Archives For My Training Story

The highlight of each season of our Greenhouse Gap Year is seeing the journeys each of our students embark on. What stories have our Gap Year students got to share with you this year?

Are you interested in coming on our Greenhouse Gap Year? Or do you know a college-leaver in your youth group who is thinking of embarking on a gap year journey?

Find out more information here, or you can get in touch if you would like to speak to us. We love hearing your story! Funding options are available for our 2019-2020 intake.

Isaac and some people from his church in Thailand

Matt recently visited Isaac to see first-hand how he is building a disciple-making ministry in Bangkok. What is it like to see discipleship happen in Thailand?

Meeting on the Degree programme, Matt Bodinham and Isaac Lasky became fast friends. Upon graduating in 2014, both Matt and Isaac began building disciple-making ministries, spread out across the globe.

Matt went back to his hometown to begin building a youth discipleship charity and Isaac moved to Thailand and began to serve with New Anglican Missionary Society. Here is Matt’s story of his visit.

“This past spring my wife, Amy, and I had the opportunity to go and stay with Isaac and his wife Pat. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about getting to see them, was the opportunities to see what life and ministry look like for them.

Isaac Lasky and Pat Lasky

“Isaac and Pat live in a Christian Student Centre, and run the local church that focuses on that group. As well as living amongst the students, Pat works at the coffee shop in the centre. So, within hours of landing in Bangkok, we were sat in a cafe being introduced to numerous Thai people that Pat and Isaac work with, and are discipling.

“We learnt that culturally, Thai people don’t really introduce each other, so Isaac filled us in on their names, where they’re from, what they’re studying, other things he knew about them, and most importantly, what they brought to the church. It was clear just from this that Isaac was very intentional at getting every member of the church to invest and help with the running; something that I believe is a key tenant of discipleship and faith.

Matt and Isaac on Palm Sunday

“On Palm Sunday, Isaac had asked if I would lead the sermon, and I was happy to do it (if not a little nervous at having to speak through a translator). When we got to Sunday morning, I was looking forward to standing up in front of people and sharing the message that I felt that God had given me. The reality was that I was in for a surprise, because by the time we got to the sermon, I was the last one to do something for the service.

“Isaac had invited a twelve-year-old (on the spot) to the welcome and connective parts of the service, and that was just the beginning. Whether it was leading the worship, preparing a meal for everyone afterward, doing
a dramatic re-telling of the Palm Sunday Story, every single person in the room led a part of the service- even Amy, who was asked to do the English half of the reading (again, on the spot)!

“It really made me think of my own church, and what our expectations of the congregation are: do we just ask the same people do jobs, or do we make it the role of the whole church to lead? This, I think, is a really key piece to discipleship that I see Isaac really model well, and it was such a blessing to be able to get to see and be a part of it.”

Isaac & Pat Lasky in the Village

Ever wondered what life is like on the Degree programme. How are Jon and Ellie being equipped on The Degree to change the trend of Youth Ministry?

If you are interested in The Degree programme and want to learn more, follow the link or check out when our next Open Day is. We would love to hear your story!

Today, it seems like young people aren’t interested in God. Jon shares his story of how God made himself present in an everyday class.

Immersed in the everyday setting of today’s youth, schools, Jon has been able to lead classes, assemblies and discipleship work.

Currently, it can be quite daunting in schools with heightened pressures not to preach or share too much of faith. However, God is moving in our schools!

Jon shares with us of a moment when he was able to have the opportunity to show God in a local secondary school. Because of one inquisitive pupil, God showed up. Jon shares;

“A few weeks ago, a colleague and I had the opportunity to teach a few classes on Christian identity in a local secondary school, and in our last class of the day God dropped an amazing opportunity right into my lap.

“At the end of the class, we had left 10 or so minutes for a “Grill a Christian” session. The young people could ask us any question in relation to faith that they had, and we would try to answer.

“After fielding a few of the usual suspects, one girl asked a question neither my colleague or I ever expected; “would you pray for us?”   

I turned to the teacher in the room watching us, and asked if he was fine with this, expecting a “no”; but he said yes! And so, with the teacher’s permission, I got to pray for 30 young people, in a classroom, in the middle of a school day!   

“I left the classroom afterward giddy with excitement about what God had done. It was just such a clear reminder that nothing is out of God’s control; even in spaces where we are told we have to be super careful to not preach or share “too much”, He is alive, He is moving, and He is constantly full of surprises!     

“So, I just want to encourage you; God is moving in our schools! ” – Jon Stark

You can watch Jon’s Story with God and Reign Ministries in the video above.

If you are interested in how our young people today are responding to faith and more about their culture, look out for our upcoming blogs on Understanding Gen Z.

Follow the link to find out more about how you can study The Degree – a BA(Hons) in Theology and Mission, whilst discipling youth.

“This is the closest description of what we’ve seen the team develop in. It’s drawing upon the strengths and talents God has given each of us – and using that in a team for His Glory. To make Him famous!”

Emily Spicer, Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

It has been one week since our Moveolution Europe team landed back in the UK from their 10-day mission trip in Moldova. How did God stir up faith in the community and our team?

From Moldovan-style horse and carriage commutes to sharing the love of God with over 65 children, our team were taken on a whirlwind of a journey with God this February.

We partner with OM Moldova, a mission organisation who started sharing the love of God in Moldova by smuggling Bibles into the country during the Soviet reign, to reach children and families in Palanca.

“Having the pastor share his vision on the first night then enabled our team to know how to partner, get on board and be one cohesive team working together. “

Emily, in our team, helped keep us updated while in Palanca, Moldova. You can read her awesome diary updates for further reading, but here are some of our highlights from this years mission trip.

“We thank God because it has been the most incredible experience, living in the wonderful village of Palanca.”

Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

Time with God

The team started each day in quiet time with God, centred around a morning talk with one of our partners. This quiet time was an incredible way to focus on how God was speaking to the team and the Moldovan people and to put Him at the centre of our lives.

“At first it may have seemed a lot, but has been a divine treasure for truth and talking point amongst the team,” Emily shared. “It starts the day with God first and our priority, which is a model for life back home.”

The team felt encouraged to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances for what He has already done and promised – before the situation! The team’s trust in God grew and each step unfolded with God’s provision.

Time with God helped the team grow spiritually and ignited communications with God. Reflecting on God moving in the situations and praising Him for how he was working in Palanca brought a model for back home!

Family Visits

Visiting families in their homes was an amazing way to share the love God has for the people in Moldova.

Each house was different, however the team all agreed that the Moldovan people are all extremely hospitable. The team were deeply touched by their need and love for God!

Visiting the families was an incredible opportunity to share our story, pray for their individual needs and listen to the circumstances of the families.

“When visiting people in houses it was challenging to be in small groups – but it meant we were encouraged to speak up and share our story”.

Moved by the powerful stories of the families, our team were so encouraged to share the stories of how God had moved in their lives. Many families faced difficult circumstances, who needed the hope of Jesus.

“A lot of houses we went to wanted us to pray for health because the access to healthcare isn’t great,” shared Ali. “A lot of Moldovan’s struggle to make it to 60,70 years of age; they work hard young and get worn down.”

The team gave food parcels to the families to help nourish their bodies and told stories of hope to bring the love of God in those situations.

“Refreshing and real, the experience of house visits has been a mixture of challenge and inspiration”

In the home of one of the families the team visited, a mother with a four-month-old baby felt God in a personal way. Through the love she had for her son, she was able to understand how God unconditionally loved her and died for her. She “would die for him”, her son, just as Jesus died for her. God showed up.

Another family felt particularly touched by one of the team sharing how God had shaped them. They became more interested in how the Bible was relevant in their lives today. They began to understand how God could speak into their needs and circumstances through the bible.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

During the mission trip, our team ran and hosted children’s programmes at one of the local churches in Palanca.

Venturing out into the village, our team also went into the community to invite youth to an evening service which they also hosted.

Eager and excited, the team welcomed over 40 children on the first day and over 65 children the other days to watch plays of bible stories, do arts, crafts and games, as well as pray for the children.

The children became more open and eager to participate over the course of the programme whether it was through listening or playing games.

Things got serious during the making of paper aeroplanes and they enjoyed playing with them afterward. The games brought them such joy!

At the end of the programme the team prayed individually with each child who attended the programme, bringing an opportunity to speak God into their lives and fill their hearts with the deep love of Jesus.

The team felt grateful then to have specific time with the youth. There is something special about “Teenagers reaching Teenagers!”.

So many of the teenagers in Palanca came to the programme and engaged with what the team shared. The evening was extremely powerful.

“We reflected a generation that was listening to God and that was evident in testimonies.”

“It was great to hear the pastor of the church say he was incredibly grateful for what we did. The impact it had on the children and youth was so great, it filled his heart with joy.”

Life Back Home

Re-familiarising themselves with life back home after being taken out of their comfort zones and into God’s hands, the team are putting what they have learnt into action!

One week since returning, how is God continuing to impact our team?

Physical and Spiritual Thankfulness

Physical

Culture shock sunk in this week, as the team were faced with the luxuries which we take for granted.

During their time in Moldova, the team were faced with seeing a lack of healthcare, sanitation and safe water.

The team have come home truly appreciating and thanking God for those things which some of the world do not have access to, sometimes out of no fault of their own.

Spiritual

During the mission trip, one of our leaders, Tom, guided the team through a quiet time. In this time he highlighted that in order to live like Jesus we must thank God ahead of the situations we face.

“This isn’t just a nice saying,” says Emily. “We saw this embedded into Jesus’ ministry, such as before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-43, Luke 9:16)”

The team are integrating both forms of thankfulness into their personal lives, but also in their youth ministries back home.

In Bicester, the team are putting God first by challenging themselves to praise God before their youth groups or places they serve in. Thanking God ahead of what happens.

Appreciating God’s Provision

Fabian, a member of our team, says he has been changed since the mission trip in Moldova. “I am thankful to God that He will always provide and meet every need we have, both physical and spiritual,” he says – even if this isnt how we always expect.

Facing desperate circumstances, the team sometimes felt helpless. One of the things that the team has appreciated since being home is trusting God to meet these needs and not relying on our personal strength.

The most powerful reaction is prayer and to trust God with providing for us.

Vicky was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Moldovan people. “I am looking for ways to carry the hospitality of the Moldovan people into my core values in my personal life and in ministry.” Vicky shared.

To learn more about what the team got up to, read our Mission Diary, written by the wonderful Emily on our Gap Year Programme.

Thinking of taking your youth on a mission trip? Click here for our Overseas and UK Mission Trips.

Our students spent the week preparing for the FUTURE!  We are crazy about these young men and women and we think God is going to use them in mighty ways to build his Kingdom.  They have avoided the path of least resistance and are doing hard and holy things.  Take two minutes to see how God prepared them this week.

 

There is something I’ve noticed. Churches want to reach youth, but they often have no idea how. They have bought into the myth that all we can expect to do is keep teenagers plied with squash, biscuits and Bible stories and that some day they might remember those nice people at the church and come back to God. Youth workers, by contrast, often have more hope than the rest of the church that teenagers can and do still come to faith. It is hard, slow, work. We persevere, yet it can leave us drained in the space between the finish line that we run towards and the starting line, where we find most of our youth. Even youth ministers can begin to feel those pangs of doubt about our effectiveness or calling.

What is the starting line?

The starting line is often that a young person has no need for God and maybe a few misconceptions of Him as well. God is either a painful idea or worse, an irrelevant one. The line that we youth workers used to begin at, was that young people were ready to meet God. That they had been waiting for an opportunity to commit to Him. When provided with one, they would gladly accept Him and pray the prayer to become a Christian. When that doesn’t happen….we feel disappointed to say the least. I know I’ve felt that way.Stir 1

We need to redefine the starting line.

I believe that most young people don’t realise they are spiritual beings. Without grasping that they are spiritual beings, there’s no place for God to be. Understanding and experiencing that they have a place for God is the foundation to faith. This is the starting line from which a relationship with God through Jesus Christ can begin.

Stir Nights

I’ve started a new group called ‘Stir Nights’. A group of eleven young people come over to my house to share a meal and for discussion. Recently, I’ve been encouraged by a clear insight; teenagers are very aware of their spirituality and are interested in spiritual things. The first Stir Night centred around a discussion of just that and it was obvious that these young people had loads of experience with spiritual feelings and thoughts. Often they were just below the surface. The chat was great and everyone seemed to have something to share.

IMG_1992

The second Stir Night, used lots of creative stations to enhance the point that God is everywhere. Our young people were challenged to experience how God whispers into their everyday lives, just below the normal volume of life. This night something amazing happened to our group! One of the stations connected to a young person and she opened up a lot about how her family life was something she’d seen ‘something more’ working through. She could name this as God. Two of the girls were tearful as they heard this. There’s something deeply human about relating to each other.

IMG_1989I’m finding that the Stir Pack helps me to engage young people. It’s so effective in speaking into this new starting line, where I find my young people. I think as youth workers we need to be learners of the culture we are ministering to. We need to see how we can engage with our specific youth culture. Creating effective connections with young people. Let’s open our ears to young people around us and let’s listen to what they’re communicating to us!

We need to let go of what we’d like to do and how we’d like to do it. Let’s take up our place alongside others on the starting line. We need a heart to show young people how loved they are and we need to help them to unlock the ability they already have to know God. Let’s make mistakes and try all while we learn from each other. I hope this post had encouraged you to do that. My story of Stir Nights definitely motivates me to try more to engage with unchurched teenagers in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. It’s exciting to see young people leaving that starting line and meeting God.

Lucy spent the last two years preparing.  In 2013 she completed the GreenHouse Gap Year project.  In 2014 she had her first go at leading the youth ministry for a local church.   This year finds Lucy a second year student in our degree programme.  God has moved her to a new placement ministry in Bridgnorth- something we think He has been preparing her for all along.

We are so proud of Lucy and her passionate, empathetic and courageous approach to youth ministry. We see God’s hand on her life and believe He is uniquely shaping her to help change the trend for youth ministry in the future. Take two minutes to hear Lucy share one way God has been working through her and and the team at Bridgnorth Youth and Schools Project: