There’s a Chinese proverb which says this: “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step”.
My time in Lowe Memorial was an experience that I will never forget! When I think back to the Andrew at the beginning of that year I have this image of a boy standing at the train station with his bag in hand, looking out to the horizon of the sunset looking at what was ahead of him hopeful yet scared, excited but sad that he was leaving his home yet he was full of optimism of what God has planned for him.
Then time went so quick, the year felt so short, filled with many exciting times, times to depend of God for his strength and wisdom, a year were my knowledge was stretched further than I could have ever imagine, a year where I find my calling where my talents and abilities can be put to greater use than a 9-5 jobs (no offence to those who have 9-5 Jobs) but for God’s Glory and for the furthering of his Kingdom we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “ Your Kingdom come, your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.
So with this new Found calling in Youth work the next question I ask is where do you want me God?
Apparently at the Centre of Youth Ministry (CYM) to complete the degree program there.
The full title of the course is Youth and Communities with Practical Theology with a JNC but for the benefit for you all- let’s call it the CYM course. The Course itself is demanding, 12 hours classes over a two day period, 14 hours a week in placement but in reality if you want to make an impact you do more than 14 hours…so the thing I had to find was a Placement who was looking a Student Youth worker, this was more of a daunting task than I thought….at the beginning of my summer I had applied to 15 Churches a mixture of city, rural, denomination and location.
Emails were sent away now all I had to do was wait…..and wait….and wait…..I waited so long it was the start of August and I had heard either No or no replies. Then I looked in my inbox and there was a reply from First Holywood Presbyterian…things were looking good!
I went for an Interview up in the Church…..got the Job and Now was able to start at the end of September as a Student Youth Worker at First Holywood Presbyterian.
With the Placement sorted and classes were beginning I was entering a “Whole new World” – Disney’s Aladdin, a world of learning constantly, being challenged on your abilities,a world where there is continuous opposition from the enemy, a world which is I need to Constantly rely on God for strength, wisdom, patience, kindness and much more.
The past year has been a huge jump from Interning at a Church to actually running the Youth Department. I have watching my 14 hours go up and down throughout the year. The young people I work with come from all over the place within Holywood- the white City ( a Large estate within holywood), some are as far as Bangor and Ballyhackamore – towards belfast.
Well the next question your thinking is what do you actually do Andrew? Well within Holywood I run the Youth Department, so that means coordinating with the other Youth organizations on what we all do. Within First Holywood there are 3 Youth organisations. Younglife/Wyldlife, Connect and Pitstop.
Young Life and Wyldlife are our two main Youth Evangelism Programs. Wyldlife runs from the Primary 6 – Year 9 and then Young life would run from Year 10 – Year 13/14. These programs are in Joint association with Younglife International with their staff worker in Holywood Carl McManus Together we are Running our Wyldlife Programe in the Baptist Church in Holywood and are Hoping Restart Younglife in First Holywood in May time.
Wyldlife to sum it up in a few words- it is an Introduction To Christ that’s it, we are introducing these guys to Christ by telling stories about him from our own experiences, bible passages.
Younglife in First Holywood has been an uphill battle for the past months since I have been in post in Holywood and is something that is Vital to reaching young people in a relational way and also in a Christ like way.
One they have made that decision we would introduce them to Connect
Connect is our Sunday Morning Program. This is the equivalent to 21:12 but done a slightly different way. The basic premise of Connect is ‘connecting the young people into the Church’ we do this is three main approaches.
The First one is bringing them in the Service twice a month – once on their own and the second with us but after the sermon we go into the youth room and discuss the sermon and helping them to understand it.
The second way we do this is by inviting all of the young people to a ‘Connect Breakfast’ and we look at the ‘key pillars of the Church’ through this we are educating them in the church as in God’s people but also the Presbyterian Church this helps with the understanding of how the service is ran, the denomination and possibly connecting them into the Church Family.
Thirdly and Finally we are doing through the Catechism. In nearly every session we look at the New City Catechism a resource developed by Tim Keller and Sam Shammas it takes the questions and answers of the Westminster shorter Catechism and puts it into a more modern language helps everyone to understand it. Usually if it is a serious topic like Baptism we would first look at the relevant questions and answer to that and break into discussion groups and get the young people talking about what is it and if they understand it or not.
With these three things we cover a vast and complex sessions with this morning program brought down to the Bare bones without watering it down. Once the young person has settles in into Connect and is leaning we introduce them into Pitstop .
Pitstop is our Final Youth Organization, Pitstop is our Youth Fellowship based program where we look at very different topics than the Connect program. This enables us to help the young people to understand the more ethical, social and even touchy subject within today’s society.
Throughout the year we have been looking at our ToolBox Series which is based of a ‘How to…’ series we did at Lowe. This looks at the very definition of what it means to be a follower and a disciple of Jesus Christ, all of this is done with group work, bringing guest speakers, testimonies and fellowship .
This is a Place where every young person counts. This is a place where the young people can call it Family.
That’s it…each program has it’s cog in the big machine.
I hope this has helped you all to see what I am doing in First Holywood Presbyterian. It’s alot of work but worth it.
One of the aims of the Youth department is ‘ To Live life and life in its Fullness for God” John 10:10. Within Today’s culture some young people Find it hard to find what Truth is, by doing all the above we try and do it every week, which isn’t always the case.
One thing you all can do is to Pray for what is happening in Holywood!
- Pray for each Organisation: to continue to Help, equip and nurture young people in knowing and loving Jesus Christ
- Pray for the Youth Leaders/Volunteers in First Holywood for Strength, wisdom, servant hearts, perseverance and for the impact of young people in the local area.
- Pray for the leadership in First Holywood as Vacancy is on the Horizon for the Church and how us as Church leaders can adjust to this.
- Pray for our Youth Evangelism, for continually pushing the boundaries and for the Restart of YoungLife Club in First Holywood.
- Pray for the Young people to keep the faith, Fighting the Fight every day for the Glory God and to be Counter Cultural in there Classes, homes, Estates and lives.