Sam's ESOM Experience

We are excited to be launching a new year of our Encounter School of Mission at the end of August 2015. We are looking forward to journeying with a group of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds as they embrace a life of encounter.

Recently one of our previous students wrote about how the year impacted them. Here is Sam's story...

"Encounter is quite often publicised as a year that will change your life. I remember those who had done it before me, when asked, telling me that it had completely changed the way they do their everyday life and always being a bit curious and sceptical of exactly what that meant. It’s hard to understand just how true that is without experiencing it yourself and honestly I had the odd ‘roll your eyes’ moment when people would say that to me!

But 10 months on from finishing Encounter I’m left in a place where I completely understand what they meant! Here are just a few ways in which a 9 month course has completely changed my life, who I am and my everyday journey with God:

I now understand and grasp hold of my identity in Christ. Through the teaching on identity and authority I completely understand and embrace myself as God sees meand not just as I see myself. This brings with it a self-assurance and confidence that is hard to describe, but full understanding how God sees you brings freedom like I’ve never experienced before this. Freedom to be who I was created to be and not simply who I am in the context of society or among my peers.

Stepping out into some pretty uncomfortable situations with only God to rely on changes things. It required me to learn to put my full trust in Him and my abilitythrough Him. Experiencing God come through for me in multiple situations and feeling Him patiently guide me throughout the year really opened my eyes to just how good He is on a day to day basis! Again, a look at identity and embracing my role as a son of God rather than just a subject has a massive impact on the way I study, pray and even think about my faith on a daily basis. It has taken a lot of the distance out of our relationship and I love it.

There’s a constant battle going on that I had become desensitised to; and in many ways was completely unaware of to begin with. I’d become less aware of the attacks of the enemy and was much more susceptible to influence, but not any more. Recognising everyday things for what they are is really vital when you’re trying to live a life for God.– I’m going to leave this one pretty vague on here but if you have questions about it message me.

It’s now hard to see something that you know can be cured or solved with prayer and not even say a prayer inwardly for it… I know what God can and will do if we have faith and ask and it’s become an instant inward response most of the time instead of just an occasional reaction.
There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with this and I’m still not great at stepping up to the mark and praying for people, even though I’ve now pushed through the fear so many times before.

Before the start of last year I’ll be pretty honest and say I really struggled with praying out loud at all, especially in front of people – even people I know! This of course made the first few times praying for the public all the more terrifying but pushing through it, to the point of actually feeling comfortable with it, has amazed me. It’s helped that my mindset around prayer has changed due to my relationship with God changing; when you take the formality out of prayer and embrace that you’re just having a conversation with your Father then it makes things so much easier!

If you’d asked me at the start of Encounter: “What do you think the change in your life will be after this?” my answers would have been completely different to the reality. I thought that over time the evangelism part of the course would become easy and that the changes would be more outward than inward. In reality I still find stepping out and talking to people about God difficult and daunting…but I know for sure that if and when I do it God will be right there with me every step of the way. The changes that I’ve experienced are less obvious but so much more significant. They bring a freedom and joy that can’t be described, only experienced.

For this reason if you were to ask me if you should do a course like Encounter I would instantly tell you YES….but push me for specific things it’s done for me and I’ll struggle to put into words the change. It’s not what I expected, but it’s better than I could have ever imagined."

Thinking about signing up this year? We would love to hear from you! There is still time and space for you whether you want to do it part time or full time. Find out more via this link.