Discerning a call from God was never going to be a quick fix. He doesn’t tend to give all the answers to big questions at once. So I thought a good way to try and find out God’s purpose for my life would be to spend a year serving in a variety of social justice and community projects with Tsedaqah. This post will give an overview of how the first three months of this internship has panned out.
My work with Tsedaqah has been split between projects in Liverpool and St Helens. Perhaps a sensible starting point would be to give you an insight into what a standard working week with Tsedaqah looks like. On a Monday morning, I travel to Liverpool Cathedral to work mainly with Canon Ellen Loudon in the Social Justice Department on a variety of tasks, that range from putting on conferences to designing colourful noticeboards! Monday evenings are perhaps the most important part of the week as all three interns gather together at Tsedaqah House with our mentors and invited guests to share a Community Meal.
Tuesdays are spent at the Micah Food Bank pantry session at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, just down the road from the cathedral. Micah Liverpool is a social justice charity that has been set up by Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and St Bride’s Church to relieve Liverpool residents from social injustice and poverty. Helping to run the food bank has been an eye-opening experience for me, helping people, primarily asylum seekers, who have near to nothing to live on and need basic food and toiletries just to survive. To give someone a voucher or an actual food parcel has shown me how helping people can make that real, tangible difference. A particularly difficult experience for me was when a young girl recently arrived from Iran came to food bank. I took down details from her ID card to see that she was only one month older than me and had been forced to flee her home country alone at such a young age. This was so upsetting yet a stark reminder to be grateful for the peace we enjoy in Britain and how fortunate we actually are here.
On a Wednesday, I return to St Helens to continue to work with asylum seekers and refugees at the Our Warm Welcome Drop In Cafe, providing essential support and advice as well as weekly English classes, to help those from war-torn parts of the world to integrate into British society. In the afternoon, I help at the Little Rivi after-school club, sharing faith with families that may not be comfortable in a traditional church environment. In the evening, I help to run the ‘Edge’ youth group at St Andrew’s Church, where we have been working on a faith-based magazine publication. Thursdays have been quite flexible, working in different environments, be it worship or meetings. Friday evenings over the past three months have been spent working on the Eden Bus project for the youth that congregate in St Helens Town Centre, giving them a safe space to play video games and hang out, whilst also trying to share gospel with them, as part of the mission work of ‘Transform’.
After what has normally been my day off on Saturday, Sundays have been spent continuing to develop my own ministry in a church environment across the Town Centre Team, leading services and preaching on a regular basis. This has helped me to experience new worship contexts and know more about what it means to be a church leader. Alongside regular spiritual direction from Rev Harry Wood and Rev Dr Mike Kirby exploring my sense of calling, a more regular and structured prayer life has helped me to connect with God more deeply and seek His guidance for my journey this year.
There have been so many individual experiences in these first three months that I wish I could tell you about in detail without this post becoming an extended essay! But perhaps I could finish with a bullet point list of some of the main highlights so far on the internship:
- Attending the consecration of Bishop Bev with fellow interns Felicity and Madeline
- Young Vocations retreat weekend to Birmingham with CPAS, to discern my call more deeply with like-minded young Christians through worship, prayer, discussion and teaching
- Frequent pastoral evenings with our mentors, David and Debra Walker
- Getting to know so many people from across the diocese and sharing my story
- Becoming a charity trustee of Street Pastors St Helens
- Sharing the gospel with so many people, especially in the run-up to Christmas
- Loads of time to just reflect and pray on the opportunities I’ve had so far
Thank you for reading this post and I look forward to regularly sharing my experiences throughout 2019 with you on this platform. Next post in a couple of weeks! God bless.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” – 1 Peter 2:9