I have been home from London for exactly a month today. My friend Shelbie and I spent 11 weeks there serving at Cross Street Baptist church in the borough of Islington.
We truly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we agreed to go on this trip. It all happened very quickly. The opportunity presented itself in May out of nowhere, July we were buying our plane tickets, September we were on the other side of the world. All we knew was that we would be helping maybe start a youth group and do some work around the church. We weren’t even sure where it was we were staying. Bu,t I personally felt so much peace even though I tend to be a bit of a control freak. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this is where God had called me to be. Within His will, there is perfect peace.
To make a long story short, I’m glad we went in with a blank mental canvas because everything was much different than I could have ever expected. I had never served at another church apart from the Harvest and this church was quite different. Not bad, just obviously different cultures. We had to adapt but it was good for us and good for them to mesh all the ideas from both parties. It was such a welcoming and loving place to be. We felt so at home just being with all the people there that took us in right off the bat. Especially Pastor Nestor and his family whom we lived with for a month.
We spent most of our time helping bring structure to the church services, groups, and just being a support to Pastor and helping implement the projects he had in mind. We started a community group/bible study, preached a few times, and started a pre-teen youth group that ended up growing from 3 kids to on one occasion 13 kids. We were able to invest in and love on some of the most amazing children in the UK in my opinion.
One of our church connections there was being involved with an internship from another church that had a group of about 10 interns that were our age and that was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We made some really great relationships with them. Having that community was often Shelbie and I’s saving grace. Sometimes after a long week all we needed to unwind was making pizza with our friends for close to 6 hours. None of us knew it took that long to make home made pizza ha.
I honestly believe that the biggest change that took place over that trip was what God did in me. I’ve never been away from home that long. I really learned to trust God in a whole new way. I learned new things about myself and faced things I had been denying. But ultimately, I felt so free to be myself. For the first time I felt that I could really show myself and not have to put on a face or try to perform or meet an expectation of me. And because of this, I never felt happier. I learned that I didn’t have to be away from home to be myself but it took being away for me to realize this. I went to a whole new and deeper place with my relationship with the Lord.
On the non-spiritual end of things, we also had a blast. London is my favorite city in the world. In my favorite country in the world. I have always been fascinated with England so it was so cool that God would allow me to spend a few months there doing what I love. On our days off we really took advantage of the proximity of all the nearby beauty. Some days we spent roaming around on the bus seeing the never ending sites of the city. We went to the London Film Festival, saw a few shows in the West End, and covered as many museums as we could. Other days we would take a train and venture out to explore England. We went to a forest and bay in Gloucester, traced the steps of C.S. Lewis of and Tolkien in Oxford, climbed medieval steps in Warwick at the castle, went camping in Kent, and even got to spend a few days in France. For someone who loves learning and history as much as me, this trip was a dream come true.
I want to keep this short and sweet but as I reflect back on my time I will probably post on here and transfer entries from my paper journal I kept. But know this- 11 weeks made a huge difference in my life, and I believe in the lives of the people we got to minister to. We saw big steps in people getting close to the Lord because of the way God used us.
We were beyond blessed that He chose us of all people. Now, on to the next step. I’m not entirely sure what this next season of my life will bring but if I have learned anything from my past it’s that with Him every day is better than the last.
I recently found out that I get the chance to staff the Mvmnt Missions trip to Scotland. I am greatly looking forward to go back to the UK and see what God is going to do!