As we head out into 2015 I have had a lot of time to contemplate the year ahead for In2venture. As I consider my place in this future I found it helpful to look back on why I got into this role in the first place.
Why do I do it?
People often ask why I would work in a Christian outdoor centre and I suppose it can be traced back to two main defining moments in my faith journey, one on the surface more remarkable than the other.
Many years ago I went along to a Spring Harvest event with my then girlfriend and her family and a group of close friends. Throughout the festival many people would come back from sessions and meetings talking of how God had spoken to them and how they had had profound ‘Christian’ experiences throughout the day. I had always thought of myself as a Christian but was concerned that I had never felt the things they were claiming and had never had a particular sign or defining moment. This continued throughout the week, people having these experiences and me becoming numb to the environment I found myself in.
On the drive home to Darlington I decided to give my girlfriend a lift home to Durham where she was living while at university. On this journey she gave me a gift that she had bought me at the convention, a bible with a metal case inscribed with the picture of a drinks can and the text ‘Thirsty?’ written underneath. The meaning of the play on words was clear, what are you thirsty for? Are you thirsty for the knowledge and relationship contained within the cover? This book was to provide me with the sign I had been longing for all week.
After dropping her off in Durham I proceeded to drive home, taking my long but enjoyable route away from the motorway via the back routes. I got about half way when I became thirsty and pulled over to reach for a can of Pepsi I had in the back of the car, when at well after midnight in the middle of nowhere I clearly heard church bells ringing loud and close by. The ‘coincidence’ of the thirst, Bible inscription and church bells was not lost on me and I excitedly took this as the sign I had been looking for.
This incident has shaped my life and my career choice massively, but not in the way you might expect. This has shaped my life due to how little impact it had on me. I got the sign I was looking for and yet my attitude, lifestyle and views on life did not change in the slightest.
Years later, now working for in2venture I attended an evening meeting with a local Church Army captain working with in2venure at the time. I had a good relationship with him based on shared experiences in the outdoors and at the end of the meeting he asked to pray with me and to ask Jesus into my life.
This second incident has shaped the way I live my life, not because of the sign I thought I was looking for but because of the fellowship and commitment of the people around me.
I have no doubt that many people have a sign or defining moment that sets them on the right path but for me God worked through personal relationships and good fellowship.
Why do I work for a Christian outdoor centre?
I think that the outdoor environment provides an excellent place to have meaningful encounters with people, to demonstrate the Christian lifestyle and morals that I have chosen to try and follow.
At this point in my Christian journey I find the environment of being in a church and part of a church community essential, but many people do not feel comfortable there at the stage they are at. My work allows me to take these church principals and the Gospel out into God’s creation and reach people through personal relationships and shared experiences.
This is why I do what I do.