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Carl's journey from the occult to Christian youth leader

Carl Firth dabbled in satanism as a teenager but came to faith in Jesus through Church Army’s Sorted project in Bradford. Now he’s working there as youth leader ...

Carl Firth dabbled in satanism as a teenager but came to faith in Jesus through Church Army’s Sorted project in Bradford. Now he’s working there as youth leader

I first heard about the Sorted project when I was 13 years old – although at that point in my life I hadn’t ever really thought about God or faith.

Instead I was more interested in skateboarding and spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends practising our skateboarding tricks.

One day at school, Immanuel Community College, my friends were in the playground when a visiting Church Army Evangelist, Andy Milne, came and chatted with us. He told us about a new group he was starting on Friday evening for young people to get together and skate, play football, listen to music and talk about God.

Andy was a great skateboarder himself and we wanted to learn from him. A friend and I decided to go along, although that first evening when Andy did a short talk about faith, we did wonder what we’d got ourselves into!

After that, my journey of coming to faith was a bit of a bumpy road. For a while I was in a really dark place and got in with a group of friends who were into satanism.

Things began spiralling out of control and eventually I reached a point where I realised what it was doing wasn’t any good for me. It was messing my head up.

One night at Sorted, when I was 16, I asked Andy to pray for me as I couldn’t keep living that way any more. When he prayed for me it felt like I was being released from all the bad stuff and afterwards things seemed beautiful, light and joyful.

Life after that night was still up and down, but slowly God began to change me. As  my love for Jesus grew, so did my love for others.

My sense of self-worth also grew as I realised I was valuable to God. And my family, none of whom are Christians, could see the change in me.

At this point, Sorted as a project had also been growing and had now become an established youth church run by the young people for young people. So as my faith grew I began to get involved in volunteering and helping to lead groups.

Andy and another Church Army Evangelist at the project, James Hawksworth, invested time in me. They taught me how to write and give talks for Sorted and pray for people.

I am so grateful to them because if it wasn’t for Sorted I wouldn’t have been saved.

This past year has also been really important for me, as I’ve been employed as a Sorted youth leader which is brilliant. I just love it!

Sorted has now grown to three youth church congregation3 and was officially recognised as a church in 2010 with a Bishop’s Mission Order.

As part of my role I help to lead Sorted 2 which includes a Friday evening youth club, Sunday night worship and Bible study groups. The team and I also go into the nearby secondary schools two or three times each week to mentor the pupils and run lunch clubs.

Another highlight for me has been taking a group of young people to the summer festival Soul Survivor, where several of them made commitments to Jesus for the first time.

I’m really excited about what the future holds for Sorted – it is providing young people with a fresh and relevant Christian community and a gateway for them to find out about Jesus.

Most of the teenagers and young adults we work with have no clue about Christian things and many of them have troublesome home lives.

But here at Sorted we tell them that they aren’t worthless. My dream for each young person we work with is to see them come to faith and grow and be nurtured into the Christian leaders of the future.

  • If you want to read more inspiring stories like Carl’s, sign up to Church Army’s Shareit! magazine by visiting or call 0300 123 2113
  • Photos: Top right – Carl (guitar) back in 2006; Above: today's Sorted leadership team (Carl second from right)


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