As most of you know, a little under a month ago I took a year out after finishing secondary school to do an internship with scripture union Ireland and move into Ovoca Manor.
Even though the year has just started, it has already been pretty intense between moving in with two strangers, being completely thrown in the deep end and working with a number of different groups.
During the week we had our first school retreat; two groups of TY students from Gonzaga. The theme for their retreat was called ‘finding God in everything’. When I first heard the theme all that went through my head was ‘but surely you can’t find God in the middle of an archery range or low ropes course!?’ But trust me, I was proven wrong.
Archery was all about sin vs. perfection and how no matter how hard we try no one will ever be totally perfect (hit the bullseye 100% of the time) and how no matter how hard we try we always miss the mark. But thankfully we have a God that will love us no matter how many times we fail!
Then at the low ropes I got to teach them all about grace. We started by reading Ephesians 2:1-9:
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
As they continued through the course each time they weren’t working well as a team or they fell off one of the elements I took away one of their silver poles which meant they couldn’t complete the task. However, in the end they were given back to them as a ‘present’ which meant they could reach the finish line. This activity brought up a whole load of different questions such as ‘Does God’s grace for us ever run out?’ and ‘Does God show the same amount of grace to a murderer as he would mother Theresa’ (I would so love to hear your opinions on the questions!!)
This retreat was then finished off with a short reflection around a campfire along with some amazing chats and even more amazing hotdogs!
Despite only being in this groups life for a mere 36ish hours I was totally blown away with the impact I had on them but also the huge impact they had on me. The whole time I spent with them was filled with really honest and really deep conversations about God both generally but also about where they’re at with Him. It was so encouraging to see a group of lads take off the masks they wear to school daily and become vulnerable with not only their friends but also with a group of strangers they had only just met!
As I finish up, I just have a few prayer requests; Please could you all pray for my mental health as lately being away from home and the long days has lead to my depression and anxiety get a bit worse than usual. And also, I would like you all to please pray for the students I have encountered, but also for the students I will encounter in the future. Please pray for open hearts and more opportunities to have those God conversations!
Lastly I would just like to thank you all so much for the support you’ve all given me, whether it’s been a text here or there or even a visit please know that I appreciate everything you’ve done for me not only this year but everything you’ve all ever done for me! Not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about my Urban Junction family and I miss you all so much!