Carolyn Kinsman, 24/05/2017
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THE E WORD: sharing faith at school

Love it or hate it, everyone has to go to school. We might not always feel equipped to talk about our faith because of our age but Paul told Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example to others in how he lived out his faith (1 Timothy 4:12). With this in mind, we caught up with Beth to inspire us through her example of faith at school…

Hi, I’m Beth, a year 13 student studying Health and Social Care and I have been asked to write about evangelism in schools. But first a tad bit of background… at the end of year 11, my family and me relocated as my dad got a new job with Church Army. In the year following I found myself relying on God more than I had ever done before as I felt my foundation had been taken from me. I found a new true foundation in God. I had grown up in a Christian family, but only truly learnt of God’s greatness for myself, and lived this out as a disciple of Jesus during the last academic year.

I’m going to tell you about how I share my faith in God in my school in three ways - the obvious, the more subtle, and then in a way I do not think anyone has picked up on!

The first – the obvious

I set up a Christian Union in a Catholic school. Although the school identified as being one of faith there much to show this other than a house mass once a year. I set up a Christian Union so that the Christians in my sixth form would be able to support each other, learn from one another and bounce off ideas. This was my plan. However, God had a different plan. It ended up being for those who identified as being Catholic, Anglican or any other denomination who didn’t really truly know God. Yes, there were those who did have faith but others who didn’t. We looked at Bible passages and I did my best to make it accessible to everyone with thought provoking questions; ones that suited people with no knowledge, and also for people who could recite passages. Another way of making it accessible was through exhibiting one of Church Army’s value of being generous; there was always food!

The second – the subtle

I wear statement clothing. What I mean by this is I wear clothes that say ‘disciple’ or ‘1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given’. These hoodies and t-shirts have sometimes sparked conversation. For example, people have asked what it means or whether they can take a picture. I do my best to give my time to them, not preaching but by acting out in kindness and following Jesus’ lead.

The third – the unseen

I pray! I pray for the people I see day-in, day-out. I pray they will one day know God’s love and His hand of peace will be on them. School is a difficult time where us students are put though our paces, trying to live up to society’s expectations of us; to get our work done, to look a certain way, to be in a clique, to be popular, to have a job. All these things build up, so I pray for peace. I also pray for healing when someone is ill. I care about those around me however hard it is. When I see someone through God’s eyes it is almost impossible not to have a single smigin of care.

The obvious, the subtle and the unseen working together

When I set about to do these three different things, I am conscious of the identity people choose to label me with. I still want to remain relatable. And when I get given the ‘the Christian one’ tag I find it hard to do so. So, I try and show the real me through what I post on social media or how I talk about my school work, sport and family. I’m intentionally vulnerable in admitting when things are tricky, my work load is too much, or that I need to go for a walk/run to blow off some steam. I am also truthful with my love for the church I attend, and the incredible work that the youth team do.

There is a balance between finding our identity in Jesus Christ and being relatable, honest. Relatable enough to tell people about the amazing truth of what it is to be saved and remain me, ‘Beth’, rather than just ‘the Christian one’.

The reason why I share my faith is because I can’t be selfish with it. If I am truly saved and have this amazing gift of being forgiven by God himself then why hide it?

I do not see myself as an evangelist. I just see myself as someone doing their best in following Jesus’ lead. Simple as that.

But it’s still hard

What I will say though is that it is not all sunshine and roses. Life is hard and stepping out in our faith can be even harder. But what helps me is to think about Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. This helps me step out and say something, be kind when it is not earned, and be patient when there is no time.

We are not perfect, but we can do our best we can try. It is so much easier to do our best when we live all in for God. To be a disciple and apprentice we “do or do not. There is no try” (– Yoda), and when we do, God sustains us and encourages and gives us strength.

God doesn’t call the equipped he equips the called!

Join with me!

If you, like me, wish to share more of God’s love in your school, college, uni, work place, home or your community, then I would encourage you to pray. Don’t give up in it. You may not see the fruits, you may never see the fruits, but to go and plant seeds is better than to sow sparingly (Parable of the Sower Matthew: 13)

More specifically, in a school environment, I recommend finding or developing a support network for this specific chapter. This can include school friends, friends outside of school, youth leaders and family. Not all of these will apply to everyone, but to walk alongside someone helps. God created us for relationship, with Him and others. God created Adam AND Eve. Your support network can pray for you, provide you with ideas, encouragement, and maybe resources for running a Christian Union!

I hope this a 17-year-old’s insight in to living for God helps you. Please remember you don’t have to do things exactly how I do them to be an evangelist or a good Christian; this is just what I do and what works in my situation. Be you!

BethLingBeth
22 November 2019
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Beth is currently studying Health and Social Care at school and is hoping to go to uni to study Youth Work. She loves Jesus and sport, especially ultimate frisbee and coastal rowing (which is a bit tricky when you live far away from the coast!).
 


P.S If you’re running or setting up a Christian Union, Beth would recommend using Festive's resources.

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Beth, 22/11/2019
Carolyn Kinsman, 24/05/2017