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Finding a better way: Ben's story

Many of the young people who come into contact with Thrive in Oxfordshire have never been to church, and never been given the opportunity to explore faith for themselves.

But given a safe, supportive and non-judgmental space to explore spirituality – and Thrive are all about developing young leaders in disadvantaged communities – young people are able to make informed decisions.

For some, this means deciding not to explore it any further. For others, like Ben, it’s the start of a whole new adventure.

Out of the comfort zone

“I got involved with Thrive through Board Games Club,” says Ben, 18, who has grown up in the Leys. “Apart from going to work, I do nothing. Board Games Club is time for me to get out of my house and out of my comfort zone – although now it has become my comfort zone!”

One of Ben’s friends at Board Games Club, Devon, became a Christian earlier this year. Ben watched as his friend’s confidence and hope for the future visibly grew.

“Before the summer, I had only ever been to church once – for a funeral. Then Devon invited me to go to church camp in the summer. I love camping, but I couldn’t afford it. Thrive found me a sponsor, so I could go.”

Questions about God

Touched by the talks and sense of community, Ben found himself buzzing with questions. When he needed to leave the camp early, but had no transport to get back home, he gave the problem over to God.

Then he met a couple who were driving to Oxford that night and could give him a lift! He spent much of the two-hour journey asking them questions about God.

A week later, while playing video games together, Devon and Ben explored question after question, until, late into the night, Ben made the decision to become a Christian. Devon had the privilege of praying with his friend as he took this step.

On the journey

“Being a Christian is making me a bit more of a better person,” says Ben. “My Dad said to me recently, ‘You don’t swear as much now that you’re a Christian.’

“I’ve started reading the Bible. I’ve read Matthew and Romans. I read 1 Peter yesterday and 2 Peter today – but they’re quite small.”

Like all of us, Ben is on a journey.

We’ve seen him grow more into his potential, and seen his desire to care for other young people grow too – Ben is now training to become a Thrive mentor, and give back to young people in the Leys.

The adventure continues!

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