Above: Jonathan, in the foreground, joined by other students from Moorlands’ South West Regional Centre.
Three years ago I came over to England to do a gap year with South West Youth Ministries (SWYM), before starting a degree in Physics and Maths back in Germany—at least that was the plan. I never thought about studying Theology or even staying here in the UK, but that changed quickly after spending time in mid-Devon and working with young people all over the countryside. Now I am in my final year of a placement based BA (Hons) degree in Applied Theology studying with the Moorlands College South West Regional Centre. Instead of staying on campus, I am working as a Youth Chaplain with a charity called Connect while having nine study blocks: six at the regional centre, and three at the Christchurch Campus throughout the year.
The variety of practical youth work and academic learning has been challenging but very rewarding at the same time. Both the study blocks at Moorlands College and conferences in Torquay have enabled me to learn more about theology and youth work and I have grown immensely and been transformed in my own faith. I discovered a new passion for mission and Biblical theology, started to really enjoy class debates (especially about controversial topics) ,and got to know a great bunch of people both within SWYM and the Moorlands College network. Studying theology in a place where we can pray before lectures and have worship times in the evenings is so valuable to me and has given me more confidence in my own faith.
“Three years ago I came over to England to do a gap year… before starting a degree in Physics and Maths back in Germany—at least that was the plan. I never thought about studying Theology or even staying here in the UK, but that changed quickly”
However, the weeks in between the study blocks, which are packed with school, youth, church and community work have been my highlight so far. During my normal working week I spend time in a secondary school supporting both students and staff during lessons, do assemblies and journey with students who struggle with school or home situations. I also lead youth clubs and youth services while preparing camps in the summer and activities over the winter terms. In all these situations I am able to apply the things I learnt during the study blocks, explain difficult biblical passages to young people or relate rather abstract theories to day-to-day practice. Having so much practical contact time with young people meant that I learnt much more about evangelism and youth work than if I would have just studied theoretical theories through a university.
I love studying with Moorlands College because, even though I don’t go to seminars or see lecturers every week, I have a great support structure around me. The weekly Cluster meetings with other youth workers in the area are a great opportunity to share food, worship, play silly games and talk about success and failure within our youth work and the staff at SWYM and the Moorlands centres are always available to support, help and pray.
I am looking forward to what the future will hold, and I know—partly because of studying with Moorlands College—that God will show me what he has in store for me. That might be here in England, in Germany, or somewhere completely different, but it will involve talking to others about his love and his kingdom.