Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter Break... couldn't come soon enough...

Don't get me wrong, but this has just been a long term. And to top it off, because of a late easter, and the fact that because study and extra work on all departments has been piled on, our Easter break was postponed until this weekend. But the last term has been amazing... and I want to share that here...

It started off in January, and straight back into Friday Night Chill, with a new logo, designed by one of the young people and Tristan, one of my fellow youth work interns. The group has been running for 3 years, and this was a very monumental moment in the life of FNC. We are hoping to really use the logo this term on t-shirts and hoodies, cost dependant, but I am very excited about this. Here is the final version of the new logo, designed by Ben Shannon!!

I was very happy with this, and the young people are coming around to liking it. But that is just the physical look of the group, how about the God part. I have gone on a journey this term, with giving the group over to God. When my boss put me in charge of FNC back in September, I immediately started to suffer from the well known sin of pride, and making the group mine, but I realised, through two of my volunteers who asked if we can worship during prayers before we open the doors, that this group really is God's and I am just looking after it for him, with Jeannie, my co-leader. And since then, we have seen God break through in a few ways.

Just after half term, we had 2 healings at the end of the night. I was walking down with a group of the 14 year olds, when one girl told told me her finger had started hurting, so I immediately asked her if I could pray for her. She shrugged her shoulders and said why not, and her friends gathered round. I prayed a very quick prayer, getting straight to the point, and asking for healing in Jesus' name. And then stopped, looked at her, hoping for something. She then looked at me and shouted 'no way, that is so weird, you're like the next Jesus'. I stopped her right there and told her that it was Jesus using me. Then on of the boys watching had badly damaged his fingers and said 'try it on me'. My immediate inner reaction was like 'Jesus I hope you're on a roll here, cos it's hard to explain the now and not yet theology'. So I did the same short prayer and again, in amazement (and the look on his face was a picture), all the pain in his fingers had gone... He kept shouting, 'i can't believe it'. I then explained a little about how it really is Jesus doing this, and the best friend of the guy I had just prayed for asked 'so, can we do this as well?' A perfect question to be asked right then. I told him Yes, you can, in Jesus' name you can do many things. And that is something we all need to remember..... In Jesus we can do all things.

This is why I am doing this. These moments are what I live for. Seeing a young person get a glimpse of who God is.

2 other huge successes of this term was the 14-18s Weekend Away, which was at St Marks College in Saffron Walden, near Cambridge. Here we saw God really challenge and move amongst the young people. With Guest speaker Nikki Marfleet and the brilliant James Brown speaking on changing the world, using the story of Daniel and his rebellion against worshipping the golden statue to inspire how God can use us, we expected a brilliant time. And it was. St Marks were very welcoming and the staff there were extremely helpful. We had an afternoon of Trampolining, Archery, and the incredible Assault Course, then some team building exercises followed the fun low ropes. I think my favourite moment was seeing Darren, one of our SEN youths completing the assault course and the low ropes before shouting "AGAIN"!. The weekend however wasn't all disaster free. One of the young leaders had gotten excited and poured her entire roast dinner on her own lap. A classic moment, and one not many will ever forget.

One of my big projects for this term was to teach and enable a group of 11-14s at a local school to light their school production of Bugsy Malone. Word had gotten out about my past career, and it was a golden opportunity for the church to become a bigger presence at the school, and also to promote FNC, which half of the young people who go to FNC attend this school anyway. This project was a huge success for both the school and for my ministry. A couple of the students have started coming to FNC, and one of the students requested that we pray before the show. Just after this, the spotlight which had broken the night before suddenly started to work again. God showed us his presence a lot during that time. The young people wanted to carry on the after school club after easter, so we shall see what happens. But a lot of potential there.

So that was my last term in a nut-shell. There was sooo much more that happened, and I will find time to share these stories in the near future, but these were a few highlights. ]

My plan for the next month is to start a series on role models, and looking at the people that our youths are looking up to at the moment. One thing I would like from you, my reader, is to let me know who you think our current culture role models are, good and bad. This would be a great help in starting me off.

thank you for reading, and I hope you have a lovely couple of weeks. I will, I'll be in Sweden :)

many thanks,

The Captain :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Why I do what I do and how I got here...

The simple saying 'because God has called me to this work' will simply not be enough for some people to understand, and there are a lot of people close to me who do not understand fully why I have made this change in my career. Even though a calling from God is what it took to get me on to this course and this new career path. Lets start though with what happened from my side.

Through the years I was working in the theatre, I had 3 year lighting design career behind me, I had been the Technical Stage Manager at a London theatre for a year, and I was volunteering for a friday night youth group at my church (Friday Night Chill), which was focussed on building relationships with the young people, and telling them about Jesus in that way. There was no God slot, or wrap up prayer at the end, it was just good friday night chill out fun. And I had always got a good feeling from spending time with these young people, and when I managed to bring some of my faith in to a conversation, or pray for someone, I was on a high, similar to the high I had got from a successful opening night in the theatre, or a good recommendation from a director to another director for my services as a lighting designer.

But this feeling was more than that, I was keeping those moments closer to my heart for a lot longer than before. I would feel good about my work for the night after the show, and maybe the next day, but then I would have to get on with the next show, and forget it. But when I had a God moment with the youth I spoke to, I was excited for a week! I would be telling people about these conversations and moments for over a week after it happened. This was a big deal!!!!

I started to commit to every friday night, making sure Fridays were covered my casual staff at the theatre, and racing down to the church to be in the Friday Night Chill team. I then got to a point a year after I had started my job where I knew that why life would look pretty similar in my job for a long long time. Even if I was getting paid more, I would be working completely unsociable hours, which before I was happy to do, but now it was not something I wanted. It was also a lonely job, and I am an extrovert (many who know me will be shocked...) so I love having people around me and spending time with people. And up till then, I was holding on to my plans, and even though God was steering ever so slightly, I was still holding them too tightly to my heart. So I had to let go...

And I did. I let completely go of my dreams, my desires, and gave them to God. This didn't mean that I didn't care if they didn't come to pass or not! I was saying to God, 'you have better plans for me beyond my wildest desires, and you know the desires of my heart. I trust you Jesus with all of this!' So I prayed a very simple prayer, which went a little like this 'Jesus, Here I am, I am yours! Do with me what You will, mould me and shape me. Amen' I will say at this point, this is a very dangerous prayer, because God answers prayers, not always in the way we want or expect, but He always has our best interest at heart. And He really shook things up for me.

I felt so much lighter, and things started to improve at work, I was being given a few more opportunities to lead at church and I felt happier. I found time to start volunteering for the Sunday Session, a sunday morning 11-14s congregation who made church fun and relevant to the young peoples lives. I found I was prioritising my volunteering for the youth team above a lot of other areas of my life. I still worked when I had to, even on friday nights and sundays when I had to, but every chance I got, I was there.

My heart was breaking for these young people. And I wanted to be involved a lot more. So I arranged a meeting with the youth pastor and told her of my desires to be more involved and find out what opportunities there were, which included leading small groups and preaching small talks in the sunday morning groups. Each time I was seeing more and more how important it was for young people to know Jesus, and know that Jesus wanted them to know Him. That God can speak to an 11 year old in exactly the same capacity as He does to a 55 year old vicar. This was important work, and I really felt a pull to being involved in this a lot more.

A few months passed and the church had started to publicise their new training course 'Equip', which was slightly different to the previous training scheme with a heavier focus on leadership and I was definitely interested. but I needed to know this was in Gods plan. At this time, I was still in debt, and the training scheme was an unpaid internship but they would supply accommodation, but I couldn't afford to also find time to work and pay off my university debts.

But in all conversations I could see how God was pushing me towards this internship, and this new lifestyle. And I was excited, I had reminded myself of the prayer I prayed the previous September, giving God the rule over my life, and that I was letting go. And on the 6th June I got my clearest 'sign' of all that God wanted me on Equip. I had sorted out a plan to get out of debt in the 2 months running up to september, which seemed impossible, but I knew God would make it possible if it was to happen, then 30 minutes before my interview was to start I got a call from my mum saying that she had received some inheritance and it was enough to wipe out the debt. Now I am not saying at all that I was celebrating the death of a relative because I wasn't. When my 2nd Cousin had passes away at 102, we were all very sad, and I know my family were deeply grieved, at the loss, but this was all unexpected. And God timed the news of this to come to me perfectly so that I would know it was from Him. This is a true testment to the perfection of God's timing and provisions.

So in the interview I was able to sit down and concentrate on the other important areas of why I had felt called to youth work, and that evening, I had been given a place on the course...

The rest of the story will follow, including healings by young people for young people, and some great times with some brilliant housemates... all to come...