Recently some of our young people attended the Newday event, in Norfolk. Naomi Ryan, our youth worker, tells us how they got on...
Summer 2018 and 28 young people aged 10-19 embarked on the epic trip to Norfolk Showground to attend Newday 2018.
Six leaders joined them – two newbies – what were they letting themselves in for!
Set up was smoother than last year praise God so that week started well.
The week was made on the first night in the service at the big top where the young people were actively engaged in worship and those new to Newday shocked at the sheer number of young people worshipping Jesus in one place.
The sermon the first night was on shame and how Jesus washes us clean of that through his death on the cross. A meaty topic to start the week with but one that triggered a response in many of the young people. How easy it is to take on board shame and not even realise this is what we’ve done. Jesus takes all that shame away – be free.
The second day saw three young people give their lives to Jesus and one recommit to following Jesus.
For one of these young people the complete life change has been extraordinary to watch and has been an exciting for us to journey with them throughout the week.
We also saw a healing amongst our group.
We have also seen our young people gather in prayer for those around them and those at home when the needs arose – young people ministering to other young people.
I am also aware of flames that have begun to flicker in young people this week – who went not expecting anything and now are seeking more.
Although I return to Durham exhausted and filthy (like all of the young people) I feel blessed to be able to daily walk alongside this amazing group of young people – I wish those who leave us imminently for university all the very best (please stay in touch) and offer a huge welcome to those in year 6 about to join us – you guys are in for a treat this youth group rocks.
I can’t end this overview report without a plea for more volunteers – we have at least four young people who have asked for discipleship from September and I need more people on my Sunday morning and Friday evening rota from September as the groups continue to grow.
If you are interested please come and speak to me or drop me an email. Whilst I was supporting the youth alpha course by leading a group at Newday – the session leaders asked for more because the numbers choosing to be part of youth alpha were phenomenal – they stopped asking for leaders and started asking for anyone who loves Jesus to get alongside these young people (who also had a DBS!). Could you work a journey of faith with a young person or support their teaching occasionally on a Sunday morning?
These are the #s and some quotes gathered from the young people on the bus back from Norfolk – they will be telling their stories in due course but here is a flavour of what they thought:
“There are 2 things that are burning – my passion for Christ and my skin”
We are pleased to offer a year-long Frontier Project internship. This year, we've been blessed to have Hannah, Tom, Ashley, Micah and Chloe serving us.
They've just finished their year, and shared a few reflections with us. We pray God's blessing for each of them, whether they are moving on to new places, or staying with us at Emmanuel.
Things I've learned
I often find it hard to remember that’s it’s not about me, it’s about Him. This year I’ve learned to go to God and lay my plans and dreams at the foot of the cross and earnestly cry out for His will to be done, and me to be radically obedient to walking in His plans and purposes.
I’ve had a fun time this year exploring new ways to go about praying and exploring the Bible! It’s been amazing meditating on truth and learning what it means for Him to be a good father. I’ve learnt that surrendering to Him and abiding in Him leads me to seeing Him being faithful in a fresh way.
I can always find rest in knowing He will lead me into the plans and purposes He prepared for me beforehand, as I desire to finish faithfully.
Things I’m the most grateful for
Emmanuel Church Chester-le-Street: I’ve been so privileged to be a part of a congregation that is selfless in the way they love and serve each other so well. I’ve been struck by the generosity in the way people steward their time and money, faithfulness and passion in serving the local church, and the eagerness to see the kingdom come in Chester-le-Street. “Emmanuel”, God is with us, is not just a token name. I’ve seen how the congregation acknowledges their absolute dependence on him and his powerful presence, and it’s been a total joy to be part of advancing God’s kingdom with them.
Authentic Friendships: The friendships I’ve formed this year have been a constant reminder of God’s blessing in my life and an icon of His faithfulness. These friendships have been special in the fact that they have withstood the weathering that comes with difficult seasons, yet through which made them strong enough for the high times along the way.
Things I've Learned from FP:
1) Life is about doing the right things, not seeing the right results. Obedience is more important than fruitfulness.
2) People are worth all of the effort even though they are messy
3) Being self-disciplined is crucial
4) It's not about me
5) Busyness is over-rated
Things I'm grateful to the Church for
1) Prayer: it has been incredibly heartwarming to hear of people I don't even know in the church praying for us. Thank you!
2) Interest: I have felt so valued by the church, with people constantly asking me how things are going and what I'm up to
3) Finance: the financial generosity of the church for us is staggering. Our training in Bedford (paid for by the church) has been an amazing experience and a real highlight of the year
4) Gratitude: I have not felt taken for granted but instead people have been really kind in their words and very appreciative of us as a team and individuals.
How I Have Grown This Year
1) Consistency of commitment
2) People skills
3) Things of the Spirit and getting to know the Holy Spirit
4) Clarity regarding calling
5) Building into my routine reading Christian books
6) Seeing all of life as worship
7) Seeing the importance of team
Overall I have really enjoyed this year of FP and I'm so glad I've been given this opportunity. God has been so faithful to me and it has been a privilege to serve the church by His grace. May He be glorified in all things.
In my year doing FP, I've had chance to try new things, spend more time exploring the Bible and help at Durham Money Advice Centre (DMAC). Here are some of my highlights and things that I've learnt:
At the start of the year, God challenged me to do a sermon, something I've never particularly wanted to do as I dislike public speaking, and I did so in May at the Hub (the students and 20s meeting). I've always struggled finding enough to say for essays and presentations and so this proved a big challenge to me but God really came through, giving me words to say and and replacing my nerves with his peace - God does honour us when we are obedient and faithful to him. This sermon on Noah's faith came days after receiving a job offer, following a seven-month struggle of rejections, doubt and massive amounts of prayer from people. Thank you for praying, wonderful church family.
Something else that I tried this year was leading worship, once in my Emmanuel Community and twice with the FP team in Albania. In all them, I ranged from not perfect to a bit of a musical mess (combination of nervousness and me trying to sing), but '[God's] power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). I've known this in the past but never so clearly as in these times. Even when I was singing wrong notes and with poor timing, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present and speaking to people deeply. With the number of musical flaws, there's no way it could have been anything but God! Leading others in worship is still not something I feel particularly called to do but I discovered that truth about God for myself and also that when we call on him, He shows up - we just have to seek him.
Working with DMAC has been a learning experience and a challenge. Going with Isla to meet new clients in their homes was something I enjoyed as it helped me see the people as people, not numbers on a computer, and understand something of their circumstances but this has unfortunately ended due to a lack of funding. As a result, I've spent more time in the office working on clients' cases and have learnt to pray for clients whilst working, both helping me see the clients as individuals and helping my prayer-life throughout the day.
Lastly, I went with FPers from across the country to Elbasan, Albania to work with and encourage a church there, doing things such as helping with the youth and kids outreach projects and the blind ministry. It was really encouraging seeing how God had worked to reunite a broken and divided church to build a church stronger than before.
To summarise what I've learnt this year into one point: God is who He says He is and it is displayed in all of what He does.
This last year doing FP has been one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, in my walk with God so far. Not only have I found myself falling deeper in love with God and gaining and increased sense of his presence on a day-to-day basis, but in him I have just found so much joy – joy that has consumed with excitement for God’s plans and purposes both in my life, and the lives of those around me, and which has hopefully overflowed from me.
A key part of the year for me has been learning more about God’s faithfulness: discovering that when I step out in faith into something I feel he is calling me to do, he always goes with me and never fails me. This has encouraged me to take more risks for him in things I never thought I’d do before (such as preaching – which I happened to do for the first time ever last month on the other side of the world). I have learnt that rather than waiting to feel comfortable before stepping out in various areas, I need to just be obedient and step out anyway, sacrificing my pride and dignity to allow God to work. For it is in my weakness that his strength shines through, and he is glorified. Indeed, although this has not always been easy to do, I feel it is something I have become much better at (and something that I hope I continue to grow in).
Alongside this, I have had the joy of working closely with our students and 20s community over the last 12 months. They are a group of young people who are dangerously passionate, self-giving and Jesus-seeking, and I have benefited so much from their friendship and learnt so much from them. I can’t wait to see how God continues to work through them both as individuals and as a community in the future as they step into the plans he has for them.
In terms of what comes next for myself, I am really excited to be staying in Durham for the next few years, working for Durham Police in the Chester-le-Street area. This is a job I’ve always wanted to do, and so far I am loving it! It is also great to know that I can continue to be a part of the great family I have found here at Emmanuel as well.
Having completed FP I am grateful and amazed at everything that God has done in me. Whilst it has been perhaps the toughest year I've had, I have learnt so much: about how endless God's grace is (loving me even when I take my gaze off of Jesus), how there's nothing quite like being in his presence (but that it takes discipline to keep walking in dependence), the beautiful gift of family found in the church (especially shown to me through the love of my EmmComm and church mentors) and so much more.
I have loved walking alongside the students as they step out in loving the poor and the lost, even just in the small acts of generosity that have become a natural part of their daily lives. It has been a privilege to grow alongside a group of people so in love with God and so excited to see his kingdom come in Durham.
A big highlight of the year for me was the training at Center Parcs in January. The teaching was amazing, so biblical and made me realize so many new things about Father God's heart for us. There were also since amazing prophetic words spoken over me whilst there about working with vulnerable women and mental health. I'm now working in Bedford at a nightshelter, having amazing chats about God with both the men and women here, many of whom have mental health issues associated with the drug addictions they are currently battling.
I still cannot believe I get to serve the poor so practically and up-close as my job! This would never have happened if I hadn't of stayed in Durham for another year, discovering the nightshelter when on training in Bedford and allowing God to heal my own heart in preparation for the role.
Thank you Emmanuel church for giving me the opportunity to do FP. It has been the biggest blessing and I love and will miss you all very much (though no doubt will be visiting soon!).