Youtube Instagram

Part of ifes

Back to all

Choosing where to live

Alan O’Malley, 02/12/19

Alan O’Malley from City Church Belfast, shares what has transformed his church community, and what could make a huge difference to mission at college. Where this has happened in Europe, often many have come to faith.

Choosing where to live

Matthew 28:16–20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Missionary life

Have you ever considered becoming a missionary for a day, a year, your whole life – living all out for Jesus, touching the lives of people lost without Christ? Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind and there’s a multitude of possibilities including reaching the street children of Calcutta, heading into the dark heart of the Congo or even the broken cities of North America. What awaits you is excitement, some hardships, and a more dependent prayer life that grows in intimacy, faithfulness and fruitfulness. And most of all seeing God move in powerful and mysterious ways amongst the people group you are trying to reach.

Immersing yourself in the culture of the indigenous people, learning their customs, sharing life together over meals and evenings talking over life’s hopes and dreams. Your inner life and lifestyle becoming a consecrated sign saying “Father please use me by my words and actions to bring glory to you and your Son”. Your inner prayer echoing, I want people to see and hear how great your love and grace is in Jesus. I want their lives to be shaped and transformed, just like you are shaping and transforming my life.

Fulfilling the desire of Jesus to make disciples/apprentices in all the nations of the earth, burns on your heart, shaping your choices, desires and actions. Ultimately this will impact where you call home, because you want the shape and substance of your life to fulfil the desire of Jesus.


Everyday missionary

I totally love students and think you are amazing! Why? Because you are the future influencers and shapers of society. In seed form, you are the inventors of great medical breakthroughs, the pioneers of new social understandings, the scientists that reverse the effects of fossil fuel damage to our planet, the nurses who lovingly cared for my Dad with cancer, and the accountants who make sure the tax man does not take all my money!

But inside me questions arise about us.  Will you know Jesus and be transformed by his love? Will their career, colleagues, friends, family and society be shaped, infused and influenced by God?

choosing accom

This is your hour.

Post–university, your circle of influence will become more focused and with a smaller variety of people. You will specialise in a career, you will have particular interests and hobbies and you will become more devoted to Church and family. This is not meant to sound boring: life is deeply fulfilling lived out in a community where we are known, have purpose and are lovingly devoted to those around us. But right now you are part of, or just about to join 288,678 students over the island of Ireland. (If that was a city it would be the 3rd largest after Dublin and Belfast.)

So right now in university, if you have a missionary mindset, you have the chance to influence and touch hundreds of lives with the love of Jesus. Those students, your peers and possible friends, are at a stage of life when people are incredibly open to their world–view, friends, thoughts and actions been shaped and changed. Jesus’ words about the ‘fields being ripe for harvest’, spring to mind and resonate. Universities are massive potential harvest fields, but they need workers.

We love to think the nations are over there somewhere! But Jesus called us in Acts to be witnesses in Jerusalem, and the nations, so basically a call to be a witness/missionary right where you live. Focusing on Jesus’ desire to disciple the nations is just a passionate act to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. The Father’s love for the world is absolutely unending and he longs to have men and women whom he can use, to impact this world for the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • choosing accom 2

So what’s the challenge?

  1. I would like you to consider being an urban student missionary for the next year wherever you are going to university

  2. I would be honoured if you thought about living in a high density student area in town – on campus or not on campus, but with a missionary mindset and lifestyle. Where would most believers NOT go – why not go there?! Where would Jesus go, to make a difference?

  3. What type of students in your area are the least reached with the good news of Jesus? Which group would never go anywhere near the CU/local church you go to? Does Jesus have good news for them? If so, who will tell them? You?!

  4. Some of you could have a house together as a missional student home in a challenging area. You could have meals together and share your lives and your sofa with students who do not know or follow Jesus. (In the process of a shared life you could teach, pray and train others to follow Jesus alongside you and those living in your home.)

  5. Be proactive in loving and praying for other students around you.

  6. Be missional in the things you do together with Christian friends: run a cafe outreach in a area where a lot of student properties are present, join student activities like climbing or the gym with the aim of making friends, go to student places together and be with people who wouldn’t hang out in Church, but might be interested in Jesus. Jesus loved a party to meet and be with people (but be accountable and work in teams, don’t get yourself in a mess)!

Final thoughts

You’ll never have this opportunity again and so I envy you all in the best and most Godly sense of that word, for the Kingdom opportunities that are before you. The local churches will go out of their way to support you – my church in the Belfast Holylands definitely would.  And if God placed that on our heart, I know it will be on the hearts of many others. Struggling to know wisdom in how to balance all your studies, recreation and missionary desires?  Just ask your local church leader – they’d be happy to help!

Alan O’Malley

City Church Belfast

Student Outreach Cafe ‘The Living Room’

PS: Alan suggests watching this video to get a feel of his area of town!


Some questions to ponder:


  • Are there areas of student accommodation unreached by your CU?
  • Are there student halls of residence or streets where running a smallgroup in them intentionally would be a huge light in a dark place?
  • Do you as an individual lean towards spending all your time with Christians, or with those who aren’t Christian?  How might you better connect each week with the other?
  • If you live with Christians, how can you mix with and serve non–Christian friends, as a household?  (if you live in a Christian hall of residence, this may take even more thinking and intentionality to form deep friendships with non–Christians)
  • If you live with non–Christians, how can you naturally introduce them to other believers, and remain accountable yourself for how you’re finding it?
  • If you are in a place on the island where accommodation costs are HUGE, how could we as Christians not let this shape our missional thinking completely?
  • More and more student accommodation is becoming studio apartments where everything is provided, and we don’t have to mix with others in communal areas.  How can CU missional smallgroups be a breath of fresh air in such places, where community is limited?

*image credit to (Vic Mills photo) and William Murphy on Flickr (Holylands photo)