During the summer a number of our church family were involved in ministry across the globe. From Ukraine to America to Aberdeen, there are stories of God’s goodness and how He has used people to declare His truth to many others. We wanted to share some of these stories. As you’ll see in all the testimonies, as much as each person has given out, God has poured so much back into them.
We hope you’re encouraged as you read these stories, and we hope they lead you to ask the question, ‘what could I do?’
RACHEL GROVES – CHAMPFLEURI
This summer I went back to a Christian centre in the south-east of France called Champfleuri. It’s part of the same organisation as Capernwray in Lancashire. During the year, Champfleuri runs a bible school, and through the summer there are camps for people of every age.
I spent the first 10 days on the hospitality team, the same as I had done last year. For the second half I was a counsellor in a camp called “Totally English Days” or Camp TED for short. It was for French teenagers aged 14-18 to come and improve their English as well as learn about God. The theme for the camp was “Jesus in the Old Testament”, so each day after breakfast we would hear a message on an Old Testament passage where we saw signs of Christ, and then we’d break into small groups to discuss it. The afternoon would be filled with activities, wide games and workshops, and then in the evening counsellors would each have ‘cabin time’ with one of the dorms.
I loved the opportunity to get to know the campers – especially the girls in my cabin. It was also great to work with the other counsellors and hear their testimonies of how God had brought them to the camp. However, it’s true that the busy schedule, the language barrier, and some of the kids’ disinterest in both God and English was often physically and mentally tiring for me. Sometimes it felt like it was hard to see how God was working through me personally. It can be overwhelming when you don’t have time to step back and see the bigger picture of what difference God is making. I had to learn that it’s not about what “result” I saw directly from my work during the camp but trust that God had led me there for a reason. It reminds me of that verse “not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9). The moments we feel the most inadequate are also the moments we realise we have only God to rely on, and he delights in using our weaknesses to bring Him glory.
MATTHEW SMART – SCRIPTURE UNION GLENSHEE
This summer I served as a leader at a Scripture Union camp in Glenshee, at the Compass Christian Centre. Having spent years going to SU camps, and after gaining a new appreciation for the leaders over the last number of years, I decided to sign up to be a leader at a holiday I had been to a number of times as a camper.
Seeing old faces in such a new light was a surreal experience, but I hadn’t expected just how much more I would take from camp as a leader than I had done as a camper in terms of learning new things. From spending time each day looking through 1 Peter and serving on the worship team, I feel that I came away very much equipped not only as a leader but as a student going back into another year of uni.
However, I feel that it was going straight from this week to Soul Survivor with Ascend, resulting in a sort of two week ‘mountain top experience’ that really formed the main thing I have taken away from the fortnight. After such occasions, it’s easy to come back to real life and be disheartened with what we find, whether it be going back to work, school, uni, etc. In the past, I’ve always felt the solution to this is to not get too invested in said ‘mountain top experience’ and have put the emotions that comes with these weeks down to “just the buzz of the week” or “the atmosphere”. Although the hype and adrenaline of a week-long camp or festival can go to your head, this summer I really learned that just because you’re at a camp doing only ‘Christian-ey things’ for five days, or just because the worship band has an extra ten people and a few strobe lights, doesn’t mean that God isn’t speaking to you, and that he doesn’t come back to the regular daily routine once you’re back down to earth. There’s no reason we can’t take this same enthusiasm and love for God into our daily lives, since His love and grace is totally consistent, regardless of how “in the mood” we are. I feel I learned not to ignore God’s voice because of the novelty of the mountain top, but rather to try and grasp it and take what I’ve learned into the day-to-day routine.
JOSH WILLIAMS – OM, UKRAINE
My friend Calum and I had the awesome opportunity to go to Ukraine in June to visit Wayne Zschech, head of OM Ukraine, to get involved with his innovative pursuits that shape how he is living for Christ.
The context of this trip was through me being introduced to Wayne two years ago in Ukraine by some Americans who wanted me to meet this guy who, like me, is “into engineering and cricket”. I was able to briefly visit him on my layover in Kiev on my way home and I knew I needed to return.
Wayne himself came to Ukraine on his gap year and is still there in his forties, now pastoring the local church. After some time, he became frustrated with the problems facing his congregation and the local community. So many people were unemployed and there was an enormous problem with waste of all varieties. He started with producing compost from roadside weeds, then producing bio-diesel from McDonald’s’ waste oil and now the pyrolysis of plastic waste to its oil and gas origin. These ventures have allowed him to start solving local problems whilst employing local people, thereby giving him access to many more relationships than would otherwise be possible – a great opportunity for discipleship. Furthermore, his passion for cricket has led him to build Ukraine’s only permanent cricket facility and engage with the thriving cricket community of Indian medical students in Kiev.
Our primary contributions were participating in and optimising the raw plastic shredding process, pre-pyrolysis, and analysing the capability of the cooling systems for the fuel product as it condenses out of the pyrolysis unit. Probably more important, however, was God showing us a first-hand example of the innovative ways that we can bring together all of life and the passions God has given each of us so we can use them for His kingdom. We took a lot from absorbing what Wayne had to share with us about his story and seeing his day-to-day life.
We will continue to contribute to his work from the UK. Ukraine is certainly moving in the right direction despite much evident scarring from the past still affecting today. It seems several extra hands will help Wayne to build momentum which will then help with casting the vision of what he is doing to locals who will surely be the leaders of Ukrainian innovation and disciple making in the long term.
MARK RICHMOND – URBANPROMISE, NEW JERSEY
For 2 months during the summer this year I was given the opportunity to intern with an organisation called UrbanPromise in the United States. They run a series of camps across Camden, New Jersey, which aim to give children in deprived areas a 6-week camp experience. During those weeks the children engage in many activities such as games, competitions, classes, making chants and All Camp Day where all the camps across Camden come together to compete for the legendary prize – the Golden Crate – a crate simply spray painted gold filled to the brim with sweeties.
I felt I saw God at work in many different ways. The most obvious was watching the children grow in their relationships with the camp leaders around them. It was also encouraging to see the young people learn and grasp the gospel message and how God loves them in a very unique way even if they feel they are not loved at all. I was also able to hear testimonies of how God has been working through UrbanPromise over the years and how big an impact that has had on the community and culture there. Many children brought up through the summer camps rarely forget what they experienced and learnt and they testify to how formative it has been in their growth and has shaped their lives massively.
I certainly learnt many lessons this summer but the biggest one was to be confident in the God who lives and works inside of you and to know that with God anything is possible. At the beginning of the internship it was easy to think that I was not the right person for the job, but God showed me that He does not make mistakes in who He chooses for His plans and purposes.
TIM GROVES – NORTHERN IRELAND
Earlier this summer I went to Newtownards in Northern Ireland with a group from my church in Glasgow (The Tron). We spent the week working in a church called Movilla Presbyterian church. During the mornings we helped run the church’s holiday bible club; and in the evenings we ran a ‘youth cafe’ for secondary aged youth. This youth cafe ran much like Ascend, with each of us giving a talk one night, along with games, food and discussion groups. Through the week we also met up with some of the youth to get to know them better and help mentor them. We were also able to visit Belfast on the Saturday at the end of our trip.
From the teaching through the week we could see how the youth learnt of the importance of church – both being a part of a local church and having Christian friendships you can rely on. Many of the youth were ‘Christian’ – in that they had underlying Christian beliefs, however day to day it didn’t make a big impact on them. So through the week in the teaching, discussion groups and meeting up with some of them, we could see them growing in their faith and in their understanding of how faith can and should impact their lives.
Through preparing and delivering a talk one evening I gained experience in this. Leading a group in discussion was also a valuable experience as well as spending time discipling some of the youth. Spending a week serving the church and youth was very worthwhile and encourages me to do something similar in future summers while at university.
REBECCA WHITE – HILLVIEW HOLIDAY BIBLE CLUB
From the 5th–9th of August, Hillview hosted a summer Holiday Bible Club. Matthew Milne and Rebecca White co-led the team and we’ve asked Rebecca to share what happened and what she learnt.
The theme for this year was “Backpackers” where we travelled around Europe focusing on the story of the lead up to the cross and the death of Jesus. We had around 30 children attending across the week with a mixture of children connected to our church and from the community.
We began each day with all-together time where we did aerobics, watched a video, heard the story, did a challenge and sang songs. Each group then went off and rotated round games, crafts and group time. The group time was a vital part of the club as it allowed a safe space for the children to learn and question. We spent time in prayer asking God to help the leaders communicate the story and themes in a way that was appropriate and accessible for the young children. At the end of each day we had a time for feedback where the children could share something they had learnt. These were always encouraging times where children shared honestly, showing that God had been working through the group leaders for the kids.
In order to make this club possible we needed lots of help in a range of roles and we were so blessed to have an amazing team of enthusiastic and willing volunteers. One of my favourite things about this week was being a part of this team. I was so encouraged to see everyone working together and being willing to fill in wherever they were needed. Having never co-led before this year, I was nervous about how it would all play out, but I can now look back on it and see God’s faithfulness and strength in the lead-up and during the week. I am very thankful for this experience, the team who helped it happen and God’s hand in it all.