For me, Ripon was a chance to reconnect; with friends, with God and with myself. The rest of this year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me but giving up three weeks of summer to be concentrating entirely on God and having the space to stop and think, was a massive blessing to me. I have always found that Ripon allows you the space to be, yet also, if you choose to get involved, provides the closeness of a community all devoted to making God known in the world. Ripon is such a powerful community because there is no hierarchy, no leading from the top, but a community that leads as a team.
The pace of the life, even in secluded mid-Wales, doesn't always provide the fellowship of a youthful community of believers who are honest and open about their lives and how they reconcile their experiences, and discover a greater depth to their relationship with our God. The range of testimonies this year really helped me to grow again in understanding of God and encourage me to keep going on my own personal spiritual journey with Him. Ripon taught me that community is one of the most important aspects of a relationship with God as we need others to help us along the way; just like at Ripon.
Ripon is a definite testament to the fact that life, and life with Jesus Christ in the driving seat is a journey, that is constantly moving and changing directions. The constancy, stability and presence of God is so apparent in a community of believers such as Ripon and that it is why I've come back every year for the past eleven years. To see the Ripon family grow and change as it has in my time here and to see so many give their lives over to God and explore the concept and experience a relationship with him, has been so exciting to see. The range of people that come to ripon is what makes it so special, Ripon is an international community which share in the praise and worship of our lord Jesus Christ.
I have seen many friendships and relationships formed at ripon, and the great thing about these is that the relationships formed don't just stay alive for the two or three weeks of the summer but carry on throughout the year. As a leader I have been blessed with members I've met throughout the years keeping in touch with me and keeping me updated on how God has been moving in their lives or the lives of their friends and how they want to bring more people to ripon because of their own experiences.
About the author:
Jenny Lovell is a third year student studying History in Lampeter. She enjoys music and is teaching herself to play the guitar.
One of the biggest issues that often comes up in conversations about God and Jesus and Christianity is ,‘If there’s a loving God why does he allow so much evil and suffering in the world?’
There are lots of ways we might think about this but one I have found helpful is to reflect on a story Jesus told about weeds and wheat, which can be found in Matthew, (the first book in the New Testament), chapter 13, verses 24-30, and also verses 36-43.
There Jesus tells a story of a farmer who sows seeds of wheat but during the night his enemy comes along and scatters weeds among the wheat in the same field. Many scholars believe the weed planted by the enemy was a plant called darnal. It’s so similar to wheat they can only be differentiated when the ears on the wheat develop. By which time the stronger darnal roots would have wrapped themselves around the much weaker roots of the wheat, making it impossible to uproot without damaging the wheat.
Rather than pulling up the weeds and ruining the more valuable wheat, in the process, the farmer tells his labourers to leave the weeds in the ground until harvest time, when the wheat and weeds will be dug up and separated, without causing the wheat more harm. While the grains of wheat will be stored, the weeds will be burnt and destroyed.
As the labourers wait for the harvest, we as Christians wait for God’s judgement, where the weeds of evil will be separated from the wheat of love, and destroyed. If God uproots evil before judgement, he will inevitably damage all that’s good in the world, causing even more pain and suffering, not less.
The prospect of God’s judgement may sound scary. However if God is love then he’s compelled to judge between good and evil. So where we see God’s judgement, we will also see his perfect justice.
Although we wait patiently, we don’t wait passively. Like the student studying before an exam, the actor rehearsing before a play, or the England football team training hard before the World Cup, (ok bad example!), we as Christians are called to prepare the world for God’s final judgement.
Instead of allowing the weeds of evil to over run the world, we endeavour to over run the weeds of evil by sowing the wheat of love. It includes praying for victims of evil, sharing the good news of God’s love, standing up for justice, caring for the environment, and helping those in need.
I hope this post is helpful. Any further contributions will be welcome. But please send the really difficult questions to Sam and Claire!
About the Author
James is a monk.
During the weeks of Ripon I saw God do great things. I saw him completely change things for many people, who for the first time accepted Jesus into their lives. I witnessed him raise deep and magnificent questions inside us all sparking great intrigue to learn more. I saw members and leaders grow in their understanding of God’s love and grace thus growing in a relationship with him through the testimonies and teachings heard. I saw him pour out his love and spirit on every single one of us healing and fixing us back up from all the rubbish in our lives.
For a fair few members it was their first time in which they’d ever come across this whole God-thing. It was amazing to see God make an impact in their lives for the first time. Where they learnt about this astronomical grace that’s given to everyone or when they found out about what the big deal was with this Jesus bloke is, that he has saved us all no matter where we’ve come from or what we’ve done. It truly made me stand in awe at the people came to find this and made me praise God for these magnificent works whilst getting excited for what he’s got planned next for these people.
For others it was more about these deep burning questions they have that is preventing them from fully trusting and believing. At Ripon I saw God use this to create a deeper desire to learn more and use Ripon as an opportunity to answer those questions and to grow in knowledge of him, allowing us to grow in a relationship with him. I often have questions that challenge my faith however when answered by God it only strengthens my trust and love for him. Furthermore from our knowledge gained, God used us at Ripon to go out and teach other people who had similar queries.
Many of us came to Ripon bearing great baggage that weighed us down, and drew us away from God. However I saw the father's hand at work, he reached out his hand for us and he took us in when we were damaged and broken and, like the perfect carer he is, he fixed us back up and at the same time lifted off this great heavy burden that world forces us to bear. He spoke to many people that when life got tough he would carry us through it giving us the strength and support to carry on. He would never give up on any of us. He let us know that his love knows no end and is given to each and every one of us, eternally.
I saw God do all these outstanding things at Ripon but that was only 3 weeks of my life, I can’t wait to see what he has in store next!
About the Author
Jonny has been coming to Ripon for a number of years now. He is a uni student and loves the chance to let his hair down.
God always amazes me. And I'm always amazed at how he amazes me. Its like he is thinking “what can I do to surprise them again, how can I show them again that I really have got it sorted”, and then he goes ahead and does it.
To be honest I wasn't really looking forward to Ripon this year. In the run-up to it I was really busy- we had a guy living with us, visitors every weekend, the World Cup (!), I was working lots of overtime and planning for various things/events. I was tired. What I really wanted was a relaxing holiday not doing much (the opposite of a week on camp with activities 15 hours a day alongside 90 other people). I wasn't looking forward to the site being different; not sleeping much and a new group of leaders, a load of whom I hadn't met and most of whom I didn't really know all that well. But I still knew God wanted us there and so begrudgingly I packed my bag and picked up my car keys.
However, by the second day of being there I couldn't have felt more different. I woke up refreshed, it felt like I had slept for 3 days solid and I was ready, and excited. I normally feel refreshed after a cold shower; a nice swim; an ice-cold drink; a juicy mango (best fruit ever); an ice lolly (particularly a Twister) or a big cry followed by washing my face. But I felt refreshed that day after sleeping for only about 5 hours (don't know why?!) and doing none of the above. I know that was God, I know that was God's Holy Spirit working in me to prepare me for the week at Ripon and everything after it. And I believe that was God's plan for the week and everyone there. To be refreshed- inside and out.
God was working, through new friendships, honest conversations, laughter and tears. I believe God wanted us to be able to release anything bothering us, getting us down, frustrating us or just getting in the way. And he provided space, humility, love and a family-feel to do that. And in doing that he was then able to refresh us with his Holy Spirit through Jesus- for each person I am sure it looked and felt different, and that it happened in a different way; but I definitely saw it. And my prayer is that what he has started in each of us and our lives this past week at Ripon can continue to draw us nearer to live completely and utterly in his powerful, unconditional love and acceptance. And I thank God for it all.
About the author.
Natasha lives and works on Liverpool although she'd rather you didn't hold that against her. She is married to Gareth and enjoys ballroom dancing, murder mysteries and Ovaltine.
Ripon is able to bring people from all over England for a week together to have fun, make friends but most of all; worship God together. It's one of the reasons why this was my fifth year going to camp, and to experience the work of God in such awe and power again this year has been overwhelming. Every evening talk is something you feel that you can relate to in one way or another and to then be able to follow it up with prayer and worship is brilliant. I love to sing and as always, the band was fantastic and the worship I feel is an amazing way to praise God. You can tell how much God is working when you see how many people stay in the evening response sessions where we can continue worshiping God and ask leaders to be prayed for. I have never felt the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way as in Ripon and being able to connect with God in so many ways is great. Obviously we all have doubts, some more than others, and yet Ripon is the place where you can discuss these in seminars, dorm time or just by grabbing a leader in free time. I always leave Ripon feeling fresh and free of doubts, and more as one with God. For some, the power of God's presence at Ripon helps to renew a relationship with him, for others it helps to boost their relationship with God and then for other people, the presence of God is so prominent and obvious that they choose to start that relationship with God, the greatest relationship we can have. This year, I felt that God has worked in many ways at Ripon. It saw people coming together, people renewing their faith in him and for some; to incorporate a further understanding of this amazing God and his son that we worship. For me, on a personal level, Ripon has brought me closer to God and I feel that many others are the same. Hearing other leaders testimonies is fantastic as you get to hear what God has been doing in other peoples lives, and to help you realise what he can do in your life.During the past 8 days, the work of God in camp has been immense. Great friendships have been formed, we have all had a huge amount of fun, but most of all; I feel that God has strengthened everyone's faith. It is at Ripon that many people fully understand what is this great faith that we have and more about the God behind it all.
About the Author.
Josiah Watson has been coming to camp for a number of years now and has loved it each time he does come. One day he hopes to be a leader to help others meet this living God.