Along with Narnia Elementary School there are a few other ministries in Banská Bystrica that we are excited about. In this post I’m writing about one that’s called “Projekt Ponorka” or Project Submarine.
The University of Matej Bel
I don’t know the official numbers but I’ve heard say that the University of Matej Bel, which is located here in Banská Bystrica, has about 20,000 students (give or take a lot). Counted among them are our seminary students because the evangelical seminary where I teach is actually a department in the College of Education at the University of Matej Bel (hence The Department of Theology and Christian Education, formerly the Department of Evangelical Theology and Mission).
One of the potential advantages of being a part of the public university is that we have more direct contact with a lot of students from various disciplines. One of the challenges we’ve faced is figuring out how to build relationships with those students.
Last fall one of our theology students got together with one of the students in our youth group who happens to be a student in the Department of Applied Ethics at UMB. The two of them came up with the idea of organizing a series of debates between the seminary students and the ethics students. The goal has not really been so much to propogate a Christian worldview as to encourage discussion, gain a better understanding of differing viewpoints, and especially to build relationships with students from other fields. The project ended up being called “Project Submarine” because, as the students said, it’s an attempt to go deeper than just the surface of the issues.
So far, the project has been a success. The first debate was held at the end of the fall semester and about 25 students were in attendance. More than half of them were from the ethics department and their response was overwhelmingly positive. This semester we had three more debates, each time with about 30 students. Most importantly, it seems we have been building relationships.
From the beginning I’ve been a kind of faculty representative helping our students however I could. I think it’s important that our theology students see the importance of interacting with other students, learning to articulate their faith and share with those who know perhaps very little about the gospel.