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Celebrating God's work through the Academy

Date posted: 08/09/16

Celebrating God's work through the Academy

After 11 years, the Academy is coming to an end. Join us as we celebrate what God has done and hear from some of those impacted over that time.

There is so much to celebrate and be grateful to God for after 11 years of the Academy. In that time 127 teenagers have come through our doors in Bicester.

Now that we are rethinking how we train people in the 18 to 25-year-old age group, we wanted to share some of the many highlights we have seen on the scheme.

In this article, we hear from former Academy members about how being part of the gap-year programme encouraged them in their faith and sport.


 

Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

Living with nine like-minded Christians and just enjoying life with them was such a highlight for me. Praying, worshipping and keeping accountable with each other was really encouraging because I saw God working not only in my own life but in the lives of my friends on the Academy.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

Prayer is so powerful. Before the Academy I was far too reliant on the advice and opinions of others. I relied on my own and their strength to guide me whereas in every situation I now see how important it is to pray. Especially with my sport, I was so reliant on myself and encouragement from other runners that I wasn’t leaving time to pray before races and praise God for giving me the strength to run.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

The nature of the training was that we were always prepared to be sent out and ‘go’ into the world of sport. I never felt like it was just theory and we were given loads of great opportunities in schools, universities and with friends to put our training into practice.


Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

There were so many highlights I could choose from, however one which really stuck out for me was the prayer night on our international mission trip to Bobbio Pellice, Italy. Walking through the little Italian village streets talking to our God with the breathtaking French Alps as a backdrop, how could my heart not be full of thankfulness for what Jesus Christ has done for me?

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

Considering I wasn’t planning on taking a gap year and hadn’t heard of Christians in Sport until a month before I signed up for the Academy, I think the biggest lesson I learnt was simply to trust in God’s plan for me. Another lesson I learnt was that washing cars can actually be rather fun!

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

Getting this opportunity to be stuck in God’s word, specifically looking at sporting issues and how to live my sporting life for Christ every day for six months was incredible. It really did help set me up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ by teaching me that everything is done for the glory of God. Whether in the changing room with teammates, on the hockey pitch or in a club for a social, it’s all done for the glory of God.


Celebrating God's work through the Academy

 


Celebrating God's work through the Academy

What were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

The first one was the weekly Bible overview studies that we did when we were in the office. This has helped me immensely in the years since as I’ve been able to fit parts of the Bible into the larger picture the Bible paints for us. The second highlight was living in the house with five other lads as we were able to develop solid friendships. The third was our week on international mission in Macedonia. Meeting people in a completely new culture yet having two of the same passions - Jesus and sport - was class. In the years since I’ve still kept in touch with one of the Macedonian leaders where we Skype call each other to encourage and pray together.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

Having completely unashamed confidence in Jesus and realising the call upon my life to share the gospel with as many people as possible.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

I have started work as the youth academy chaplain for Cambridge United a few hours a week. What has become clear through doing this is that, sports chaplaincy along with playing regular sport alongside people who aren’t Christians are ways that I can continue to reach the world of sport for Christ. In July 2017 I will be ordained into the Church of England where sport will play a huge part of my ministry.


Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

Our final weekend is still a time I like to think back to. One of the last things we did together as a group was take time individually to go off and pray together for each other and our future ahead. For me this was a chance to thank those on the Academy and tell them what they meant to me after six months together, as well as encourage them before they went off to wherever they were heading in the future.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

The biggest lesson I learnt was through our accountability sessions and how I act towards and speak about other people. I really wrestled with that concept of being honest with someone rather than venting to someone else. It’s something that has stuck with me through university and living with the hockey girls when gossip is so commonplace about other players or the coach.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

The thing I thank the Academy most for is how much it prepared me for university. We had the university mission that gave me real insight into the life of a Christian student at university. We had sessions in the ‘Bicester Bunker’ with scenarios that we would come up against at university within our sports teams and we worked through our answers and reasoning with each other and our leaders.


Celebrating God's work through the Academy

 


Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

The school and university missions helped me realise how open people were to discussing the gospel and especially at university, where they were starting to question faith as many were making a new identity for themselves. I also enjoyed the teaching as it was very practical and relevant to where I was at in my life and the world today and how to reach it.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

That being a Christian should have an impact on all of my life and not just parts of it. I felt that before the Academy, I was quite reserved about talking about my faith and what I was up to on a Sunday and therefore segregated it.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

It helped me realise that sport could be a form of worship and the way in which I played could be a big witness. In response to this, I had many questions from the football team at university and hockey team at home in regards to my faith - both what I believed and why I believed what I did.


Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

My highlight was being able to play in a local sports club at the same time as having the space to think through what the issues, challenges and opportunities are of living as a Christian in a sports club. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to pause before embarking on adult sport with its very specific challenges and learn together in a safe environment, but also see it modelled by other staff members and Interns.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

The biggest lesson I learnt was how badly disciplined I was, it was a real shock, but a vital one to have before starting university.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

The Academy gave me the passion to want to share Christ with my teammates and the world of sport through the biblical training. It also gave me the foundation to begin to do so with the practical training on things like building relationships and apologetics.


Celebrating God's work through the Academy

 


Celebrating God's work through the AcademyWhat were your highlights of your time on the Academy?

Taking two friends who don’t know Jesus to Lanzarote for an incredible holiday full of great sport, good fun and treasured times reading the Bible together.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt?

The biggest lesson I learnt was the necessity and centrality of the Bible in understanding who Jesus is, who we are and how to be saved.

How did it help set you up for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ?

The Academy helped me see how sport is a great way to connect with people, create genuine friendships and share Jesus with them when there are God-given opportunities.


A KEY TIME TO INVEST IN PEOPLE

Ian LancasterThe aim of providing wider sports mission training for more people has led to us ending the Academy and rethinking our training package for the 18-25 age group.

Ian Lancaster, our UK Co-ordinator (pictured), said: “It is such an important time to invest in people for the future. The 18-25 age group is still a key target group that we want to help train. We want to provide a training scheme with wider scope that is easier to access for more of this age group.

"ReadySetGO Plus gives two weeks in the classroom learning the theory of ‘reaching the world of sport for Christ’ and two weeks on mission helping to deliver sports camps in different European countries.

“This gives our 18-25 year-olds a chance to access our core training scheme during this key period of their lives.”