Tim Adams talks to 18 year old Connor Winston about his Year Out with Youth for Christ on the HomeGrown stream…

Where are you from?

I’m from the Southend area.

How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a Christian family and I made the decision myself to be a Christian. My parents got divorced when I was 10 years old. I found it very unsettling and at that moment it was make-or-break in terms of my relationship with God. The situation caused me to realise that this life isn’t only full of great things, it also has real difficulties. Even so, I felt a strong desire to get baptised so at 10 that’s what I did.

How did you hear about and decide to join Youth for Christ’s Year Out?

A woman in my church was part of the Youth for Christ touring band, The Sense, so I knew about Youth for Christ through her. I also knew The Sense leaders, Joy and Andy because they used to practice at our church. I wanted to explore working with young people and my mum said, ‘why don’t you check what Youth for Christ’s Year Out is about?’ So, I got in touch with the team and ended up applying to do the new HomeGrown option. It appealed to me because it allows you to live at home and work in your home church.

How are you finding it?

It’s challenging, in a good way. I’m learning a lot about myself and meeting lots of other young people who share the same sort of mindset as me. It’s been a challenge going from someone who’s grown up in their home church to somebody who’s a youth worker but the Year Out team are very supportive and I’m starting to be seen by my friends as being a youth worker now. I’ve found HomeGrown quite different to what I’m used to in church but it’s definitely a good kind of different!

How are you developing your gifts on The Year Out?

I lead worship at church, where I play guitar and sing. The reason I wanted to do this year was to learn about what it is to really worship and lead others in praising God. I chose to do it with Youth for Christ because they are experts in how to engage with young people in a relevant way. I don’t really know what I will go on to when my Year Out finishes but I think a lot of young people feel that way and that’s okay.

Why did you want to stay at your home church?

I have a heart for others and wanted to help other young people. I really felt that I wanted to do that in the church family that I’m a part of because I want to give back to people who have nurtured and influenced my faith. The HomeGrown option lets me live at home but also have support, mentoring and development from The Year Out team.

Do you think it’s a comfortable option?

No. I feel like my life has changed a lot even though I’ve not moved away. Whether you leave your hometown or not, you will have things to deal with. I’ve lost friends and relationships by staying where I am yet staying has really strengthened my faith. The important thing is to serve the Lord where He wants you.

What would you say to another Christian young person who didn’t feel that going to university or away to do a year out was what they wanted to do?

I’d encourage them to follow Jesus wherever He leads and assure them that there’s joy in serving Him and trusting Him for the future. When friends have gone away it can be tough but it’s another opportunity to look to Him and let Him accomplish what He wants to in and through you.

What would be your advice to a young person sitting reading about HomeGrown and considering whether it’s something they want to do?

My initial advice would be to go for it and then take each day as it comes. You don’t know what God is going to do in your life and what ways you will see Him come through for you as you do youth work in your home church. You also don’t have to be a perfect person to join The Year Out’s HomeGrown option because you will grow in your faith and discover your skills through the year.

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The Year Out