9 July 2018

Earlier last month we had the privilege of taking seven residents away for the weekend to ‘The Gathering’, a men’s only festival run by CVM. The following has been written by Tim Wells, our Activities Co-ordinator who ran the weekend away.

Taking place in a field near Swindon, The Gathering brings men’s groups and individuals together from across the country for a weekend of activities like quad biking and sword fighting, as well as seminars, sung worship and inspirational Bible talks – making it a perfect opportunity to introduced unchurched guys to Christianity for the first time.

YMCA have taken residents away to Christian festivals in the past few years but this was the first time we – seven residents, three staff and two Christian volunteers – headed to The Gathering.

In the weeks running up to the event, there had been a lot of interest from our community of residents about Christianity, what it means to believe in God and follow Jesus and despite the group having little to no Christian influence in their childhood and teenage years, the trip was truly AMAZING!

All of our residents were keen to engage with the presence of God, and desperate to learn more about the Bible. Over the weekend, five of them decided to become Christians, and they prayed to know God more in their lives. Through the conversations they had, the meetings we attended, the prayer they received and the fun they had in the all the activities, the Lord was very evidently at work.

A few highlights included:

  • Two of our residents were really affected by one of the main talks and spoke about how it caused them to think about their past and all the mistakes they had made. This was a great opportunity for us to then explain about God’s forgiveness through Christ and we had the great honour of leading them in a prayer in which they committed their lives to following God.
  • Another of the residents, who grew up in an anti-Christian environment) spoke about how he was beginning to feel a change inside himself and that he feels no shame now to say that he believes in Jesus. He spoke about wanting to see his whole family get baptised and that he is committed to not hurting people ever again.
  • Since we returned to Exeter, several of those guys who committed their lives to following Christ came along to the first of our post-Gathering discipleship courses which we will run over the next few months to support them in their new faith. We also took them along to Vineyard Church the following Sunday where they were having a special day of baptisms.

It really is in a heartfelt voice we say ‘Praise the Lord’, for using the YMCA to reach and minister to these young men and bring them into God’s family.