Written by Chloe De Silva
Prior to Kickstart, I did not see the point of opening myself up to more people and joining a new community. I felt satisfied with where I was and comfortable with my parish community in Singapore that I had already journeyed with for a year. I constantly doubted the idea of ever having an ‘experience’ or ‘moment’ that would shape or change the way I grew in faith. Also, the decision to travel across the world to Europe for university was made just a month before attending this retreat and it was safe to say that I was in a lot of worry about starting my new season of life in a completely different country.
This led to me attending Kickstart with a closed heart and with not many expectations.
One of the underlying reasons why I never had much hope in receiving anything at retreats is the fact that I’ve never had a ‘big Jesus moment’ like everyone else I was journeying with. Growing up in church, I would be the girl that was always early for catechism classes, volunteering at church events, singing in the choir but I still never got to know God on a personal level like everyone else seemed to have. After 5 years of trying to find that ‘big Jesus moment’, I lost faith in thinking I was worthy to know him in that special way.
It was after day 1 of the retreat where I was inspired by not only how open everyone was with sharing and testifying their faith but also with how dedicated the service team was in wanting everyone to be comfortable and welcomed (even over zoom). I was given the chance to look at my journey from a different perspective. The sessions of the retreat were impactful and gave me space to reflect on my journey in faith and towards knowing Christ better. Furthermore, what genuinely left a mark was the community I experienced. I was extremely sceptical about meeting new people and having to be open with strangers but everyone made it easy to do so.
I may not have had that big moment that most of my friends used to testify about, but I was given a different opportunity to know him. I believed that it was through the family and community that I saw in everyone that reignited the sense of hope in me. Through meeting the EU Anchor Community, I began to understand that I was really given the opportunity to find new brothers and sisters to journey with as well as understanding how I will never and should never be stagnant in faith. The community I experienced was different from the one that I already had. It was not as intimate or exclusively mine but rather, it was big yet vibrant and inclusive. This is when I started to realise that in the cheekiest way, as always, God was loving me through the different communities that I was blessed with.
The anxiety that came with knowing I was leaving home to pursue a degree overseas was major and I knew it played a role in my unwillingness to find a new community. I thought I was alone and that no one could understand or relate to me. Over the weekend of Kickstart, I was once again proven wrong. With all the sharings of other students who raised the same concerns and worries I had, I understood why I was encouraged and pushed to attend. I was calmed and assured in every way that I needed to be before I embarked on my new journey away from home!
That weekend with this new community allowed me to say my first ‘yes’ to new experiences. Although I continue to struggle with the balance of work and prayer life, I have found a new love in saying yes even when I want to say no. I know that my relationship with God deepens each day with every conversation and interaction I have with my fellow brothers and sisters. It was not obvious to me at the start, but I started to realise a change in my attitude towards things that were out of my comfort zone. The ‘big Jesus moment’ I was searching for, came in small, subtle and cheeky ways that were unexpected. I found new kingdom friendships in so many people in the EU Anchor community, where I’m constantly encouraged and pushed to dig deeper and to yearn for the God that we talk about everyday. They have also made life studying abroad a lot less scary because I knew that I had companions on this tough yet fulfilling journey. I found a community that I didn’t know I was searching for just from witnessing the love of God work through the people I met at Kickstart!
So, if you are just as doubtful or comfortable as I was, I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!