The Gap Year didn’t exist when I was growing up. Like most of my friends I left school at sixteen. Unlike most of my friends I was serving at sea within four months of leaving school. Nowadays college seems to extend education into the mid-twenties for many young people. Marilyn and I bought our first house when we were twenty-one years old, married a year later, and started our family before we had been married for eighteen months. How times change.
Our two eldest sons both spent gap years with the Baptist Missionary Society. Nick went to Trinidad and Michael went to Thailand. They both worked without pay having had to fund their gap years. Nick then went on to do a second gap year with Youth for Christ (YFC) to gain additional experience of youth work so that he could train as a youth worker.
Several years later Beth announced her intention not to go to Sixth Form College to do ‘A’ levels, despite an impressive eleven GCSEs all at ‘A’ or ‘A*’ grade. Instead Beth went to the Tech College and did a diploma in sport and exercise and something else. Then she joined Youth for Christ. That was last year. She is still there and has just started a second year working with the YFC Nomad cage football team. It seems incredible to me that she would want to do a second year given that in her first she covered 10,000 miles and slept in twenty-two different beds! The statistics that matter are connections with young people. Nomad work in schools, churches, youth clubs, etc., and last year had contact with roughly 7,000 young people. That’s not a Gap Year. That’s hard work. Long days working in different environments, travelling the length and breadth of the UK, never quite sure what the next host family will be like, living on donations, etc. That’s not a Gap Year. That’s a challenge. I couldn’t do it.
I am really blessed by what my daughter is doing, and how she is growing in God and blossoming in ways I never saw coming. I am blessed by her outrageous trust in God to meet all of her needs and sustain her in her travels. I am blessed by the knowledge of all that is being achieved by Nomad and all the other young YFC volunteers.
I am also blessed by the many people who have supported Beth in so many different ways. Every financial gift, every prayer, every letter, every card, every encouraging text or email – it all adds up, and every person who supports Beth and other volunteers like Beth contributes to the amazing mission activity that takes place when followers of Jesus step out in faith to serve Him.
And finally, I am blessed by my church. Hereford Baptist Church you are incredible. The support that Beth has received from HBC has been overwhelming. You are truly family. Who could ever have thought that such encouragement, generosity and love would result in that strong-willed little girl with blonde plaits becoming the young woman of God that we now see serving Him so faithfully? Thank you church.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4-6a NIV)