Seven years ago I walked in to All Saints for the first time. It was a sunny afternoon in July and that is where my journey with the family that is All Saints’ began. I had heard through several avenues that there was a part time job offer for a youth worker. This came at me for months from several directions and my response was always I cannot afford to take a part time job. However via a friend I heard that the Job had not been filled, and when they asked me if I had heard about the role (“yeah just a few times”) I decided to check it out. As soon as I walked into the church I knew it was where God wanted me, I felt an amazing sense of ‘homeness’ and peace filled me as he guided me through the door.
I’d almost let my thoughts of what was best for me completely steer me away from where God wanted me. I nearly hadn’t listened, I nearly had missed out on meeting some wonderful people, working with the amazing youth, and experiencing what God had planned for me.
And now 7 years later I sit at the other side, looking back over my time with you and reflecting on what things have been. Like any family there have been ups and downs, there has been joy filled conversations and tense ones – but not one thing has stood in the way of the love we have for one another as we are united by God.
I moved from an impromptu desk on the balcony amidst the rubble of building work, to a brand new desk in our swanky new office. I’ve mopped up rain water inside, and played out with the youth in the rain outside. I arrived at All Saints’ single and move on from you married, and I’ve seen nervous children grow into confident young adults. More to the point I’ve had the privilege of walking with them on a journey as they explore their identity and their faith, as they form their ideas, values and opinions as they do their best to navigate the world. I’ve laughed and cried with them, I’ve thanked God for them, I’ve shouted at God on their behalf when things have seemed unfair for them and they have each been amazing. Each one of them, with the uniqueness that they bring have made my job a joy. Each one of them has taught me new things, and reminded me that whatever age we are we are all on a journey, still grasping new understanding of God and the world around us. And I thank each of them for this and for being part of my time at All Saints’.
Ali asked me to tell you my highlight from my time at All Saints’ – I could choose the Father’s Day events I led with the youth, where dads and teens came together, got competitive and had fun. I could choose the residential holidays, where my relationship with the young people developed and our time spent with God was for some life changing. I could choose many many things, as there have been fantastic times.
[editor… you could choose the skydive undertaken to raise fund for a youth time away…Or Youth Weekends away…. Or Soul Survivor!]
Of course a highlight is always when I see something about God click in a young persons life, when their eyes light up and I see a shimmer that was not there before. But none of these I will choose as my highlight today. That is because my highlight is still to come. My highlight is seeing each young person continuing to grow, and in years to come seeing the people they have become. My highlight is that they never leave my heart, and I’m glad they are in it.
We are all on a Journey, just like each of the young people. God grows us in the places we are. He has planted each of us at All Saints’ in this moment, each of us always have a place and a purpose. And He also releases us beautifully into new periods of life, and new things. He has a road marked out for us as individuals, us in our families and for All Saints’ as a church. And it is my time to move on.
As I go I would like to leave you with this verse from Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of my time at All Saints’. For each of you of have helped with the youth work, who have looked out for me personally and who have encouraged me. Thank you for your love, your patience and for teaching me the things you have.