What a year

A year ago I was preparing to sit my A level exams, with a place to study music at Chichester University on the cards. If someone had said to me then, ‘Actually, university isn’t for you. You’re going to take a year going deeper with God, being thrown out of your comfort zone and making some crazy new friends’, I would’ve probably laughed. But that’s how the year panned out.

Proverbs 16:9 ‘We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps’.

I had planned to do the one week KLS to give me a grounding before heading off to uni, but of course God had other ideas. The week was amazing, I went into it crying out to God to experience Him in a tangible way and the Holy Spirit hit me like a train. On the last day we were challenged to do something out of our comfort zone, but throughout the week I’d already moved out of my comfort zone, praying and sharing testimony in front of everybody. At the time they were very big things for me to do. Looking back, that was God just setting the tone for my year.

The week after I went off to university, but I got that feeling in my stomach where God is trying to tell you something, I knew I wasn’t meant to be there. Within a couple of days I had deferred my place and was back at home, without really knowing what I was going to do instead. Phil and Heather invited me to a meeting and offered me a trial week on the one year KLS, I wasn’t sure but accepted and turned up on the Thursday evening. The moment I stepped into the hall that evening I knew that this was exactly where I should be. God knew all along where I was meant to be, and planned some awesome adventures for me.

The first topics on the one year KLS were Identity and Father’s Heart. Growing up within the church I had heard quite a bit about the heart of the Father, but I’d never actually taken it on board. As I learned and studied my whole outlook on life changed, I’m a Son of God and a co-heir with Christ. I am entitled to peace instead of anxiety, confidence instead of nerves and joy instead of sadness. I know the God-given authority I have and I walk in that on a daily basis. Learning who I really am allowed me to step out with more confidence doing what God had planned, although it’s still pretty nerve-wracking.

As we started outreach in Poole I was nervous about seeing people I know. Whenever I explain to my mates what KLS is and what I’m doing they often have a look of confusion on their faces, so I didn’t really want them to see me shouting ‘Free Hugs’ at the top of my lungs, wearing a fluorescent yellow ‘Free Hugs’ tabard. But of course, this happened. I was on the gazebo team doing free hugs and shouting in my best market trader voice. I turned to my right and locked eyes with a mate from school who was about 25m away. He started to sprint straight towards me and almost knocked me off my feet as we hugged. He started asking what we were doing so I was able to explain how we were bringing God’s love to the streets of Poole and we had a really good chat. God showed me that outreach isn’t as hard as it looks and He is in every single interaction.

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One of the best bits of KLS was the mission trips, I was so blessed to be on team Holland when the snow came at the start of March. If someone had said to me a year ago ‘you’re going to be going to Holland on a mission trip, speaking and being translated in front of a church of 500, prophesying and having your 19th birthday out there’, there is no way I would’ve believed them. Again, God threw me out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad that He did. There are so many incredible stories I could tell, but this is my favourite. After the first Sunday morning service a young lad came up to me with his mum and asked me to pray for his nut allergy. So of course we prayed but as I was praying some pictures came into my head and I shared them with him. His name was Joshua and I saw him as a leader among his classmates and friends, someone who they really look up to, a role model. I also saw the red sea parting and I felt that he was going to see God do some unbelievable things, and God was going to use him to do unbelievable things. Later that day we were doing prophetic booths and his mum was sitting in with my group to watch how we did it. We introduced ourselves and she said ‘your prophesies for Joshua were spot on, we had an American preacher come and talk to the youth a few weeks ago, he stopped halfway through pointed out Joshua and prophesied over him, you prophesied the exact same things’. After she said this I was totally overwhelmed that God would use me like that.

After the snow had come and gone and the 3 other trips had been rearranged, I was again so blessed to be asked to go on 2 more trips to Shaftesbury and Burnham. On both trips God managed to push me out of my comfort zone again, despite after every week of KLS the boundary being pushed further and further. In Shaftesbury we did some prophetic booths after the Sunday service and I was paired with a young intern from their church. It suddenly struck me as we sat down to start ‘I’m the leader in this situation’. I led as best I could but left God in control as He gave us both amazing words that really resonated with people, and I left amazed again at the ways in which God moves and uses me.

In Burnham I thought I’d got away without really being pushed out of my newest comfort zone, but God left it until the last evening. One of the pastors of the church that we were visiting started the open mic night with a few jokes, God said to me ‘Why don’t you tell a few?’ From what I’ve learned this year, when God tells you to do something it’s probably best you do it. So I got up and told a few and quickly sat back down again. When I sat down there was a guy with Asperger’s talking to some of the team, I hadn’t really seen him come out of his shell all weekend but as I sat back down he did. He started telling me some jokes and we went back and forth telling jokes for about 5 minutes and he really came alive, before going back into his shell. God showed me that you don’t always see the impact of His plans, even if they may seem silly to you, like telling jokes.

Now onto next year and I know exactly where God wants me to be. I’ve been accepted onto year 2 and I’m ready for another year of delving deeper into God, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone further and having fun doing it every week.

Jake Wood

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