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. They were reading in scripture how the God they worshipped called them to share food with the hungry and loose the chains of injustice – yet only a handful of their Christian student peers seemed to be engaging with this biblical call to social justice. This group of students began meeting to pray, strategise and send out the first Homeless Outreach groups, starting Just Love. They wanted every Christian student in Oxford to be engaged with social justice and doing something about it. The next year would see them praying for justice, standing up against modern day slavery and changing their everyday 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. As Just Love started to expand we continued 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 (Just Love’s Southern Coordinator)and a team of Just Love students from across the country joint with Restored, an international Christian Alliance. 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.
We grew to 13 universities and saw Just Love feature at the HTB Leadership Conference. The Alumni Network continued to grow- we saw the 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.
2018 so far has seen Just Love grow to 18 groups. It’s felt like a particular time of growth in Scotland in particular. In line of our value of student-ownership, we ran student-led winter trainings for the first time. April will see Just Love turn 5! We can’t wait for what’s next in the Just Love story… how might you be a part of it?