Cambridge is a beautiful and historic city full of students — and with international influence.
There’s the grassy green of Parker’s Piece—where the first ever game of football (that’s ‘soccer’ to those of you from the USA) was ever played; there’s the painted houseboats which line the banks of the winding River Cam; there’s the impressive architecture of the old University colleges in the centre of Cambridge—you may have seen photos of the postcard-perfect King’s Chapel.
This is the place where Isaac Newton studied Mathematics – and you can go to Trinity College and see the window of the room where he used to live, outside of which is an apple tree directly descended from the tree that dropped the apple which inspired Newton’s discovery of the laws of Gravity. They say it’s been confirmed by DNA testing – and this is the city where the discovery of DNA was first announced – in a pub!
We have been particularly inspired by some of the city’s Christian heritage. In the sixteenth century, this is the place where Luther’s rediscovery of the fiery power of the gospel first began to influence the English-speaking world – after some of Luther’s writings were smuggled up the river Cam. Some students began to meet in the White Horse Inn (another pub!) to discuss the truth of what Luther was saying. These included William Tyndayle, who gave his life translating the Bible into English, and Thomas Cranmer, future Archbishop of Canterbury, and several other key figures in the English Reformation—and so Cambridge is known as ‘the cradle of the Reformation’.
A few hundred years later, Cambridge was the place where the bright young Cambridge Seven decided to give up the privileges of their elite education and go and take the gospel to the unreached peoples of China. Before doing so they toured the nation with a call to whole-hearted faith and saw thousands give their lives to Christ and a missionary movement ignited.
And we’ve not yet mentioned other notable Cambridge Christians such as William Wilberforce and CS Lewis.
Cambridge is home to the ancient Cambridge University, regularly ranked among the best universities in the world, as well as the lesser-known Anglia Ruskin University. With about fifteen thousand students each, that means that almost a quarter of the population of Cambridge is made up of students. And that’s without counting the 10 thousand + language students who come each year to study English in Cambridge for courses lasting six weeks or more.
As well as the significant proportion of students who are from nations other than Britain, Cambridge receives a huge number of tourists. Many of these come from places where they have no access to the gospel—and they are often very open as they come to visit another country.
As the slogan goes, Cambridge ideas change the world. The students of Cambridge will go on to become the leading scientists, politicians, writers (Zadie Smith), entertainers (eg. Rowan Atkinson), and broad-casters (eg. David Attenborough) of the country.
We have the opportunity to challenge these people to forgo success in the world’s eyes and take up their place in the mission of God.
But amidst whatever efforts we might make to ‘influence influencers’ in the influential city of Cambridge, we must not lose sight of the fact that the most influential place in the uni-verse is the holy of holies – and because of Jesus’ finished work upon the cross, we have access! Therefore we have set our hearts to prioritise worship & intercession.