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FAITH... Real Life Stories Interviews Films And more.....
(In alphabetical order) Universal Studios Warner Bros Pictures
Editorial Team: Peter Bell Sara Bell
Design: JAM Magazine Contributors: (In alphabetical order) Michael Ayo AKA Faithchild Peter Bell Sara Bell Gemma Bridge Lauren Dawson Tom Elliott Chris Johnson & the group from Knutsford Darren Moore Sam Pedlar Michael Shorey
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Films Interviews tories Real Life S And more..... 1 issue 42.indd
Answers for page 4&5 1: Poodle, 2: Cockerpoo, 3: Rottweiler, 4: Shih Tzu, 5: Miniature Pinscher, 6: Schnauser, 7: Working Cocker Spaniel, 8: German Shepherd, 9: Border Terrier cross with Patterdale, 10: Patterdale Terrier, 11: Beagle, 12: Pug, 13: Miniature Yorkshire Terrier, 14: Golden Retriever, 15: Chocolate Labrador, 16: King Charles Spaniel, 17: Jack Russell, 18: Springer Spaniel, 19: Chow chow, 20: Labradoodle, 21: West Highland White, 22: Cocker Spaniel, 23: Bichon Fris, 24: Collie, 25: Dachshund
4. FAITHful Friend
Name the different breeds!
14. Despicable Me 3 A look at the latest film!
6. FAITH Child
Michael talks about life & FAITH
16. Leap of FAITH Are you daring enough?
22. FAITH Matters
24. FAITH Journey
32. The Zoo Keeper’s Wife
34. FAITH & Football
Does FAITH affect your actions?
Quotes on FAITH
Interview with Darren Moore
42. What is FAITH? Can it be really be true?
10. FAITH changes things!
13. FAITH Issues
Lauren in Malawi with Tearfund
17. The Christian FAITH
18. Walk by FAITH
What do you think?
Interview with British Champion
26. King Arthur
28. FAITHFUL God
A look at the film and being UNFAITHFUL
38. FAITH in Action
FAITH should lead to action!
43. Put your FAITH in... Who do you Trust?
39. Sam’s FAITH Sam’s story...
It is great to have friends who can be relied on no matter what. They know the best and the worst about us but they are still our friends. Dogs are said to be some of the best friends because they are always pleased to see us, their love is unconditional, they seem to be able to sense how we are feeling and can have the ability to lift even the lowest mood. Now we canâ€™t all have a dog but we can all have a relationship with God and you might be surprised that there are some similarities. God is always pleased to see us/ talk to us, he is a good listener, he knows how we are feeling and just being in his presence can lift our mood. I asked some of my friends to send us some photos of their faithful friends and here they all are... But can you name the different breeds....?
Answers on page 2
Thanks to all my friends who have sent me photos of their friends!
Psalm 18:6 In my trouble I called to the Lord; I called to my God for help. In his temple he heard my voice; he listened to my cry for help.
Michael Ayo aka Faith Child has been part of the music scene for quite a while now. In fact we did an interview with him over 6 years ago so we thought we’d catch up and see what he has been up to... Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am the baby of 5 children! I’m not spoiled but I’m adequately catered for, living at home with my mum and step dad in Croydon, South London. My parents originate from Nigeria and we are quite a musical family. Mum travels a lot and so do I so we often bump into each other at airports.
Why are you called Faith Child?
I’ll try and give you the short version! When my mum was pregnant with me she went to the hospital to abort me because she didn’t think she could cope with another child. But God spoke to her and said, ‘Don’t abort the baby!’ She argued that she was a single mum with four kids, living in poverty and dealing with domestic violence. How could she possibly go through with the pregnancy? But God said, ‘Trust me and have faith that everything will turn out all right!’ So I was born. Funnily enough I chose the name before I knew my birth story, it was as if God had written it in his plan. I’m always telling people, ‘You might be a mistake humanly speaking but God doesn’t make mistakes, he has a plan for your life.’ You can live your life with purpose and that is what I try to do.
What is the message behind your music?
My message is always about love, hope and purpose. As a musician I can write about anything but as a Christian my music will always have faith undertones. So when I write about love in songs like ‘Future’ and ‘Picture Perfect’ I talk about love in a nice way that is respectful about men and women rather than derogatory or sexist. I want to show people there is a different way of looking at things.
Do you write all your own stuff? Yes, I write all my own music. If I do collaborations people either write their own stuff or I do it for them. I am trying to be more transparent with my music now and share as much of my life as possible. I want people to know who I am and what I am about.
Why was your last album called Airborne?
There are two meanings. Firstly most of the songs were birthed whilst I was on my travels so literally I was airborne! And secondly the other meaning is about seeing your dreams and hopes take off and become reality. There are songs like ‘Take Off’, ‘The Zone’ and ‘Future’ which are about having life in perspective and then there is ‘Ricochet’ which is about bouncing back when things don’t go as planned. We all have areas of life that need a little motivation and encouragement so that it the basis of the songs.
Do you have a favourite song to perform?
That’s a tricky question! I enjoy performing lots of different songs in different settings! At a festival I like performing ‘The Zone’ whereas at a gig I love performing ‘Tunnel Vision’ and ‘Over Me’. If I had to choose just one it would be ‘Over Me’ as everyone loves it and it has a catchy sing-a-long chorus!
What is ‘Over Me’ about?
It is about God watching over and protecting us. It stems from an accident in my childhood. When I was about 7 I was knocked down outside my house. As I hit the pavement I felt a cushion beneath me. The paramedics came and the road was cordoned off whilst they attended to me. They asked where the pain was and I said, ‘My thumb!’ They were very surprised as I had landed on my neck but I told them that God had protected me because I felt as if I’d landed on a cushion. They took me for xrays and I had to wear one of those horrible hospital gowns which gape open at the back! The xrays were clear and I was allowed to go home. For me that was God protecting me. Some people might quarrel that if God was watching over me I shouldn’t have been involved in an accident but my response is that God was definitely watching over me because I’m alive and kicking still! Things could have been so different if I had taken the impact of that landing.
Are you working on any new songs or are you too busy touring?
I’d say a bit of both. I am four songs in to my next album! I have already recorded 2 that I am pretty happy with. I am hoping to release 2 singles this year with videos to accompany them and then the full album in 2018. I have built up relationships with different acts and genres, in different countries even, which I hope to use on this album. It is good to experience different aspects of life and be able to use that as inspiration to create better music. But I am also very busy travelling to places like Ukraine, Switzerland, Ireland, Slovakia and Malawi with Tearfund.
How does your faith affect your life?
My faith is a lifestyle rather than a religion so it affects every aspect of my life and the choices I make. I try to apply the teachings of the bible to my everyday life. So for example I aim to have integrity in everything I do, not just when people are watching. I also follow the Bibles teaching on abstinence so I am still a virgin at 27 because I want to keep myself for my partner. So my faith is very important to me and how I live my life.
Have there been times when you have felt your faith has been tested?
100%! Last year I did the ‘Airborne’ tour and tickets weren’t selling as fast as I would have liked. I had a lot of setbacks so my faith was tested in that respect. But God got me through it and even though it didn’t go exactly as I had planned it was still great. Sometimes you have to look for the positives rather than dwell on the obvious negatives. My faith helps me see the glass as ‘half
full rather than half empty!’
Do you have a particular verse that helps you when times are tough?
I sure do – I love Romans 8 v 28 and v 18 v 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and who are called for his purpose. V 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to glory that will be revealed in us. Both of these help me keep things in perspective and focus on God not just my circumstances.
Has your faith taken you to some interesting places?
It certainly has in terms of geographical places as well as doors opening to people I would never have dreamt of meeting. Last year I was able to perform in 12 countries, across 4 continents. They were all great but I have 2 favourites. One was whilst I was on tour with Nick Vujicic and we met the Slovenian President. The other was being invited to perform at the official carol service for Sadiq Khan, mayor of London. It is amazing that my talent has allowed me to go through the corridors of power and meet some amazing people including having dinner at the House of Lords.
Can you tell us about any times when you have really felt God’s faithfulness?
Last year towards the end of March and into April I went through a really down period. I was praying a lot about something I was hoping for. People kept sending encouragements to me or
verses would just pop up from the Bible and verses would just pop up from the Bible and this helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. As a creative your project is like your baby, when things are going well it is great but when things aren’t it is not so good! But from that time I have been given the most amazing opportunities and bookings. It is good to know God has a plan even when we are struggling to see it.
You mentioned working alongside Tearfund...?
charity and use my music platform to promote awareness of their work and hopefully stir people up to be involved with social justice issues. It was also great to be able to shoot a music video out there to go with ‘Our Father.’ So do check them out and see what they are doing and how you can get involved! www.tearfund.org You can check out Faith Child @ www.faithchildmusic.com
Yes, I headed out to Malawi to see the work they are doing there. It is great to be aligned with the
FAITH Changes things!
In his interview, pages 6-9, FaithChild mentions going out to Malawi with Tearfund. We thought it would be good to ask a friend of ours, Lauren, who happens to work for Tearfund and also has just got back from visiting Malawi, to tell us a bit more about the work they are doing out there.... Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am originally from Nottingham and studied at Leeds Uni. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but loved art so did an Art and Design course. I really enjoyed it but was often wondering if I should be doing something more with my life... I have been always been passionate about the poor and charity work so I was interested in doing something along those lines. When I finished my degree I moved to Manchester to work with The Message Trust before working for a local charity called the Boaz Trust who work with asylum seekers and refugees. I now work for Tearfund which is great as I can work from home and travel to London every few weeks for a couple of days. I met my husband, Pete, while I was at uni and we got married four years ago. We joined Ivy Church in Manchester and last year started a church plant in Partington called Ivy Fuse. Earlier in the year we had taken 4 months to go travelling around
South East Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand looking at different churches and charities whilst exploring and seeking what God wanted us to do.
When and why did you become a Christian?
I grew up in a Christian family so have always been to church and been involved with Christian stuff. I clearly remember praying to God when I was 8 about my times tables because I just couldnâ€™t remember them and the next day I could! I went along to a festival called New Wine each year and when I was 13 Jackie Pullinger, who does some amazing work with drug addicts in Hong Kong, came to speak. It was very challenging and inspiring and I gave my life to Jesus at that point. Since then I have always been passionate about following God and it is great that my work and faith link up together.
Why were you in Malawi?
I went with Tearfund to see the work the charity is doing out there. We work with partner organisations in 50 of the world’s poorest countries which includes Malawi. The first half of the week we were in the south of the country seeing the work with some extremely poor villages where we are helping to provide clean water and sanitation. Because many of the villages don’t have any local water unless you walk for 3 or 4 hours a day, our partners were drilling bore holes. Clean water is important but so is sanitation as without it disease is very easily spread. Tearfund works with local people and partners. Rather than just going in and imposing our own ideas we want to help them to help themselves. So in the second half of the week we visited some ‘Self Help Groups’ which Tearfund has helped to set up. There are similar groups all over Africa and Asia, 18,000 in Ethiopia alone! These are groups of 12 people, often women, who support each other as a community. They read the bible together as well as sharing resources and offering loans. Every member saves a little each week and then money is used to help one of them. For example they might get a loan to buy a chicken which then enables them to sell eggs and pay back the loan so someone else can benefit.
Do they have to be Christians to be in a group?
No, they don’t have to be but they do read the bible, pray and worship together as well as trying to follow biblical principles.
What was the best part of the trip?
It was meeting a lady who is 26 like me yet our lives are just so different. We take so many things like housing, clothes and food for granted but she was very, very poor. Her life consisted of living in a mud hut, taking care of four children and trying to make a living from growing maize. Previously she only managed to produce 9 bags of maize whereas to live adequately you need 30 bags! But then she joined a Self Help Group and learnt about different farming methods, farming God’s way! She knew the traditional methods but unfortunately climate change means these don’t work very well any more. She was taught about using fertiliser and how to make it and the following year her yield was 35 bags! She managed to sell the extra 5 and buy a pig, which had piglets that were sold and she bought some land. She has since built some houses and is now renting them to improve her income. Her story is just one of many where being part of a Self Help Group has transformed lives.
Did you experience some faith changing moments?
It is always amazing to see God’s goodness and people who have so little thanking him for what they do have. Tearfund is all about empowering local people and communities and it was incredible to witness it for myself. It really makes you consider your own relationship with God.
Do you have a verse from the Bible which helps you when things are tough? I love Joshua 1 v 9, ‘Have I not commanded you - be strong and very courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord is with you wherever you go.’ It is a really encouraging verse and it is good to be reminded that God is always with us so we don’t need to be afraid!
Have you experienced Gods faithfulness in your own life?
SO many times! Whilst Pete and I were travelling I’d been praying about what to do next and the day after we arrived back in the UK I was sent a link for a job with Tearfund - just incredible. I’d felt God was calling me to work with the ‘poorest of the poor’ so it couldn’t have been a better job for me! Even more exciting is the fact that 6 months previously someone had asked who I would love to work for and I’d said, ‘Tearfund!’ So I definitely saw God’s faithfulness and plan for my life in that situation. Also when I was unsure about what I should be doing during my uni years I had numerous occasions when God showed me I was in the right place.
What, if anything, can readers do to help? Tearfund will be at lots of different festivals over the summer so come and chat or you can contact them via www. tearfund.org The newest campaign is all about Malawi so check it out and get involved!
Faith Issues Whether you have faith in God or not there are certain issues that should be paramount for all of us. There should not be any ambiguity as to whether being kind and considerate is required, nor should there be any question about being helpful and having self control. According to the Bible these are issues of faith but surely they are also basic requirements for any individual, whether they have faith or not....
Micah 6 v 8 He has told you what is good. What does the Lord require of you except to be just, to love, to diligently practice kindness and to walk humbly with your God, setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness.
Can you find the actions that should be important to a Christian below...? Sheet1
b f g s l g n i k r o w l h y
e o n s g o p m i g c s o s t
n r i e n g r a p v s s v h i
c g d n i h e t t e p b e a n
BIBLE READING CARING COMMUNITY ENCOURAGING FAITHFULNESS FORGIVING GENTLENESS GOODNESS
o i a d r e e n n i r w v r u
u v e o a k c l t o e x c i m
r i r o c y u a p l c n r n m
a n e g e f l g e i e f v g o
g g i s h i w t n p n n l e c
HELPING HOSPITALITY JOY KINDNESS LOVE OBEDIENCE PATIENCE PEACE
i f b t t w h w b i j g e e j
n w i y p r a y e r v o l s s
g a b k i n d n e s s r y o s
f y a w a g n i n r u t e o n
o b e d i e n c e o i a r s o
PRAYER RESTORING SELF CONTROL SERVING SHARING TRUTH TURNING AWAY WORKING
g n i r o t s e r h t u r t h
The third movie in the Despicable Me franchise looks like it will be just as funny and entertaining as the first two. In this film Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980’s, hatches a scheme for world domination whilst Gru is sacked from his job and is in for another shock when he meets his twin brother Dru!
Dru asks Gru a question : ‘Villiany is in your blood – Are you ready to continue the family tradition?’ And Gru’s answer is: ‘No, I Ieft that life behind me!’ But you will have to see whether Gru can resist just one more heist! It can be the same with in our lives – we decide to do or maybe not do something and then our determination is questioned by the temptation to give in.... We have all sorts of reasons as to why we give in and some will be valid ones but sometimes they are just excuses! The Bible puts it like this: ‘I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.’ Romans 7 v 15 So next time you are tempted to do something you know isn’t right have the faith in yourself to say, ‘No’ and don’t give in. You could also ask God to help you resist the temptation!
Photo credits: Universal Studios
Leap of Faith
By Tom Elliott
Christian Communicator, Comedian & Magician Website: www.tom-elliott.org
I remember taking a bunch of young people on a high ropes course. After a series of fairly simple and not very scary activities we were introduced to the
‘Leap of Faith’.
We were instructed to climb up the tree on which a small plank was attached, three quarters of the way up. It barely had enough space for my feet to stand on securely. From that small, shakey plank, the task was to jump off and catch a swinging bar about two meters away from the tree - SIMPLE. When the instructor had finished giving his instructions, whilst also telling us a few horrific stories of past accidents and so called ‘safety announcements’, it was time to decide who went first. At this moment the young people shouted my name in unison. I had no opt-out, my only option was to get on with it. I was confident until the moment I stood on the plank. At that point the harness attached to me didn’t seem quite enough for me to let go of the tree. Often when we take a ‘leap of faith’ in life the promise that God is with us doesn’t quite seem enough.
I have read the words of Jesus in the Bible that assure me not to worry because the God who provides for flowers and the birds, cares far more about me and will do the same. Yet this doesn’t always sink in. It doesn’t always seem enough. I’m about to take the biggest step of faith of my life so far. In September this year I’ll be going full time as a Christian Communicator, Comedian & Magician. In October this year my wife and I will see the arrival of our second child. With any human logic those two events probably shouldn’t happen so close. I don’t know what’s ahead. I live in hope that the invites will come in, the finances will be sorted and my family will be provided for. But there is one thing that I’m clinging onto and trying my best to believe with all my heart. God has spoken to me over and over again in recent weeks, through his word, that he is faithful, that I can have peace and that he will look after me.
A leap of faith can be a leap of confidence when we choose to follow God’s plan and trust him in the midst of risk.
THE CHRISTIAN FAITH... Many would say that following the ten commandments or going to church is important, and they are, but they do not make you a Christian. When I was younger I heard someone say, ‘Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds would make you a burger!’
Yet many people miss the point of being a Christian because they think it is just about being nice and not hurting anyone. They think that if they are more good than bad they will be OK, after all if there is a God he is loving and kind.
Trouble is that the Bible tells it slightly differently. It talks about being sorry for the things we do wrong, accepting that Jesus died so we can be forgiven and having a relationship with God that affects our daily lives. It is not about following a list of rules but about knowing the Creator who set out the rules for our benefit so we could live life to the full!
Christians may differ on the sort of service they prefer or the type of worship that suits them but the fundamentals remain the same.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!
What do you think?
Walk by Faith! A relative new-comer to the sport Gemma Bridge is the current British title holder for the indoor 3km women’s race walk. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about her life and how being a Christian affects it. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Originally I am from Oxford where I lived with my mum and sister, Dad lives nearby. I went to university in Birmingham to study human biology. Whilst I was there I mainly focussed on running and participated in many events as part of the athletics team. I moved to America to do a Masters at McNeese State university in Louisiana. It was in exercise physiology and health promotion with a view to doing dietetics. I was on a running scholarship so did a lot of racing, mainly 5 and 10k, all over the States. Half way through I decided to come back for an interview for dietetics but wasn’t successful so went back to the States and kept looking for opportunities. When I finished I came back home and found an internship in medical writing at Porterhouse Medical in Reading. That was when I started to focus on race walking. It was very difficult to train on my own so I continued to look for other options. I spotted a PhD in Leeds and
applied. I didn’t hear back for ages so thought it wasn’t going to happen but then in January they informed me I’d been shortlisted for interview and soon after found out I had been successful. I started in February.
How did you get into running?
At school I wasn’t particularly good at team sports like netball or hockey, I just didn’t have the hand eye coordination to do well in them. So I did other sports like fencing and ice skating out of school. Then at high school quite a few of my friends started running so I gave it a go and turned out to be quite good at it.
Why did you decide to swap to walking?
I had done a little bit of walking at uni but when I came back from the States I fancied a change and as I had had a few injuries from running I thought walking seemed a good option. I still do running but for enjoyment rather than
New Orleans, Houston and Dallas. With walking I’ve been to Bratislava in Slovakia and Lugano in Switzerland.
Do you do different distances?
In running I am used to long distances, having done half marathons, but in America I focussed on 5k, 10k and cross-country. The international distance for race walking is 20k but in lead up events you do shorter distances like 3k, 5k and 10k. My first 20K was in Lugano at the beginning of March. I was scared about stepping up to 20k after only a couple of months of focussed training. However, I enjoyed it and I was really pleased to get the fastest female debut 20k in British history.
What are your plans for the future?
In terms of walking I’m not really sure as I have only just started really and have no idea how successful I will be going forward. So I take each race as it comes. I will be in Leeds doing my PhD for at least another 3 years so will keep training and just see how it goes.
competitively. Walking is quite technical and is governed by rules - one foot must be on the ground at all times and the leg of that foot must be straight. It may make you look a bit weird but you quickly get over that, and once you get going it doesn’t hurt or strain your muscles and joints. You do need to concentrate all the time but I quite enjoy that. I feel more free when running, but at a competitive level you do have to concentrate and plan the race so walking is just a slightly different challenge.
How does it feel to have a British title?
Surprised! I wasn’t really planning on it! The title wasn’t on my radar really but I improved more quickly than expected so I went along and won! I had previously won the English championship so knew I was in with a chance of doing well and also Bethan Davies, who is the best race walker in Britain at the moment, was away in Australia which might have helped. I’m not sure I’d have won if she had been taking part.
Have you been to some exciting places with your running/ walking?
Yes, when I was in the USA I went to Florida, LA,
I would love to be able to have a career and keep up my sport which is why my PhD is so great. The PhD is being funded by OneLife, a healthy lifestyle program based in Suffolk. My PhD is based on evaluating the OneLife services, and also on promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles. It is interesting, links well with sport and is also something that I am really passionate about.
What has been the highlight for you so far?
In sport in general it is the people. I love chatting to others, and meeting new athletes, coaches and support staff. I also really love training and working hard which is good because otherwise it would be a slog. I also love going to new places. Obviously it is great to win but day to day just meeting different people is great.
How much training/effort do you have to put into your walking?
I have 2 sessions a day, sometimes 3. I get to rest on Sunday and before races. I do weights twice a week, circuits once and I run once or twice, with walking the rest of time.
Does being a Christian have similarities to being an athlete? Trying to do your best, helping people and
encouraging others are all part of sport and should be part of being a Christian. Sport is obviously competitive which being a Christian shouldn’t be. But being a Christian can help you with disappointments and staying in control when things don’t go as well as you’d hoped. I think it is important to concentrate on the positives and build on those rather than focus on the negatives.
When and why did you become a Christian?
Mum has always been very active in our local church and has encouraged me and my sister to take part, so I have always been to church. I made a decision to follow Jesus when I was 12. However I made a deeper commitment when I was at uni and that was a real turning point for me. When I first went to uni I drifted away from God a bit because life was just too busy and I forgot that I needed him in my life. Then I found ‘Christians in Sport’ which changed everything. I helped out on their summer camp, and I came back to uni and led the university group. Christians in Sport helped me to realise that this was what I believed in and what I wanted to commit to.
How does your faith affect your life?
It stops me from putting sport as my only priority, and my only identity, because if you do that and get injured you can end up with nothing. Sport is great and it plays a huge role in my life but it isn’t everything. Helping others and doing my best in all aspects of my life hopefully reflects my belief in God and being a Christian.
Do you think you need to put effort into being a Christian?
Personally, no. I think if you have Christian friends and family around you it is easier. I read my bible, usually on my phone and remembering to pray is important. It can be hard to remember to do these things when life is busy but I know I should.
Have there been times when you have felt your faith has been tested?
When you get injured it is easy to feel sorry for yourself and think,`Why me?’, `What have I done?’ At other times when you don’t feel as if you are improving or things aren’t going to plan it is again easy to doubt that God has a plan. But I think these struggles have made me stronger too as I’ve realised that life is more than
sport and that my faith is what is important to me.
Do you have a particular verse that helps you when times are tough?
There are quite a few different ones that I like but I don’t have one that I always turn to. I do however like to look at 1 Corinthians 13 which is the chapter about love and replace the word love with my name! It reminds me how I should be living.... Love is patient, Love is kind, Love keeps no record of wrongs...
Can you tell us about any times when you have really felt God’s faithfulness?
The whole moving up to Leeds thing! When I was in Reading I was feeling quite low; there was nothing to really complain about because I was enjoying my job, was living at home, but I wasn’t training how I wanted which was difficult. The PhD and Leeds was just like everything falling into place, it felt like a miracle how it all happened so easily and quickly! I am thankful every day for being here.
Many people are put off God because of the ‘Christians’ they come into contact with! They see people who behave in a way that they consider to be hypocritical and so they assume that God can’t be worth knowing. The trouble is that the problem is with us rather than God. We often don’t portray God in a very good light because we don’t follow him closely or allow him to affect our lives. We can easily be distracted into being Sunday Christians who want God to save us but don’t want him to affect our behaviour or lifestyle. But our faith should affect how we live every day not just our behaviour in church. Take a look at the questions below and see what sort of person you are! You promised you would help out with the chores at home, do you…… A) Forget and go out with your friends instead? B) Get the jobs done before doing anything else? You have been given too much money from your paper round, do you….. A) Keep quiet and hope no one realises? B) Go straight back in and point out the error? Friends offer you something but you know it’s not good for you, do you…... A) Take it anyway – everyone else does? B) Say, ‘No, Thanks’ even if they think you are weird? Your teacher asks if you have done your homework, do you..…. A) Make up an excuse? B) Hand it in on time? A classmate is upset, do you…… A) Ignore them, it’s not your problem? B) Offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear? Friends are arguing, do you…... A) Add fuel to the fire by egging them on? B) Try to distract them and talk about similarities rather than differences? You’ve been hurt by something someone said, do you…... A) Go over and over it in your mind and think of ways of retaliating? B) Forgive and forget, life is too short?
Your friend has had a party and the house is a bit of a mess, do you…… A) Leave them to tidy up by themselves? B) Help tidy things up and get the place back to normal? You could get out of trouble by lying, do you…… A) Tell a fib – it’s not that serious? B) Tell the truth even if it means getting in trouble? A friend can’t afford to go to the cinema, do you…… A) Go without them – it’s not your problem? B) Watch a DVD together instead? You have been set some homework, do you…… A) Leave it till the last minute then rush it? B) Do the best you can? You are feeling down and a friend asks what’s wrong, do you…… A) Say, ‘Nothing, I’m fine’? B) Talk it through with them? Your parents are worried about finances, do you…… A) Still expect to get everything you want? B) Try to help out and not be too demanding? A ‘friend’ of the opposite sex invites you round when there will be no adults present, do you… A) Go, you wont get carried away? B) Not go, it’s better not to put yourself in a compromising position?
Did you get a mixture of answers or did one stand out? Take a look below…… If you answered mostly A – It is difficult to see if you have a faith as it doesn’t seem to
have any impact on your daily life. You act exactly the same way as many others and it is hard to see any difference – if you are a Christian then maybe it is time to think about how your faith should be affecting your lifestyle choices...? And even if you aren’t maybe you could try and see things from other peoples point of view occasionally...?
If you answered mostly B – You are certainly not afraid to behave differently even if it means standing out from the crowd. It can be tough but being different is important. Don’t be tempted to just follow the crowd – stick to your principles and don’t be put off by the opinion of others. If you are a Christian your faith seems to be having a positive effect on your lifestyle and if you aren’t you are obviously a very caring person. ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?’ And Jesus will reply, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.’ Luke 25 v 37-40
The Christian faith is just that – faith! We may not have all the answers or understand everything but we believe that there is a God that does and that he is interested in us! Being a Christian is a journey rather than a one off event. It involves living the way Jesus would have us live and this inevitably takes time, effort and patience. We shoud be a work in progress rather than a finished item. We will still make mistakes but hopefully we are still moving forward rather than standing still! Here are some quotes on Faith – what do you think... Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr. Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Bruce Lee In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’ Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’ What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away. Iyanla Vanzant Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Mother Teresa Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Saint Augustine To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax and float. Alan Watts We can’t solve modern problems by going back in time. Retreating to the safety of the familiar is an understandable response, but God has called us to a life of faith. And faith requires us to face the unknown while trusting Him completely. Charles R. Swindoll Faith is about trusting God when you have unanswered questions. Joel Osteen
Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Thomas S. Monson For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them. John Ortberg Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. Blaise Pascal Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible. Mary McLeod Bethune When you think about your relationship with Christ, it really just affects every aspect of your life. I think a lot of people try to segment off, like, ‘This is church, so this is God, this is my daily life, this is my job,’ but I think true faith is when it manifests itself in every single aspect of your life. Jeremy Lin I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind. Saint Bernard
Hebrews 11 v 6 No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. Henry Ward Beecher You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Rick Warren Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active. Edith Hamilton It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence - an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered - ‘In the beginning, God.’ Arthur H. Compton Basically, there are two paths you can walk: faith or fear. It’s impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God. Charles Stanley I gave in, and admitted that God was God. C. S. Lewis
King Arthur Legend of the Sword
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All Photo credits: Warner Bros Pictures
UNFAITHFUL Photo credit: Daniel Smith
In the film ‘King Arthur - Legend of the Sword’, Jude Law plays the unfaithful uncle Vortigern who murdered Arthur’s parents to steal the crown. Someone who should have been trusted and faithful put his own greed and needs before anything else. Meanwhile growing up in the streets of London Arthur has no idea who he really is but the tables are turned when he pulls the sword from the stone!
Unfaithful is a term that might be used to describe a previous partner, friend or family member who has in some way been unfaithful and we have the choice to forgive and forget or say goodbye. Human relationships break down because one party or another is unfaithful but thankfully God is never unfaithful. He never goes back on a promise or lets us down, he never cheats on us or lies to us. He is always there for us even when we are unfaithful to him and we lie, cheat or let him down. Lamentations 3 v 23 Because His compassion never fails. It is new every morning; Great and beyond measure is your faithfulness.
Michael wasn’t brought up in a stable home and life certainly wasn’t easy. Life didn’t suddenly become rosy when he became a Christian in his teens but God has been faithful and walked with him through the tough times! We asked Michael to tell us a bit about his faith journey.... Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do now? I am a youth pastor in Dartford where I have been for the last six months. Before that I was an outdoors instructor so I used to coach people in sailing, skiing, climbing and other sports. I have been incredibly blessed to have travelled a fair amount of the world whilst working in the outdoor industry. I’ve been back in the UK for a year but before that I was in Australia for just under 2 years, as well as working in Turkey, Switzerland and Austria. I’ve also spent a lot of time on mission in Ukraine. Whilst in Oz I worked on a cruise ship so got to see lots of the pacific islands that not too many people get to visit which was amazing. We were building the largest floating activity centre onto the ship which included high ropes, climbing, abseiling and zip wires to name a few. After this I spent around 4 months just living in Brisbane before taking a job at a Christian school working at their outdoor centre. This involved living in the outback with mostly kangaroos for company and running month long programs for the grade nines. I love meeting new people and experiencing new culture whilst travelling to different places.
What was your childhood like? I grew up near Bournemouth and up till I was 8 I think it was a pretty good childhood. Mum was always around and we had connections with family. My dad left my mum, me, my older brother and sister when I was a few months old and my parents got divorced. Just a few months later my stepdad moved in, it was all a very quick
change around. My stepdad was in prison for armed robbery so from the age of 4 to 8 I didn’t really know him apart from visiting him in prison and I remember thinking it wasn’t a nice place to be. Cold waiting rooms, uncomfortable seats and guards that never seemed to smile. When he was released things deteriorated in our family massively.
How do you mean? Well, I’m not sure if they got worse or whether I was just much more aware of the drugs and alcohol. I felt like I had lost my mum and my extended family because they didn’t agree with my parents’ choices. I moved out when I was 16 but in the years before that I don’t really remember any enjoyment or happy times as a family. My stepdad was aggressive and was often high or drunk and mum became someone who I didn’t recognise. I felt unloved and rejected. They were more interested in the stream of people who would visit our house at all hours including armed police on what seemed a weekly basis. It was a very unsettling place to be and home just didn’t feel like the safe place it should have been. My older siblings moved out when I was in my early teens which left me, my two younger siblings and my parents but I always felt alone and isolated, especially by my stepdad. I felt he treated me differently because I wasn’t his. So by the time I was 14 or 15 I didn’t want to live any more. I felt unloved, rejected and that dying would be the best way out so this led to me trying to commit suicide several times.
Obviously you didn’t succeed! No, by God’s grace my attempts didn’t work. It would normally involve stepping out in front of a car! My stepdad would turn up and take me home saying you’ll be fine. He never took me to hospital or followed it up in any way, I’m not sure if that was because he just didn’t care but my calls for help went unanswered. I don’t think they realised I was doing it on purpose even though not many 15 year old boys get knocked down 3 or 4 times in a year! I moved out when I was 16 with no GCSE’s or a real sense of belonging in this world. For me school had been a place where I got into trouble and was often excluded because I had been brought up to think that fighting was the answer to everything! If you had an issue with someone you showed your dominance by beating them up and after a while this escalated to include hitting teachers.
So when did you become a Christian and why? Growing up I didn’t enjoy being at home so I spent a lot of time at the local park doing stupid things and getting caught up with the wrong crowds. I met a guy called Zeak who was employed by a local church and who ran a youth group. So I went along for a while. They started something called ‘disciple’ for boys which was before the normal youth group began and was run by Zeak and Jonna. I went along because it meant you didn’t have to queue to get in. It was great and over time I began to feel challenged and I started to question my ideas and thoughts about Christianity and God. I was then invited to the church and I can still remember the first time I went along. People actually spoke to me and made me feel so welcome! This was so unusual for me as people generally knew my background and were inclined to avoid me and certainly not want to hang around with me. I felt love for the first time which I found extraordinary as I thought you had to earn love. This love got me believing and thinking about God more seriously. Then one night I asked God into my life!
So was everything fine from then on? No! I later learnt that God doesn’t promise it will be easy, he promises to be with us. But the guy I prayed with was well meaning, if a little naive, and told me everything would now be different and life would be OK. So I wasn’t impressed when I got home to be hit and grounded for being late. I thought what sort of God is this and told him I’d changed my mind about following him!
What happened then? I carried on going to church because I felt loved there, so I sang the songs and listened without taking anything in. It was just a place where I felt welcomed and loved. However over time things did start to go in and I began to realise that being a Christian didn’t guarantee an easy life; it was OK to have difficulties and doubts. Faith is a journey and even today there are things that are difficult but when I was 16 I decided that I wanted to re-give my life to God and follow him.
Have there been times when you have felt your faith has been tested?
Can you tell us a bit more about God’s perfect timing?
When I was living in Oz I got engaged but about a month before the wedding she rang me up and called it all off. I was living in the outback, having taken the job because it paid well and would help with wedding expenses. She broke it off with no real explanation so you can imagine that was really difficult especially as I was miles from anyone. It was definitely a time of faith testing! It led me into a deeper relationship with God because he was the only one I could turn to. One amazing friend did drive 6 hours one evening to spend some time with me but had to drive back the next day. It was really hard to stick with my faith especially as I thought Clare was the girl I was going to marry and the reason I’d been in Australia. I was shattered and so angry with God; why had he allowed this to happen? I was in complete despair, it felt like my life was falling apart around me and there was nothing I could do about it. It broke me.
I had a weekend off so I drove 4 hours away and stayed in a hotel. I remember wrestling with the thoughts that God had called me to Australia but maybe I’d got it all wrong. Anyway on the Sunday I was planning on going to church but as I was getting ready I felt God tell me to have breakfast and go to the second service rather than the earlier one. It seemed a bit odd but food is always welcome so I went to the local cafe before going to the church. When the pastor got up to speak she explained that normally the sermon would be exactly the same at both services but today she felt she needed to speak about something else at this second service so could we please bear with her. She then proceeded to tell the story of why she had moved to the area – she had been engaged. Nothing unusual with that but soon after she arrived her fiancé broke off the engagement leaving her shell shocked and devastated. She felt God had called her there but now all she wanted to do was run away and go back home. Then she felt God saying, ‘I have called you for a reason but sometimes that isn’t what you think it is! You need to stay because even though the circumstances have changed the calling hasn’t - so have faith and stay.’ It was just an incredible moment for me to have God speak so directly to me through someone who didn’t know me or my situation. So I really felt God’s faithfulness and perfect timing at a time when my life was in such a mess. It gave me peace to know that God knew all about it and that I could trust him. I guess being in the outback was a good thing because there wasn’t much to fill my time with apart from God.
But you still feel God is faithful? Yes, definitely. For a while I felt in utter despair, I was crying out to God for someone to talk to, which was when my friend called and then 6 hours later was on my doorstep. I remember so clearly standing looking up at the stars and feeling God say to me, ‘I breathed all these into existence and I love you so much more than any of this. I am here for you and you will get through this. Just stay close to me.’ Then whenever I felt low or in a bad place a friend would phone or text completely out of the blue. God’s timing was just incredible.
So did your relationship with God change? Yes, my relationship with God grew massively. He really challenged me to get to know him better. I knew about him but I didn’t really know him and what he wanted me to do. I had listened to a guy called Judah Smith a few years back and he said something that never really made sense until then. He said, “To understand what Jesus did you have to understand who he is. If you want to do what Jesus did you’ve got to understand who he was and then you can do what he did.” So many of us try and do what he did without understanding who he was and as long as we continue to live like that we will miss his heart. We might read our bible but only quickly and skipping over the difficult bits; we might pray but never give God a chance to respond! But if you think about it you wouldn’t think much of friend who only ever spoke and never listened to what you had to say.... So hard times can be painful but they can also be a time of deepening our friendship with God and relying on him in the deepest pits. God’s faithfulness has certainly carried me through.
Do you have a particular verse that helps you when times are tough? Ephesians 3 v 20 – 21 – Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do super abundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen. That verse has encouraged me and I always look back to it. God is so much bigger and can do so much more
than we can even imagine. Someone texted me that verse when I was going through difficulties and it has stuck with me.
Does faith get easier? Yes and No! You learn to trust God more but that doesn’t mean life is easier, you just deal with it differently. For example I moved out of my parents 10 years ago now and I am still learning to deal with the broken relationship with them. I tried to honour them and do as much as I could to keep the relationship going but it has to be a two way connection and all I got was rejection and lies. I felt worthless and found it was more damaging to try and stay in relationship with them. I wouldn’t advice anyone just to ditch their families because I know God can do incredible things but the pain and rejection were making me sick so I had to do something about it. I spoke to mum and dad separately about wanting a relationship and being willing to do anything to accomplish that but they didn’t respond well. Dad told me that I was a mistake and that he had never loved me; Mum said she would change but hasn’t contacted me since. This again was an incredibly challenging time but God is faithful and has blessed me with amazing surrogate parents and grandparents who I can turn to and often spend time with. Sometimes you just have to leave things to God. He is so good, his love for us is so much more then I could ever imagine. Most of the time God is the most important person in my life. But we are all going to go through hard times that challenge this. As long as we keep our eyes on Him, He will always be our rock that grounds us in his love. My God is my Hero!
Faith and Works The Zoo Keeper’s Wife
The film is an adaptation of the book written by Diane Ackerman which was based on the diaries of Antonina Zabinska. It is a remarkable real-life story of bravery and determination at a time when even offering a glass of water to a Jew was punishable by death. Jan and Antonina Zabinski were the directors of a much loved zoo in Warsaw in the 1930’s. Their idyllic lifestyle came to an abrupt end when the Germans invaded Poland and World War II began. The majority of the animals and buildings were destroyed by the bombing of the city but some survived and the zoo became a pig farm. German soldiers were regular visitors to the villa and its grounds but the Zabinskis, with the help of the underground resistance movement, managed to hide over 300 Jewish guests as they escaped the ghetto and the concentration camps.
James 2 v 17 Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
Photo Credits Universal Studios & Focus Features
They were willing to put their lives on the line for people they didn’t know or have any connection with apart from shared humanity.
How much are we willing to do to help those in need? Or is it all too much bother or inconvenience? Doing good deeds for other people and not being too selfish wonâ€™t get us into Heaven, we need to have faith in Jesus. But that faith should affect the way we treat others!
Darren Moore FAITH and Football
We spoke to Darren over 6 years ago when he was still playing professional football. Nowadays he is involved with coaching and developing young players for Premier League team West Brom. So we caught up with him to see how he is doing with life, faith and football... Last time we spoke you were still playing football – What have you been up to since then?
Life has been incredible. At that time I was playing for Burton Albion and starting to wind down my playing career. But even before that I had plans in place to carry on in football in a coaching capacity. As early as 1999 I had started looking at coaching and developing that side of my career. So behind the scenes I was getting my coaching qualifications and now I have a lot of experience and the qualifications to back it up. I am coaching the under 23’s at West Brom and working with the first team as well. I’m really pleased to have 4 players that train with the first team every day and have already debuted for them. It’s great to be part of the production team getting players through the ranks and onto the pitch. I also get to work with Tony Pulis again who was my manager at Portsmouth!
So was that part of your plan?
When I was finishing at Burton I intended to play for another year and had offers from three conference teams: Mansfield Town, Telford and Tamworth. I was in the middle of a Physical Education course at uni and playing at conference level would have allowed me to finish my degree at the same time. So that looked like a good option because I could then have gone on to be a PE teacher and been part of developing kids at an early stage. But if I’m honest that was really plan B, my back up! As it happened, in 2012 I was offered a place back at West Brom as an under 18 coach and I took it. To be able to go back to a premier league team where I’d enjoyed great success as a player was fantastic even though I didn’t get to finish my degree as the hours just didn’t fit. Then a year later I moved to Blackburn Rovers as the first team coach. Photo credits: Laurie Rampling
How did that work out?
disciplined and eager than some of the youngsters now. I had moved away from home It didnâ€™t really! Less than a week into the job I and had to learn and mature quickly as I played realised Iâ€™d made a mistake so after 3 months for the first team from the age of 17. I think I joined the PFA and went on to gain my level 2 technology and the kudos that now goes with coaching license before heading back to West football has changed players perceptions. The Brom in a better role as the under 23 coach. whole industry is different. The players often come now expecting to play one role and stay in What was it like after you played your that position rather than seeing the game as a last game? whole, so it is a challenge to change their I knew that I wanted to stay in the industry so I outlook. For me it was all about being able to was planning and preparing in advance. Moving play the game I love but for some now it is more into coaching has been a great move and I am about what they can get from the industry and very grateful that here at West Brom I have the they are not so keen on discipline and self opportunity to help develop the next generation management... of players. Having been there I understand what players are feeling but I also understand it from a training perspective too.
Does it take you back to your early days at Torquay?
Yes and no. It is a very different industry to when I first started out. When I first started coaching I thought the kids would be like I was when I first arrived as an inexperienced 16 year old but in some ways they arenâ€™t as grown up as I was. As far as I can remember I was more
What advice would you give yourself if you could rewind to when you first started at Torquay?
To be honest there is not much I would change as a player. I am very fortunate to have played in all the divisions. I didn’t have the best skills but I had a big heart and determination to use my skills to the best of my ability on the pitch. I was big, stubborn, aggressive but fair and fitness was key. I could move around the pitch easily and I was powerful too which I used to my advantage. I was a team player and passed the ball which is why I had the career I did. I still get a warm reception from all the clubs I played for. I got to be promoted five times and played at an international level for Jamaica too.
It was as a footballer that you came to faith in Jesus...?
Yes, that was again back in 1999 when I was at Bradford. I shared car journeys to training with my friend Wayne Jacobs and we had plenty of time to discuss life and faith! We would listen to Christian radio and discuss the bible on our way to and from training. I remember being struck by his faith and trust in God even when he had a potentially career ending injury. I’d gone to church as a child but as football took over my life, pretty much from the age of 10, church and God were sidelined! But at Bradford Wayne and I would go to Christians in Sport meetings with other guys from all different levels of football and career stages. I was struck by the fact that God wants what is best for each of us and that we can trust him. I was in the first team but was having serious worries and fears about my abilities; was I really up to playing at that level? The rest of the team seemed so much better than me... But at one of the Christians in Sport meetings God spoke to me and reminded me of the verse in 2 Timothy 1v7 that says, ‘I have not given you a spirit of fear but of a sound mind....’ And so I was able to channel my fears through him and I had an exceptional year at Bradford. Having been fearful at the start I ended the year as part of the promoted squad and was voted centre back in the PFA’s dream 11. This is voted for by opposition teams to see who they think is the best player at each position so it is a great accolade for anyone to achieve. I give God thanks for my success because it was those meetings and him speaking to me through them that enabled me to play through my fear!
I became a committed Christian and I still seek God to guide me. It is not a one off decision but a lifetime of learning and following. I am not perfect and there are still times when I get it wrong but I try on a daily basis to follow Jesus and his teaching. Asking yourself what would Jesus do is always a good way to approach any situation. Good relationships need time to build and develop and it is the same with God.
Do you have a favourite verse you turn to when things are tough? I always look to Nehemiah 8 v 10 which talks about not worrying because God is our strength and help whether life is going well or not. It is good to be able to step back from situations and see them from God’s viewpoint not your own.
Can you give us some examples of when you have felt God’s faithfulness?
God has been faithful throughout my varied career but one particular example is when I moved to Blackburn. I’d always been taught to keep moving forward and trying to better myself so when the opportunity came up to go to Blackburn as a coach I took it. From a natural perspective it seemed like a good idea, after all it was a better job as a first team coach and for a team who were looking to move up to the Premiership. I prayed about it but if I’m honest I didn’t have any peace about my decision - I just went for it anyway. I realised very quickly that I’d taken the wrong step but God was still faithful and I was able to move to the PFA and then back to West Brom in a better role. These opportunities don’t come round very often so I am very grateful. It has been a magnificent season for us and the club’s future is looking bright! Follow Darren @ DarrenMooro
FAITH IN ACTION In the Bible James 2 v 14-18 talks about having faith and actions: Do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. In other words if we say we are Christians then there should be some outward actions that back up our faith. It should lead to us wanting to help others and do what we can for our ‘neighbours’. We obviously can’t do everything but we should at least be doing something. It might be spending time with someone, doing a job for them, recycling, being aware of your carbon footprint, giving to charity and the list goes on! So maybe it is time to ask ourselves a few questions... When was the last time we did something for someone else without expecting anything in return? When was the last time we put someone else’s needs before our own? What can we do to show God’s love to people we meet? I guess ‘faith in action’ boils down to another verse in the bible, this time in Matthew 22 v 39 ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ We asked a one of our readers to share what he has been up to and how his faith affects his life....
Sam is one of our readers whose faith has had an impact on his daily life. We asked him to tell us about his experiences of being a Christian teen... Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am 16 years old, nearly 17. I am in Year 12 and attend a school called Interhigh. I am doing A levels in History and Classics which for many could provide a great chance to nap! I love writing and reading and I also play golf. I coach a football team alongside my sister and qualified as an FA level 1 coach last year. I am proud to be one of the youngest qualified coaches in England and I thank God for the opportunity .
Were you brought up in a Christian home?
Yes, my parents have been in church leadership in a variety of roles but mainly as youth workers so much of my childhood was spent in a Christian environment.
When did you become a Christian and why? I became a Christian because I recognised that Christ was my only hope and I couldn’t live on my own. I first gave my life to Christ when I was 7 or 8, however it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I fully said “Okay God I am totally in with you”.
So has everything been fine since then? Or have you had doubts about your faith?
I have had many tests and trials and sometimes have been frustrated that when my back was against the wall God didn’t seem to be around. For example, when I was about 14 I was getting bullied quite badly and I didn’t understand why it was happening or how to solve it. I prayed that the bullying would stop and that God would give me strength and courage to stand up for myself but he never seemingly showed up. contd over
I was quite frustrated for a time and thought perhaps God didn’t care or maybe couldn’t hear me. But when I look back I can see God had his hand over the whole situation. The bullying and anxiety led me to move to Interhigh and through this my faith has grown tremendously. Without that whole situation I wouldn’t be where I am today and I believe, even though it didn’t seem like it, God was definitely with me. God sees the bigger picture and brought me through the situation to a place where my faith and life are thriving.
Have there been other times when you have felt your faith has been tested?
My faith has been tested many times and it has often been very difficult. There have been times when I have definitely given into temptations but I have found that even if I fail, I have forgiveness, so I can pick myself up and pray to God to help me the next time I feel tempted or tested. For a while I was tested time and time again over the same few things and my faith was pulled from side to side as I fought to do what was right. When we are persistently tested we can feel sorrow and somewhat bogged down by thinking that the tests may never end. But if we stand strong and trust in God, which I know can be hard to do, we can move forward. There are always going to be people and things that try and distract you from your faith. It is good to remember that your God is bigger than your circumstances, that he is always there no matter how many times you fail and he still loves you.
Can you tell us about any times you were very aware of God’s faithfulness?
There have been many times. One particular time that stands out happened about a year ago and completely changed my life and character. In year 10, I was a bad student; I barely did any homework and took no notice in classes. My teachers were telling me I would fail my exams. But towards the end of Year 10 my faith in God began to grow and I really began to get plugged in to what he wanted. By the middle of year 11 I had an unbelievable new work ethic and I spent hours revising subjects I was apparently sure to fail. Throughout it all I felt God was there with me, cheering me on. God was faithful through this time of almost crisis mode; a time that could have defined my future. I took International GCSE’S [these are completely exam based] and my best subject was history. I went into that exam feeling pumped up and excited. However I came out deflated as I completely messed up and it really hit me hard.
When I prayed God gave me the strength to pick myself up and start again. I felt that my study had been for nothing but God told me I had another shot and I would pass because he was looking after me. I knew I would have to ace my next history exam in order to pass. When the exam paper came out I was astonished to learn that I had smashed the second paper and despite the failings of the first paper I passed. God showed me his faithfulness throughout the year. This is just one story but there are many more. God’s faithfulness transformed a lazy lad into a hard worker that knows anything is possible if you dare show the same faithfulness to God as he does to you.
Do you have a particular verse that helps you when times are tough?
I wouldn’t say that I had a particular verse that helps me when times are tough but I like the story of Jacob; he was strong minded, stubborn and powerfull but the missing link to his life was a consistent relationship with God. He spent most of his life fighting with God. He went through seasons when he hated God and battled him with every fibre of his being. However God always stuck around, was always seeking him out and waiting for him. God never gave up on Jacob. Whenever I am struggling and times are tough, I look back on the story of Jacob and remember God is there, despite all my resistance he won’t leave me or forsake me.
Is it easy to have faith and be a teen? What do you think is the hardest thing about it?
I think it is often incredibly difficult to have faith and be a teen. There always seems to be a pressure to be rebellious, make mistakes and act recklessly. Being a teenage Christian can be like having allegiances to two warring factions; the world and your faith and it is sometimes difficult to decide which one offers the best options. Teenagers have more access and responsibility than ever before but as a Christian there has got to be something different about me, in the way I talk and act, I don’t want just to follow the crowd.
second chance and that God is there, helping find the right path.
Why have you set up a Christian union for your school?
As I mentioned earlier I attend a school called Interhigh; it’s an online school. Essentially I am home schooled, I have real teachers and classmates but everything is done in a virtual classroom. As a result my school contains people from all different nations and walks of life. There are people from the Caribbean, Turkey, Holland, South Africa and even Kazakhstan. I felt that God gave me a nudge and kept telling me that there were people in my school who were Christians like me who needed guidance, reassurance, teaching and companionship and apparently he believed I was the one to give them that. I found it pretty incredible but I prayed about it and sent an email to all the students in the school and received around 25 replies from people interested in joining the group and since then we have seen some real miracles.
Why have you written a book and what is it about?
I felt God telling me that it was the right thing to do and that some young people needed to learn that God has a plan for them and he can transform their lives and situations. The book itself is about a character who has everything but feels empty, until one day he embarks on an incredible journey through an almost mystic and entirely fictional land to discover transformation and eventual wholeness.
What would you like to do when you leave school? I would love to explore lots of options; including writing and going into Christian work of some sort. At the end of the day my passion is telling people about Jesus and I just want each and every person to know that no matter if they believe it or not they have a heavenly father who loves them and that Jesus died so they could live and be free.
What is the best thing about it?
Undoubtedly the best thing about it is that I have something that many others don’t have; I have a relationship with God whilst many are oblivious to his existence. Whatever I do I know that there is a
What is FAITH?
Well, the dictionary describes FAITH as a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. Atheist Richard Dawkins’ view of faith is “blind trust, in the absence of evidence.’ But I don’t think that either are right. For me my Christian faith is trust in God who loves me and paid the ultimate price by dying to save me. It is not just a belief in a set of doctrines nor is it without evidence or experience. Some people might wonder how you can believe in something or someone you can’t see but what about electricity or air. You can’t see them but you can see evidence of them all around you. As I look at my own life and the world around me I can see evidence of God working too. Atheists and others would probably laugh and think it is in inconceviable to believe in God, yet are quite happy to believe that our universe just happened out of nothing. Surely this is no easier to believe and requires faith! There is plenty of non-religious evidence that Jesus was a real person even the national papers have recently been talking about the evidence of his existence. And if he didn’t rise from the dead where was the body? Why didn’t the Romans or Jews just produce it if it was all lies made up by the disciples...? And why would they have died for something they knew to be a lie? So before you dismiss the Christian Faith as something for weirdos or weak people who need a crutch why don’t you consider the evidence...? Photo Credit: NASA
PUT YOUR FAITH IN... In life there are plenty of times when you have to put your faith or trust in other people and things. Every time you get on a bus or train you have to have faith in the driver, when you sit on a chair you are putting your faith in it’s ability to support you or even when you eat something from a packet you are putting your faith in the manufacturers that it won’t poison you! We exercise faith when doing lots of everyday activities without much thought or consideration. They are just part of our life and we hardly even think about what we are doing. But there are times when you have to think and consider who or what you are putting your faith in. A couple of summers ago we went to one of those high rope adventure places and believe me it was scary! I really had to put my faith in the instructor and the harnesses that I would be OK. All the kids just went for it but it took me several fear filled moments to talk myself into launching out. I’m not sure if it was doubt in my own abilities or the equipment but my faith definitely wavered at the beginning. Having done the first obstacle it became easier as I learnt to put my faith in the course and myself. Having faith in God can be a bit like that too. At first we maybe aren’t sure we can trust him or we might even doubt he actually exists but as we step out and put our faith in him we find God is completely faithful and we can trust him. The best thing is that he understands our fears and doubts and if we ask him he will help us overcome them.
Thanks to Chris and the group from Knutsford
We asked some of you to tell us who or what you have had to put your faith in and this is what you said….
when I did abseiling I had to put my faith in the instructors or else I could have got injured. the teachers - That they would help you get ready for the exams.
my mum as she gets me to the places I need to be. God because it’s the only way you can get to heaven.
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JAM Mag Issue 44 - FULL Mag Theme : FAITH Printed : May '17