Skegness, Time away, Spring Harvest 2016, Next…?

Over the past week I have been away to Skegness at an event named Spring Harvest. I’ve been stewarding there since 2009 and always over the Easter time of the year. This year we had quite a few less stewards on team than normal but it has been a great mix and I’ve got to know many people and when I got home last night about 8.30 pm I thought I would just fall asleep but nope, was wide awake for the next few hours but enjoyed an Easter egg and cup of tea.

Spring Harvest is a teaching and worship event for everybody. It’s a unique break for all the family: holiday, festival, conference, and an encounter with God. I help/worship by volunteering and always get to meet great friends new and old.

This year I went with an open heart and mind. My last year or so has been hard with various issues going on and job security and university work just not quite going to plan but most of that is now sorted so now to focus on something else. For years friends have known I am a Christian and I do not really shove my beliefs in their faces but have always tried to show through action and then if asked, talk about my faith but a few new friends seemed very surprised when I said I was Christian – their comments of I’d not have guessed with some things you do and it got me thinking… how come I am not seen any more as who I am and what has happened?

I had a few weeks of examination of myself and noticed that many things I stood for and would challenge people on were no longer happening, I was not particularly happy but just existing and saying I’m fine, not really feeling anything but also trying to find happiness in different ways. I recalled times of joy in my beliefs but couldn’t actually feel anything in particular for it. I wondered why go to spring harvest, I know I can help but what is the point really?

I prayed “God, please help me be useful at spring harvest – you know I can do the job and I’ll be with friends but put me where you want me and hopefully I’ll learn something” – I didn’t feel anything, it just felt like I was talking in my imagination but the thought that someone could be listening felt great too. I’ve been very alone now for a long time it feels. I have friends and many many connections, I have people I can trust and talk too but whenever I stop I am alone and crave company that I cannot have. I am always wanting to make it the best I can for people around me – make them as happy as I can as I feel a little joy when they are happier.

I struggle daily and instead occupy my mind with the thousands of ideas I have to try and change this world and make a difference. I worry about how this place we call home is going politically, financially and socially as more and more pressure is being put on people and the world has cracked and the crumbs are falling and being blown away. I don’t mean to talk in riddles but sometimes its easier to explain in those terms.

I have lots of stories and probably could talk about almost anything given a few pointers and love to talk to people and also learn about what they’ve been up too but everyone has such limited time now and other people to spend it with. So many of my closest friends all have families and its right for them to spend time with them but I feel I’m stealing their time to make myself feel better for those few hours and so I cut my time off and leave them and occupy my mind again. I could program something on-line, run a business, run an idea, start a fitness thing, sleep, do some university things, try communicating with lost contacts, see what people are up to, go shopping, make food, cook, develop a crazy food dish, feed people, go out, dance, volunteer, trampoline or just stop and remember that I am alone.

I’ve been away for a week at Spring harvest and one thing I love about it is that the silence is there to sleep but otherwise there is always someone to talk too and spend time with, to eat with and not be left alone at any point unless wanted. I was originally assigned to the “All Age Celebration” team and I was not happy. Last year I hated the event, it annoyed me more than I knew how to express it and really did not want to be on that team again. I was all up for saying “No, take me off it – I will not do it” but then thought – I’d asked to be where I was needed. I went to the team leader and said “I really do not like this event, last year I was on it and did not enjoy it at all however I have done that event and I am the only one this year that’s done it. I will stay on it if that is what is needed as I am here to help but still needed to tell you” and left it with that accepting if that was where I was needed, that is where I would help. In around 20 minutes one of the other team guys offered to swap with me and I took them up so ended up on Centre stage which seems to have been where I needed to be. I was very thankful for the swap more than I probably could express.

This year I was on Early shift, every year up to now since the shift system has been in place I have been on the late shift – I got a lot more rest on that shift though not really working any less hours. Early meant that we finished after the main celebration at night so off by around 10 pm but started at 7.30 am. Late shift started nearer 10 am and finished after midnight which naturally I seem more awake at.

I’ve been thinking to look more into Christianity, to really study it and challenge the messages. I’d like to find a church I can be a part of and grow as me and not the expectations from various things I’ve helped with. I want a church that will go out and help a community and not just talk about it then taking no action and that they help guide members on how to help as well.

I see the greatest worship in doing… Financially isn’t something I can do much but I can share my time to help such as stewarding though I often do that for the friendship feeling. I don’t think I’ll be there next year as dissertation will be due and all at the same time. There are a few that haven’t came this year because of this and a few that have came knowing they are going back for a hard week or two but needed the break.

I notice most things that are said are all I and now We, thinking now is a time to get more involved again – see what connections the uni has – i.e. Bible studies, CU and see what can be done on campus  as well as locally. I loved the 40 acts idea over the lent period before Easter – it was an inspiration and actually strengthened my faith or at least got me asking questions again.

On what I think was the third night, in the evening celebration, we had a mixture of two events – the 11 to 14’s and the 15 to 18’s in our one venue – a joint evening – I welcomed the extra responsibilities instead of just sitting around. While walking checking on my team I came across a situation I was not expecting. I re-saw something I thought was past, something from the last harvest where we saw the groups shrinking for worship for young people and I heard “it’s OK, it’ll grow and you’ll see” but then harvest stopped, IXth hour seemed to stop, all events involved with stopped and fizzled out and I’d kinda accepted it was just a dream and nothing more.

I had freedom to roam and take care and heard: go upstairs and see so I did, I could see a swarm 500+ young people all gathering worshipping and wow, the colours and passion streaming made me want to cry with joy and then the message to me: “See what can happen as promised. Not in your time but mine, trust there is a plan and you’ll be there when needed now stop watching and listen.”

The week was hard work and at times I had to stand back from lifting after hurting my shoulders months ago and knowing when to stop. I got back in there and did what I could – be that just stacking chairs when I could no longer lift and carry batches of them or sorting the queue outside when I needed a little air and wanted out the way. Our days were long but all quite rewarding, and always ready to sleep at the end of the day.

I made lots of new friends, and many friendships strengthened but there was one message that kept coming to me: “Now is the time for action, you have the resources and the connections and you are not alone. There will be help but you may need to ask for it”

There was a story said that went along the lines of someone wanting to help people with a bad beginning to life to get work, a sandwich shop based in west London that for each one sold then a meal is supplied to a Kenya child. They pitched an idea out to friends and contacts with no more than a base business plan and idea and got some funding and got started and grew but not on their own, they got help, they got started and they went for it.

I have worried as I have said earlier about how the country is going and how people are surviving or not as it is getting more like and want to do something to help if I can. When I finished university originally I thought to do mission work and went to loads of organisations seeing what I could get involved with including YFC, YWAM, UCB and others but all in my mind I thought was “Mission starts at home” – so many people are going out elsewhere, but we are struggling here and that laid on my heart 16 years ago but I felt I was too young, how can I make a difference? what can I do and just it went into the background.

Now I see people struggling and would love to find a place or set-up a place where people can come and eat and not worry about the cost but have a healthy full filling meal. Somewhere they can stay if they are homeless or struggling or just trying to get away from others and need somewhere to rest.

I have NO IDEA how this will be possible and in some following messages I will expand on my idea however I will need help, and lots of it. I have some ideas but feel that we need to work together to serve each other and help. I don’t know how this will happen but trust it will and believe it is possible. It is time to stop just existing but to do something and use those connections and see what is real or not.

Spring Harvest was a start for me for multiple things – One: to help get me back to happy me, having a passion for something in helping again and Two: to get fitter and over the week I was averaging around 10 km per day walking and then the moving of chairs in venue set-ups/take downs and I certainly ached a few days while doing it particularly nearer the end of the week but found it a good start. When home now, it feels strange that I don’t need to walk anywhere but in the next few days my real training begins for the sponsor event and spring harvest was the warm up week before the main training.