Thursday, 26 July 2012

End of an Era

What a wonderful 5 years! I still can't quite believe it, but, I am leaving UCCF. Well, by that I mean I will no longer be employed by them from August 17th, but, as UCCF is a family of Christian Unions, their members, Relay Workers, Staff Workers and Supporters, I will always fall into that last category, having already fallen into each of the former.
I thought it fitting, on my final working day, to say a few words in the public arena of the world wide web about my experience over the last 5 years.

(The picture above looks ominous to say the least and almost apocalyptic in many ways. It will suffice to say, please don't read that into anything I'm about to say! Only the message of the sign has any relevance!)

During my time on staff I have learned so much about the gospel and about myself. There have been many ups and downs. There have even been times when I felt like giving up. But, by God's grace, and by understanding more of what Jesus has done for me, I have reached the end.

One lesson I have learned the hard way is, that no matter what happens, whether CUs grow or shrink numerically, whether the students you study the Bible with grow in Christ-likeness or decide to give up on Jesus, whether they all attend a training conference or none of them do, my standing in Christ before the Father does not change! The Father loves me as He loves His own Son no matter what! How that truth is beautifully liberating and wonderfully joy-giving. That is not to say I always remember this and live it out accordingly, but even grasping it initially changed my approach to my work, relieved the stress and kept me going.

The privilege of working with so many gospel-hearted, Jesus-loving and Spirit-filled people is beyond amazing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the family in this role, but those thank yous I will save for another post.

No organisation is perfect. Not even UCCF. But, when an organisation is led by people who love Jesus, who are seeking to submit themselves and all they do to the Lord's will and are seeking to live by the Spirit, you can't get any better than that. I am sure that they would be the first to admit that they are not perfect, there have been mistakes made and there are still things to learn and change. But I can absolutely say that working for UCCF is excellent. They really care for you as an person. The study program is not just for you to gain head knowledge, but to warm your heart and develop your character. They model Christian generosity and make sure you have your priorities in place. For example, when you work overtime for a weekend, if you don't take time off in lieu, you're in trouble! Or, take the fact that I have been repeatedly told that my primary ministry is not my work with the students that I get paid by UCCF to do, but my wife and child. That, sadly, can be rare in Christian organizations I'm afraid to say.

There are many more things I could say, attempting to wax lyrical about the virtues and benefits of such a great organisation whose passion for the so called 'missing generation' is infectious. Their untold benefit to the church at large in the UK as well as to thousands of students and parents is enormous. But I think I have given enough of a flavour already and if not, their mission, vision and values speak for themselves.

Feel free to use the comments to ask any questions if you want to know more. Those who have had my prayer letters will know more specifically some of things I have learned and some of the experiences, good and bad, which have shaped me and my ministry in this area over the last few years.

Oh UCCF, how I will miss you, but long may your work continue!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Final Edition

Here is the final edition of Northern Letters, the prayer letter I have written for the past five years while working for UCCF:thechristianunions. For those of you who have read it and prayed for me initially, and then also my family as time has gone by, thank you, but not goodbye as the picture suggests. I will keep blogging here, my wife will keep blogging at thissideofthewardrobe and I am sure we will be posting family news and prayer letters as we settle into Doncaster and all that the Lord has in store for us there.

Northern Letters - July/August 2012