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Relay Blog: June 2017

Before I started Relay, I kept meeting Relay Workers who would tell me how much they had grown throughout their Relay year. For me, this didn’t really sink in until our final Relay conference.

At the conference, we each did a three-minute presentation about our year. From rewrites of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ to summarising the year in tweets, each person made it their own, and through each I caught a glimpse of the range of experiences that Relay Workers had gone through. Presentation after presentation spoke of the joys and challenges of doing Relay, with some having experienced a great deal of suffering, but God’s grace shone through these trials.

Looking back, I’m so thankful that our first Relay conference back in August spent so much time helping us understand God’s grace. It was evident that the input we had from conferences, study and discipleship throughout the year helped us to stand firm in grace. Whether I felt inadequate or proud, lonely or settled, nervous or confident, God’s grace taught me to take my eyes off myself and look at Christ, who has justified me and is sat at God’s right hand. Standing firm in God’s grace means trusting Jesus when he said ‘it is finished’, and knowing that nothing I do can make God love me any more or less.

As I finish Relay, I’m excited to see how this foundation of grace will help me, as well as all the other Relay Workers, live and speak for Jesus in the workplace, serve the church, and reach the world with the Gospel. I caught up with a few fellow Relays to see what they’ve learnt this year, and how that has equipped them for life post-Relay.

Ann-Marie Shorrocks. Student and Relay Worker at Cambridge University. Doing a PhD in Cancer Research at Oxford University next year.

As a student, I clung to academic achievement for my sense of worth and significance, and time and time again it crushed me. I knew the pressures of academia – the competitiveness, the lack of security – and I felt its hold over me. Fearing that it would make me drift away from God, I decided to walk away from it. However, Relay has given me the confidence to return to academia. Largely through the study program, I have come to see that my identity first and foremost is not as a scientist but as the daughter of God. Any worth or significance gained from a scientific breakthrough pales in comparison to being His child. It’s not that I’m not scared – the pressures are real and I know my own wandering heart – but if Relay has taught me anything this year, it is that by grace I started, and by grace I go on. Even though I will fall again and again, I know that His mercies are new every morning.

Andy Ashton. Student at University of Huddersfield, Relay Worker at Lancaster University. Hasn’t got a plan for next year yet.

Relay – what a year! Through spending a year with my CU, having an excellent study programme and being challenged to live by faith daily, I have been stretched, challenged and have really grown. This year was exceptionally helpful given my personal circumstances. Through losing a parent, God has been so gracious and sovereign in so many ways – through the timings of the university terms, the support provided throughout the year, and most importantly, the amazing support from other Relay Workers across the country. This year has been truly life changing and has shown me how gracious God is in the midst of our suffering. Even though I’m not 100% sure what’s happening next in my life, I’m confident that God will be guiding me every step of the way.

Lois Conboy. Student and Relay Worker at UEA. Doing Homestart with IFES in Italy next year.

I’ve loved learning more about what it means to be adopted into God’s family. I’ve been frequently reminded that above anything else I am a beloved child of God, regardless of my capabilities, qualifications or characteristics. Studying Galatians (four different times!) affirmed how amazing it is that God chose me to be brought into his family. He doesn’t just give me a clean record like that of a dutiful servant but He welcomes me as His child, despite often being the very opposite of a dutiful servant! He changed my status from ‘slave’ to ‘child’, from ‘captive’ to ‘free’ entirely because of His gracious love for me. His grace abounds beyond anything that I could ever deserve or hope for. Now more than ever, I know that as I look ahead to Homestart, God my Father will be cheering me on, guiding me and providing for me, just as He always has.

Tom Graham-Watson. Student at Durham University, Relay Worker at University of Sheffield. Doing a graduate scheme with Deloitte next year.

This year has been a really big step for me as a Christian. In short, I’ve begun to experience for the first time some foundational truths about God and His grace. I knew these beforehand, but only in my head: that God is good, and that I am fully forgiven, adopted, chosen and also liked by Him. I’m so glad that these have sunk in a little bit more before starting with Deloitte. I’ve no doubt that I will find it far easier than I would have done a year ago to know my Father’s interest in each area of my life, to be at peace about the future, and to be myself and live for God without conforming.

Mark Austen: Student and Relay Worker at Cambridge University. Teaching Economics at a boarding school next year.

Relay has been an up and down year for me. I’m almost more grateful for the hardships: God has taught me that He is faithful, that He is enough, and that He teaches and blesses us through suffering. It’s been such a joy being in Cambridge for another year; I love this city, the people, and all the opportunities I’ve had to serve here.

But the best part about Relay has been the chance to see that God’s grace means that He doesn’t need me, but He chooses to use me even in my weakness, for His glory. Next year, I’m off to teach in a boarding school. I’m especially excited for the chance to make the most of the opportunities to speak for Christ, but this year has taught me to be realistic about what that will entail. I will fail – but God, by His grace, will use my efforts for His glory.

As for me, I’m staying with UCCF to be a Staff Worker in Oxford and Buckinghamshire next year. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to continue helping students reach their universities with the gospel, and I’m grateful for the chance to invest a year to grow in God’s grace. 

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