Last September I applied for places at universities and got all the offers really quickly but something didn’t feel quite right. Throughout the last year and a half I and others have felt God calling me to leadership, not neccesairily something where I would be up front, but leading in other areas of ministry, hence why I’m doing Rise Up.
So when praying about it I had a real sense that in the next few months God was going to reveal various things which would mean taking the year out for Him in order to grow in my relationship and identity with Him instead of going to uni in September 2015.
Then over the next few months God started to drop different things in and put things into place. When praying with others we felt that God was challenging and encouraging me to step out in faith, trust that when I stepped out He would provide the floor underneath. Then various other things started to happen and I felt inclined to look at Soul61 – I had never really heard of it before.
Soul61 is Soul Survivor’s 10 month leadership course – I thought why on earth would God be calling someone like me to a do a leadership course! But then I looked into it and immediately felt excited for it, something felt right and it felt like it might just be of God. A few weeks after that I and others felt that God was saying to apply… After a few more weeks I finally did.
The day after sending my application off I was offered to go to Watford for an interview for Soul61! This was so exciting to see how quickly God moved when I pushed the door that He had been prompting me to do. Then the following week I went for the interview day up in Watford and had a fantastic time with God there.
From then on my prayer each day was that if God wanted me it would be a yes, but if not He would reveal His plans quickly. I was told that it would be maximum of 2 weeks to hear the outcome. Then yesterday I received an email from Soul61 offering me a place on the course starting this November!! Such an exciting moment and so exciting that this is just one of the things that can happen when you follow God’s call and step out in faith!
Rise up has helped me as a youth worker as it has provided me a structure and program that covers all key areas of development for a young Christian.
It also gives great peace of mind with how thorough it is when it comes to safe guarding. I’ve been a fan of mentoring for years but have never seem it done so well as when it’s within the Rise Up model.
I’ve had 10 young people complete the course since I’ve been in placement and they have all massively changed because of it. They display a desire to explore their faith and develop their relationship with God. They are keen to see change happen in their churches and for them to be the agents of that change. They have also shown huge steps in supporting and loving their peers both within a Christian and non Christian setting.
Over two years I’ve gone from wondering who might be suitable for Rise Up to wanting all my young people to have the option of a mentor as it can be so key to their development and is a truly unique relationship that they won’t find anywhere else.
We give out some ‘challenges’ at the spring training day; each one designed to build up a particular aspect of Christian character or faith. This is what happened when Ben took up his challenge:
My challenge was the one about loving your enemies. So far I’ve only identified 3 people who have done something to ‘hurt’ me, and only found a way to love two of those. What I’ve found so far is that is it probably the must humbling thing you can ever do.
When I read the challenge I assumed that after doing it each time I would feel somewhat “bigger”, more successful; I would have the moral high ground etc. But I have actually found the opposite is true – it makes you feel so so small, it is giving up all you possibly could.
The act of turning the other cheek isn’t ending the argument, it’s losing it.
Each time I do it I feel so small and so insignificant. There is also no guarantee that doing it will fix the relationship you used to have with somebody – there is one person who I still don’t talk to any more when I walk past them in school.
But there are three reasons I have to see this challenge through to the end: Firstly, for the first time in a long time I actually feel at peace. I can be near the person and not have my blood boil with hatred. it’s only now that I have realised that hating people uses up so much energy, and now I’m free and I can put it to better use. The second reason I have is that despite how it makes me feel, and what consequences it has, it isn’t down to me to do it or not, it is what the Father wants of me and that is reason enough in itself. Because it is what he wants, that is also the third reason I have to continue; it brings me closer to him, it opens up more room for the Holy Spirit to fill me, and although it is in no way a comparison to what Jesus did for all of us, it does parallel his self-sacrifice, which in its own small way makes me feel closer to him, giving me a more vivid understanding of how much he really did do, although I doubt I will ever truly appreciate it as much as I should.
So thanks so much for giving me the challenge, it really is a turning point for my walk of faith.