My name is Jess Pratt. I’m 22 and I’ve I just graduated with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing. I was a member of University of Hertfordshire Christian Union for two years and it’s there that I came to faith.
In September 2019, I was drawn to a leaflet from Hertfordshire University Christian Union and wanted to know more. I wasn’t a Christian, I didn’t have a connection to the church in any way, but something was giving me a strong urge to go along. Being a first-year commuter had made me feel quite isolated but going into my second year made want to start trying out new societies so I could meet new people. There was an ice cream night on that evening and so I took a chance by going along to see what I thought.
The ice cream night was a real turning point for me – before, I had felt quite shy and wasn’t sure where I fitted in at the University. As soon as I walked into the room I was welcomed and made to feel, for once in my life, that I did fit in. One girl went out of her way to introduce me to various members, each of whom made me feel welcomed too. I often describe being part of the CU as feeling like a huge hug, I still feel like I did that first night every single time I walk into a room and people are always pleased to see me.
Looking back, those friendships could have just ended on the ice cream night. However, I got so many messages afterwards, asking to meet up with me and it was there I started to build lifelong friends. Through these connections I was able to read Mark’s Gospel, study the Bible with friends, learn more about God and go to main meetings where I experienced sung worship for the first time. At the same time, I was also going along to baking sessions, cooking nights, carol concerts, fireworks outings and the CU weekend away.
'How can I sum up the impact of the CU? Not only do have I the most loyal, kind and caring friends that I've ever had but I have also found God.'
I was also encouraged to look for a church. I found a local church during lockdown, and it was nice to go along online without making a commitment straight away. I instantly knew it was the church for me and wanted to get stuck in with everything.
Last year in September I started going to seeker course on Zoom which I enjoyed. It gave me a better understanding of Christianity, the space to ask questions that I wanted to know about and hear other people’s stories about how they came to faith. All of these things helped me to understand my own journey better.
I’m now involved with a small group at my local church and also help to run the youth group.
How can I sum up the impact of Hertfordshire CU? Not only do have I the most loyal, kind and caring friends that I've ever had but I have also found God. That’s one of the greatest gifts that they could have given me. It's been a fantastic time of growth for me as a person and I could not have done it without all of them.
I'd encourage all the Christian Unions this year to get to know new people, that new person could well be a Jess.
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