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Chris Willis1 
Chris Willis

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the house of the wicked.  Psalm 84:10

This is my final thought for the day before I say my goodbyes to St Stephen’s, and so I want to share something that is on my heart. It has been 3 ½ years since I started my first role as a youth worker (in a different church), but it’s been almost 7 years since I started the journey towards working with young people. It has been full of hardships and struggles; everything from three years of unsuccessful job interviews, to a difficult time with mental health in 2016.
That summer, and many times since then, I have asked the question Why? Why did I spend 3 years pursuing youth work, and a further 3 with part time finances and long distance travel? First thing to be said, although it was hard at points, I don’t regret a single day of it. There have been many joys and pleasures within youth ministry, and I have been honoured to see our young people grow in stature and in faith.
I firmly believe God has been by my side every step of the way, through the good times and the hard. Psalm 23 says “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This is a tough time to be changing churches and changing jobs. But I know, as I say my goodbye to you all, and as I walk into my new role, God will be with me.
And this brings me back to my question. Why? When I ask this, I turn to God. The struggles seem small when everything I do is for God, and for his work. I would rather take those harder days alongside the joyful ones, doing God’s work, than take the easy path and miss out on him. As the writer of Psalm 84 says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”
I want to leave you with a song called You Reign. As I finish one role in youth ministry and move onto my next, it reminds me exactly why I do what I do.  It is a reminder that God reigns above it all, whatever we are doing, whatever times we are going through.
Prayer:  Father thank you for the honour and joy of being a part of your work. Thank you for the work and ministry of St Stephen’s. Remind us each day, as we face the unknown, that you walk beside us and that you reign yesterday, today, and forevermore.

Prayer Request:  For Chris, as he leaves St Stephen’s and starts his new job at Herne Hill Baptist Church.  For patience and wisdom as he will be unable to meet the congregation in person just yet, for good relationships to be built and maintained and for children and young people to grow as disciples of Jesus under his ministry.