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03 February 2016

Spring Harvest 2016: game changing faith

Spring Harvest 2016: game changing faith

This blog was first published by Spring Harvest – a teaching and worship event for everybody. Spring Harvest are featuring everyday game changers in the lead up to the event this Easter. You can find out more about Game Changers and Spring Harvest 2016 here.

Jamie Sewell

As a team member in the youth venues at Spring Harvest for five years, I enjoyed seeing Jesus impact lives, especially if people met with Jesus for the first time. Spring Harvest grew my faith and gave me renewed energy and vision for serving God and I always left the event feeling encouraged. 

In 2011, after working eight years for Rugby Youth For Christ, I wanted a fresh challenge. While at Spring Harvest, I'd heard about the Eden Network, who are part of the Message Trust, and how they move teams of volunteers to live in deprived estates in Britain and South Africa. These teams are committed to sharing the gospel in word, action and power - a model inspired by Jesus and described in John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood."

Being someone who enjoys connecting with young people who have little church involvement, I applied for the job as Ladbroke Grove Eden Team Leader and soon Becci, my wife, and I were moving to London to partner with Latymer Church, Pioneer and Eden.

We moved to Ladbroke Grove with a dream to see Jesus impact lives and after a short time we'd already recruited a team of seven who shared the same passion. Like many who start a new project, we were a bit naïve about the exact nature of the challenge we were taking on. We expected to preach a good sermon on Sunday and then kick back whilst revival swept through our community. Unfortunately, that wasn't the way this was going to play out.

Within two years our involvement in the community kept us busy. Our programme included Drop-in's, Sunday meal discipleship, trips and rap projects as well as mentoring, supporting projects dealing with issues such as drug abuse, drug debt, drug dealing and domestic violence, and supporting lads going in and out of prison.

Many of the people we were working with were getting dragged into gang crime and involved in fights, gun crime, stabbings, drug dealing and street robbery. Tragically, one boy lost his life. However, the boys in our discipleship group were making positive decisions by distancing themselves from that lifestyle and discovering the plans that Jesus had for their lives.

None of the six teenagers who came to our discipleship group attended church and were certainly not typical of the kind of people who would meet weekly to pray and study the Bible. But whenever we prayed together, God turned up in the most incredible ways and words of wisdom, knowledge and healing were common. While attending a Christian camp over the summer, all of our group were stunned as Shyheim was healed from a damaged ligament in his leg.

They went on to experience God in amazing ways and had enough space to think about how they wanted their life to be when they went back home. Kyle, 18, and Shyheim, 19, sat with us and explained how moving away to do a training and discipleship course would help their development and asked if Eden Ladbroke Grove could support them. In September, they begin a year of training with the Message Academy.

Jesus has transformed my life and when I was 12, he saved my mum from severe depression. I do believe Jesus has the power to transform desperate situations, offer forgiveness and give fresh purpose and new life. I realise that to be a game changer, you need the qualities of faith, boldness and endurance.

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