Monday, July 25, 2005

27 days and counting...

Hmm, so it's 27 days since I came off medication. For the first time in over four years, I am not dosed up on antidepressants! My brain is not being altered, messed up or assisted (depending which meds we're referring to) in the management of my emotional state. Wierd. But good. I think. Time will tell I guess.

God's been so good, so faithful. I'm so thankful to Him for keeping me through the hard times, and bringing me through each time. And now I don't have a head full of pills - that's something to be thankful for :)

In other news...
I'm reading through Luke at the moment, and this verse really struck me:
"So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14v33
Jesus doesn't call us to half-heartedly follow Him when we can be bothered - He demands, and deserves, everything. He is Lord, so I need to renounce ALL else, and follow Him. Salvation is such an amazing gift, and He's given it freely - surely I should respond gladly to the call to surrender all to Him!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

John Newton - what a legend! A great hymn, expressing profound truth...

I'm posting this hymn because as I said, it expresses profound truth - but it's truth that has really scary implications for me, because I so badly want an easy life. I want to become more like Christ, but resist the cost of that.
I remember about 6 years ago being in a meeting where we were challenged about living a half-hearted Christian life, that this was not enough, that we had to surrender all of our lives, plans, desires to Christ and live totally for Him. I was so struck by this, I asked God to do whatever He needed to do to bring me completely under His lordship, that nothing else would have greater priority in my life, and that He would make me more like Him.
A year after I prayed that prayer my world completely fell apart, my plans for the future all fell through. I'd been convinced that God wanted me to pursue a certain career, but then He slammed the door shut. I was so confused, I didn't know what He was doing.
Then about 6 months after that I had a breakdown. Again, confusion followed, I could no longer trust myself, and nobody around me could understand or help me. There was nothing left but God. But that was when He really began to teach me that He is enough. When everything else fell apart, it was then He showed me that I actually didn't need any of those things, I just needed Him.
I've had five years of clinical depression now. I've had periods of complete blackness and despair, of emotional numbness, of being suspicious of everyone around me. All this while being in uni, someow studying for a degree and having leadership responsibility in the CU, and on Relay, with all that that involves. God has put me in situations I knew I couldn't possibly cope with. But here I am - He's sustained me through everything. And He's taught me again and again that He is enough. When I can trust no-one, when I don't know what's going on in my head or my emotions, when I can't take anymore, He has kept me. I've seen more of His faithfulness, grace, sufficiency and gentle care over the past four years than I ever did before.
This is not how I would have chosen my life to go - I'm a coward, and I shy away from any kind of hardship. But praise God that He overrules my plans in order to show me more of Himself, and bring me under His lordship.
So, after that longwinded intro, here's Newton's hymn...

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer:
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour
At once He'd answer my request;
And, by His love's constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evil of my heart
And let the angry power of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

'Lord, why is this?' I trembling cried,
'Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?'.
'Tis in this way' the Lord replied,
'I answer prayer for grace and faith.

'These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayest seek they all in Me.'

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This looked a lot prettier when I did it in Word... ho hum :)

Rachel's Relay Year 2004-2005

Thanks for all your support this year! For my final prayer letter of the year, I thought I’d give you a bit of an overview of the whole year – things to praise God for, and things to continue praying for.

In June we had our last Relay training conference, in which we reflected over the past year, and looked to the future. It was such a blessing to meet with the other 68 relay workers from across the UK & Ireland, and to hear that God had been dealing with every one of us, teaching us more of His sovereignty and His grace. For each one of us this year has been a real mixture of struggles and joys, but through every situation God has drawn near to us, showing us His limitless love to us, and that His grace really is sufficient for each and every situation! So here’s a summary of my year on Relay…

Personal study
This year I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time each week studying the core doctrines, and completing written assignments on subjects like the sovereignty of God, the deity of Christ, and the role of the Holy Spirit. As I’ve learnt about each of these, I’ve been able to pass on what I’ve learnt to the students I worked with, which has been great.

Team days
Every month all the UCCF staff and relay workers from across Wales met together for teaching and fellowship. These times have been really helpful, as we’ve shared the encouragements and struggles in each of our regions.
In Swansea I’ve been working with two other relay workers, Emily & Andy, and our staff worker, James Sercombe. It’s been a real blessing to work with them!

Relay conferences
We had three conferences where all the Relay workers from the UK & Ireland met together, in September, January and June. These have been vital in equipping us for the work we’ve been involved in. At each conference we were reminded of the need to rely wholly on God for all things, to keep focussed on Him and declare the gospel wherever we are. It was such a help to be able to meet with a big group of people who were in the same boat as me, to realise that they struggle with the same things I do, and to rejoice together at the ways God has blessed us.

National & Regional events
☺Straight after our first relay conference we had Forum, the national training conference for CU leaders. This was a great week with really helpful teaching. It was so good to meet so many students with a passion to share the gospel on their campuses.
☺New Leaders Training Weekend took place in March after the committees had changed over, and this was a fantastic weekend. The leaders of the Welsh CUs joined together, learnt from each other, and were eager to come and be equipped for each of their roles, so that they could be an effective witness on campus.
☺In the Easter holidays many students and UCCF staff & relay workers went to Word Alive, a national conference for all students. Although I was unable to go, those who went were greatly blessed, and came back with a clearer understanding of the grace of God.
☺In June we had the Welsh Girls Conference, a weekend away for girls from universities and colleges across Wales to come and learn about godly womanhood. This was a really blessed weekend, Toni Coulton spoke really helpfully on the given subject, and all the girls got on well. After we had to cancel the girls conference because of illness in February, it was such a joy to see it happen in June. And more than that, it went really well! Praise God for that.

Swansea University CU
The CU at Swansea University has been a pleasure to work with. The committees (old & new) have shown a real commitment to the gospel, and a desire to provide good teaching for the CU in the form of main meeting talks and weekly Bible studies. They have also been consistent in their efforts to share the gospel on campus, not just through CU led mission events, but in their personal witness to friends. The CU leaders suffer frustrations common to most CUs, in that there can be a problem with apathy amongst CU members towards getting involved in the work of the CU. However this is generally a strong CU, with good leaders. Do pray that their enthusiasm for the gospel would be contagious, that they would influence the more apathetic members of the CU for good.

Life after Relay
Relay finished at the end of June, and God has provided me with an ideal job here in Swansea. I’m working as a part time administrator for the Welsh Secondary Schools Association, a job which uses my organisational skills, and also is a lot less intense than relay! I’m hoping that a less tense job will help my health to improve, as over this past year I’ve had some quite bad periods of depression. I’d value your continued prayer.
· I’m working with non-Christians, so do pray that I’d have opportunities to share the gospel, and also have the courage to take those opportunities.
· Pray that I would continue to be disciplined in how I spend my time & money.
· Please pray that the lessons I’ve learnt this year would continue to impact my life, and that I would always depend on God’s grace, not my own strength.

The ongoing work of UCCF regionally & nationally
Pray for the Welsh team as new people join them in September. There will be 3 new relay workers: Sian, Kerry and Andrew. Heledd Job is the new staff worker for Swansea, and James Sercombe will take over as team leader. Pray for each of these as they take on their new roles, that they would know God’s help as they prepare to start.
If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s happening in university and college CUs across the country, contact the UCCF office and ask for the Focus prayer diary. It’s packed with news and things to pray for.
UCCF, 38 De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE1 7GP

My contact details are unchanged.

Once again I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU for all your support over this past year, you have been a vital part of the work here in Swansea!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3v20,21