The shaky beginnings of a now unshakeable faith
My childhood wasn't the most typical. My family lived and travelled visiting beautiful countries all over the world as part of their work as missionaries for an organisation called Operation Mobilisation (OM). It was certainly a unique way to grow up, but it was wonderful! Not just because of the exploring and the adventure but due to growing up in an environment that fed my growing faith.
However, despite this faith-focused upbringing, I realised at a point that I had to find a way to make my faith my own – not just go along on my parents' mission journey but start my own. The only question I had was how? Well, like the Christians in the early church, I turned my journey around by finding community with my friends.
From the age of five to eight my family lived in Croatia, England, Denmark, Sweden and the Caribbean on board an OM ship. I was surrounded by people who loved Jesus and were passionate about and active in sharing His good news with the world. I grew up with an appreciation for the entire world, and a true understanding that we live in a global village.
Watching Jesus followers live out their faith meant that from a young age I saw how God moved within people. I saw Christians go out into communities and change lives, witnessed miracles take place in various communities where the only common denominator was His presence.
Through my early teens I ticked all the boxes for a young and growing Christian, but despite this God-centred, miracle witnessing childhood, my faith was still shaky. God was indeed real to me at a young age and I even had encounters with Him but when I got to high school living out my faith was difficult and shaky - until TeenStreet.
I heard about this event called TeenStreet through my dad. The first year I went I was 15 and it was eye-opening to hear how everyone there had grown up in different environments. We had different faith journeys but now were all at an event learning more about who we were putting our faith in. God really showed up for me at that event.
It may seem small, but one day I left a worship session feeling like I really needed a hug, so I prayed and asked God for one and a random lady walked up to me and hugged me – it felt surreal. Following that and other encounters, I got a temporary tattoo, to remind me that whatever I go through He is still my anchor. After this declaration, I started to feel the rocky nature of my relationship with God stabilising.
Each year I attended a TeenStreet event, it became another stepping stone in seeing for myself God's vision for the world, and my place in it. I learned to fully appreciate, outside of the direction of my parents, that Christianity is bigger than just me and the people around me. TeenStreet ran some outreach training sessions where we would go out and speak to people on the streets about God and our experiences.
The people we spoke with were actors who played non-Christians and they would voice such a distinct lack of hope. Acting this out, and injecting hope into lives (even in a fake situation) re-ignited my faith and passion for evangelism. I kept looking for opportunities to put this into practice and after my A-levels I got a clear yes from God to step into the mission field.
Although my temporary tattoo faded long ago, the change following my first youth event remains. My faith journey brought me to a crossroads where I had to switch from my faith being because of my family to being because of the personal relationship I have with God, and that personal relationship then led to the understanding that my journey is bigger than just me. I found my faith through events like TeenStreet and in strengthening it, I can now help other people around the world find theirs.
Registrations for TeenStreet UK 2023 are now open, find out more here: https://teenstreet.uk/