell someone that you’re not okay or refusing to remain silent in the face of injustice.
Bravery is often a reaction driven by external circumstances, courage is a response driven by internal strength of character. It is the powerful and measured decision that responds to a need greater than our fear. Courage moves us from the shadows into the light, from fear into outrageous faith. God meets us spectacularly in courage, it is where He delights to show up as our proud Father who makes the impossible, possible. Courage and encouragement are the places where hope breathes life into things that were once thought to be dead.
Recently, a group of us in Manchester decided to stop letting fear be the loudest voice in our lives and set ourselves the challenge of 60 minutes of insane courage. To do this we used the “Courage Quest” map which had various suggested activations including sharing the Gospel and our testimonies, praying for healing, listening for prophetic words and blessing people with random acts of kindness. The map was just a tool to get us started and what we found was that the first step of starting a conversation or stopping someone on the pavement was always the hardest but resulted in some incredible experiences. Courage is where the rubber meets the road of answering the question; do I trust that God will be with me wherever I go?
Over and over again the Bible shows us that courage is not found in the absence of fear, but in the Presence of God. Moses trusted that God would be with him in the wilderness, Daniel trusted that God would be with him the lion’s den, Job trusted that God would be with him when everyone else deserted him. Through the Courage Quest, we trusted that God would be with us as we stepped outside of our comfort zones and into adventure. We believed that in His Presence is the best place to be. We had faith that God would catch us as we leaped over the edge into the unknown.
We had the opportunity to speak to one woman who was moved by the power of the Gospel. She was on a smoke break outside of the hospital during her shift and graciously listened as we shared the good news of Jesus. We learned that God is close to those at the fringes. He cares deeply for the marginalized, the ones who don’t fit into our cookie cutter moulds of Christianity.
We gave another student some chocolate just to bless her and she couldn’t quite believe that there was no catch. We learned that love with no strings attached is radical and confuses a world that has trained us to be fluent in cynicism and suspicion. We also got lots of rejections. In these moments we learned it’s so much more about obedience than result. That pursuing the Presence is worth it regardless of the product.
Sam Parker who was part of our group said, “It wasn’t just British politeness that made people stop and listen to us. It was their looks of pain, grief, and maybe for the first time people realising the power of the gospel and the power of the Spirit to save. We wouldn’t have experienced that had we not done it, no matter how terrifying it was.” The Courage Quest stretched us all and drew us into a really special place of dependency on God. It provided the opportunity to say yes to God and no to fear, and because of this we had the experience of witnessing how God’s love changes people’s lives, including our own.