At The Cause to Live For last year, guest speakers Clay Harrington and Scott McNamara reminded young people of their purpose, and the invitation to partner with God and see lives transformed. One evening Clay, Scott and the team headed to a fish and chip shop for some food and encountered Toby, a student living in Nottingham.
Here’s Toby’s story.
“I grew up in a Christian home and always been super involved with the church. After school I took a year out to live in India as a short-term missionary, working alongside various freedom projects for women trapped in slavery. When I look back, I can see that I jumped in at the deep end – with personal and team mental health struggles, relationship breakdown and the witnessing of extreme levels of poverty and trauma. I came back very broken.
That year impacted heavily on my time at university. I was very confused with where my relationship with Jesus stood, and as much as I still knew I needed connection with him I delved into drinking, partying and drug use. I attended Student Alpha at Trent Vineyard to try and re-find the faith I once had but it didn’t happen. I tried to balance my university life with an increasingly absent church life and Jesus never came out as the priority for me.
This continued well into my third year, until one evening my best-mate and I went round to a friends house. I’d never been to his house, or even his area of Nottingham before. We were all worse for wear and decided to order a takeaway. After over an hour of debate about what to get we decided to go to the local fish and chip shop, which was another first for us.
Whilst we were there, we were approached by some people, and my friends and l thought we were about to have a fight, but fortunately, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, they approached and asked us if we’d ever seen “this picture” before – it was the Jesus At The Door image. I remember being completely shocked, as I had seen it before.
They ended up praying for me and my best-mate, who had been going through serious depression and suicidal thoughts (our other friend left as soon as they started talking to us). They spoke into my friend’s life and it still baffles him to this day how they knew so much about him without ever meeting him before. He has come to church a few times and his life has taken steps forward, but he is yet to fully accept Jesus into his life and still battles with mental health. Please be praying for him!
For me, the encounter was a wake-up call.
For me, the encounter was a wake-up call. I can run from God, and a life following him but he will always come and find me, even if it’s in some random chip shop when I’m high. God spoke to me through Clay and Scott, and I went back to church the next Sunday and received prayer. A lot of stored up pain was released that day and my heart began to reopen to Jesus and the plan he has for me.
Since then I signed on to the Discipleship Year at Trent Vineyard. My faith has never been as it is now. My relationship with Jesus is growing every day, as he’s pushing me to learn more about him and myself. We are a team and he lets me know where I’m going and what I need to do, even if I can’t always make sense of it at the time. I have refound my identity as a Son of God and have given up drugs and any excessive drinking and partying. I hope my mate finds him too, for Jesus changes everything!