Whilst we were on outreach in the Netherlands, we had an opportunity to run arts workshops for the youth in the church where we were staying. Brennan, my photography intern (who is staying to be staff!), and I taught a photography workshop. We spent the time teaching the youth how to use their smartphones to take better photographs and the basic principles of photography, and as I watched them practise their new skills, my heart grew heavy. I remembered when I was in youth group and the way that I always compared myself to others. I remember how I watched the pastors’ sons and daughters and how they always won at Sword Drills, how they went to private Christian school and seemed to know so much about God. I thought that I would never get to that level. I knew that I needed to know God more, but I thought that they were the only ones who would ever know enough to be pastors and missionaries. I didn’t feel worthy of that life myself.
I wish that I could gather together all of the youth that I come across and tell them just that: that they are worth it. They are worthy of a relationship with Christ. It is a relationship, not just a knowledge, and the knowing comes to the heart more deeply than to the head. So many of the people that I grew up with aren’t Christian anymore. I don’t know what led them to abandon their faith (or actually, I could probably guess, since they are the same reasons I toyed with when I was eighteen and realised that it was time for me to decide what I believed in). It took me encountering Christ in a field in Canterbury and discovering that He wanted a relationship with me, a relationship meant for every single day, for the intimate corners of me that I didn’t show other people, for me to decide to give my life to Him. To actually give it, and not just to sit in a pew on Sundays because my mother made me promise to keep going to church.
There was one 14 year old boy in the workshop who took a particular shine to photography. Even after the workshop ended, he found me to show me his photographs. He let me help him position the camera and focus, and even with the language barrier and his inherent shyness, by the end of the evening, we were laughing and sharing stories. It was so easy to form a relationship with him. It just took time and intention.
I am learning that with the Lazarus Project, as well. It is easy to build relationships with the people that we meet, as long as we take the time to do it and have intention. Sometimes it takes me nearly thirty minutes to complete the five minute walk from King’s Cross Station to my house, because I pass several of my mates along the way, and I stop to see how they are. It doesn’t matter that they sleep rough and that I sleep in a bed. We are still friends.
Taking the time to be intentional is something I am learning about quite a bit these days. Time is one of my most precious commodities. I have learnt over the past five years that God is faithful with my finances. I can trust Him to provide the money for my rent, for food and transport, and even for the visa that I need to renew in July. But I still worry a lot about time. And time is the most precious thing that I can give the people that we meet through Lazarus, or through Taboo Arts Internships, or in evangelism. Because through time I can build relationships, and through our relationship, they can meet their Saviour and take the first steps into new life.
And maybe I won’t get all of the photos edited and all of the facebooks updated that day. Maybe I won’t complete my to-do list. And maybe I don’t need to.