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26th September 2014
Since moving here a couple of weeks ago, I've heard that Hastings isn't necessarily the first choice for a gap year destination. Nevertheless, I'm full of faith that the coming months will hold far more than just fish and chips on the beach – though of course that's an added bonus!
You may have heard that for some years King's has been involved in a discipleship year scheme called Impact, pioneered by Newfrontiers. The aim of Impact is to teach anyone over the age of 18, from any walk of life, how to grow in an understanding of God, of themselves, and to gain skills that can be used in the future, whether that will be at university, in a career, or wherever else they find themselves. Moving here from Swindon was hardly in mind when I finished my A-levels in June, but with an unexpected opportunity to spend an Impact year writing for King’s Church Hastings and New Ground, I decided to take the leap and let God do the rest.
I'm working with two other Impacters, Tamara and Zoe, both already based at King’s. It may have been nerve-wracking to move here and meet new people in a completely new environment, but I'm pleased to say that we've become really close in such a short space of time, and that our opening week of training at the start of September brought us together. This year, training takes place in a Scout site in Ashdown Forest, with around 40 other Impacters from the southeast. I hardly need to explain our excitement! Meeting new people who are certain to become life-long friends is something we loved from the start, and may be the one thing that stands out the most for us so far.
The main focus of this month's block was the beginning of our theological training – the teaching covered on the trinity, spiritual gifts and how to interpret Scripture ('hermeneutics' if you're feeling particularly eloquent). These ran alongside seminars covering leadership, self-management and how we can use this year to prepare for the future. Speaking about a particular seminar, Tamara said, “Learning about the Old Testament characters over an afternoon was one of the highlights of my week. I found that it helped me look at the Bible in a new way.”
Inevitably there have been challenges too, but we're all surprised by how much we seem to be growing in understanding each other's characters and giftings, which has come in especially useful in our day-to-day work. Zoe said, “I enjoyed spending time with people I wouldn't usually see, and to get an idea of the different side of church.” For me, the times of worship were also really inspiring – completely spontaneous in some cases (we found ourselves singing along to a guitar in an airing cupboard one night), these times show that everyone has such a heart to follow God and encourage each other. You can't help but feel like you're part of a huge family, and having moved out of home for the first time, this is something I really love and appreciate.
It doesn't mean, though, that our church work is in any way diminished by such a brilliant week. By now desks have been assigned, routines are beginning to form and we Impacters are getting down to working for the church. Between us, we serve in a number of areas across the church, from kids' work and youth to Coffee Box and Foodbank. Alongside joining the worship team on a Sunday morning and other groups, my particular focus is communications, so watch this space for new blogs and articles throughout the year – or better still, look out for us around the building and say hello!
I'll end by saying that behind everything that's been scheduled and everything that we'll be serving with, God is at the centre. I'm so glad that we have the chance to take this year out for Him, and I'm looking forward to seeing what He's going to do with us in the coming year. In the meantime, I'm excited to get to know Hastings better, and heeding warnings to avoid any French men with bows and arrows on the beaches, I think fish and chips sounds like a great way to start!
You can watch the highlights from our first week of training here.
Image by fellow-Impacter Tamara Brunton.
Posted by Sian Francis-Cox