Five questions with Globalscope team leader Christine Barber
Campus ministry “wasn’t on my radar at all” says Canvas Nottingham team leader Christine Barber, who was studying to be a teacher. Then a trusted friend suggested she try a semester as an exchange intern with the Globalscope campus ministry in Birmingham, England.
“That gave me an experience of mission work and ministry in a completely different context from what I’d seen, and impacted my life,” the Atlanta native said.
Christine returned to England as a member of the Birmingham team in 2013, and then helped start the Nottingham Canvas in 2016. She’s in the U.S. now on sabbatical and stopped by our Indianapolis office for a visit.
Tell us about your plans for sabbatical.
The goals of a Globalscope sabbatical are to retool, reconnect with partners and refresh, getting away from the daily grind of ministry. I’m off for seven months, and have spent a time of refreshment in Colorado, where it’s sunny all the time! I’ll be visiting various campus ministries to see how others do what I do — two in the U.S. and the two Globalscopes in Uruguay and Chile. It will be cool so see how others do my job in a different context.
What do you like and dislike about living in England?
The opportunity to travel throughout Europe is great. Trains and flights are very affordable there. Also, the pace of life is very different, much slower. People walk and use public transportation a lot, which slows you down.
On the other hand, there’s the weather, which is the worst part! It’s quite gloomy and depressing. And you notice it more there, because you’re outside more, standing at the bus stop or walking home carrying your groceries. I also really miss my family and friends. I miss doing life with them and being around for the highs and lows of life.
You started a brand-new campus ministry from scratch in 2013. What were your biggest challenges in doing that?
Our team had a steep learning curve, especially in finding a campus house. I had no idea how to do any of that. But we finally found a place and are exactly where we need to be.
Team relationships were also challenging. We were mostly strangers to one another at the start and all very different. Now, though, we are very close, and they are part of my community and play a role in my support system.
Nottingham is a town of 60,000 students; I knew only two of them, and one graduated! A year before I left Birmingham for Nottingham, I leveraged that remaining relationship by going to visit her and asking her to invite friends to Canvas when we started it, and she did. Also, the universities have tons of on-campus societies (clubs) for just about any interest you can imagine. We went to some of those and met people. It’s challenging, though, to go from meeting someone to inviting them to come to an event sponsored by a religious group. We deal with a lot of rejection but are learning to be patient and continuing to learn the best ways to engage with college students in Nottingham.
What’s on your to-do list when you go back to England?
That’s not something I’ve thought about at all! I’m still detoxing from the norm. So much will happen while I’m gone, so I’ll have to get up to speed before I do anything new. My goal right now is to be present in every phase of my sabbatical. I’m not thinking about August.
You could do so many other things. Why do you stick with this job, this ministry?
This job offers me so much creative freedom! I’m three-and-a-half years in at Nottingham, but still in a learning phase. That’s what keeps it interesting.
When I go back, we’ll have a very small team, so our events will look somewhat different. We plan out of our resources – whatever manpower we have, we allocate from there.
So, I feel like I’m very needed there, and that is where I’m supposed to be.
God helped me discover this passion for non-Christian students, and I’ll be there until God shows me what’s next.
campus ministry, Canvas, Christine Barber, England, Globalscope, Nottingham