Psychology graduate Chloé Murphy, a parishioner of All Saints’ Church, Belfast, is currently serving with Agapé/ Cru in Italy.
The pandemic has impacted the work Chloé can do, and at one point forced her to return home from her first placement in Florence, but she is now back in Italy sharing God’s Word with students in Bologna.
Chloé has been supported by a grant from the Connor Diocesan Mission Fund.
She became a Christian during her first year in Queen’s University when she met Agapé interns who were doing a student spiritual interest survey on campus. “They shared the gospel with me, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of having a personal relationship with God,” Chloé said.
“I was invited to All Saints’ Church. This was initially challenging. Coming from a different background, I didn’t know what to expect or if I would fit in. I was immediately made to feel welcome at the church, and developed a community. For the next while, I was discipled and poured into by both an All Saints’ Church intern, and an Agapé intern.
Chloé graduated in 2019. “God put a calling to international ministry in my heart. I was given the opportunity to go to Italy, where the need is high, to serve among Italian students,” she said.
She went to Florence in September 2019. “I served alongside a multicultural team at the main university in the city,” she said. “We spent lots of time meeting students on campus, using a variety of ministry tools which open up spiritual conversation.”
Chloé said she found Florence an amazing experience. “The city is beautiful and the people are friendly and welcoming. I picked up the language within a couple of months and I dived into the culture. I could communicate the gospel effectively and make friends with ease.
“I met hundreds of students during my time there, shared the gospel with them and opened up the Bible with those I built relationships with. God did so much in my life there, He used me as a steward of His grace and transformed my heart in the process.”
Unfortunately, Chloé had to return home the following March due to the pandemic. “At that time, I knew that God wasn’t finished with me in ministry work yet. He not only used my time in Florence to bring the good news there, but He showed me my sin and areas that needed healing in my life, He showed me His goodness and transformed my heart in the process,” Chloé said.
She remained in Northern Ireland until August last year, when she returned to Italy – this time to Bologna. “The past few months have been a rollercoaster ride. Bologna has gone in and out of restrictions,” she said.
“At the beginning of my intern year in Bologna, restrictions weren’t as tight and we went on campus as normal, using different ministry tools to evangelise and advertising for our events. Currently, alongside connecting with the students involved in our ‘Practising English’ service, my team and I are meeting virtually with students, having evangelistic conversations and/or discipling those we met when restrictions were less tight.
“As we can’t hold events in person at present, our team holds a fun event on Wednesday nights to help us stay connected with our students, and to give them something to look forward to among all of the online classes and studying.
“Thankfully, we are still able to go to church on Sundays, where I get to see my team and church friends in person. We’re also allowed to go outside for necessity and exercise.”
Chloé continued: “We’ve seen God work in ways we didn’t expect, given the current circumstances. God provided us with almost 30 students as soon as we got here, in our ‘Practising English’ service, which we advertised digitally as a place where students can practise their English. Our aim is always to move the conversation to the gospel and the relationship to discipleship.
“We have seen students spark interest in the work we do here, and then as we share the gospel with them and serve them, they seek to know more about Jesus. We’ve seen God answer prayers in humanly impossible ways. We also tried different evangelistic methods on campus and holding events, when possible.
“I am so thankful for the prayer and financial support of the Connor Diocese. Without this generous support and desire for the gospel to be spread among nations, I wouldn’t have been able to come to Italy and share the love of Jesus. God has been growing me during my time here, and I know he wants me to continue in ministry for another while.”
Chloé said she is looking forward to returning to Belfast this summer, and working alongside Agapé and All Saints’ Church Belfast to serve and reach students here.
In future, she plans to study for a Masters’ Degree and then a PhD in Neuroscience. “Since I was young, long before I knew Jesus, I was always interested in learning about the brain,” Chloé explained.
“When I was 13, my dad died from a neurodegenerative disease, and ever since then I have wanted to work in the field of Neuroscience.
“I was preparing to start a programme in September coming, but through a lot of time spent in the Word, in prayer, and in the reflection of the gifts God has given me for ministry, I know He has called me to stay in ministry for longer.
“When I return to Belfast in June, I will begin support raising for another year of ministry, this time at home, to reach university students in Belfast. I am so excited to work alongside Agapé in Belfast, and in close partnership with my home church ‘All Saints Church/ UniChurch Belfast.”
Chloé explains the background to Agapé:
“Agapé UK, Ireland and Europe are the Western European branches of the global ministry ‘Cru,’ which began in 1951 in the United States. The vision of Agapé is for people to come to know who Jesus is, what He did and what that means for our lives through evangelism and deep discipleship. Agapé is always growing, launching new ministries around the world among students, families, athletes, in the workplace and more.
“In my experience of working with Agapé at universities, we use a range of ministry tools to connect with the students on campus and engage them in spiritual conversations. We also hold events which help us to build friendships and evangelistic relationships with the students.
“While serving with Agapé, we always aim to do what Jesus did: Introduce people to the truth, help them grow in their understanding of how to follow Him and to send them out to do the same with others. In the process of evangelism and discipleship, we encourage students to get involved with a Bible-believing Church, to be built up by the Word of God and to get involved a community of believers for encouragement and fellowship.
“God drew me to Himself and changed my life using those working with Agapé, and through them, sent me out to invite others to know the truth too!”