Church was just somewhere I went because my parents did. I enjoyed the youth group each Sunday evening playing silly games, eating food and a listening to a talk I could understand. But overall, church for me was boring. That was until a group of American Christians came and did our school assembly and invited us to a local church. I went, because the boys were cute!
But that service changed me. I thought there had to be more to church than I’d experienced as these people were excited about something. My life started to change as I heard about Jesus being more like a friend.
I loved church, the new youth group and friends I was making, but I didn’t realise some of those friends would also lead me to go in the opposite direction I was heading in.
I started going out clubbing at about 16, with a friend from the youth group. I’d get drunk, make out with guys, smoke and be in a friendship that I found very competitive.
We had amazing times together but as our friendship grew I often felt like second best, the one in her shadow. But I just carried on trying to push the thoughts to the back of my head.
I was still going to church whilst clubbing. I still loved it, I just turned up a little blurry eyed. Then a relationship with a guy got thrown in to the friendship, which was for me unhealthy and left me feeling very rejected and insecure.
Then I started working in a children’s nursery as some of my church friends all left for university. Drinking then became a bigger part of my life, leaving gaps in my evenings and all day hangovers the next day. But again, I still went to church.
Then my best friend moved away and I was gutted despite all the bad feelings I felt from it, I also realised I was now the oldest in the youth group and had two choices: stop going to church and let the clubbing life take over, or become a leader who would be a good role model to those younger than me.
I took the second choice, why? I’m not sure; I always felt there was more to life than spending all my money on going out or feeling guilty for kissing some random guy. I felt I could achieve more than what that lifestyle could offer me, and I never looked back.
I would say this is when I really started to take my faith seriously. As I learned more about who Jesus really is the rejection disappeared as did some of the insecurities and hurt. I had people around me who loved and encouraged me especially my amazing youth leaders.
That’s when things started getting a little crazy in my life. Good crazy though.
I’d always thought about going to Africa and after a church trip to Romania, I did. I went to Mozambique for 6 months with Oasis Trust and had the most amazing time, seeing a different way of life, a culture that has so little yet has so much joy and love. It was hard but through the many good and bad experiences I felt God by my side helping me along.
Then the time came and I was back in Nottingham, I wanted to do more but settled back into a new job, then the email came ‘ever thought about youth work in Texas?’ No! But after much prayer, off I travelled again, joining The Pais Project in Texas, USA for the next 3 years. Those years God changed my heart for a generation of broken, hurting people who didn't have a personal relationship with God. I saw peoples lives changed, I made amazing relationships, and I was blown away by the things I experienced.
Now back in Nottingham again, and I could never have dreamed the things I have been blessed to be a part of. I don’t know what’s round the corner and that’s okay because God does. He always surprises me and I know I still have an amazing journey ahead that I can’t wait to see.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’, well my city needs love and care and I want to be apart of giving that to people in Nottingham.