Hello and welcome to another blog! How are you doing? I hope you are well! Some of you reading this will know a fair amount about me already, whilst others may not know a single thing. Wherever you are on that scale, I hope this is an enlightening experience for you as I try to take you on a journey of how I ended up here in the second year of a degree and working at SML, and where I might go on to in the future.
For me it all started really in the summer of 2017. I was 18, had just finished my A-Levels and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I applied for a load of jobs and apprenticeships. I often got offered interviews, but it never went further than that. I was praying desperately, asking for God to come through and open a door and make something fall into place, but nothing seemed to happen. Yet I was (relatively) confident that God would come through, He always had. I’d grown up the son of a vicar and that meant I moved houses often. My latest move had been in 2015 after I finished GCSEs. I didn’t know what I was going to do school-wise for a while and friends were all getting accepted into colleges, sixth forms and apprenticeships. I was looking at options, but nothing felt right. It was hard but after a while, the right place came up and I got accepted into the sixth form at QE School, Wimborne. I needed God’s guidance and help in working out what to do. I’d seen Him do it before and I tried to remind myself time and time again, that God would do it again. And He did.
Along with thousands of others, every year my family spent a week in a muddy and wet field in Shepton Mallet at New Wine. For the last four years, I had served on team rather than attended as a delegate, but before then, I’d been to New Wine every year since I was aged 5. My favourite venue had always been Ground Breakers (for 5-7-year olds) and I had always wanted to go back there to serve on team. 2017 was my second-year volunteering at Ground Breakers. I was so excited for the fun that was going to be had and what God was going to do. What I didn’t expect was for my life to be changed starting with one conversation on the first night.
I was waiting in the Ground Breakers venue for some friends to join me before team training started. SML Kids’ good friend Lauren came up to me and we had a chat. She’ll tell a different story to this one, but she isn’t writing this, so you’ve got my version!!! She asked me what I was doing after the summer and I told her that I wasn’t sure. Lauren told me about the New Wine Discipleship Year that happened at SML which she had done 2 years earlier and in a moment which I’m still not overly proud of, I shut down the conversation because it hit something in me (plus I was tired and not feeling well)! The short conversation ended there but it started something in me and by the end of the week, I had signed up for the New Wine Discipleship Year at her church, SML. Let’s just say that first week was slightly awkward when I turned up for an internship at a church with someone who I hadn’t been the friendliest too in the heat of a moment!!
Choosing to do the New Wine Discipleship Year was possibly the best decision of my life. It enabled me to still live at home doing the things I loved (refereeing for Dorset FA, watching Bradford City and being with my family), I was hanging out with people my age in an epic church, learning about Jesus and getting to do some really cool things with really cool people. It was an incredible year but then in May 2018 it was coming to an end. Again, I went through the cycle of not knowing what to do, praying and waiting for something to come through and nothing seemed to happen; I just didn’t know what to do. Eventually I decided I wanted to work for the Church so started looking at opportunities where I could do this. A job came up in London as a placement student which meant working at the Church and attending a Theological College in Cambridge called Ridley Hall. I didn’t get the job, but I got into the college. I realised that my preference was to stay at SML so after conversations with many different people, it was agreed that I would stay at SML for the next 3 years to do a degree in Theology, Mission and Ministry and this is where I am now, coming to the end of the second year of my degree at Ridley Hall.
These last few years haven’t always been easy, I have had massive challenges which, if I’m honest, I wasn’t always sure I was going to make it through. But these last years have had a huge impact on who I am as a person; I’ve learned so much about myself! I’ve formed some of the closest friendships that I’ve ever had. I’ve learned more about what it means to serve others and to serve God. I’ve been learning about how to lead people well. I’ve learned to hear God’s voice and to grow in confidence and obedience to share what God’s saying. And, I’ve developed a passion for worship and for seeing all people grow as disciples of Jesus, young and old. And this is the route that I want to head down in the future.
I’m not really sure what the future holds or what exactly I want to do, but I had a really strong sense at New Wine last summer (2019) that God was calling me to build disciples for Him and to be almost a spiritual father to people; to set an example, to be a role model and to help people (young and old) to grow as children of God. What this looks like in more detail, I don’t know! I’d love that to be working for a church, but we’ll see what opportunities come up. People keep saying to me to write a book so that’s a thought that’s going around my head, not that I know how to go about writing one! However, what I know is that God’s got little old, broken, imperfect me this far, He’s not going to let me go now. In the meantime, I’ve got a degree to finish, and an exciting year to come at SML. I can’t wait for what is to come in the future! Whilst the near future is a little uncertain, what is certain is that God’s gonna be there, walking with me, with us, every step of the way. Good will come out of this and God’s radiant love will shine through, and it already is! And one thing I also know for certain is that God has you and God has me, in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).