The phrase ‘gap year’ has certain connotations doesn’t it?
Yet as an organisation we have committed ourselves to offer a year-long volunteering opportunity for a select group to work alongside us on the frontline, with all the training, support and associated admin that involves.
Because we believe in discipleship.
Whether gap year has been called ‘Reachout team’ or ‘Year team’, over the last (almost) 25 years we have been blessed to see many people encounter God in amazing ways, establish a firmer footing in their faith and discover new gifts or particular callings through this programme.
And this isn’t just those who have actually participated, but the many, many other school children, campers and youth that we are able to reach and serve because of the extra hands that our participants offer so willingly.
As gap year coordinator, it has been my privilege over the last 18 months to see the amazing journey that our gap year folk take from nervous first time interviewees, to tentative contributions to training programmes, to shadowing front line staff, to taking on increasing leadership roles.
Waiting for the current intake to return from their Ukraine trip, I was like an agitated Mother Hen at the airport, so excited to hear their stories of having to rely on God in the unknown! I am currently booking them into summer mission and camp teams, knowing that they will be there to give their all from what they have learned skills-wise and of the God whom they are serving.
Gap year with SU Scotland gives space for individuals to hear where they might be called in the future. This may be teaching. It may be youth work, or social work. It may be theatre directing or grounds keeping or church ministry or forming a Christ centred family.
It allows us as an organisation to support them as they take the leaps of faith necessary to truly depend upon God, and to mentor them as they deepen their relationships with host families, new churches and weekly school groups of pupils and volunteers.
It challenges us to know when to pick up after mistakes and when to allow a teaching moment.
And it humbles us to see that these gifted individuals would choose to not only serve hard for a year with us, but that they would actually raise money to cover their own costs as they do so.
Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”. While we are so blessed by volunteers willing to serve so faithfully, we will continue to promote a gap year as a way to do so.
There are still spaces available for the next academic year (Aug 2016-17). If you think a year of working with Scotland’s youngsters in churches, schools or centres could be what you need, please investigate our gap year page! We are blessed by whatever gifts you bring or stage you are at – graduates, school leavers and those looking for a spiritual adventure are all welcome!