Archives For Where God is at Work in Young People

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.

How do I help those I am discipling to understand and identify the emotions they feel?

This year, we’ve been investing in a series on mental health to support our students, staff and young people. As part of this, in Bicester and Witney we’ve put some time into understanding Emotional Intelligence.

The GreenHouse Gap Year students have been very fortunate to have had different mental health practitioners come in and run workshops with us.  We learned a lot and we grew a lot.

We’d love to share some of their insights with you – in the hope that they can be useful for yourself and be resources for other those you might be journeying with.

Perceiving Emotions

Perceiving emotions is a crucial step in handling emotions with maturity.  We are used to just feeling what we feel without reflecting on the why’s behind our emotions.  To overcome that lack of awareness, we set out to track out our emotions.

For a week, all of the GreenHouse Gap Year students and leaders documented our emotions with the help of ‘Mood Trackers’. By tracking our moods daily we began to see the patterns, scope, and range of emotions which we have throughout the week.

Both Gap Year students and staff have begun to share their new insights and revelations found in tracking their moods. Ready to embark on their next step in Understanding emotions. 

We found many downloadable mood trackers online like this one. You can download one, or make your own simple form.

Understanding Emotions

How do we help those we are discipling to learn to perceive their emotions? And, at the same time, how do we learn that emotions do not have to drive our behaviours? Jon Bloom shares that;

“God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions (not every caffeine-induced or sleep-deprived one!) will give you a reading on where your hope is because they are wired into what you believe and value — and how much.

“That’s why emotions like delight (Psalm 37:4), affection (Romans 12:10), fear (Luke 12:5), anger (Psalm 37:8), joy (Psalm 5:11), etc., are so important in the Bible. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears.”

Jon Bloom – Your Emotions Are a Gauge Not a Guide

You can find Jon Bloom’s article in its entirety here. It is well worth the read!

Tools to Reflect on Emotions

Helping people reflect on their emotions is so important to guide them into emotional maturity. Here are two resources you can use. These help us to see we have a choice in how we respond to our emotions. And, how we choose to not be ruled by emotions.

Reflection tool 1

You are driving by and notice an emotion. You slow down and let it hop inside.

  • can you identify the emotion?
  • What are you going to do now you have let it come inside the car?
  • Are you going to move over and put it in the driver’s seat?
  • Is it going in the Passenger seat? Back Seat?

You have the choice of whether you let the emotion drive you. Or be next to you, giving you directions. Or, be a back seat passenger, not in control but still present. Even thrown in the boot and not given a chance to affect the journey! 

Reflection Tool 2

A train (emotion) goes by every minute. Am I going to get on it or do I just let the train pass me by? Where is the train going to take me? Do I want to go there? Does it match with the destination I am trying to get to?

Like the list of stations telling us the drop off points on a train line, our emotions can do similar things. If you can be aware of what track a certain emotion will take you on, you can begin to manage your emotions. Manage your emotions in a more healthy way by choosing whether to ‘board that train’ or board another that leads to the place of your choosing. 

This has been a very quick snapshot of some of the things we have been discussing around emotional maturity. We hope you can glean some useful pieces to take away and use these to support others in their journeys.

If you’d like any more information on any subjects mentioned in this article or source materials, then please do get in touch. We’ve found these examples and talking points extremely useful and we hope you do too.

featured image – https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/emoji-faced-young-friends_4246727.htm

Our ‘Born to Reproduce’ huddle has always been a highlight of the year! A huddle we’ve continued to use to inspire and equip all GH’ers on the topic of discipleship.

The curse of today is that we are too busy. I don’t mean being busy earning money to buy food. We are busy doing Christian things. We have spiritual activity with little productivity. Productivity comes as a result of what we call “Follow-up”’

D Trotman

Busy Doing Christian Things…

Huddling three times per week, our Greenhouse Gap Year Students come together to grow and develop in their spiritual and ministry journeys.

The trusty little pamphlet we use for this session was written by Billy Graham’s ministry partner Dawson Trotman. It compiles their years of experience of one-on-one discipleship into 24 small pages packed with tips and hope!

The curse of today is that we are too busy. I don’t mean being busy earning money to buy food. We are busy doing Christian things. We have spiritual activity with little productivity. Productivity comes as a result of what we call “Follow-up”’

Born to Reproduce – D Trotman

The quote above has often been so true for me in the past. Year after year our students go out into the world and get involved with businesses, charity’s, churches and further education. Often calendars begin to fill up with commitments, church activities hobbies and more. 

The activity is there but is productivity?

Productivity is described as having an eternal effect. Discipling another to disciple another is a priority that Trotman inspires us to act on rather than just being ‘busy’ to feel that we are accomplishing kingdom goals.  

We must prioritise time and relationship with those we are discipling.  Making time for that fortnightly coffee & catch-up with those you can invest in and journey alongside with, for example. This is such a vital part in helping a young Christian into spiritual maturity. 

Creating Time to Be Relational

So, if you’re like me, often struggling with being too busy doing ‘Christian things’ we want to encourage you to pause and consider your diary.  Where can you re-organise your schedule? How can you prioritise time to closely journey with those hungry for more of Jesus?

If you would like to re-read Born to Reproduce, or discover it for your youth ministry team, then attached is a link to the book (PDF). It is well worth the 15 minutes it takes to soak in its message!

Happy Reading…

Born to Reproduce – Discipleship Reading

Carina is in her first year of the degree programme working towards a BA in Theology and Mission. Her placement is split between the GreenHouse Gap Year programme and St. Mary’s Cogges church in Witney. How is God equipping her to have gospel conversations?

“Marie (name changed) and I went to school together in Austria and have been friends for a long time. Marie is a very openminded and curious person and I have intentionally taken opportunities to share my faith with her. A couple of months ago I was reading one of my favourite Christian books, and as I was reading it, I kept thinking about Marie. I felt God nudge me to send her the book. So I did.

“A few weeks later she sent me a message. She had read the book, and it inspired her to pick up her Bible and read it. Her message said: “I have questions. Can we talk about it?”.

“I was really excited but also nervous before our talk. I knew this could be a turning point in Marie’s faith journey. Marie told me that she had started reading the Bible from the beginning and as she made her way through Genesis there was one big thing she did not understand: Why is a loving God judging and punishing people?

“I was so glad she asked, because this question gave me the chance to explain the good news of Jesus to her, how he died on the cross for us to take this punishment for our sin on himself. After my explanation there were a few seconds of silence, then Marie said: “That makes so much sense!”. What an amazing moment!”

“One of the things we help our students in the GreenHouse Gap Year programme with is how to talk about Spiritual things and ultimately, have gospel conversations with our friends. On that same day that I spoke with Marie, I was preparing to teach the students about a resource we call the Pie Shape (no points for creativity, there).

“The Pie Shape is a tool which helps to illustrate what holds people back from deciding that they want to follow Jesus. Basically, there are three areas that might stop people from asking Jesus to be their leader and forgiver: knowledge, will and experience.

“One important question we must ask if we are going to grow in having gospel conversations with our friends is ‘What is holding you back from making a commitment to follow Jesus?’

The Pie-Shape

“If a person feels like they need more experiences with God, you can pray with them for specific things and help them to engage with prayer for themselves. Another good thing to do is to show them how to connect with God in different ways and help them to see how God is actively involved in their lives.

“If they think they need more knowledge ask them what they don’t understand and help them to discover the answers to their questions. You could go through the Stir Pack, an Alpha course with them or start reading the Bible together.

“If they are not making a commitment because it is a question of their will, then you can challenge them why they are sitting on the fence. There also might be some misconception about what it means to be a Christian that you need to correct.

“Back to my conversation with Marie…I asked her what she thinks she needs before she can make a commitment herself, and she said she feels like she needs more knowledge about God.

“Since that conversation, we are now Skyping nearly every week and reading through the Gospel of Luke together. Marie asks very deep questions about what we read and I am really challenged to think about these things and try to answer them as clearly as possible.

“It is exciting to see how God has worked in her life over the last few years and how she is now exploring what faith means for her own life.”

Applications are still open for our Degree and Gap Year Programmes. We would love to hear your story, so get in touch by following the above links.

We also have a new cycle of our volunteer training starting in January 2020. This community of like-minded learners is a place where you can train your volunteer team about discipleship and set a vision for your youth ministry.

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.

Year three student Annabel Stott brought four young people from St. Francis Church in Doncaster to Moldova with us last week.  Here are her reflections on how the trip will transform those who participated:

 

“…The five of us from Doncaster were part of a much larger group totalling 19 from England; Scotland, Portugal and America…

As this was the first time that we have taken a group from this church away on a mission trip, it felt important to take a group of young leaders who could be influential in our own mission and ministry back home in Doncaster; with the hope that the trip would inspire them to come back and be role models for the younger youth in our church and community. Who knows, hopefully next year we will take even more out to Moldova! For all of them this was their first mission trip, for a few it was the first time away from home and for a couple the first time out of the country, so don’t feel like you have to be well travelled to join one of these trips! The experience has completely changed their lives and they have all come home more inspired and much bolder.

At the start of the trip we flew out to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova to meet with the OM (Operation Mobilisation) team and to prepare for the culture that we were to submerse ourselves in for the next week. The following day we headed out to Bravicea, a village 2 hours away from the capital to join a church which was to be our base for the week of ministry; there were mixed emotions and nerves at this point from the team but we already felt like we had known each other for more than the three days we had been together, with so much morale and positivity going around!

From this base we went out to deliver food parcels and do home visits to vulnerable members of the community in the villages of Bravicea, Schinoasa and Hoginesti. The home visits were a very challenging part of the trip for many of the group as they opened our eyes to the extremely poor conditions that most of the people in these villages were living in.

In the winter in Moldova, people often use only one or two rooms in their houses in order to stay warm and keep the house heated during the freezing months. This presented a challenge when we tried to fit a good 15 people into one bedroom (and some funny pictures too!), but these spaces were also where we had the opportunity to spread hope, hear people’s stories, speak words of truth over people from the Bible, pray for healing and salvations. During the week the team saw 10 healings and 12 salvations…how amazing is that! This was such an encouragement to us as looked at our own communities and ministries back in the UK.

As well as home visits we also participated in church services, youth services and kids clubs where we shared testimonies and a word, did games and activities and prayed for the churches and their members. This was such a fun way to get involved with the communities as we could see how God was working and pulling people together for his common good.

We were blessed with amazing accommodation and food for the whole trip; the OM centre and the church in Bravicea were incredible examples of how to be hospitable. One of the main things we saw from this trip was how generous the people of Moldova are as they continuously wanted to serve us and extend generosity and hospitality to us. For example, a lady in her 80’s who was so filled with joy ensured that all 11 of us were seated in her bedroom before she sat on a tiny stool with us! As well as this, an inspiring group of ladies from the village cooked for us all three times a day everyday to ensure we were prepared to go out and do ministry; they not only served us but loved on us too. One girl on the trip turned 15 mid-week and as the UK leaders frantically rushed out to a local shop to find a cake, they returned to plates of ice cream, baskets of chocolates and biscuits, fizzy pop and TWO gigantic homemade cakes! A definitive picture of love and generosity from such humble women.

One of the biggest encouragements from this trip was seeing young people from three groups across the UK (plus a couple ‘nomads’ and an American!) come together under one name; Reign Ministries UK, without really knowing each other but with one heart and purpose; to love the people of Moldova, to love God and connect the two together. As a leader on this trip, I found it inspiring watching these young people join with one vision and an endless stream of passion to join in God’s mission for a week in a country that most of them had never been to. They served, the stepped out, they showed great faith and most of all they never stopped loving. They never stopped loving Moldova, they never stopped loving each other and they never stopped loving God. Their love just grew

I have tried to summarise this trip in several ways, yet the only way I seem to find most fitting is with this statement that we focused on in our devotions during the week; it became the heart beat for our ministry and will stick with us as we continue to serve God back home.

 

‘I am deeply loved by God, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, powerfully equipped, totally accepted and complete in Christ.’

 

As this sunk into our hearts it spread out into our ministry and my prayer is that it continues to do that here in the UK.

If you, or a young person you know feels they want to step out in seeing God work across Europe, to be inspired and to become part of a team family, then definitely consider a trip to Moldova with Reign Ministries UK! Our Doncaster team hope to return next year, if not sooner! Get in touch with Reign Ministries UK or myself if you want to know more.”

 

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: