Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Learning New Things (reflections on Sabbatical) Part 1

Hi! How you doing?
We’re back after having been on a 3 ½ month sabbatical (break) that has been truly wonderful. More of that later. As our church website is under reconstruction, I thought I would open a new blog using the same app I used for the Zoe Challenge, and wondered what to call it? I wanted to capture the call and challenge we face as modern disciples of Jesus, so tried various things like Gav-follower, but thought that might freak a few people out and at best sound egocentric, or worse like I was leading a cult! I could use Gav-Disciple, but I wanted something that anyone could easily engage with; since ‘disciple’ means ‘learner’ (from the Greek language that the New Testament was written in), I went with that. And ‘Challenge’ because having done a huge Physical (Zoe) challenge in May, I learned how through teamwork and training you can achieve incredible things, and feel that following Jesus is a life challenge in which we never stop learning, and never cease to have adventures, trials and laughs. What do you think? Hope you enjoy ...

So I did my last Sunday on the 12th May, and early on the 13th flew out to Latvia with my now great mates Ben, Tom and Jim to begin the mighty Zoe Challenge: cycling from Riga in Latvia,  ...

via Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, and then in the UK from Hull down to Southampton. All to raise money and awareness of the fight to stop human trafficking in the UK; all because a girl called Zoe was conned and trafficked here for the purposes o sexual exploitation. But Hope for Justice rescued her and I want to help rescue more people like her. Thanks to everyone who helped me raise nearly £14000 towards this.

It was an incredible journey, full of pain, laughter, rain, sunshine, hills, emotional moments and huge mental and physical resolve. If you’ve never done an endurance feat, when you’re body runs out of energy, your mind plays tricks on you and you struggle to function normally. It was such a privilege to do this with the whole team, not just the other 3 cyclists, but our back up team of Isaac, Spoony, Ed and Helen and all the UK supporters and staff. When we’d reached our destination for the day around 6 or 7pm, shattered, recovery drinks downed, showered, gone down to dinner and sorted kit out I would crash back in my room around 11, 11.30 and try to pen a blog; I didn’t manage it every day but I loved it when I could. It helped me connect with everyone back home. 

The elation of crossing that line in Southampton as a team was utterly magnificent. I learned that I had something to give, something to bring, something I could do to help a massive goal; something that was an outworking of my faith; something that went towards what Jesus started when he said he had come to set captives free. That’s what motivates me.

You know I never would have managed it without the other guys. None of us would have made it on our own. Each of us had our moments when we’d had enough or hit a wall. Each of us picked the other up, sometimes literally off the floor, with the words “Come on you can do it”.
I made friends alone the way too. I had only met Ben a couple of times before, the others not at all, but by the end of it we were more than mates. We had found a bond that will never be lost. We had set out to accomplish something together and in doing so found that elusive thing that humanity searches for: belonging; being in a pack, a family, a team; and finding our place in it. I never would have found that sitting at home. It happened as I went on a challenge in which I needed help, and was in turn need to help.
I hope as you read this you realise, or perhaps would allow yourself to believe that you have a place in a tribe and can find belonging. That tribe is a bunch of people who are also searching for meaning, purpose and fulfillment as they follow Jesus. Join me as I spend my life on the challenge of following this incredible person, where I have found belonging, acceptance and team. Join me as we learn together how best to do that. Get stuck into the Challenge and you’ll find your tribe.

Leave a comment if you like and we might spark a discussion. No worries if it doesn’t. I’m not precious ...If you have experienced these things, let us know how ...