‘Can you help me? My grandson is about to start university and I’m planning to give him a gift as he goes.
‘As part of my gift, I want to find something with a Christian message. I’m so concerned that he hasn’t made a commitment to Jesus, neither will he let me sign him up with the Christian Union (CU) at his university. He knows I pray for him, as do his mum and dad. All I need is a little something to remind him, something he will not conveniently forget to pack’.
You never quite know what God has in store! This grandmother didn’t know that we at Festive were researching an idea to produce a transition book for those leaving college and sixth form and moving on to university.
‘A farewell gift’ at the end of term: this idea came from a request we had from Sarah Ferguson, Assistant Chaplain at Runshaw FE College.
She and the CU had tried to find something to help college leavers remember all that the CU had tried to share with them about Jesus while they studied together. What they discovered was that, while there were a few things for CU leavers, there was nothing tailor-made for not-yet-Christians.
Now here was a similar request from a different perspective! God was nudging Festive along in its thinking and preparing it for an exciting new venture.
We love it at Festive when chaplains, students, even grandparents get in touch like this, because that is what we exist for. Our mission is to work as part of the Christian church for the benefit of further education colleges and sixth forms.
Further education colleges are a huge mission field, comprising mostly 16-19 year olds studying a range of vocational and academic courses. We often liken CUs in further education to Daniel and his three friends in Babylon: very small in number and feeling the pressure of their secular environment. Yet there are many great stories of how God can and does use them powerfully, as they purpose in their hearts to stand for Jesus.
In partnership with UCCF and Scripture Union Festive began as a ministry in 2007. One minister called us the ‘mind the gap people’ because we were the ‘bit in-between’ the schools’ work of SU and university work of UCCF.
With a vision for an ongoing, effective witness in colleges and sixth forms in the UK, our policy from the start was that all we produced should be available to 16-19 year olds for free, so that finance would not be a barrier for these courageous young ambassadors.
Through the techy means of our website, we are able to offer many free resources as downloads. God has a pattern of taking the little things and multiplying them, doesn’t he? We feel this all the time!
As more students and chaplains sought support in their evangelism, the need for relevant ‘non-virtual’ resources to give away at events became more apparent. Gospels, colourful ‘flyer-tracts’, posters and surveys, the Lord has always provided something for students to use for free.
It seemed that if we could get something into their hands, these 16-19 year olds would find creative ways to use them. We listened to the requests and did our market research.
‘What would students be happy to give and receive?’ In a nutshell, the findings asked for something relevant and helpful. To be a gift, it needed to look attractive. Most importantly, it must speak of how amazing Jesus is, in a way their friends could understand.
We did have one book already, written by Stephanie Bushell. Jesus in college was published by 10ofThose, and told of Steph’s joys and sorrows in trying to run a college CU in London. So we approached a CU with a proposal for some kind of gift book.
Beyond beans on toast is the result of that conversation! It’s packed with student-friendly recipes, donated by a professional chef; step-by-step photos, making the transition from home easier; top tips on how to manage in the kitchen, keep the bank balance in the black and cope with assignments.
It has stories from students who went to university and met the Lord Jesus. In glorious technicolour, it’s just the right size to prop up in the kitchen or grace a table in student rooms.
Here’s the reaction from someone who works with the 16-19 year old age group. James Pinto, youth minister at Bishop Hannington Memorial Church, Hove, says, ‘As a youth worker, I’m always on the look for good resources for Christian teenagers to give away to their friends.
‘This is certainly just that. It’s a quality resource. Beyond beans on toast has been put together superbly. My first impression was this looks great!
‘The content is excellent: a combination of recipes students could cook, interesting real stories that show God is at work in the student world, and top tips I wish I’d been told when I went to uni.
‘Here is a book that Christians can give to their mates with confidence, knowing they are giving them a brilliant book. This book is too good to only buy one of!’
And from Richard Cunningham, director of student ministries at UCCF: ‘Beyond beans on toast is an excellent book to give to sixth form leavers. It will not only prepare them for university life and get them cooking, but also get students interested and plugged in to all that is happening in their CUs’.
Beyond beans on toast retails at £4.99 and is available from www.10ofThose.com
As usual, 10ofthose has all sorts of fantastic offers for purchasing multiple copies, down to an amazing £1.25 for a 100 copies.
For grandparents, other family members and churches — why not think about getting a few copies and using them in various ways, individual gifts or for the youth group? Give each young person more than one copy, so they have one for a friend. Could you make an offer to a local school sixth form or FE college? It’s worth asking.
If your young people are already at university, why not buy some for their CU to give to freshers they meet in the early days of term? Copies on the CU stall or at ‘welcome’ events, with a bookmark of ways to contact the CU slipped inside, will be a welcome gift for students not sure about their faith.
Festive is committed to providing free resources to students in colleges and sixth forms so that they might make a difference where they study. So here is what we plan to do, to make that happen with Beyond beans on toast:
Festive’s vision is to provide at least 20 college and sixth form CUs with up to 50 copies of the book, so they can give them to friends and fellow college-leavers. That would mean financing 1000 copies.
We are therefore looking for people to partner with our vision in sponsorship. Basically, £1.00 given to Festive buys one book to give to one student. For the saving of one latte less a week, we can give two students a book to treasure (of course, £100 buys 100 books!).
All the CUs have to do to qualify for their 50 copies is to tell us how they plan to stage the giveaway, give us a postal address, and we will get them in the post asap.
Join us in praise and prayer about this. We are truly excited about the way God has led us so far, and now we ask you to pray with us that every precious book will be a joy to give, a blessing to receive, and a life changer for many.