There are people and places that shape us more than we realise when we are among them, but once we step out of their comfort, we become aware of all that God has done through them. We become aware that God was up to something all along, whether we knew it or not.
For the last four years, Youthworks College has been that place for me, and within it have been people that God has used powerfully. I can’t say that my time there was always easy, because it wasn’t. I can, however, say that my time there was always valuable, even on the days when I was tired from all the shaping God was doing of my stone cold character.
It’s a long story, and one that can be told another day, but it seems pertinent to tell you some of the lessons learnt in my time there. Here you have it, then; five lessons Youthworks College taught me.
1) It’s never about me, but it is always about God. From the very beginning we are reminded that it isn’t about us, but about God. For all the work we put in, it isn’t about our grades, it’s about our God. It isn’t about our programs, it’s about our God. Always and forever, it’s always about God. That seems to be a refrain of college life. Over and over again, we are shown and reminded that it is about God and if it wasn’t about God, then it would all fall apart.
2) Learning is best done within community. Study days before exams taught me this more than anything else. The chaos of trying to solidify knowledge was always done with an abundance of coffee and conversation. Whiteboards would be covered in questions and answers and together, we would realise that the exams would be okay, and maybe it’s just me, but there was joy found in doing the learning together. It meant more that way.
3) The tough times are worth sticking out. This week at the last working bee of the year, a few of us were weeding a garden. We’d been instructed to leave the lone oregano plant, because even though it resembled a weed, it was valuable. As it grows, it’ll look less like a weed and more like a plant. He smiled a bit and said, “it’s a good lesson – don’t get rid of something prematurely. It’s like students. We can’t think they’re weeds without giving God a chance to grow them.” That made me laugh because of how true it is. My toughest time at college was caused by my own sin, and the time that followed was the most refining of my Christian life. God has done a lot there. Stick with the tough times.
4) The scariest subjects are often the most joyful. In first year it was theology, and every week my mind was blown by God’s complexity. In second year it was Revelation, and it always amazed me how big God’s picture of things is. In my last year, it was Greek, and I found that in all the hard work was this foundation of joy in digging deeper into the Word in a way I never could before. Seriously. The word ελπις is solid evidence of that.
5) God is at work when His people come together with one purpose. Youthworks College exists to do something important. It exists so that the young people can be introduced to Jesus. It exists so that the work of introducing them to Jesus will be done effectively, faithfully, and long-term. It is amazing to have conversations with those who have gone through college before me, and those who are currently at college, and see the way God has used college to equip all of us to do this work well.
Youthworks College blessed me immensely. It shaped me in ways that I find it hard to articulate. It brings me joy to have been part of such a community. If you have doubts about supporting the college in prayer or finances, or if you have doubts about attending, hear this – stop doubting, and do it. See what God does, because I know he will do great things.