Nathan Youlton, PSALMS – Strategic Sports Minister
One rainy November Saturday morning, two years ago, PSALMS started a pop-up football session in North Gloucester, aiming to reach out on behalf of the church into the local community. Over time the group grew from 1 to a solid 10-12 each week, including a 13-year-old girl. She enjoyed football but remained quiet for most of the session. Her local vicar had suggested that she came along, as she was involved in church but didn’t feel she could express herself fully through those means. Her love of football was clear, and I could see the embers of faith in her as she occasionally expressed her church background and an interest in Jesus.
Initial contact grew to her serving on our local Sports Holiday Club as a young leader. Giving her that outlet to work with kids alongside local vicars brought her faith out into the limelight, and we saw her sharing faith, both her struggles and her encouragements in front of all whom she met.
She came along to our 5-day residential in the summer and flourished amongst other teenagers who call themselves Christian. She has continued to be a source of authenticity and light in places where young people are still closed off.
What was initially just a meet up within a local park has developed by God’s grace into a faithful and encouraging relationship between us as a church and her. This story is by no means a finished article, and my prayer is that the Lord will continue to journey with her in her pursuit of identity in her life. Christ remains with her, and she is a real source of encouragement to me that young people do want to share, discuss and wrestle with the many influences they have in their lives.