Real Life Stories
Issue 39 Â£1.99
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Editorial Team: Peter Bell Sara Bell
Design: JAM Magazine Contributors: (In alphabetical order) Peter Bell Sara Bell Brightline - Dan, Jacob, Joe and Lucy Tom Elliott Steph Macleod Keith Stroyde & the group from Stourbridge Matt Swiss Sue Waddington & the group from Woking Joel Ward & the group from Upton Vale
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Features Interviews ories Real Life St And more..... .indd 1
CONTENTS: 4. Aiming to SUCCEED! What are you aiming for?
6. Steph Macleod
A story of finding Freedom!
10. SUCCESS on a Plate Does God answer prayer?
11. SUCCESSFUL Living! What makes a SUCCESSFUL Life?
Love never fails! 1 Corinthians 13 v 8
12. Scorch Trials - film Who do you follow?
20. Your greatest SUCCESS? What’s yours?
29. SUCCESS v Failure
How do you deal with them?
36. Tom Elliott
Is SUCCESS a disappointment?
14. Failed again!
Quotes on SUCCESS and Failure!
22. Star Wars - film What is your purpose?
16. Matt Swiss
A Rowing Success!
The Manchester based Band
30. SUCCESS = Happiness? 32. The Martian - film Is that true?
37. Price of SUCCESS! Is it worth it?
SUCCESS isn’t guaranteed!
38. Dress for SUCCESS! FASHION - celebrating!
19. Key to SUCCESS...? How to be SUCCESSFUL!
28. Recipe for SUCCESS Wordsearch
34. Planning to SUCCEED! Quiz- Are you a planner?
40. SUCCESS Abroad!
Faith in Action in the Gambia
Aiming to Succeed! Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying, ‘If you aim at nothing you will achieve it!’ It is easy to drift through life and not achieve much because we haven’t made plans or consciously aimed at something. Granted, plans don’t always succeed and aiming doesn’t guarantee success but having an aim is helpful. It might be doing your homework or meeting up with friends but you need to have a plan or things don’t get done. There are times when it is good to have no plans and you can just chill and take things as they come but it isn’t good to do this all the time and just hope things happen! When we were kids, in the olden days, we amused ourselves with games like ‘push penny’ where you have to push a penny and try to land it on a specific place to win. It was all about aim and practise! Why not have a go on this page with a penny and see what you can score... Practise will help you improve and setting yourself a target will help focus your efforts! Can you beat your friends?
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Steph Macleod knows what it is like to hit rock bottom; a prisoner of addictions and in need of freedom. He didn’t think all this religious Jesus stuff could make a difference until he met someone who told him he was wrong. Steph tells us his story…. What was your childhood like?
I was an only child and grew up in a really loving environment in Musselbrough to the east of Edinburgh. I was very musical and had a drum kit from about the age of 3! Music was my focus and I had guitar lessons and then attended The City of Edinburgh specialist music school for free which was fantastic; I went on a trial basis as I wasn’t their conventional type of student but it was great teaching and I got auditions for the Guildhall in London and The Royal Scottish Academy of music and drama (RSA) in Glasgow, which is where I ended up as the Guildhall wanted me to wait a year and I didn’t want to! My mum and dad had split up when I was 15. We’d been away and came back to a flooded house - we lost everything and ended up living in a hotel for a bit. Mum couldn’t cope, had a breakdown and left us. We didn’t really understand what was happening at the time but we got a flat in Edinburgh and managed to keep a roof over our heads. I was just 15 or 16 and was very confused because my family was my comfort zone and it had imploded. I managed to do ok still at school but I found different ways of letting off steam with parties, drinking and smoking! Within a year I was clubbing and taking Class A drugs. I was very good at drinking and chatting up girls and because most of my friends were a lot older I got into the underground scene of drugs and gangsters. They seemed to like my music and I was a bit of a gimmick for them. It seemed fun but I started going into school off my head. I was an arrogant so and so and thought I was really cool but everyone fell out with me when I made a fool of myself at a couple of 18ths and leaving dos. It was the first sign that I couldn’t control my addictions.
So did you continue your education?
I went to the RSA and I thought it was epic because banks were throwing money at you and you were free from your parents. Music is very intense and it was just party, party, party with studying at the bottom of the list. It was a blast but all a bit hazy! I thought it couldn’t have been any better and that life was going well but by the end of the year I had to do some classes again as studying wasn’t on the agenda. I’d drink a bottle of vodka before I went out and was really losing the plot. I got depressed and tried to commit suicide a couple of times. This continued for a couple of years but eventually I was asked to leave the Academy because I wasn’t ‘cutting the mustard’. I punched a wall in a drunken strop, smashed the bones in my hand and found comfort in vodka and drugs. I went to Reading to finish my degree and just scraped a pass as I was still drunk most of the time.
What did you do next?
I didn’t want to go back home so I went to Thailand to teach English. At 60p for a bottle of whisky it suited me fine! I only lasted about 4 months in my job and then I shut myself in my house and drank. When I wasn’t doing that I was smoking opium with the locals. I was hospitalised twice and in the end my mum had to come and get me. I got home 2 days before the tsunami hit! The plane journey was horrific as I had a meltdown and spent most of the time under a blanket thinking I was dying. Back in Edinburgh I was psychologically evaluated because I couldn’t even go into the kitchen when the washing machine was on because the noise was too scary! I was completely broken. They told me I was majorly depressed and suffered from anxiety and was an alcoholic. I tried AA but it didn’t work for me and I decided I was better off being homeless than watching my parents suffer any more. I got a place at a council hostel but I drank my benefits in just 2 days and pawned stuff to buy drugs. I was begging on the streets, stealing and doing stuff for money. I was quite aggressive so got kicked out of the shelter because there are lots of vulnerable people there too. I was sleeping rough which was ok in the summer but after Christmas I swore I was going to change or I was going to die. The cold is just so painful and awful. Once again I tried AA and considered rehab but at £6,000 a month my budget wasn’t going to stretch to that and I needed Intensive therapy.
So what happened then?
I came across a hostel run by Bethany Christian Trust for homeless men with addiction issues. They offered a Christian recovery programme in return for some of your housing benefit. They gave me a bed in 2006 and it was a really long day - I remember it well because Scotland had got beaten by the English at rugby and normally I would be drinking! There were various group meetings and a lot of it was about Jesus. I remember thinking I didn’t need this crap and that it wasn’t relevant to me but they did have a couple of old guitars. They weren’t very good ones because if they had been someone would have taken them and sold them but they gave me the opportunity to start playing and writing songs about my experience. It was really medicinal for me to be able to sing about how I was feeling.
So how did you become a Christian?
Well, at the centre they do lots of stuff to help you including putting on talks and meals. One was billed as a speaker with a 5 course meal - that really caught my attention as I was curious to see what 5 courses would mean! I was a little disappointed the fifth course was coffee. The guy stood up and started talking as we were finishing eating. I was ready to zone out as I was thinking I don’t want to hear how good you are and how bad I am, blah blah blah. But I was shocked to hear that he’d not always been a good guy. He’d messed up and been quite violent and although his experience was different to mine I could relate to a lot of it. He spoke about how becoming a Christian had changed him and the essence of his message was that God had given him the strength to break the chains that bound him! I’d never heard anything like that before and when he said there was freedom in Christ he got my undivided attention. I was a prisoner, albeit not in a physical cell, I knew I was in chains. He said there was no such thing as 50% free - it’s all or nothing. I was excited and scared but I knew I wanted what he was talking about even if it meant turning my back on what I knew and believed. So I took that step of faith and prayed asking God to come into my life and forgive me for the things I’d done. I’m a sceptical man but I felt the presence of God come into my life and it flattened me! There was a real sense of peace and not needing to worry about anything. My problems hadn’t disappeared but I felt peaceful. I hadn’t realised the burden of shame I’d carried till I felt God lift it from me - I’d never felt freer!
So has life been easy since then?
The guy who was speaking, who is now a friend, said, “Life is hard but you can rise to the challenge. You need to pray every day and ask God for guidance.” I found I could get strength from God instead of the bottle. I read my bible and found I was learning stuff about conviction, compassion and treating other people differently. I spent 8 long months sorting out my addictions, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I also tried to apologise to everyone. Some told me to ‘take a hike’ but others told me I had been an idiot but that they loved and forgave me! The hardest apology was to my mum and dad, they couldn’t believe it at first but were just grateful I was sober.
So what is life like now?
Well, not long after I became a Christian I met my wife and fell in love for the first time! She already had a son and we have had another 2 children. I started writing songs about my faith and put my earlier songs on MySpace. They got a really good response and so I put together an album and did a concert. I played and told my story. A friend came up to me and said, “This is what you should be doing with your life” and so I have continued. I had been praying for 4 years for God to show me my purpose and I sold 60 cds on my first night. It has been a roller coaster ride and I have to pinch myself sometimes! 10 years ago I was begging on the streets and wouldn’t have believed I’d be singing about Jesus and going to places like Vienna to perform and share my story.
What about your music?
My first album was quite testimonial; it was quite dark and raw. My second album was a major step up in production and the songs took a lot out of me! I just wanted to know the heart of God and there is a whole variety of songs in terms of themes and music. There are songs about The Passion of Christ, Paul’s conversion and even a Christmas carol. There are some orchestral arrangements alongside some meaty guitar stuff as well as more acoustic stuff too. I have had some great feedback even some from Nashville! I am currently writing a new album and am about half way there.
To find out more about Steph check out www.stephmacleod.com or follow @stephmacleod
Success on a plate!
I like cooking but not everything turns out the way I hope. There have been times when it certainly hasn’t been success on a plate. Like the time I forgot to put flour in my cakes ( I was only 10!), or the time I added too many chilli flakes and everyone needed to drink loads of water. Then there was the time I whisked the cream too much and it was almost rock solid and no good for spreading or the occasion when I made rice pudding and didn’t add any sugar! And most memorably once I was cycling to a party with a cheesecake in a tin and it fell off my back pannier and under a car - not a pretty sight!
let them cool as much before I move them… There have been many other meals though that I have been pleased with - my disasters haven’t made me give up, I have just tried different methods or recipes. We can be a bit like that with prayer - perhaps things haven’t turned out as we would have liked and we have given up on God rather than trusting him to work things out. Maybe we prayed and he didn’t appear to answer or at least not in the way we wanted.
Prayer is a conversation with God - there are no set words, times or places to use. We can’t force God to answer in a specific way, after all Even yesterday I made some florentines and found that there is definitely an optimum time he knows what is best for us even if we can’t see it at the time… to remove them from the tray otherwise it is like trying to chip cement; some of them were God doesn’t promise that life will be easy a bit oddly shaped or missing bits that had stuck to the tray but they certainly but he does promise to be with us! disappeared very quickly. Next time I will not
Successful Living...? For many people success is having a big bank balance and being able to buy what you want, when you want it! But the bible looks at life in a different way. In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about using what we have to help others. When it comes to death how ‘successful’ we have been in life is based not on our earnings or possessions but on how we have used the life we have been given… Below are some famous and some funny epitaphs, what would yours say….? Here lies Ezekial Aikle Age 102 The Good Die Young
Here lies Ann Mann, Who lived an old maid But died an old Mann Dec. 8, 1767
The best is yet to come. Frank Sinatra
Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spike Milligan I told you I was ill.
I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Winston Churchill
That’s all, folks! Mel Blanc
Here Rests in Honoured Glory A Soldier Known But to God
Here lies Johnny Yeast Pardon me For not rising.
(the epitaph is the trademark line of cartoon character Porky Pig, whose voice was provided by Blanc for many years)
A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough. Alexander the Great
She did it the hard way. Bette Davis
Well done! Good and Faithful servant.... Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake Stepped on the gas Instead of the brake.
Here lays Butch, We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger, But slow on the draw.
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‘The Scorch Trials’ is the next instalment in the Maze Runner book trilogy by James Dashner to be made into a film. Having escaped the Maze, Thomas and the rest of the Gladers discover that it was a test of survival, run by WCKD – a shadowy organization whose motives and background are unclear. The Gladers now face a new set of challenges as they search for clues about this mysterious and powerful organization and how to escape yet again. They are not alone as they soon discover that theirs was not the only Maze! The journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles and terrors. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and try to survive whilst not knowing who or what to trust as WCKD plays with their minds! Who do you follow or trust? Are there people that you look up to or who you think of as role models? The bible talks about following Jesus and doing what he would do… .I’m not sure if they still exist but a few years ago there were wristbands with the initials WWJD which stood for ‘What Would Jesus Do’ to remind people to think about how they could respond to situations in a positive way. It’s not always the easiest route because Jesus stood up for a lot of things that went against popular opinion and tradition and we are asked to do the same. So whatever situation you find yourself in today ask yourself ‘What would Jesus do?’ and see if you can make a difference!
Photo credits: Twentieth Century Fox
Failed again…! It sometimes seems that whatever we do we just can’t get something right. We have tried different ways, we have worked hard and yet success isn’t guaranteed. We have failed again! Some people have an image of God as a grumpy old man just waiting to ‘bash’ us each time we fail or do something wrong. But I think God is more like a parent who is just willing their child to keep on trying, to never give up and to learn from our mistakes. God doesn’t wait till we achieve perfection before he accepts us - none of us would make it! He accepts us as we are when we come to him and acknowledge that we can’t do it on our own and need his help…that is after all precisely why Jesus died because we can’t get to heaven through our own efforts! Have a look at the quotes below about success and failure and see if you agree… If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Albert Schweitzer A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. David Brinkley Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. Booker T. Washington The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. Theodore Roosevelt Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. Dale Carnegie I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. Bill Cosby The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. Ayn Rand
Success is falling nine times and getting up ten. Jon Bon Jovi Failure is success if we learn from it. Malcolm Forbes
15 In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time. Anthony J. D’Angelo Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction. Al Bernstein Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. William Feather The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Donald Kendall My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever. Psalm 73 v 26 Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31 v 6 I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Michael Jordan A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. B. F. Skinner Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. Morihei Ueshiba
You make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make you. Maxwell Maltz There is no such thing as failure. There are only results. Tony Robbins Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again. Richard Branson Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Denis Waitley A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.
Love never fails! 1 Corinthians 13 v 8 Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely. Henry Ford
Matt Swiss Not many people can say they have been to Rio de Janeiro let alone rowed on the course which will be used for the Olympics 2016. We asked Matt who has just taken part in the 2015 Junior World Rowing Competition about his experience and his faith. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am 17 and live with my parents, my sister ,who is just 16 and our dog, between Totnes and Torquay in Devon. I have just finished my AS year and got what I needed for next year so I’m happy with the results and am going to be continuing A levels in PE, History and ICT.
Is that with particular plans in mind for the following year?
I’m not really sure what I want to do after A levels. I haven’t any definite plans as yet but in the future I might go to university to study Sports Science where I would
also be looking to row for the university and further my rowing career.
How did you get into rowing?
After the 2012 Olympics there were various taster days for sporting activities and my dad’s friend suggested I tried rowing. So I went along to an open day at our local club and gave it a go! So I haven’t been doing it for that long.
Had you been to many big events before Rio?
I have been in various National Schools events and done well in those. Last year I came 7th and this year I came 2nd.
But for Rio you rowed as part of a double?
Yes, I went to Rio as part of a double with a guy from up near Manchester. When I went to the final trials for the games they had already selected the quad boat and they were looking for doubles. There wasn’t anyone from down here that was fast enough so I was paired with Scot. Usually I train as a single but I wasn’t fast enough to go it alone and GB team obviously like to take people who are likely to be able to gain a medal so I was selected as part of the doubles.
Is that quite difficult to adjust to a new partner? It is quite hard because you aren’t used to each other. I did train with people down here to get used to being a ‘double’ but then Scot and I had to adapt to each other. The trials were only about 3 weeks before we went so there wasn’t much time to adjust! I was at the front but as in rowing you go backwards that means I am second to cross the line. We came a very respectable 9th in the world!
How often do you train?
I train between 5 and 7 sessions a week, usually for an hour to an hour and a half each time. I have to fit it round school work and stuff. Some of the training is on the river and some is in the gym. In winter it is hard to have enough daylight because we train out of school hours so it is mostly gym based. We use the usual gym rowing machines!
What was going to Rio like?
It was a bit of a shock and felt a little unreal as we didn’t have much time to take in the fact that we were going! It was amazing knowing that the Olympics would be held at the same place and course next year. It is an iconic
place to row and it was just amazing to think I was part of the team selected to go.
Is rowing in the Olympics something you’d like to do?
Definitely, I’d love to row in the Olympics some day - maybe to take part in the Tokyo games! At the moment I row as a junior but because of when my birthday is in the year I won’t be able to compete as a junior next year. I am hoping to carry on and be part of the next team which is the under 23’s and hopefully going to Tokyo will be a possibility.
Is there stuff coming up in rowing?
The next big event will be next season now and I will probably do the National Schools competition again. I had to miss the last one as I was training for Rio.
Do you have to stick to a really strict diet and timetable to be able to compete?
Not really that strict. You just need to be eating healthily with not too much fatty stuff. Time management is important as you need to be quite organised to fit training and school work in. I sometimes have to cut back on training if I have school deadlines to meet but I am quite good at getting everything done without my parents having to nag me.
When did you become a Christian?
I was brought up in a Christian family so I have always known about Jesus and it has just been a natural progression for me. I go to a great church and have fantastic friends who support me and my faith journey. Going to Soul Survivor was great for me - it was the first time I really experienced God for myself.
How would you define success?
I think success is achieving something that you have set yourself like a goal or target. It is a great feeling when you have accomplished it and afterwards you can judge whether it was a success or failure and whether you want to try it again or do something different.
Have you any great successes that you are proud of outside of rowing? Outside of rowing I am proud of my achievements at the Ten Tors which is a walking event on Dartmoor. It takes place over 35, 45 and 55 miles. I have done the 45 miles twice and
the 55 miles once. It was a hard struggle but I knew I could complete it as I had God on my side so I could conquer anything. Also I help in a charity shop for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon to do my bit for the community; I really enjoy lending a hand.
How about any failures?
Capsizing when rowing! You always do it when you are starting out because they say you have to capsize to be a rower but it is never fun!
What advice or words of wisdom would you give to teens who are facing school as a Christian?
Just remember that God is always with you and behind you in whatever you do. Do what you think is right and know that he has a plan for your life
How do you think you find out that plan? By reading your bible and praying and seeing what happens!
But if you are a Christian should the criteria be different? The bible says we should be faithful and trustworthy with what we have rather than joining the race to accumulate as much as possible which is often seen as the criterion of success!
Key to Success
There are lots of seminars and courses claiming to have the key to success. Your parents and teachers have probably told you that education is the key. Trying hard, not giving up and a degree of talent also have a part to play in success.
Maybe many of us experience failures because we have got our priorities wrong. Very often we pray that God will help us and bless our plans without finding out what God would have us do… God has a plan for each of our lives but many of us miss it because we are too busy with our own plans and asking God to help us with them! So if you are a Christian have you asked God to show you his plans….? And if you aren’t have you ever wondered whether there is a plan or purpose for life? Or do you think it is all down to chance?
What’s your biggest success? Hopefully all of us have done things that we are proud of. We have surprised ourselves and others that we have managed to achieve something that seemed impossible or that at least took a lot of hard work! Maybe you have passed some exams, prepared a special meal, been in a play, competed in a sport, performed at a concert or spoken up about something you believe in. Whatever it was gave you a sense of victory and no matter what else happens no one can take away your achievement. For some people getting out of bed can be a real achievement when they really don’t feel like it, for others speaking in front of a class can be daunting or for others getting the train up to town for the first time takes a lot of courage. We are all different so let’s celebrate each others achievements no matter how small they may seem to us because what we find difficult some one else will find easy and what we find easy will be a struggle for others! We asked some of you what has been your greatest achievement and this is what you had to say…
Getting a B at my RS re-sit.
Thanks to Keith and the group from Stourbridge.
Getting level 4c in English.
WELL DONE! Passing 1st year at Med school.
Being cast as the lead role for a play that was performed for over 5000 people.
Climbing Mt Kenya.
Playing my piano composition at a concert.
Getting full marks for my choreography exam.
Writing my 1st screen play even though we might not be able to film it.
Coming 6th in a National Ballroom competition.
Abseiling from a really tall tower!
Passing level 3 in Maths.
Persuading my parents to get a cat.
There will be some very excited people who can’t wait to see the next instalment; For others it is something that will pass them by virtually unnoticed. Whichever category you fall into it is quite an achievement to be producing a seventh sequel/ prequel to a film series that started with Star Wars in 1977. The prequel trilogy didn’t achieve the same acclaim as the original 3 movies in terms of reviews but which way this film will go is yet to be seen…. One of the lines from the trailer is ‘The force is strong in my family….. and you have it too!’ In real life living up to expectations can be difficult. Maybe you have older siblings or parents who think you should be good at or at least interested in certain things…? Or maybe you haven’t found that one thing that you are passionate about and want to do…? I don’t know what that could be as it will be different for all of us but what I do believe is that we are all individuals and God made us unique and special for a purpose. There can never be another you so why waste your time trying to be a clone of someone else? Just try to be the best ‘YOU!’
Photo credits: Lucas Films & Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the seventh instalment in the Star Wars film series. There is a mix of old and new faces with the likes of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill returning whilst introducing new characters played by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow. The story is set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi which was released in 1983 and is set to be the first film in the planned third Star Wars trilogy.
Usually we get to do interviews over the phone rather than meeting people in person so it was great to be able to pop down the road and meet Brightline members Joe, Jacob, Lucy and Daniel on their home turf in Manchester.
Can you introduce yourselves?
Hi, I’m Joe, I’m 21 and come from Preston. Hi, I’m Jacob, I’m also 21 and got married to the beautiful Rachel a few months ago. I was born in Swindon, grew up in Newcastle and spent my teens in Mexico.
Hi, I’m Lucy, I’m 22 (had to think about that), I’m from Wales and come from a large, complicated family.
Hi, I’m Dan, I’m the oldest at 25 but I don’t act like it. Originally I’m from Portugal and I came to the UK in 2008 for the beautiful weather and to study in Birmingham. I am extremely tall - 6 foot 6 & 1/2!
Did you grow up in Christian homes?
Joe - Yes, I was brought up in a Christian home so I always had some belief and Christian values. Looking at the world around us convinced me that there must be more to life than just chance and at the age of 11 I realised that I needed to make a personal decision to
follow Jesus. I was a bit of a worrier but I have found that I can give all my worries to God and trust him with any issues.
Jacob - Being brought up in a Christian
family meant I went to church but it never really meant anything to me and I chose to do some stuff that I probably shouldn’t have done for a couple of years. But I got to a point of thinking, ‘What am I doing and where am I going?’ It led to me doing a 180 degree turn and making a decision to trust God completely. So from the age of around 14 life was completely different - it was like going from black and white to colour!
Lucy - I was brought up in a Christian family
but my parents got divorced and whilst one side of the family still went to church the other side wasn’t bothered so I spent a lot of time going back and forth trying to work out what I was going to do. I made a decision to follow Jesus when I was 7 but by the time I was 14 I had decided that it wasn’t for me. Then at the age of 16 I decided to retry this whole Jesus thing and see what it was really about and so I went on from there.
Daniel - My parents are Christians so from a very young age I knew about Jesus and God. When I was around 11 I actually understood what Jesus had done and I decided to follow him.
What brought you to Manchester?
found Brightline in the dictionary - it means to set the basic standard. We thought it was really cool because for us as Christians and as a band the basic standard is to love God and other people and everything else comes from that start point. Daniel - It also invokes a great image of brightness and light.
Joe - I was living in Preston and having
just finished my A levels I was looking for something to do next. I wasn’t sure uni was for me so when I saw an advert for The Message Trust Academy I applied and have been here since. I wanted to be involved with youth work and telling people about Jesus and I get to use my music too! Jacob - My story is very similar to Joe’s. Having graduated from high school in Mexico I saw the advert for the Message, packed my bags and came over! After 2 months or so they offered us the idea of forming a band and here we are! It is amazing to see God’s plan unfold. Lucy - I moved to Manchester to join the Message Academy. I gave up 2 jobs to move and give up a year for Jesus. I stayed on to do an internship last year and this year joined the Brightline family! Daniel - I moved to England to go to uni and after I graduated I worked in a school for a year. Then I felt that God was telling me to do something new and I saw this flyer about the Academy. I must admit I was a bit snobby about it, thinking they would all be little 18 year olds who had left home for the first time and I wasn’t sure I could deal with that! But I got an interview and fell in love with the place and am still here!
Why are you called Brightline?
Jacob - Once the band was created we had to find a name. There were lots of ideas including Daniel and the Lions! We
How would you describe your music?
Joe - We get influences from all over the
place. I’d say we are an indie pop band but Jacob is originally a folk musician and Dan is into Hip Hop so there is a real mix. Daniel - we try to be as creative as we can and we listen to lots of different styles and adapt stuff to our music.
Do you write your own stuff?
Daniel - Yes, we all write together. From the beginning we decided to do so because four minds are better than one! Jacob - We can weave different elements in and draw on our experiences depending on what the song is about and what sort of music works well.
In one sentence what is the aim of Brightline?
Daniel - We want to see people follow Jesus. We love music and realise how influential it can be. It is a great way of communicating feelings that we can’t necessarily express in conversation. It has been amazing to see people decide to follow Jesus. That’s more than a sentence but the main aim is to see Jesus changing peoples’ lives!
that would be great but we would only consider it a real success if people are giving their lives to Jesus. Daniel - For me it is seeing lives transformed. Jesus has the power to transform lives and that’s what we want to see. If we fail to put that across there is no point. It would be great to have a number one, have a big fan base, win a Grammy or play Glastonbury but ultimately we play for an ‘audience of one’ - that is Jesus. If we do a gig and just one person responds it is a success.
What has been your greatest success?
Jacob - I got to marry my best friend and it’s been incredible!
How do you go about that?
Lucy - We take a lot of lessons in schools on subjects like self-esteem and prejudice from a Christian point of view. We talk to a lot of kids and at the end of the week we have a gig where we get the opportunity to tell people more about Jesus and what he has done in our lives. Daniel - In our music and lyrics we try to show God’s love. One of latest songs ‘Come Alive’ draws on Jacob’s story and struggles because we try to write about real stuff that kids can relate to whilst pointing them to Jesus.
Daniel - I don’t know. I’m pretty happy that I graduated university with honours but I guess one time that sticks in my mind is when I did a gig by myself. A kid who was also a beat boxer came along and he decided to follow Jesus. He’d come thinking Christians were boring and irrelevant and he went away knowing Jesus. For me that was a ‘wow’ moment because God can use us to break through into people’s lives. Joe - It’s difficult to say. Possibly not my
greatest success but something that made me very proud was getting through the Message Academy because it wasn’t all plain sailing and there were difficult times.
How about any failures?
Joe - I don’t know, I’ve made so many
How would you define success?
Joe - That’s a difficult question but for us
success is seeing people give their lives to Jesus. It is cool to get your stuff out there and for people to like it but at the end of the day we want to see people follow Jesus. If that meant getting music into the charts
mistakes! I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped in my A levels but failing a drum exam was very upsetting and that really got to me for a while. Jacob - One thing that jumps to mind is not trying hard at school. I was easily distracted by other things and couldn’t see how this stuff could be relevant to my life.
Daniel - Being honest and vulnerable, the time in life that I felt the biggest failure was when I was in a relationship and it broke down. I had invested so much into it so I felt a massive failure when it fell apart. But God is amazing and when we fail he doesn’t give up on us! Musically we have messed up so many times, (laughing from Joe, Jacob and Lucy), you just have to laugh it off! There have been a lot of memorable failures on stage! Lucy - There was an epic moment recently where I tried to jump over a wall and failed, cutting my leg open in the process!
Are there any bible verses that keep you going when times are tough?
Daniel - I love John 16 v 33 which is Jesus talking to his friends, ‘I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace in this world, you will have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world!’ There will always be problems but don’t give up or lose heart because Jesus has overcome. The creator of the universe calls us his friends amazing! Jacob - Deut 31 v 6 says, ‘Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.’ No matter what happens God’s grace and love are always there. Lucy - Psalm 28 v 7 means a lot to me - I’ve got it tattooed! ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts him and confidently relies on him therefore I am helped.’ Every time something creeps up on me this is a reminder that it is only a tiny thing compared to a massive God who is more than capable of dealing with it.
know God has plans for me so I don’t need to worry what they might be, I just need to trust him. Jacob - for now as Brightline we have a vision to go as far as we can. If that involves stages with thousands of people so be it! We would love to have the opportunity to tell more people about Jesus so we want to stay in step with where God is leading us. Personally I would love to have some kids and as my wife is from California I guess we may move there in the future. Lucy - the same as the guys I’m focussing on Brightline and don’t have any other plans at present. Daniel - I am definitely not the planner type! I am very last minute and currently Brightline is my focus. I want to serve God the best I can where I am and I am excited to see what God will do. In the future I would love to serve God in the fashion industry and share Jesus with people in this arena. I would also love to have a tea shop!
Daniel - with your beat boxing do you always do the same each time?
95% of the time I do the same but because I get bored easily I sometimes change it which annoys the others! It is just like any instrument, it needs practise and you should use it the way you’ve planned. Jacob - he has a drum kit inside his mouth!
Does any one else do beat boxing? Daniel - Yes, Joe tries!
Joe - I don’t try - I do it very well!
What is your goal?
Joe - at the moment it is Brightline. I
don’t really have any other plans at the moment. I’m not sure how long it will last but for now Brightline is my focus and I
For more about Brightline check out their social media pages: https://www.facebook.com/BrightLineBand https://twitter.com/BrightLineBand
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS... Nowadays many people think that the recipe for success is fame! The rise of reality tv shows has led to many people thinking that if only they could get their 5 minutes of fame they will have made it! Unfortunately this sort of 'success' is often short lived and not worth very much. They entered hoping to find the elusive success that very few actually
attain only to be disappointed and quickly forgotten or remembered for all the wrong reasons. But those who 'win' or find fame, have they really succeeded…? I guess that depends on your definition of success. They might have had 5 minutes in the limelight and maybe gained financially but surely there is more to life…
Can you find the words associated with success...? E O B C F A M
E A N D F O R T U N E S L
X O O Z H K T R Y T R Y A G A
I N X A U
S N O
I S S E S S O P S E H C
I R A T F
A C H
I E V E M
E N T C E J J J U M
S E K A T S I M M O R F N R A E L R S S W
J S E R A H S D N A S K C O T S E F E
C E L E B R R E C
I T Y S T A T U S C Z S A C
I P E F O R S U C C E S S S U C C
G S K S S E C C U S F O E C
I R P L T U
R E D D A L Y T R E P O R T I F I T I S T I M
E A N D E F F O R T P Y Q F S O N
T A R G E T S S E C C U S O T Y E K N U S U C C E S S B R E E D S S U C C E S S ACHIEVEMENT CELEBRITY STATUS EXAM RESULTS FAME AND FORTUNE KEY TO SUCCESS LEARN FROM MISTAKES POSSESSIONS
PRICE OF SUCCESS PROPERTY LADDER RECIPE FOR SUCCESS RICHES SATISFACTION SCORES STOCKS AND SHARES
SUCCESS SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS TARGETS TIME AND EFFORT TRY TRY AGAIN UNSUCCESSFUL
Jesus asks a question in Mark 8 v 36, ‘What good would it do to get everything you want and lose the real you in the process? What could you ever trade your soul for?’
Success v Failure... Thomas Edison was an inventor who developed many devices that dramatically changed everyday life, including the motion picture camera and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. He is also credited with some wise quotes on the subject of success and failure…. ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.’ ‘There is no substitute for hard work.’ ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ ‘Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’ How we treat failures and success is important if we are to succeed. Many of us give up at the first sign of difficulty; we want success but not if it means we have to face some hardship or put in too much effort. I’m approaching a landmark birthday and decided a while ago that it would be good to get fitter so last week attended my first ‘Insanity’ type workout…to say it wasn’t easy and that I was the class failure would be an understatement! I could hardly walk the next day and going down stairs was painful but as they say, ‘there is no gain without pain’ so I shall be going again tomorrow. I will probably be even worse than I was last week but giving up is not an option if I want to get fitter. So how do you deal with failure? Do you throw a ‘hissy fit’ and give up or do you persevere until you achieve at least a degree of success? I’m glad that God doesn’t give up on us when we fail and make a mess of things! The bible says that we can start each day afresh without the hindrances and failures of yesterday. God knows we aren’t perfect - we are a work in progress. So next time you mess up, pick yourself up, admit you made a mistake, say sorry, move on and try again.
Don’t let failures hold you back. Use them as stepping stones!
Success = H Success can be viewed in different ways. For some people success is ‘making the team’, for some it is having a lot of money, others think it is doing something worthwhile, whilst yet others would base it on being the best. None of these are wrong in themselves but when our lives purely revolve around outdoing others we will run into problems. In the bible Jesus tells a parable about a man who was so busy trying to store up wealth that he forgot to live life and enjoy what he had. When he finally thought he’d got enough to be happy he died. What a waste! We might think we are not like that but how often do we say to ourselves if I just had ‘….’ then I’d be happy, or if I could just ‘…..’ then I’d feel successful? Trouble with those thoughts is that once we achieve whatever it is we find that there is always something more to attain. So by all means have a list of ‘must do’ things but don’t let that stop you enjoying what you have right now! Success can’t guarantee you will be happy and fulfilled! Often our view of happ’I’ness involves ‘I’ in the middle. Life for some people seems to be all about ‘I’ - what I have achieved, got or succeeded at. But in the Bible, Matthew 5, Jesus points out a totally different way to be happy that is not based on our successes but on how we act and respond – Our Attitudes.
Happiness...? Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor and rely on God. Happy are those who are sorry for the wrong things they have done, or good they haven’t done and have asked forgiveness. Happy are those who don’t always seek to put themselves first but who think of others. Happy are those who want to find out more about God and don’t just follow the crowd. Happy are those who show mercy and understanding rather than judgement and criticism. Happy are those who seek what is pure and right. Happy are those who seek to make peace not trouble.
I wonder how successful and happy our lives would be if we followed these rather than pursued the more normal route of ‘me first’….?
THE MARTIAN During a manned mission to Mars the astronauts face a fierce storm and when Mark Watney doesn’t return as planned he is presumed dead. The rest of the crew make the tough decision to evacuate the planet and head back to Earth. But having survived, Watney is stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With very little in terms of supplies he must use his ingenuity, skills and spirit to subsist. There is also the small matter of trying to signal to Earth that he is alive, though he knows there is little hope of rescue even if they respond. But millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists are working endlessly to bring “the Martian” home and his crewmates are planning a daring, probably impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Success isn’t guaranteed! Having good actors and a gripping story line can’t guarantee that a film will succeed. Life can be the same; even when everything seems to be lining up and going to plan things can go wrong. But that shouldn’t stop us trying! It isn’t that long ago that space travel was the stuff of dreams. Someone had to dream big and believe they could do it even though the odds didn’t look promising. There will be times in life when we really need determination and guts to succeed; one thing is certain - if we don’t try we will never know if we could have succeeded!
Photo credits: Twentieth Century Fox
Planning to Succeed....
Success usually takes a bit of planning and thought - it doesn’t just happen. For a lucky few it might all fall in their lap without having to try but for most this isn’t the case. Some people are naturally better planners and organisers but we can all improve! There is a balance between sticking to a rigid plan and being too laid back though. Sticking to a plan no matter what can be as bad as having no plan at all… Are you a planner or are you more likely to subscribe to lastminute.com? Take a look at the questions below and what sort of person you are…. You need to take a packed lunch, do you…… A) Make it the night before? B) Grab something before you dash out the door? C) End up buying something expensive because you forgot?
You are having a birthday ‘do’, do you…… A) Invite people weeks in advance? B) Get round to inviting people a week before? C) Never get round to that sort of thing?
If you read your bible and pray, do you..…. A) Do it at the same time every day without fail? B) Try to do it each day but occasionally miss? C) Never keep to those plans so don’t bother at all?
You’ve been given homework, do you…... A) Do it the same day? B) Get it done even if it’s at the last minute? C) Forget you had any?
You’ve been asked to tidy your room, do you…… A) Get up early on Saturday and get it done? B) Do a bit but get distracted half way through? C) Leave it and hope someone else does it?
It’s your mates birthday, do you…… A) Buy all your cards and pressies well in advance? B) Leave it till the Saturday before and hope you can find something? C) Say you’ll get something later?
It’s the school holidays, do you….. A) Have something planned for every day? B) Have a few things planned and a few free days? C) Have nothing planned, you’ll just see what happens?
When you are meeting someone, do you…… A) Always make sure you are there early? B) Arrive when you said you would? C) Turn up late that’s if you remember at all?
You are going on holiday, do you…... A) Have everything organised weeks in advance? B) Have a few last minute things to do? C) Leave everything to the last minute?
Your friends have started drinking, do you…… A) Know exactly what you are going to drink and stick to it? B) Start with good intentions but don’t always keep to them? C) Just drink whatever you are given?
It’s pouring down but you’d planned to go out, do you…...
A) Go anyway - a plan is a plan? B) Re-arrange to do something else? C) Turn over and go back to sleep?
If you answered mostly A - You are so organised, possibly even a little OCD!
You like everything to be planned and sorted days if not weeks in advance and last minute changes throw you into a spin…You never just go with the flow and take a chance that things will be ok; you like precise details and times so you can plan. You can be a nightmare if things don’t go to plan. Try and relax and be a bit more laid back, not everything has to be planned to the last detail. It can be fun to just see how things turn out…
If you answered mostly B - You seem to manage a good balance between
getting things done and going with the flow. You realise that some things definitely need to be planned whilst other times it is ok to ‘wing it’ a little! Generally you get things done even if it is a bit last minute and occasionally slightly late! You are easy to be around as you don’t get too stressed when things don’t go to plan.
If you answered mostly C - Planning obviously isn’t one of your strong points!
How do you ever get anything done? You’d be late for your own funeral if that were possible. Maybe you should start trying to be more organised. At some point being disorganised will cause you problems, if it hasn’t already. Sooner or later people will get upset with you or you could lose out by missing a holiday flight for instance. There are plenty of apps or good old fashioned calendars that can help you so why not decide to improve in at least one area and see how it goes!
Last week, I sent a text of encouragement to a friend. He is excellent at what he does and I affirmed him in his ability at the top of the text. But I went on to add that even without his credible skills, he is valued by, and a blessing, to others. The text made his day. Why? Because ultimately, our sense of identity and value will never come from a polished display of skills, but rather in the way that we live.
It had just gone past midnight and the house was incredibly peaceful. Everyone else in the house had long been asleep and I was content as I read my book. I was suddenly disturbed by a mighty crash. The sound came from downstairs, where our kitchen has a glass-paned back door. “We’re being burgled!!” I said to my sleeping wife in a panic. “OK” was her response as she drifted back to sleep. I grabbed the broom from the upstairs cupboard and slowly tiptoed downstairs. I was only in my boxers which in itself would have scared off any burglars. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, broom in hand, I noticed my laptop was still there. ‘Phew! They can steal my cutlery but not my laptop!’
WHY SUCCESS IS OFTEN A DISAPPOINTMENT...
As I opened the kitchen door, I was able to put the broom down. The shelf of cookery books had fallen off the wall. That was it! No burglar, no smashed glass. Just Jamie Oliver spread across my kitchen floor. A little part of me was disappointed. The egocentered part of me wanted to be the boxers wearing broom fighter who scared off the intruder. It wasn’t what I expected.
When we have our mind set purely on success, we are often disappointed. It’s often not what we thought it was. The culture that we live in is driven by the goal of success. People are looking for recognition, status, wealth and even happiness as they pursue what they believe to be the top of their industry, talent and skill.
Tom Elliott is a Christian Communicator, Comedian & Magician who travels extensively sharing Jesus’ promise of living life in all it’s fullness. You can read his blogs and find out more of what he does at www.tom-elliott.org
Success isn’t a bad thing. It’s good to have big goals or aspirations and it’s good to be credible with our skills. The problem is revealed when the drive for success begins to shape our identity and self confidence. You see, you are worth more than your greatest of talents. The price tag on your life is not created by what you’ve achieved, but the person you were created to be. So invest as much time into your character as you do your skills.
The Price of Success... ‘Success’ isn’t free! It costs time and effort to achieve and there is definitely a cost to maintain it, as many celebs have found out. In a society where fame is often seen as a criteria for success they have realised their dream to be in the public eye but haven’t appreciated the personal cost that it involves… ‘success’ can be expensive!
£££££ So are fame and fortune really worth pursuing? Are there easier ways to achieve happiness or success?
Society often looks at the outside of someone’s life and assumes they must be happy because they are successful and seem to have it all but maybe we are using the wrong criteria… Success can’t guarantee contentment and happiness, in fact it often leads to discontentment and striving. The bible says that God is interested in us as a person, not in what we own or where we are from! God looks at the inside not the outside appearance. He is interested in whether we have accepted that Jesus died for us not whether we have the latest designer gear or live in a big house.
What do you think?
There are plenty of reasons why you might be celebrating; a birthday, an anniversary, good results or leaving school. When I left school it was just like any other day there was no big celebration or awards ceremony. School had finished and we moved on. Nowadays there is the whole business of Proms! Having done it 3 times with our eldest children I am a veteran of the hours it takes to go prom dress shopping, (not I hasten to add for my son, though getting a suit wasn’t easy either!) booking hairdressers and generally making my children feel happy with their chosen outfits. Not to mention the hassles of who they were going with, choosing a car and who was hosting the after Prom party. But getting dressed up to celebrate doesn’t mean you will enjoy yourself or look great - even the most expensive clothes can look cheap if they don’t fit or you are wearing a scowl. After all it is what is on the inside that counts…being beautiful outside is only a mask if we aren’t beautiful on the inside! We recently watched a film called ‘Shallow Hal’ that looked at this issue but thousands of years ago Jesus talked about people like that. He described the Pharisees, (the religious leaders) as, ‘You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.’ The Message Bible Matthew 23 v 27-28 Celebrating implies that you are happy and feeling good but how you are dressed usually depends on what you are celebrating. We asked some of you to show us some celebration pictures and here are the results….
Ellen, Katie and friends dressed in their paintballing camo after a hard-fought battle!
Millie in her Year 11 prom dress.
Ri in fancy dress to celebrate her 18th birthday - she succeeded at hosting a really fun party!
Matt in his rowing gear after competing for Great Britain in the 2015 Junior World Rowing Competition in Rio De Janiero - his team came a respectable 9th in the world!
Becka and Livvy are dressed up for the â€˜Elevateâ€™ prom, celebrating a week of fantastic Summer activities for young people in Torbay.
Lowri, Gemma and Ellie are ready for the annual UVyouth End of Year Extravaganza party, to celebrate another awesome year of youth work.
Jonah and friends are celebrating their year 11 School Prom.
Thanks to Joel and the group from Upton Vale
Faith in Action
Please tell us a bit about yourselves? Jess : I’m 16 and about to start 6th form college in September.
Elizabeth : I’m 18, have just taken my A
levels and will be starting at Bath University soon.
Briony : I’m 16 and about to start 6th form college in September.
Why did you want to go on the trip to Gambia in February? Jess : I’d been on the 1st trip the previous
Sue Waddington, from Trinity Methodist Church in Woking, has taken a couple of teams out to work on various community projects in a village in Gambia in West Africa. Sue, please tell us how the trips came about and what you hoped to achieve? I was first invited to go to Gambia a few years ago by Bill Lindop who’s been volunteering out there for years providing water projects and medication. The young people here got right behind the project with raising money for mosquito nets and we got involved with renovating the medical clinic. For the second trip we devised our own itinerary of work with the people and teachers from the village focusing mainly on education. We took a team of young people and engineers to help with various projects but also to show the local people how they could maintain the projects once we’d returned to the UK.
We asked some of the young people who went on the trips to tell us about their experiences.
year and enjoyed it so much I wanted to go again. It was a great experience to meet people from a different country and culture and I was keen to catch up with friends we’d made and help out again in any way I could.
Elizabeth : I’d heard about the 1st trip from Sue and Bill so when the opportunity came up I really wanted to go and share the experience as well as being able to help the community in Gambia in practical ways too. Briony : A place on the trip became
available due to a late cancellation and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of the project.
Had you done something like this before & what did you expect? Elizabeth : I’d never been outside of the
UK so everything was new. I had some idea what to expect but couldn’t wait to get out there and see for myself.
Briony : Even though I’d heard about the
previous trip from Jess I knew that whatever my expectations it would probably be different when I got there!
What sort of things did you get involved with? Jess : The 1st year I went we had to
paint a baby clinic both inside and out – so there wasn’t much down time! This year we still had a lot of work to do but we had a free day at the end to explore more of the Gambian culture. We went to a nature reserve and markets further afield. It was also about 10 degrees hotter this time – so it was very hot! We were working in the school and some of the young men from the village came and helped us. Briony and I got roped into doing some schools work and teaching.
Elizabeth : It was a very intense
experience. We’d get up early, have breakfast and drive to the village on dusty roads, some of which weren’t completely built yet. Often we’d have to go on a detour and small children with goats would come out and wave at us which was lovely. We did a lot of physical work, sang songs with the school children and talked to lots of people. Then it was back to eat, have a time of reflection and sleep!
Jess : We had a church service and
community day on the Sunday. The local church services encourage participation with a lot of singing and dancing so we taught them some of our songs that they could sing, dance and clap along with.
Elizabeth : It was quite clear to us that
even though the people really didn’t have very much materially they believed that God would provide for them. Sometimes in the UK it can seem that we rely on ourselves
and our faith is almost like an accessory!
Briony : The community day was great
as the whole village made us feel very welcome and part of their family. The ladies of the village took us to see the plants the little children water daily. They’d set aside the whole day to be together as a village and also with us – I’d not experienced this before in the UK!
Sue : The village wanted us to be very much part of their every day lives and see how they live. They didn’t treat us like tourists but as though we were long lost family members. From the community day more people from the village came along and gave of their time to help out on the various projects. They appreciated the fact that we were there to help BUT were keen to be involved so that they could help themselves which in the long run is more sustainable! What were the standout highlights? Elizabeth : On the community day a guy brought out an African drum and we did some African dancing – we weren’t very good but it was an amazing experience.
Briony : I really enjoyed sitting with some
of the older girls, they were 11 or 12, who were teaching us some of the hand games they played, which we played when we were kids. They were so enthusiastic it was great to enjoy being with them.
Jess : I spent an afternoon making about
a 100 loom bands with the kids – they were so eager to learn something new!
What were the worst bits about the trip? Jess : On a physical level – malaria tablets give you tummy ache!
Elizabeth : I got ill on the 1st day of work
so managed to avoid some of the harder work that day!
Briony : I found the weather difficult. We’d
left a cold UK in February and it was 40 degrees in the Gambia. It was especially tough when working outside in these temperatures.
How is life different in the Gambia compared to the UK? Jess : The quality of life is tough! All the
villagers live in mud huts – so every time it rains in the rainy season they have to repair their houses! This is all they know so to them it’s normal, they’re not materialistic and don’t seem bothered that they don’t live in western style houses. The people are so full of warmth and life that you don’t tend to notice their lack of material things!
Elizabeth : The people we met were so
much happier and more joyful than people appear at home. One of the less visible aspects of poverty compared to the UK is the lower life expectancy. They taught us a lot about not taking things for granted – such as your little sister might not be there tomorrow if she got ill…
Jess : Attitudes to education seem different
from the UK. There are people at schools in the UK who appear as though they’d rather not be there and don’t want to learn whereas in Gambia gaining an education is seen as the way to improve your life and life expectancy. So the children are keen and eager to do well. A lot of the children we spoke to said that they wanted to be teachers when they were older so that they could help the younger generations.
Sue : A lot of the children we spoke to
said that they wanted to be teachers when they were older so that they could help the younger generations. One of the things that is very noticeable is that the younger people respect their elders, even if it’s their siblings! The people out there just love you so much – they’re so generous that they will give you
their last bit of food and go without. I sponsor a teacher with rice for his family – he sent me a gift of cashew nuts when we were back in the UK just because he wanted to show how much they value our love and support.
How did the trip affect or help your faith in God? Jess : Their faith is such an integral part
of them and they have more enriched lives because of it. This helped me to see that if I’m closer to God I can go out and do more.
Elizabeth : Going to the Gambia has been
one of the contributing factors to me waking up as a Christian! I was brought up in church and know a lot of teaching but to me it was just something you did on a Sunday. God really spoke to me during a church service from a passage in the bible that talks about being saved as though through fire – everything just clicked that this is real and serious! The absolute trust and gratitude to God of the people in Gambia touched my heart – so it’s onwards and upwards from there, trusting and believing in God with my life. I want my Christian faith to be the foundation upon which my life is built rather than an accessory.
Briony : I liked the fact that the people are
so God orientated in Gambia compared to how closed off people can seem to be in the UK. Here not many talk about their faith but in the Gambia they are very open.
How has the trip changed you as a person? Jess : When I came back from Gambia
after the 1st visit I knew that I wanted to work with people as a profession. So as part of my Duke of Edinburgh scheme I volunteered at a homeless project. Working in Gambia helped me cope with difficult challenges that I hadn’t experienced at home so I was better equipped to deal with things that I might have otherwise found more uncomfortable at the project. Going to Gambia a 2nd time has helped convince me that my perspective has changed towards humanity and that I would like to work with people to help make their lives better.
Elizabeth : I was very much struck by the fact that we were surrounded by people who, to all external appearances,
were worse off than us yet I felt a much greater need in me and my friends. The people in the village were much more open in their love and trust in God than we are and they had a great community spirit. Therefore I’m more aware that I need to look out for people who are in need even if it’s not outwardly obvious back home. Since I’ve been come back from Africa people say I’m a changed person.
Briony : I think I’ve become more interested in other people’s lives and want to help more!
Sue : I’ve had to rely immensely on God to
organise the trips. I’ve had to learn to pray and trust that we’re doing the right thing and that everything will all work out OK – particularly with things like Ebola potentially threatening to cancel the trip at the last minute! We’ve loved being part of the community in Gambia and we are in touch often via the internet and facebook – it’s like we have a whole new family over there!
l l a H k Oa - Top ski resorts. - Always excellent value. value - Relaxed & friendly style. - Brilliant sports instructors. - Enthusiastic Enthus ast c Chr Christian st an team. - Inspiring evening Bible talks. - Every week: December to April.
winter is coming! Choice of
Switzerland, Austria, Germany orr Italy
www.OakHall.co.uk • ofﬁce@OakHall.co.uk • 01732 763131