Just Love started in Oxford in 2013, where a small group of Christian students in Oxford were struck by two realities: the unjust world they lived in, and the just God they worshipped. Oxford had one of the highest homeless populations in the country, and had been the location of a major ring of human trafficking and exploitation over the past 16 years. And these students knew the injustice didn’t stop there-that globally, there were 36 million slaves and 1.2 billion people who lived below the poverty line.
At the same time they were reading about the just God they worshipped in their Bibles and his call to loose the chains of injustice and share food with the hungry.
And yet only a handful of their Christian student peers seemed to be connecting these two realities or engaging with this biblical call to social justice. This group of students decided something had to change, so they began meeting to pray, strategise and send out the first Homeless Outreach groups. They wanted every Christian student in Oxford to be engaged with social justice and doing something about it, and thus Just Love Oxford launched officially in the April with a ‘Live Below The Line’ week raising over £5000 for different charities. The next year would see them praying for justice, standing up against modern day slavery and changing their buying and eating habits to honour God’s creation and people.
After a few chance connections, a team was forming in Durham who had a similar heart- and Just Love Durham launched in April 2014. Later that year, co-founder Tom Christmas started working for Just Love full time, building partnerships, forming a trustee and advisory board and continuing to strategise about what it would look like to shift Christian student culture so social justice was seen not as an optional extra to discipleship, but rather an integral part of worshipping the living God.
In 2015 Just Love groups started in Bath, Cambridge, Glasgow, Exeter and St Andrews. Just Love ran the first training events to resource Just Love committees and develop students in leadership. The staff team joyously expanded and we gained more expertise and wisdom on our advisory board.
In 2016 the first cohort who’d seen Just Love established when they came up to university as freshers graduated. In accordance with our vision to release students to seek Jesus and justice well after university ends, we launched our alumni network
We also ran the pioneering Unashamed campaign, headed up by Hannah Mitchell and a team of Just Love students from across the country joint with international Christian Alliance Restored. Catalysed by the knowledge that 1 in 7 women experience serious sexual assault or physical abuse while at university, a series of videos, blogs, articles and events worked to inspire and equip Christian students to confront violence against women wherever they saw it.
Just Love turned 4 in 2017! So far this year we’ve grown to 13 universities and have seen Just Love feature at the HTB Leadership Conference. The Alumni Network has also continued to grow- we’ve seen the start of our mentoring scheme (pairing up recent graduates with experienced Christians in the field) and the first sphere-specific gatherings. In September our staff team grew to 6, including a full-time Scotland coordinator.
We can’t wait for what’s next in the Just Love story…