I believe Exodus has adopted a great model for spiritual progression with its: Ex-plore, Ex-change, Ex-press and Ex-tend courses. While it may be easy to declare that one needs to progress, Exodus team courses provide a clear means of doing so. Personally I have seen these courses with their progression-focussed approach allowing me to develop in my faith.
In 2009 I had my first experience with Exodus; an Ex-change team to Gran Canaria. While on a team residential in Tobermore, one of the leaders asked if I would speak in the church we were heading to. Although it was only a five-minute ‘thought for the day’ to a handful of people, to me it was earth-shatteringly huge. I remember approaching the front, a clammy bag of nerves. I bumbled through my notes and sat down. What I had said probably made as much sense as Indiana Jones 4, but I remember my team leaders really encouraging me.
Three team leaders allowing me the freedom to fail, but being beside me the whole way, contributed to my spiritual progression in a seismic way. Over the course of the different teams I have been on and led, I have seen this call to progression, to get out of the boat, bearing so much fruit in people’s lives.
Exodus has instilled in me a call to progression. This call has seen me go from team member, to team leader, and this in turn has opened up the opportunity to do an internship with Exodus. At the end of this year I will be entering into youth ministry position in my church, taking this value of progression with me. From the 16 year old afraid to speak in public, to delivering sermons in my home church, from the member being invested in, to a leader who seeks to bring out the best in my team. Growth and progression are vital in the life of any disciple!
James Anderson,Youth Associate at Hope Church, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland
As I was a young person, I was very shy and not very relational; I was afraid of speaking to strangers and even to people in church. I was raised in a Christian family so I knew about God all my life. At the age of six I made the decision to give my life to Jesus. Through the years I experienced some highs, but also many lows and so my heart began to build up a wall around it to protect it. I was never very emotional but this wall turned me into a completely emotionally detached person. I finished school at 17 and decided to go at a Discipleship Training School and at this stage my first mentor came alongside me. We met weekly for six months during which she helped me to begin breaking down that wall around my heart. She said ‘I was a tough nut to crack’ but I am so thankful that she didn’t give up on me even though it took her months to push for depth in our relationship.
Since that time we are still in contact and she still plays the role of a mentor and role-model in my life. It has been almost six years now since we began that journey together!
Through my teenage years there were a couple of people who invested in my life. My church opened a youth cafe for teenagers with broken families and I was able to help out from the beginning. Over the years since it began, the leader has given me more responsibility in the ministry; she challenged me not to stay in my comfort zone and as a result I have grown so much.
Last year I did an internship with Exodus. I always loved to travel around the world, but I had never been away more than a few weeks at a time. I remember the first day in Northern Ireland: where I was sitting in a meeting and I didn’t understand a word! But to step out of my comfort zone, to meet people from another culture was something special. As I have mentioned at the beginning, I was a very shy person, and like Germans are, more reserved. But through this year I learned to push myself forward. Not to hide but to challenge myself. And through that my character was shaped enormously.
Today I am working as a youth worker in a church. Sometimes, when I see my young people around me, they remind me a bit of myself; some of them are shy but they have so much potential. I want to invest in them just as many leaders invested in my life so that they can realise their potential, develop it and invest it again in the future generations.
Hanna Molli, Youth worker in Josua Gemeinde and Anskar Kirche, Hamburg, Germany
We would meet early each week, 7am, before the morning rush around town. I was in my school uniform, ready and laden down with books and rugby kit for the day ahead. We met in the old library building, which at the time was being converted into the new youth centre. We huddled close to the radiators, holding a mug of coffee for warmth. Each time we followed the same simple routine; we caught up on the week that had passed, read the next chapter of the book of Joshua, discussed it and prayed through some issues, including my next steps in the future. I experienced first-hand that mentoring is a key relationship from discipleship.
Those weekly mentoring sessions with my mentor, Pablo, when I was 17 and 18 helped shape who I am today. It gave me a love for scripture and an insight into the depths behind the words on the page. He helped me to see my gifting and showed me the potential God had on my life, long before I saw it or believed it. Through those mornings asking many questions from the Bible and Pablo’s experience, I began to explore the possibility of testing my calling in full-time ministry and took the first steps of that journey. Mentoring is a key time to develop gifting and ministry opportunities.
I’ve now been in full-time ministry for 7 years; I still look back on that time as a key growth period in my life and I still catch up with Pablo every few months. Since then I’ve been both a mentor and continued to learn as a mentee from several strong men who I respect as leaders and disciple-makers. I’ve been a mentor for young men who have come to faith, who are hungry or are testing a calling and wanting to go into ministry. In every instance it’s brought me joy to walk alongside a young man, see him growing and learning as I renew those lessons which stirred up a passion in me as a mentee.
Mentoring produces fruit which can last. Following the same simple steps which Pablo and I journeyed through: developing relationship, reading and exploring the Bible and praying together, I’ve been involved in baptising, commissioning into full time ministry and supporting ongoing growth in mentees. Some of the greatest moments of joy in ministry have come from seeing fruit which lasts and multiplies in ministry. If we’re serious about discipleship and investing in Christian young people who will become Christian adults then I’m convinced we need to invest in the individuals, regularly, faithfully and consistently.
David Gilkinson, European Development Worker
In July I was a part of an Missional Discipleship Academy in Romania. We spent one week in Transylvania with teams of young leaders from Belgium, Portugal, Romania and Northern Ireland. The Academy focused the journey from being a disciple to being a disciple-maker. The week included training and practical service in the local communities.
The training dimension involved taking part in workshops and seminars. These helped me to get to grips with discipleship and how important it is the heart of youth ministry. I really enjoyed learning from the other leaders and was inspired by their experiences. I loved spending time with youth leaders from different parts of Europe and hearing how they do things. It was amazing to see how people from such different cultures came together in unity and common purpose.
The ministry dimension was also key. The Academy included mission through kids work, distributing food to poor families, running a community festival and practical service. Understanding the discipleship is more than our personal growth is vital if we are to follow the example of Christ.
Through the experience I learned so much about the importance of investing in people and empowering them to take on new challenges and to walk with them as they become disciple makers. I came away from the week feeling encouraged and ready to come home and focus even more on discipleship with the young people I am working with in my church and in other areas of my life.
Disciple Makers Inspired to launch Cross Cultural Mission Trips from Romania!
September 2014 saw an exciting new development emerge from the Exodus 360 network of youth leaders in Europe. A team of passionate young men from Romania were inspired by Exodus to reach out into neighbouring countries, to reach places where Jesus is not known. The team of 8 young men travelled into the Republic of Moldova on the 1st September to spend 5 days sharing and showing Jesus. Some of their core activities included kids clubs, practical work, home visits and sharing in a local church service, some of which you can see in the pictures below. Paul, the team leader, told us how it all came about.
‘We began to organize this mission 4 months before it actually happened. We were inspired to take action by the verse Mathew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. Based on this and some help and encouragement from Exodus, we had the courage to start this ministry from nothing.We gathered together 8 boys who were willing to go to Moldova and serve God. On the team we had 4 Christians, and the other 4 boys we prayed that they would make a commitment to Christ too through this experience.
The prospect of young leaders from around Europe catching the heart for mission and maturity and running with it as God would lead them is amazing! The team experienced God at work first hand during the trip. Paul also shared a story of one of how God was so obviously in control.
‘We had to cross the border without some needed paperwork and the only way to do this was to wait another few days or by prayer and courage. Before leaving home God reminded us that He is the Father of everything and if He is willing to do something, nothing can stand in His way. We crossed the border without any problems and the guy from the border police didn’t even ask about the papers or anything, he let us across like we were his friends! In that moment we understood the power of prayer and full dependence on God. We praised the Lord because he used us and we felt useful in the fight against evil-and the guys that were not Christians saw that. Over all, the youth grew, served and were a blessing because Exodus helped, and gave us the vision.’