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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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!).

 

Exclusive January 28, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 3:06 pm
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In a couple of weeks I’m heading to Edinburgh to help out with the CU mission week at Queen Margaret’s and I’ll be doing a lunchtime talk on “How can a God of love be so exclusive”. It’s got me thinking about exclusivity and whether that’s a good or a bad thing? How do I react to things which are exclusive?

Sadly I think we all want to be in the “in crowd” to some degree and that means shutting people out. Too often I try to make the call of whether or not people are good enough to benefit from the “exclusive” gospel that has saved me. Yet, I’m not worthy of the gospel – no one is. I just try to think that I am.

 

Exciting Searches! January 13, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 11:29 pm
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It’s late . . . so this will be brief but I’m determined not to fail on my mission to blog daily for a month!

Wasn’t sure what I was going to say this evening. There’s so much I could. I met with two lovely students today and have just spoken at CU on how the Old Testament told people that Jesus was coming – that in itself deserves a blog post at some point I think. But I just had a quick look at my stats when I logged on and saw that someone had searched “uccf mission trip to moldova 2011” and found my blog! VERY exciting! For those of you that didn’t follow the original incarnation of this blog have a look here, here, and here to find out a bit about why I was in Moldova and why I loved it so much to be this excited to see someone had searched and found it on my blog!

And if you’ve found this blog looking for more info about going on a summer team and aren’t sure whether or not to go – just do it. You’ll love it (especially if it’s to the most beautiful country in the world – Moldova!).

For the rest of you here’s some photos so you can see a little of why I love it. (And have a watch of the video here)

  And, yes I struggled to pick just a few – it’s so beautiful!

 

Marvellous Moldova 2009 October 24, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 6:02 pm
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Ok, so last week I got dragged up the front of church with no notice to report on my trip to Moldova earlier this year (I got home 3 months ago now!). If I wanted I could list a whole list of reasons (excuses) as why I’ve not told that many people about the trip. . . . instead . . . here’s my report!! Which after writing I realise is quite long . . . feel free to skip to the end where I say what I learnt!

So, Moldova has been and gone. This years experience was so different to last years in so many ways, but one thing stayed exactly the same  –  God worked amazingly and shown His grace in ways I’d never thought about before!

There’s so much I want to write about, but I don’t think there’s space or time to do so! There’s so much overflowing from my mind about the trip so here’s some of it . .

As we left . .
I was really torn about whether or not I really wanted to be going (true but majorly suprising I know!). There was a lot of things in the UK that had consumed my every minute for weeks and was feeling that there’d be no way that I would be able to focus on the mission trip without being distracted. Loads of doubts about being good enough also managed to creep in! Meeting the team in Luton and preparing to fly out put some of these at rest though, through other people and being reminded over and over of grace!

When we arrived . .
Orientation took up the first week of our stay and we were staying in a lovely Church near the centre of Chisnau, which also is home to a Christian school (with nice dorms!).010 The hospitality we received those first few days was immense. CSC (Moldovan UCCF) staff had arranged between them to cook all of our meals even though it meant sacrificially early starts and late nights for most of them to travel to where we were staying. Also, it meant that we got amazing Moldovan food! The sessions in orientation were all geared towards loving one another and working as a team. There was so much I learnt that week, including yet another reminder that God doesn’t get his address wrong! The reason I was on the trip was because God wanted me there! Towards the end of Orientation, although things at home still preoccupied my mind, I genuinely was feeling refreshed and way up for camp! I’d been reminded of so many gospel truths that are too easy to allow to slip away and been able to chat and pray things through with people and been reminded of the privilege that it is to be in Christian work!

Just before camp . .
The day that we left for camp we were informed that we had to visit the doctors for a Polio test. This turned out to not be totally accurate and sadly the tests weren’t all that nice for some of the team. This experience was tough and painful, but turned out to be in so many ways, good. Issues relating to previous things were able to be talked about and prayed about and  the post Soviet culture became more real to us. We’d  been aware that as it was pre election time (round 2) things were difficult for  Christians and students and that other Christian camps had been closed down by the authorities, so in a way we were a little prepared for something to happen, but not for something to occur that would affect some of us as individuals.

Camp . .
So, the team that arrived on camp was a broken, hurting team and yet I was amazed by the way in which they all get totally stuck in!  Although there was every reason to not be as a whole hearted on one hand, the team chose to be whole hearted for the same reasons and because of their commitment to the gospel! The first morning of camp was when I saw “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) lived out like never before, and that really set the camp tone in some ways,people being sensitive and speaking the gospel wisely!
The brokenness of the British team was apparent in many ways to the Moldovans, so much so that one of them said to me towards the end of the trip, that although she’d been involved in many camps before, knew as a Christian that no-one is totally sorted, she’d this year seen that was true of the British team. Previous years she’d seen the team as being “sorted” (wrongly!) but this year she realised that being Western didn’t make us anymore sorted in God’s eyes!

075Camp revolved around English lessons, which we taught ever morning for a  hour and a half . . . . I’d love to say the time flew by, but my lovely group did their best to make sure that it didn’t! They weren’t easy but I am quite fond of them now! English lessons are the main attraction for many of the Moldovan students that come along, which is why so much time, energy and preparation goes into them. Also, they’re great for building relationships!

We also did bible studies every morning which was great! We went through “The world we all want” by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. It really is a great course, it had been adapted for our use as there is no way we could have done the normal one as it contains a lot of scripture (a great thing, but a real hindrance when you are doing a bible study in English, and the native language of those participating is Romanian or Russian or other with very varied English fluency levels!). Opening the bible for yourself is quite a novel idea for a lot of Moldovan students so studying it came as a huge shock to some! Having an opinion and voicing it is also novel!

I didn’t have my own bible study on camp this year which made the whole camp experience really different. It meant that I got to spend time with loads of different people on camp which I enjoyed, especially praying with some of CSC women. But, it was definitely strange! Amazingly, the one girl that I managed to spend a lot of time having gospel conversations with was a girl called Alina! Now, Alina and I had history! She had been in my group last year and had pretty much been a nightmare as a group member. It was really interesting to catch up with her and see the ways in which she had changed and had become so much more open to the gospel since last summer!  She’d attended so many CSC events throughout the year that she’d failed her year at Uni but was asking some great questions (a great reminder that CSC continues without the Brits!)

During the camp four people made a commitment to Christ for the first time which was so exciting!

Post Camp . . .
We had four or five days left at the end of the camp before we were flying back to the UK. We spent in debrief, allowing people to talk  and pray out what had happened pre camp and571 really immersing ourselves in scripture which was a real joy!

We also had the ‘traditional’ UCCF and CSC day of fun! This year we got to go the Soroca in the north of Moldova and wave across the river to the Ukraine (something I was highly excited about!).

What did God teach me . . .

The simple answer is loads, the more detailed (but not full answer!) is here:
– That He is God wherever I am and therefore nothing is out of His control even when it really seems like it
– That the prayers and encouragement of fellow Christians really makes a difference (even when they are in a different country!) Receiving texts and mega long phone calls that will have been very expensive for them, just to encourage me was amazing and really showed true fellowship.
– God will provide! Due to a human error, we’d started the trip financially on the edge . . . . we left Moldova being able to leave CSC a significant amount of money AND offer our team a refund!
– God guides and leads – many times, it seemed we were following in the dark, but He guided us, provided the right people in the right places to help
– We can pray and rely on God for all our needs!
– I love mission!!