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  • Don’t waste your summer!

    It’s the end of another long year. You rush out of school, finally arrive home, flop on the sofa and… And what? Suddenly, you find yourself with six empty weeks ahead of you (or longer for some of you!). While the thought of watching endless movies and episodes of various TV series every day for six weeks sounded thrilling in the middle of your exams, now, it may actually sound a little daunting!

    In Ephesians 5:15-16, the apostle Paul says:“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

    God wants us to make the most of our lives because we don’t know how long we have! God wants us to go out and make “wise” choices about what we do with our time, and yes, that includes the summer holidays! He wants you to be able to look back at your summer when September comes and to be able to say that you’ve done something worthwhile.

    Christian camps or festivals can be a really good way to deepen your relationship with God, make new friends, and gives you a great opportunity to share what God’s been up to when you get home. The biggest of these, Soul Survivor, runs for several weeks in Scotland, Stafford and Somerset, where thousands of young people meet with one purpose – to worship God. There are also various seminars, sport venues, and places to find out information about gap years and volunteering opportunities.

    But why wait? Volunteering not only stands out on your CV or personal statement, but is a really fun way to give something back over the summer. Websites such as Do-It can help you get started and find you something to occupy your summer. The Bible says “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38) and it’s true – volunteering is incredibly rewarding and definitely worth giving some time to. You could always get a group of you to volunteer together if you don’t like the thought of going it alone.

    And if you can’t convince your mates to volunteer with you, why not meet up and start a Bible/prayer challenge? Encourage each other to read a book from the Bible each week, then meet up and chat about what you’ve learnt. Alternatively, you could check out Open Doors’ World Watch List and spend each week of your summer praying for a different country where Christians face persecution. Praying together is powerful, as Jesus says in Matthew, “if two or three people come together in my name, I am there with them”.

    But don’t stop when summer ends! On September 15th, Open Doors are launching their “Wake Up and Pray” campaign. For six Mondays, we’re challenged to wake up early, giving up some comfort in our lives to make a stand for our persecuted brother and sisters around the world. It might seem like a hard thing to do, especially on a Monday morning, but God can move in incredible ways when we let him in.

    Whatever you decide to do with your summer, make sure you enjoy it! There’s no point spending time doing something you don’t enjoy – summer is supposed to be fun. Spend some time praying before you make any decisions and see where God wants to use you.

    Have an incredible summer – make it count!

    Camps/Festivals:

    www.soulsurvivor.com
    www.cci.org.uk
    www.weccamps.org
    www.hillhouse.org.uk

    Volunteering databases:

    www.do-it.org.uk
    www.vinspired.com
    www.wwv.org.uk

  • Six weeks without Facebook!

    In our friendship groups or school, we all know someone who’s constantly attached to their phone, updating their Facebook status hourly, and tweeting into the early hours of the morning. Hey, you may even be that person yourself.

    I hate to admit it… but I am one of those people. Most of the time, I’d like to say I’m quite fired up for God. I give a lot of time to my CU and church during the day, but once I’m home, you’ll find me glued to my phone, iPod or laptop (sometimes all three!)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that social networking is all bad. Used in the right way, it can be a great method of sharing God’s word and empowering others.

    My youth leader and I started Tweeting a Bible verse every day with the hashtag #worthsearchingfor and we found that so many people were favouriting or retweeting the verses we posted, even if we’d never met them!

    Personally, I find it starts to go wrong when it gets put before Jesus. All too often, I find myself venting all my thoughts, ideas and worries onto Twitter, or Facebook before I bring them to Him. And in fact, sometimes, they don’t even reach Him.

    I’ll check Facebook before I go to sleep and as soon as I wake up, and I’ll read my Bible only if there’s nothing interesting happening. I can be full of God energy at house group, or at church, then I’ll get home and immerse myself in other people’s lives and it very quickly brings me down.

    Which is why I, the most internet-addicted person in my youth group (in fact, probably our whole church!), am making the decision to give up Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram for Lent – a six-week Blackout if you like!

    Personally, I find it starts to go wrong when it gets put before Jesus. All too often, I find myself venting all my thoughts, ideas and worries onto Twitter, or Facebook before I bring them to Him.

    Honestly, I know I’m going to struggle. I know I’ve got some difficult situations coming up during Lent, such as my A-Level mock exams, where I would normally dump all my stressful thoughts onto Twitter.

    Giving it all up means I’ll have nowhere to turn but to Jesus and good friends.

    I believe God calls us to give everything we have to Him, and by that, I mean that we should spend as much time as possible in His presence, be that through worship, prayer, reading the Bible or serving in your school or on the streets.

    During Lent, I tried to give as much of this new free time to God – directly through reading the Bible, but also indirectly, by spending more time talking to family who live far away and doing more things to give back to others.

    Open Doors works with Christians who are persecuted and forced to keep silent about their faith. And so I too chose to keep silent. Sharing their faith via the internet isn’t even an option let alone a choice for our brothers and sisters in countries such as North Korea, Iran and Somalia.

    Although it was uncomfortable to give up social networking for six weeks, I was reminded of our brothers and sisters who are placed daily in situations that you and I couldn’t begin to imagine. They don’t get a choice. But I made this choice on their behalf.

    Sign up to do the Blackout

    Sign up to do the Blackout this March and we’ll send you a free Blackout resource pack:

  • We support people who are beaten, tortured,
    imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.