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.