The Start

‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.’

Honestly, I think when it comes to me, God must be in hysterics.

As of a few weeks ago, my plans were fairly laid out. I was going to apply for a PhD in Creative Writing at Nottingham, start in January and work on the book I’d always dreamt of writing. To be honest, as my plans go, this was one of the better ones. It was relatively achievable and certainly something I could see myself doing in the foreseeable future. Yet despite all this, my plan did have one flaw. One huge, glaring issue that no matter how much I researched and prepared, I couldn’t overcome and it was this: those plans were mine and God had better ones. 

So, I’m moving to Hackney.

Much better right?

At face value, it’s not really my dream. I’m a village girl through and through. I love my wide-open space, running at night and being able to walk for miles without coming across another person. I know very little about Hackney but a couple of google searches confirmed that it is a very different world to what I am used to. Mum decided to put my mind to rest by reading out the Whitechapel stabbing statistics, and dad joined in by letting me know ‘that’s where Jack the Ripper’s from!’ My parents always know just what to say.

But, crime stats aside, Hackney is where I’m heading. I’ll be joining the Ambassadors Football team as an intern, focused on using football to share the amazing news of Jesus. And that’s where this gets good…

I had moved on since doing Ambassadors Summer camps last year. Life had settled into its routine again, which is always a problem for me. Familiarity is so comfortable, even if you’re not particularly happy. I was working hard to stick about in the place I knew I needed to get away from. Thankfully God didn’t let my arrangements happen.

I’ll skip the part that got me to America for now, but in a typical Bronnie style I ended up agreeing to camps a week before they started. Mark booked my last minute flights and soon enough, I was back out in Ohio for another exciting summer.
In all honesty, when I went to America I was in a pretty bad place. My heart was not in it and my life had become characterised by the fear and anxiety that seemed to be part of every decision I made. I think I expected the weeks to be something I needed to get through, rather than something I was going to love and enjoy. But God is so good and he does more than we can ever ask or imagine. I met Martin and Dan during the first week at SMTC. That in itself was a huge ‘coincidence’ as the international leaders conference hadn’t been held at the same time as camps before. We got chatting and they informed me they had a space for a new intern. Already by that point God had been prompting me to question what I really wanted in life. Old passions had started to come flooding back and I think I knew even then that I wouldn’t be returning to England unchanged.

Camps were truly incredible. I was so uplifted and challenged by all the people I came into contact with, hosts, coaches and campers alike. We were going through the story of Jonah during Bible times. This is a story in the Bible I’ve never been particularly fond of because I’ve always found Jonah very self-righteous and frustratingly blind to his own faults. This is ironic as it was revealed to me throughout the week just how similar to him I am. God challenged my heart in a lot of ways through what we were teaching the kids. I realised that like he had chased after Jonah, he had been chasing after me. He’s been causing storms in my life these past few years and I think I’ve just about experienced the 21st century, landlocked equivalent of being eaten by a fish, but at last it led me to cry out to him. This year, and my life, is his to do with as he wants.

When I look back on my life I can see how God has been paving the way since I was very young. I don’t remember exactly when I caught the ‘football bug’, but I can tell you I’ve got it bad and I don’t think I have any hope of recovery.  If I can use this passion to serve God where he wants me, I consider it a privilege. I am excited to see the plans he has for Ambassadors and my own life. Hackney really has become the dream location because where God wants me is the perfect place to be.

(Mum is convinced that that whole ‘Jack the Ripper’ stuff has probably blown over by now.)