10 Mar 2017

I found my passion and purpose with XLP

By Paul Phillips

My gap year made me certain of my passion for working with young people. I now know that I want to dedicate my life to serving the young people in my community.

I first heard about XLP four years ago. As I was listening to all the things they do – the youth work on estates, in schools, through mentoring, and with churches – my heart felt like it was on fire to work with young people. I believed God was calling me to go to XLP.

I was pretty shy at the beginning of the gap year. I didn’t know anyone and worried about making the wrong impression! However, my confidence quickly grew as I came to know everyone – it felt like a loving family.

In the first term, I focused on how I could personally develop as a youth worker. This focus was shaken up by the reality some of these young people faced.

After the Christmas holidays I returned to an estate trying to come to terms with the murder of a local young person. Having lost someone close due to similar circumstances, I could not help but feel their pain, confusion, and anger. I didn’t need to tell them that I understood, I simply tried to be available, even if it meant sitting in silence with them.

This challenging moment pushed me to remember the reason I came: God called me to serve young people and my community. I became certain of my passion and I really wanted to dedicate my life to serving the young people in my community.

Inspired, I continued with XLP by doing a degree in Theology and Youth Ministry. This allowed me to build long-term relationships with young people, including Samuel*. Our love of computer games and our competitive natures brought us together. It was such a privilege to see him grow from the shy boy I first met at a homework club, through his GCSEs and into a confident young man at college. I cannot help but wonder where his future will take him next!

I am now doing a Masters in Theology, Ministry and Mission. A Masters which I hope to apply into my youth work today and to use to help shape how youth work is done going forward.

My XLP gap year was a time of being challenged and transformed, motivated by a God who is passionate about young people and their communities. A God who has called me to London to serve.

*Names have been changed