Coming away to University has been a crazy experience, but one I would not want to change. I never planned to go far and leave my church at home; I was stuck-in, loving the community and carrying the vision. But, itís safe to say that God knows best, better than we know for ourselves!
I put York as my second choice because it was so excellent for Psychology, but I never intended to actually come here. Results day came around and I did not get into either Bath or York, then after 5 days of struggling with my whole life purpose, where I placed my security and actually having to trust my life into Godís hands, I had to make a decision between Bath and York. Yes, from having neither option, to having both Ė go to Bath, stay at home church and study a different degree, or go to York, study psychology (through a miraculous change of decision by the Uni) and leave everything. I chose York. God confirmed He was in it, was with me and that He would continue to work all things for good, for His glory - pretty awesome I know. If this wasnít enough, I was blown away when I got to Uni. I met an active, passionate and beautiful CU; my eyes were opened to a whole bunch of real, Jesus loving Christians and an even more amazing city of Jesus loving churches. I could not believe Godís provision.
Straight away, with the support of the CU, I started the unusual practice of Ďchurch huntingí. I only visited 4 different churches, but this was enough to learn that people can love Jesus, love God and live Spirit filled lives in many different ways and my respect grew for those who connected with God differently. I loved the opportunity of being able to visit different types of churches than I was used to. Itís great because the churches expect this to be happening so you donít have to feel bad about just popping in and the student lunches are pretty great too! I was also fairly sure that thanks to the number of great churches in York, that whichever church I finally decided on; I would have a good experience, be challenged and supported, having the opportunity to serve and to bless. So I just had to decide and get stuck in!
Emily on the YCC Church weekend away
York City Church was actually the first church I visited and I returned for a second time near the end of the first term, I really felt the presence of God there and knew it was a place I would be able to feel at home. The sung worship challenged me and moved me and the teaching was excellent. I could see passionate leaders that had a heart to impact their environment and encourage growth in every individual in the church. It was similar to my church at home, but different enough to challenge my thinking and widen my perspective. Since sticking with City Church, I have grown so much. It has been hard at times, but thatís life! Both the whole church weekend away and the separate student weekend away, have been great for getting to know people, getting involved and understanding more of the churchís vision. There are many opportunities to serve at City and to also be invested in Ė if you are prepared to do what it takes.
Balancing being a student, living on campus, investing in a church and being involved in the CU is definitely challenging, but it can be done! As a student, we have such a unique opportunity and I am seeing more and more the great and matchless experience it is, to be sharing our lives with people in such a way Ė all in an environment of learning, searching and changing. The possibilities for witnessing and building each other up are second to none!
I never knew that I would have had to address so many issues since coming to University. I have grappled with doctrines and theologies, defining church and other things. But I am understanding more, Godís grace in these things and also seeing the importance of just living, every day for Him, with Christ in charge, which I could not do without the amazing family I am a part of; the local church I have joined in York, the church that sent me so well from home and that welcome me on my return and the wider church of the CU, on campus. Knowing youíre part of this family is essential and God designed it this way, hence His overflowing provision! Being accountable with other students that I have met through the CU has been indispensable, we have to face a lot of stuff and knowing that youíre not alone is a valuable thing! Also, having the mature mentorship that comes from relationships within church has made my Uni experience more glorifying to God and more beneficial to my growth as a Christian.
I love York; the city, the University and the amazing things that God is doing here. I love the friends I have made and the experiences that have changed me. Iím looking forward to my third and final year, meeting the new Freshers that are going to take on the challenge and seeing what Godís got in store for the next stage of my life!