Encountering God on the Broads

Published on: 11 March 2020

The Revd Graham Kirk-Spriggs explains how a local sailing holiday transformed his faith journey.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a teenager. Hopefully thinking about those years of your life hasn’t made you run off, screaming for the hills. Our teenage years are the most formative and sometimes difficult years of our lives.
Not only was your brain totally re-wiring itself but your body was changing, in exciting or perhaps frightening ways. Your mind was being expanded; your horizons were broadened as we started to take steps towards adult life. There were so many pressures for us, and I for one was pulled in many different directions. It’s no wonder that many young people lose their faith during these formative years.

Then there’s what might be happening at home. Relationships with parents or carers might be difficult, perhaps academic results have been disappointing. Perhaps the pressure put on our young people is too much for some, and they are struggling with mental health problems because of it.

Back in the mid-noughties, I was 14. My parents had split up, and I was feeling raw. I didn’t have much of a faith at all, and I was questioning whether God was for me. I went on Cormorants and for the first time I wasn’t patronised, I was listened to, I had a place in a crew, in a team.

The priest who ran it the Revd Charles Hall was a kind man, who had an approachability and pastoral nature I’d never come across in adults before. He listened, intently, as if I mattered.

I think I owe being ordained to that first experience on Cormorants, I remember it vividly. The Bible study that year was the story of Joseph. I remember Charles saying; “Who thinks that God is interested in them?” Some people in that hot and cramped cruiser cabin put their hands up, I didn’t. Then he asked us “why?” I replied, “Because I’m just ordinary, there’s nothing special about me.” He said “God is interested in you, God made you and loves you. He loves you so much he gave you life.”

I’d not heard that before. God is interested in me? It made me think. I wanted to be like Charles.

Fast forward ten years and now I find myself walking in Charles’ shoes as Chaplain on Cormorants.

We’ve tried to foster an atmosphere where teenagers can explore their faith. It’s not about ramming a theology or Jesus down the kids’ throat but giving them the space to explore the questions they have. Listening to them. Showing them that you can have fun and be a Christian! Helping them know the love of God for themselves in a gentle and kind way, just like Charles modelled.

Fundamentally it all comes out of God’s love, His overflowing love that I discovered for myself on Cormorants. His overflowing love for them as individuals.

Pray for all of us, as we try to give them a glimpse of this.


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