I didn’t really have any idea what I was agreeing to when my friend texted me last Monday morning, asking if I’d like to come to a lunch bar to hear a talk entitled “Is Success Enough?” I had a free afternoon, though, and thought it might be worth coming along and finding out what this ‘Life to the Full’ week was all about. I couldn’t quite bring myself to wait until 1pm for the free lunch, giving up at about 12:17pm and stuffing my face with crackers in my room. However, it quickly became obvious that, while a useful incentive for attracting newcomers to the event, once Graham Daniels took the floor and began delivering his talk, no-one was going to get up and leave – sandwiches or no sandwiches.
‘Life to the Full’ was the title given to a week’s worth of lunch bars and evening talks organised by Exeter Evangelical Christian Union. Welcoming anyone, regardless of beliefs or prior knowledge, the week encouraged anyone with the slightest interest in the ECU or in specific topics to listen, learn, and ask questions in an easy and informal setting. I happened to be one of those people, and from an objective viewpoint – being a complete newcomer to this kind of event – can describe them as not only incredibly captivating, but also inspirational to a degree I could never previously have imagined.
At the lunch bars, short talks on various aspects of life were given, with the aim of tackling from a Christian viewpoint whether they were ‘enough’. Aside from success, topics comprised independence, a pain-free life, sex and status – curiously, the sex topic seemed to attract a rather decent crowd of students…
The talks were given by Graham Daniels, ex professional footballer and currently head of the organisation Christians in Sport. Always tackling even the most sensitive issues in a delicate and tactful manner, he nonetheless succeeded in delivering stimulating and entertaining talks. His frank honesty combined with an enthusiasm and genuine belief in everything he said made each word completely engrossing. Welcoming questions, he answered thoughtfully and open-endedly, giving questioners the opportunity to respond with further points. This opened up a dialogue which gave the talks an interactive and spontaneous feel.
Although I only attended one evening event, this also made an incredible impression on me – in a more relaxed setting with less of the bustle and time-constraints of the lunch talks, greater depth could be given to questions such as ‘Is God there at all?’ and ‘Aren’t we all Christians?’ With the addition of live music, guest speakers and free hot drinks and desserts, Graham Daniels’ talk proved again both engaging and inspiring.
‘Life to the Full’ put forward a Christian perspective on some of life’s tough and ambiguous questions. It didn’t present these as the only answers – the talks merely offered everybody listening one stance, which they were free to disregard, but also to investigate further. For me, the events proved an eye-opening experience, encouraging me to question my own beliefs on what I value in life, and providing a starting point – I’m still not quite certain what for, but I have no doubt that ‘Life to the Full’ was more than worth my time, and I’m extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to become a part of it. The ECU demonstrated an incredible openness and generosity which allowed students to explore new ideas and beliefs, and the week was a credit to everyone involved.
Hannah Butlerbookmark me