In September 2005, freshly graduated, I started out on a year of UCCF’s Relay training programme, working with students of Theology and Religious Studies in Cardiff University, under the umbrella of a little-known-about sector of UCCF called the Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship (RTSF) which aims to support theology students studying in secular universities.
Moving to Cardiff from Bristol to do this, my aim was to establish an RTSF group in the theology department. And, having done that, my focus for the year would be to spend my time nurturing this little group, reminding them of God’s light that shines even in the darkness that shrouds our universities’ theology departments, encouraging them to stand firm in the battle that is the lecture theatre, and helping them to see how Jesus’ Great Commission works out in the context of their classroom, with their course-mates and lecturers.
I learnt a lot. I am always in danger of forgetting things that God taught me that year, so I was delighted this afternoon to discover I something I wrote in June 2006, as I finished my Relay year, somewhat more dishevelled and broken than when I began:
“This year doing RTSF Relay in Cardiff has been one of ups and downs. I left the first relay training conference in September really excited about all the amazing things that would happen in Cardiff because of me, because of my amazing personality and skills. I thought Cardiff were so blessed to have someone as gifted as me working alongside them! I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the RTSF expert I thought I was, neither was I a people expert, and though God had blessed me with gifts, I was to use them for His glory alone and to rely on Him alone to work in the hearts of Cardiff’s students.
If I was to summarise the year in a word it would be this: HUMBLING. The work in Cardiff was slow – enthusing people was hard, enthusing myself was even harder! It took ages to get a group off the ground and for most of the year I found it hard to understand the reason why I was there. I didn’t always care about RTSF, I discovered I am much more selfish than I knew I was and that my heart is much more sinful than I thought it was.
But in this, in being broken over my sin and failure, I learned to trust God more than I ever had. I learned important lessons that I never want to forget – that God is faithful; that I can trust Him; that my standing before God isn’t based on what I do or how successful I am; that it is possible to keep on walking, even in the darkness, if only I keep clinging onto the hand of the one who never lets me go; that sin will always be deceitful and I will always be easily deceived, but grace is sufficient to cover all of my transgressions; that sometimes all that keeps us going is the hope of seeing Jesus face to face one day.
It has been an amazing year and there is lots to thank God for. We can thank God that there is now an RTSF group in Cardiff, and that I had the privilege of studying God’s Word with some amazing individuals – but most of all we can thank God for the reality of grace, that we who don’t even deserve a glimpse of the King have been invited into His courts, to sit with Him at His table and spend eternity with Him as His children.”