Hello all, it’s been a while since I last blogged hasn’t it! Well don’t worry I’m back again with some thoughts once again. I had been thinking recently what I could write about and in doing so I was reflecting on what I’ve learnt over the last few years and what caused the change. And then on reflecting on my recent job change, I realised what I should share about: how the smallest actions can make the biggest difference. So I hope the following testimonies can encourage you that even the smallest actions can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.
As you may or may not know I have recently been offered, and accepted, a position working as an administrator for my local church. In the aftermath of the job offer, I was thanking and praying to God about the role and I found myself looking back at my past to see where God was working in my life at that time (something I’ve grown to love doing). In this, I realised some simple steps that had led me to the role, dating back to my first night as a fresher at Loughborough University in 2013!
Before I go into how a small, seemingly insignificant conversation led to me working for the church, I thought I’d set the scene a little. I had a fairly sheltered upbringing with loving intentions, I’d only drunk about 4 Smirnoff ices before I got to uni. And my faith wasn’t really my own, it was built on my families faith and my view at the time being that Christianity was just doing your bit, not a personal relationship with God.
Scene set, I’ve been dropped off for the start of uni and all alone with thousands of students I’ve never met before in a town I hadn’t heard of 12 months previous! There was a possibility that I could just have gone along with the flow, got involved in unhealthy habits and completely turned my back on faith. BUT looking back I can pinpoint the moment God intervened and didn’t let me go!
Having lost all my flatmates upon entering the union, I decided to explore the place since I’d never been around it before. On my travels, I came across a peaceful room, one I felt more at home in and I sat down surrounded by people in blue T-shirts, biscuits and some large cuddly animals. This strange place was called Club Mission, something I now have great love for, and it was ran by a local church called Open Heaven. After sitting down I got into a conversation with some of the leaders of the church, the McSharry’s, which ended up lasting most of the night. I don’t remember much of the conversation, and neither do they, but I do remember that it made me want to go and find out what their church was like!
So I went along on Sunday to Open Heaven to find a church of which I had not before experienced. It felt so alive! Although not a Christian at the time, I started to really listen in Church and wrestle with the concept of a relationship with God. I will say though, it wasn’t all plain sailing, almost leaving the Church and Christianity altogether that Christmas, but God wasn’t done with me! And at the 2014 Open Heaven weekend away I gave my life to God and got baptised during the summer term of my first year.
Life since then hasn’t been perfect, its had its peaks and troughs but my faith in God has only grown since then. And some way, somehow, I will now be working for the very Church that I seemed to stumble into 3 years ago, all thanks to a chance encounter with the wonderful McSharrys!
The McSharrys did something simple without even realising it, by showing me Christian love on my first night at university, and now I am going to be their colleague!
In 1 Samuel 17, we read about the story of David and Goliath. Now David had to rely on small stones and a shoddy sling, but God used them in His plans. In Exodus 4, Moses asks what God will do if the people don’t listen to Moses, and God simply blesses and gives Moses a staff. A staff that was nothing out of the ordinary but in fact turned into a snake and could part sea’s! God can use the small, simple stuff for His glory when we are obedient to Him. He can use us without us even realising it, because it is in such a way that doesn’t even seem fantastic to us because of the way we view the world.
At this point, I am challenged by my own acts that have not seen anything special happen as a result, and I have many friends who have experienced the same. From experience, I have come to see that sometimes we will not see all the fruits of our labour straight away; in fact we ourselves may not see such fruits this side of heaven.
During my time at uni I was involved in my beloved Harry French hall. I played sports, went to socials, and generally did life with the people in that hall. All the way through uni, and still to this day, I prayed to see people in Harry French come to know God for themselves, and that by living for Him in such a place people would want to know why I was different. And as far as I was aware it didn’t seem have much of an impact on people’s lives. I built up positive relationships in the hall, even garnering the nickname ‘The King’, but I always hoped some would come to Church at some point and find out the real King. And during my time as a student this didn’t seem to happen.
But then to my surprise, after graduating and getting a job in Loughborough, I started to hear of ways HF was engaging with Christianity. At the first Club Mission of the 2016/17 academic year, I heard of a long conversation one of our guys had with a friend from HF, how she had grown up as a Christian but had moved away from it at uni. Apparently my witness in Harry French had made her think about it again, praise God!
The week after, we got a note in the prayer box we have in Club Mission that was addressed to me. It was from a guy called Nick (no idea which one?!), and in it he said that he wasn’t a believer but the witness I’d been in our interactions had made an impact on his life and he was very thankful for that and the work of Club Mission.
Both of these things that came out of my time at Harry French all came about from just doing the little things well, being different for a reason, and living life for God in that place.
Even Jesus didn’t always see the fruits of His work straight away. In Mark 8 verses 22 to 25, Jesus heals a blind man, but not the first time around. The first time He attempts to heal the blind man, all the man can see is “trees walking around”. Maybe not the result we would expect from Jesus stepping out in faith to heal this man! But He goes again, and this time the man can finally see!
You see, not every life changing event happens in an instant, with a flood of tears or a light bulb moment! There is beauty and significance in the small, seemingly insignificant, things that we do in the name of Jesus. When we live for God in every aspect of our lives, it gives permission for God to use us for His good, even if we don’t see the final fruits of the labour.
I lived differently to the norm by living for God in halls, and though I have not seen the full fruits of doing so, I am convinced and encouraged that God will use the seeds that have been sowed!
I hope these ‘little testimonies’ will encourage you to keep faith that God will use your actions, even the small ones, for His good. The simple prayer for a friend in need, an act of kindness for a stranger, or just serving in your church, these are all things that God uses for His good!
Thanks for reading, Nathaniel