By Deepu Jose, Anchor Community
During university, I wanted to fully focus on my studies and be active on campus. I only had 2 years overseas and wanted to make the most out of it. I was also confident that faith is personal, between me and God, and a community wasn’t necessary to grow my faith. Though I had “signed up” with the Anchor community (for Singapore Catholic Students in Europe), I wasn’t planning on turning up. I figured it would be a good backup plan, just in case I lose my faith.
Moving to Colchester and starting university was a refreshing experience for me. In a new environment, it was the perfect place to start life “anew” in some sorts. I joined societies which would look good on my final transcript and try different activities which I’ve never experienced before. Living a truly catholic life? – It wasn’t on my priority list. I was enjoying this new phase of life. I did continue to go for weekday mass whenever possible and had my small pockets of prayer time with the Lord. However, I found myself in a state of spiritual dryness, tired and worn out from the routine practices of faith. There was no sense of joy or excitement in practising the faith, but rather, it felt tiresome.
Concurrently, I had already joined a cell group. I was sceptical about how effective an online CG would be. As an introvert, I found it difficult to share openly with people whom I have not yet met before/knew little about. A few months later, during a call with my CGL, he shared with me a part of his faith journey and challenged me to do the same. I was encouraged by his sharing and prayed that I could share more openly. In the upcoming CG sessions as I shared more openly, I realised that, unknowingly, I began to take better ownership of my faith and the walls of pride within came crumbling down. I also started to appreciate and learn from the faith journeys of my CG brothers. A CG brother shared about his conversion experience and another brother shared about how he constantly strived to find out more about God on his journey towards baptism. These brothers were proclaiming their faith with such conviction that it moved me to build my faith and to lead a more Christian life.
Deepu (second row, on the left) with Anchor
My first time meeting the community was at a Chinese New Year gathering in London. Before going off for dinner, we had a sharing about kingdom friendships. That session made me reconsider the relationships I built with others. On the train back to Colchester, I typed out on my phone the notes that I had written from the session and sent them to a couple of friends back in Singapore. I told them that I wanted to intentionally journey with them as a brother in Christ. We made it a point to have a faith inspired conversation/discussion at least once a week. There was a strong desire in me to share more about the Lord with my friends. I also realised how blessed I was that God brought me to his people, even when I was far away from “home”.
Having experienced the true beauty of community, then came the struggle of saying “Yes” to God over the many things that came up in University. I was challenged to make time to build authentic kingdom friendships, and this meant spending lesser time pursuing other things. There was a Day of Recollection planned in Glasgow, Scotland. I was hesitant to head to Glasgow, because of the long hours I would have to spend travelling. Furthermore, I had a test on the evening of the day I returned back to Colchester. I indicated that I would not be present for this DOR. However, as the DOR date drew nearer, I decided to attend the DOR. The decision to head to Glasgow and share the joy of community, was the best weekend that I had in UK. Surprisingly, although the journey back from Glasgow was long, I did not feel tired at all and managed to take the test comfortably once I got back. I thank God that through this community and by his grace, I have found sincere individuals who are authentic in their struggle to follow Christ. I know that I am not alone in this journey of being a better Christian.
To those, who are excited about a new phase in your lives, don’t forget that God is with you wherever you are. You are not alone in this journey. There are brothers and sisters who will walk along with you. Are you willing to say yes to sharing your faith, and allow yourself to be carried by community to Christ ?