How to Turn the Conversation from Dark to Light

The world is watching the UK as the fourth terror attack since March, and the fire in Grenfell Tower with current death toll near 80, have filled the headlines with darkness. As a foreigner in this country, I usually find out about these attacks and tragedies first from worried text messages from my mom in America, since she’s watched these events unfold as I’ve been asleep.

As a Christian working with young people in schools and churches, I begin to fear that the darkness of these events will cast a shadow on faith, and the children and teenagers will be haunted by the very real question of “Why would a loving God allow this to happen?”

This is an age-old question, and to be quite honest, it often unsettles me. I’ve wrestled with this question in multiple seasons of my faith journey, and it sometimes seems to serve as an anthem for anti-Christian views.

So how do we address this question, this fear, this search for hope that young people carry?

The good news is God addressed this question first–from the beginning of time in fact. Genesis chapter one, the first words in the Bible, tells us that where there was darkness, God breathed in light:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God responds to darkness with light. He fills the empty, void places with brilliance and splendor. Dark places do not stay dark. This is His plan.

Genesis chapter one also says that God created man in his image. This brings forth the additional question, “Then why are men so evil?” But the root of this answer is simply the darkness that we as humans often choose—sin. Sin was never God’s hope or intent with mankind, but the love he lavishes on us means we get to make our own choices. So God responds even to the darkness of sin—He redeems.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Jesus is this Word that John speaks about, and God intended from the beginning of time for Jesus to be the hope of mankind. He also serves as a clear example of what it is to be light in the grim circumstances of life, and commissioned people to follow his example.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

With this simple look at what light is, what it really does, it’s simple to switch the conversation to the hope that shines in the darkness.

Mr. Rogers, the American children’s show host communicated how we can see the image of God reflected in people during dire circumstances. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

So how do we encourage young people in the midst of such darkness? Show them the light. Direct their gaze to the hope that blazes brighter than the hate. Tell them how they can be a helper—how they, too, can shine in the darkness.

Please join us in prayer as we, and countless other youth workers, share this message of hope with young people in the U.K.


“Family” Includes More People than we Think


I was recently given the opportunity to attend a week-long course in Family Ministry, and I never thought I’d say this about going back into education (even if it was just for a week!), but I came away feeling renewed, refreshed, and reassured about the work that I do. For a lot of the week, we reflected on the question “what is family?”, and we answered that question on a personal level, as well as discussed what it means in the UK today, across the world, and throughout history.

Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1 is one I can relate to without any trouble. I’m eager to have children of my own, but currently in a waiting period where it’s just not going to happen for a while. Some days, this is excruciatingly hard to deal with, especially working with children, young people and families, and serving so many people who have the thing that I want most. I want to be able to care for and nurture and inspire someone of my own!

It’s times like this that I try and bring myself back to my role in the family of God. During our reflecting on “what is family?”, one of our tasks was to build what we considered to be our family out of jelly babies. I included my mum, my dad and my brother, who make up the immediate family that I lived with and grew up with, but then I thought about who I consider to be my family here and now, as my parents live far away and my little brother is all grown up. I decided to include two of my best friends, whom I lived with at university and who now live around the corner from me. They have been there for me through thick and thin, and I hope I have done the same for them. We’ve even quite literally saved each other’s lives a few times! By every definition except blood, they are my family. I also started to include a few other local friends, as although I certainly don’t believe family has to be people who are geographically close to you, it certainly helps you to build relationships if you are seeing each other on a regular basis!

I kept adding more and more friends into my family until eventually I ran out of jelly babies, but the task helped me to realise that what I define as my family is as wide as I want it to be – and I want it to be as wide as the world!

Whilst, like Hannah, it is breaking my heart to have to wait uncertainly to become a mother, whilst I wait for my time to come I shouldn’t hide away that familial love that I feel; I want to be pouring that love out on my worldwide family of God. There are infinite challenges in young people’s ministry, but if we open up our hearts to realise that every single child, young person and adult who walks this earth is part of that amazing godly family, making them feel loved and accepted becomes easy. I’ve spent so long praying to God for a family – but the truth is, I’ve already got one, and one that I can nurture and inspire right now.

My prayer is that our eyes would be opened to just how wide and accepting the love of God is, and how much He longs for us to join His family. Please pray that here in Southport, we might make our children and young people feel part of that family of God through our words and actions, and by walking alongside them, pouring out all the love we have to spare.

Katherine-Alice is a Children’s and Youth Worker who currently works in Southport but is about to jet off to Yorkshire to start a Diocesan role overseeing the Children, Young People and Families work there. She loves Disney, Eurovision and cheese, and hopes one day to write a West End musical.