Who knew that serving Jesus would almost get you arrested, give you a deep love of curries, and get you mistaken for a Pop Idol contestant?
My journey with the Zeph peeps began about 15 years ago, when I unwittingly agreed to join a missions team ‘Up North’. Being from Wales anything Midlands and beyond is North so I didn’t really have an idea of what I was letting myself in for as I boarded a train and journeyed, for what seemed like days, I mean it was no Lord-of-the-rings-esque quest! During this week of helping a church to share the love and grace of God, I met a very tall, very northern, Jesus loving, song writing, guitar playing, cheese eating and all round top bloke – John Froud. Thus began a great friendship with John and the Zephaniah Trust.
During my ‘year out’ after university, I was trained in evangelism by Mark Greenwood (FortyThree Trust); part of this training involved regular missions with John and the Zeph peeps and trips to Bradford. I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of serving alongside these great people in schools, churches, universities and even a lovely town in France! John Froud and I were almost arrested in said French town for trying to hand out leaflets! It’s ok – we were marched out of the marketplace with threats to never return. Just an ordinary day serving Jesus!
A great memory was being mistaken for a Pop Idol contestant when I sang along with John in a school assembly in Idle and having ‘paper’ snowballs continuously thrown at me as part of Holiday Club, where, against character, I was found to be the villain of the piece!
One of my favourite times has to be the schools week in Malvern, where a collective of Zephaniah and Forty Three Trust people partner together with local churches. Over the years we have been involved in hundreds of lessons, assemblies, Christian Unions and youth events. A particular lesson that sticks in my mind was one where John shared the story of his recent visit to the Philippines, showed his trendy bag made of plastic rubbish and sang beautifully. You could hear a pin drop and there was a sense that God was doing something profound in these young lives. Another highlight were the Sixth Form ‘grill-a-Christian’ type forums. Like victims to a firing squad we were lined up and asked questions, from ‘What is the meaning of life?’ to ‘Jesus isn’t really real, is he?’ from ‘Prove creation to me’ to ‘How can you trust the Bible?’ It was great to be part of such a good team that answered with grace and insight.
I have learned so much serving with the Zephaniah Trust – that there are many ways to take light into dark corners so give your availability, unleash your creativity, add in some faith and watch what God does!
Sarah Whittleston is Associate Pastor at Elim Church Kingstanding and an Associate Evangelist of the Forty Three Trust, alongside John Froud. Her vocals feature on John’s Don’t You Know kids’ album and she is a longstanding Zeph Friend.