Real Life

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    ‘Jesus helps us rescue trafficked children’


    When I was 8 I didn’t know God. I remember watching a broadcast from Feed the Children and it had these kids from Ethiopia. Their stomachs were protruded, flies were landing on their faces and their bones were sticking out of their chests. I remember them saying: “This Christmas these ...

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    ‘I teach young people to manage money because I was in debt’


    In the space of 18 months my father passed away, my mother moved in with us, my husband downsized his job, I was made redundant and became pregnant with our first child. Our finances soon spiralled out of control. I had 17 creditors who would call me up five or ...

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    From slum to youth advocate


    I was raised in a slum called Kawangware in Nairobi, Kenya. My father abandoned us, so my mother brought us up as a single mum. My twin brother died of malnutrition as a baby, so it was my two sisters and me. I survived but I could not walk for ...

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    ‘I help young people remember’


    Working with young people was always going to be a big part of my life. My first job was during the summer holidays with YMCA Daycamps when I was in sixth form. I then spent three amazing years as a youth worker in Hong Kong.

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    My son’s school struggles reminded me how much God loves him


    Claire Musters shares how a difficult situation with her son’s schooling has reminded her that God cares deeply for our children

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    Real Life: I’m a bipolar youth worker

    2018-09-17T00:00:00+01:00By Helen Cutteridge is the emotional wellbeing lead at Youthscape. She lives in Luton with her husband Jamie and an empty fish tank, as they are yet to find a new fish in need of a home.

    When I was 12 a family member and I had an argument in the car. I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember how it made me feel: worthless, a failure, rejected. That was the first time I remember feeling like this. It was also the first time I self-harmed.

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    Real life: I came to church because my youth worker gave me a guitar


    I didn’t grow up in church. None of my family are Christians…yet. My only experience of Christianity was visiting a Catholic church every now and then, but I didn’t have a relationship with God or anything.

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    Real Life: “I felt God press the pause button on my full-time ministry”


    I grew up in a loving and caring Christian home, where the Bible was valued and praying together as a family was a regular occurrence. Through Sunday school, the kids’ and youth work at the Keswick Convention and regular Bible reading at home, I grew to love Jesus from a young age. I knew that one day I wanted to be one of those youth leaders who looked cool, dressed confidently and could teach the Bible one moment and be completely daft the next.

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    Real life: “The vicar comes with a free youth worker”


    For the past eight years I have been involved in youth work as a volunteer, a youth theatre practitioner, a full-time church worker and now as a sessional youth worker. I have a diploma in youth mission and ministry (just to try and prove I vaguely know what I’m doing!) but all of that seems to pale in comparison to a decision I made in May 2015 - I got married to a trainee vicar.

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    Real Life: “I lead young people who are the same age as me”


    I went to a small Christian school from year six to year eleven; there were only 18 pupils in my whole year! In the months leading up to our GCSEs, the teachers encouraged us to look at where we wanted to study next. We wrote CVs, checked out dates for open days and applied for college. I had been to three open days and although it was fun, it wasn’t how I wanted to spend the next two years. College was too big compared to the small school I had grown up in, and I couldn’t find four subjects that interested me.

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    ‘My church cut my hours’

    2017-01-19T00:00:00+00:00By Dan Crouch is a youth worker in Keynsham, an MA student with CYM and a trustee of Sophia Network. Find him on Twitter: @DanCrouch.

    At the start of summer 2011, if you had asked me, ‘How’s life?’ my response would have been, ‘Life is good.’ I had been the fulltime youth worker in my home church for almost 18 months. I had married a wonderful and supportive woman just over a year earlier and we were newly-weds creating a shared life together.

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    Real life: ‘I thought youth workers were supposed to be young...’


    …this was one of the first things that an older lady said to me in when I started my job 15 years ago; I wonder what she thinks about me still being here!

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    Real life: ‘Two of my friends died’


    In 2015 I had just become a youth leader at a church in South East England, after moving there for university from the Midlands. I was six hours away from home, and the expense of getting back only made the distance feel further. This was one of the biggest steps of faith I have taken in my 22 years of life.

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    ‘Why would you give up your Friday nights for me?’


    I was generally a good lad but a little cheeky - and still am. Mum and dad weren’t Christians, but the church had a real presence on our street and some of our close neighbours were regular attenders.

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    ‘God called me to Russia to work with victims of trafficking’


    ’Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am, for your kingdom’s cause…’

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    ‘I ran away from home to become a Christian’


    I didn’t know anything about Christianity until I was in year seven. My mum always told me that Christian people were bad, so I used to think that all Christians were bad people.

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    ‘We ran an Alpha course in our school’


    Beth and I had been running the CU at our school for a year, but really wanted to get more people involved.

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    ‘I was made redundant from my youth work post’


    So often the spotlight is given to stories of success. Stories of youth groups growing from eight to 80 in three weeks using nothing but a table tennis ball, a church hall and a copy of Mission Praise. Stories that are great but can also leave some of us out in the cold. Because,
    sometimes, there’s a flip side: we all know that youth ministry can be the most amazing vocation in the world, but it can be tough, it can go wrong, and it can be a real struggle. And yet there’s as much truth and as many lessons in these stories as in the success stories, so we want to open it up and learn from some of them. Welcome to Real Life. This month: Nick Francis.

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    ‘My marriage broke down’


    In June 2012, my husband and I were fully immersed in our church. I was part of the women’s pastoral team and children’s work, while my husband was involved in worship. We were also part of a life group. We had been married for three years, having met at church during our teens, and I was due to start a new teaching job in September. After much prayer I was about to take over the leadership of the 14–18s youth group.

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    ’I had a messy break-up with someone in my church’


    I had just started my second year of university, studying at Oxford CYM for a degree in youth and community work with applied theology, when my girlfriend of four and a half years broke up with me. All break-ups are bad and this one was no exception. In fact, this one was spectacularly unpleasant.