Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

Worldwide Family July 21, 2012

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 5:00 pm
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So, I know that Christians all around the world are brothers and sisters. We are one body, the bible is really clear on that. But often, I forget, because nameless faces are hard to remember in day to day life. One of the real privileges of doing this job is that each summer I to go and work with, and get to know a few of these siblings. Whilst there are many things that I really love about my job, this really is one of the highlights. At the start of July two other staff workers and I took a team of students from Uni’s around our region to run an English and Bible camp with a small IFES movement.

It’s a camp that’s always oversubscribed, so the local staff interview and decide who can come, which means those that are accepted are really excited to be there. Mainly because they get to speak English with native English speakers (although to be fair many of them understand the workings of English a lot better than we do!). But they also get the chance to look at the Bible with us each day, which means that 20 non Christians looked at John’s gospel over the week we were there. The time when people are students really is unique in terms of openness to think about new ideas and truly consider the claims of Jesus. It was so exciting to see how God worked through us – despite many cultural and language barriers to help them see who Jesus really is. The IFES movement we worked with is small, just three full time staff, and so being able to serve them is a real joy. I also really valued the fact that we got to work with brothers and sisters who we don’t very well and yet clearly had a bond with them as we really are family.

For me, one of the most significant conversations was with a Christian student who was telling me how she had become a Christian through her grandfather’s witness. Her parents don’t know Jesus and she told me that with real pain that I can empathise with. It reminded me that despite culture, food, expectations, language and everything else, that the gospel is the same all over the world, and it really is what all people need to hear.

We had many conversations with non Christians about Jesus and the local Christians will have the chance to follow them up over the next few months, but the reminder that we are a worldwide family who love, support and serve one another is one of my main lasting memories this year.

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Singing what you feel July 18, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 6:34 pm
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This time last week I was leading a team on an English and Bible camp in lovely hot and sunny weather (total shock to the system to be back!). Before I went, I’d anticipated so many problems and issues that may arise (none of them did, though others did come up!) But the biggest thing that I faced, and hadn’t expected (stupidly) was to face my own sin.

About a week and half ago, I was laid on bench halfway through a really tough day. Despite the laughter I could hear from inside the house, I felt awful. I’d just had a couple of really hard conversations and all I could do was cry. I’d wanted to be a great leader – to love the team and the students we were working with. I’d prayed that would be the case. And yet it wasn’t. I’d tried everything that I could think of to do. I couldn’t even put what I was thinking into words.

A friend introduced me to some hymns by Indelible Grace and the one below, ‘I asked the Lord’ (written by John Newton) really sums up where I was. I was in verse 4 – feeling the hidden evils of my heart. I’ve listened to the song over and over for the last 24 hours and it’s made such a difference. Worship songs are great, but sometimes we don’t feel the emotions that many of them focus upon and singing them can feel hypocritical, or like I’m a failure for not feeling those things. Sometimes they can focus us back on Jesus, but sometimes as has been the case for me this week, singing my experience and real thoughts and feelings has fixed my gaze so much more firmly on Jesus. (If you fancy downloading some of the songs for free and legally then have a click here!)

Have a listen to it here:

And here are the words:

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand
He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

7. “These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

 

God’s Good Gifts – 10th June June 10, 2012

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 2:36 pm
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Photo: I do love summer teams but love late night form filling for visas less! Thursday evening found me sat on my living room floor surrounded by forms, passports, photos and a million other things. Emily and I were finalising the application forms for our summer team’s visas. It didn’t take long (approx 3 seconds) for Emily’s head to drop onto the coffee table as we realised the task we had before us. And so we prayed. We prayed specifically that there would be no issues in submitting our forms, that we have wisdom as to what to write for certain sections, and above all we prayed for joy in doing it.

It was a long evening, with many repetitive tasks (there’s only so many times you can write in insurance details without going cross eyed) And yet there was real and genuine joy … even when we discovered that one application was missing a photo (mine!). It resulted in a late night trip to Tesco’s photo booth- but alas it’s switched off overnight! Luckily, even though Hatfield only has a population of around 18,000, we have two 24hour supermarkets, so the ASDA photo booth saved the day (well night)!

Friday morning saw us on an early train bound for London. We prayed again at the tube station – this time for there to be no issue with the invitation letters and that we’d have submitted the forms by 10.30am. Roll on to 10.31am – Emily’s happy dance (well out of the way of the embassy’s CCTV!) in celebration of having had submitted all of the forms with no bureaucratic issues. Amazing.

This is this week’s God’s Good Gifts – each and every thing we asked for was granted to us. And more besides. We were dealt with by the most lovely helpful embassy worker ever (in stark contrast to last year!), we got to spend sometime together rejoicing in what God had done, we had members of this summers team, and last summers team praying for us whilst we were in the office, desperate to know what had happened. Those twelve hours this week had their stresses, but they were the clearest demonstration of the gospel and unity. I’ve literally been left astounded by God’s great kindness!

We’re praying for the visas all to be granted this week – if you pray we’d love you to pray for us! If you want to find out more about our trip then leave your email in the comments and I’ll send you the updates!

 

It’s sure been quiet around here… July 14, 2011

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 4:16 pm
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Blogging appears to have fallen by the way side with the busyness of end of term and planning for summer team! I got back yesterday and enjoyed a lovely 15 hour sleep but still feel a little groggy to tell you of all the excitment … so instead, have a watch of this interview with Veronika. It says everything!

 

The best job in the world March 2, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 11:00 pm
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So, my good intentions to post twice a week have clearly gone to the home of all good intentions and not materialised…sorry about that!

I’m currently at Bedford CUs mission for the week – what an encouragement it has been. The CU here is small (15 out of 8000 students) but they’ve created such a presence and there’s been so many oppurtunities to speak of Jesus in the last couple of days.

My highlight so far (it’s tough to call as there have been so many!) has been the lunchbars (apologetic lunchtime talks) that have been going on. They’ve been happening in a room that is the only room in the SU which we have sole use of (mainly) which is right in the centre of campus. Each day we;ve had people come along, ask questions and want to think about the message of Jesus. Yesterday we had people coming to peer in the door because they wanted to know what was going on, on campus and had a group of girls stay for 3 hours to discuss Jesus and think what Christianity would mean for them.

The CU has done a remarkable thing here, created community on a campus where there is none. There isn’t a student bar or anywhere on campus for people to socialise and so the CU have managed to create that and proclaim Jesus at the same time.

It’s a real privilege to work alongside these students, to proclaim the gospel of grace to their campus.

I could speak of so much more but right now I’m a little sleep deprived so that’ll come another time! For now, here’s a photo of the CU flyering (well kinda..it’s artistic!).

 

Jet set lifestyle February 18, 2011

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 11:02 pm
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I’m back from Edinburgh and have really enjoyed spending the evening sitting in a room with just one other person drinking a glass of wine! Don’t get me wrong, I have loved Edinburgh Queen Margaret’s mission week and team day today, but I definietly realised this week how much I need some time on my own other than when I’m asleep!

I also realised this week that I love travelling. For some reason that I can’t remember, I thought I hated flying so was feeling a bit apprehensive about flying on my own up to bonny Scotland but as soon as I got through to the Departures lounge the busyness and hustle and bustle really excited me. Maybe it was just being at an airport that made the whole mission feel more like an adventure!

This week I have gotten even more excited about CUs and the impact they can have on their campuses – I’m really looking forward to the two in my patch now more than before. Living and working alongside students who want to tell people about Jesus has been a real joy. And hearing about other mission weeks at team day was really exciting to hear that students have been really creative – using flash mobs and new ice cream flavours – to advertise their events.

There’s loads more I could say but I really ought to sleep here’s some things I learnt:

1) Edinburgh is on the coast (who knew that?!)
2) Flying when the weather is worse when you land is a little depressing
3) It is possible to cope on minimum sleep (with the help of maximum caffiene)
4) Working with gracious people really teaches me a lot
5) Students are willing to engage with the gospel (Ok , so I knew that but was really reminded of it!)
6) God is in control, not me (again knew that but such a good reminder!)
7) Students are really creative in their evangelism (see the picture of dodgeball on the left and the Cath Kidston inspired tea party on the right!)
8) When I pass through the overtired and grumpy stage I enter a stage of over tired and happy and chilled out!

There’s plenty more I’m sure. I can’t wait for the missions here in Herts and Beds to get underway, but for now I’m just going to enjoy my four days off!

 

Love… February 15, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 10:22 pm
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…is the theme of Queen Maragret CU’s events week which is where I am this week.

I’ve had a real mix of emotions about the week – huge apprehension, unworthiness, not being ready (I really should have listened to the talk I recommended last week again!), but today has been a mix of encouragements. It’s been  great to hang out with other staff from UCCF this week and explore Edinburgh in some afternoon free time, but what’s really got me bizzing tonight is seeing the gospel work and that God chooses to use us. I’ve just been to a brilliant meal with a message with a first year student in halls and had the chance to spend two hours hanging out with his housemates chatting about the gospel and it being true for them. They were so open, yet so hopelessly blind. they could see that the human situation was dire (their own words) in relation to God, but couldn’t quite get that Jesus was the amazing answer. They saw that for Jesus to come back would mean their only chance of relationship with God was over but couldn’t see the need to do something tonight. So encouraging and frustrating in equal measure. I’m really praying that God would open their eyes this week to his amazing truth!

What an awesome God of love we have who gives us encouragements when we need them most and chooses to use us in evangelism!

And all of this after an amazing Cath Kidston-esque tea party this afternoon1 (i tried to upload a picture but the borrowed laptop was having none of it!)