Being from Northern Ireland. How did you hear about an internship opportunity at Redwood?
Well it’s funny … When I first started to pursue the idea of ministry, I happened to ask a friend of a friend if he knew of any internship opportunities. He had led worship at a church in Canada a few times and he said he’d put me in touch, but he actually never did. Then 1 day, I saw Tom Hamilton post a link to Redwood on his Facebook page. (we lived in the same residency at University together, but didn’t know each other super well) So to cut a long story short, I’m a massive FB creeper. I scrolled through the Redwood page and saw pictures of the guy that was meant to put me in touch. So I connected the dots, got in touch and got accepted to come on board the week after.
You have become such a central part of our student ministry leadership team – it’s crazy to think you’ve been here for almost a year now! Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to and what your responsibilites have been.
My role is very program heavy. I’ve been planning all of our student program nights here (along with Jesse). That means the Edge (jr.high), Seven (high school) and the Churchill Drop-In centre. I’ve also been able to lead several student small groups and run different retreats for all of our students. On top of this I’ve been able to hang out with our students outside of program nights, this mostly consists of us going to Montana’s for our half price wings every Monday (try the Texas Bold). Usually we get about 16 people, and it’s great because we don’t have to wait for a program night to build community.
During your internship, what areas of personal skills and abilities have you seen the most growth in? Where have you seen the biggest change in your life?
I have a massive heart for working with young people. Honestly, it’s not just about the fun and games, but for me it’s about seeing young people fully realize their potential and embrace what God has for them. My Dad passed away when I was 17, and for a long time I didn’t have a mentor or role model and I hadn’t even embraced faith for myself yet. So I know the position a lot of our young people are in right now. So to answer your question, I’ve seen myself become more of a mentor figure and role model to the students around me, and I’ve loved and embraced that. I’ve learnt more about what it means to ‘stand in the gap’ for them and what it takes to be a positive and effective influence in a young man’s or young woman’s life. It’s not easy, but it’s so satisfying.
What have been your favourite local TBay restaurants or places to explore?
Probably the most difficult question on here. I’m going to say The Red Lion … Earlier on in the year I had an Ox heart sandwich which was pretty tasty (even if it sounds a little gross). It also has a pretty good craft beer selection which I also enjoyed very much. As for places to explore … I love an adventure. Probably one of the coolest places I got to explore was the trestle bridge at Pass lake. It’s beautiful, definitely a place to catch a sweet sunset. I’ve done a lot of my major thinking there this year. I’ve also managed to get into some really cool abandoned places this year, like a tree maze and an old lumber mill. Really cool places to see.
What is the biggest thing you’ll always remember about TBay?
Not to be super cliché … but the people. I’ve met some people this year that have really made a profound impact on me. I’ve laughed with people, cried with people, been attacked by wild animals with people. I’ve been treated like family here, which means a lot when your biological family is on the other side of the world. I know I’m going to be taking away with me real, lasting relationships and I’m not going to take that for granted. I know that the 1 minute greeting slot on a Sunday morning can be pretty awkward sometimes, but I really would encourage Redwood members to take full advantage of it. You really have no idea what incredible people are out there until you start to invest in the community around you. Oh, and I’ll always remember Persians. People and Persians.
What is one major thing that God has taught you about yourself through this internship experience?
Well honestly it’s taught me something that I thought I knew before I came here, but apparently not. The whole process has taught me that I really don’t have to have it all figured out. There’s not one thing I have to stress or worry about. Timing is His, and planning is His. Before I came here, I was under the illusion that by age 22 you needed to be graduated and started your career and thinking about a mortgage. God has that for some people, but not all of us. It took coming here for me to realize that I was living under the pressures that society puts on a young guy my age, rather than deliberately partnering with God on the journey He has me on. I’d encourage anyone reading this to take a minute and ask God who’s expectations they’re living up to … society’s, or His. Then do something about it. This year has been a massive relief for me in many ways.
It’s sad for us to say, but you’ll be wrapping up your internship this week. What’s next for you?
Well I actually have a pretty cool opportunity lined up for me when I get home. I have taken on the job title of ‘Pioneer Evangelist’ with an organization in the U.K. So I’ll be moving to Merlin’s Bridge, Wales on the 1st of July (which unfortunately only gives me 5 days at home) to take up the role. I have also been enrolled in school again, and I’ll be a part-time student at the University of Durham (alongside my job). As a Pioneer Evangelist, it’s my job to develop new expressions of worship in the local community and I’ve been given the freedom to focus on whichever people group I prefer, which is young people. So far, I’ve pretty much secured a building to run a cool drop-in centre from and I intend to be doing a lot of work in local schools. Another cool thing is that I’m actually going to be taking a guy from Redwood with me as an intern! So I’ll be keeping up a strong link with you guys. It seems you’re pretty tired of having Irish folk here, so I thought I’d take a Canadian for a change. So Tyler Height will be joining me early September and working with me on the project. I’ll definitely make sure to keep you guys up to date with all that’s going on.