As a Christian teenager living in a time where being Christian isn't seen as the "cool" thing to do by the people around me, I have struggled to find a group of people to help me keep up with my faith and not waiver. Which I have done, a lot. I've always struggled with keeping on the straight and narrow when it comes to my Christianity, simply because I've never found the right people around to help me.
Two years ago, I went on pilgrimage for the first time (after my confirmation but before I had become a Christian in my own mind) to Lourdes in the South of France. I went with a group of teenagers, only 3 of whom I already knew (we went to school together). Safe to say, I was scared. Who wouldn't be? But that week I found my faith. I came home a changed girl. It was awesome. I went back a year later, and it further strenthened my faith.
This year, however, was the real struggle. I found myself financially unable to afford another trip to Lourdes, the one place that I had been able to find my faith. I knew that I wouldn't be able to go two years on my own with my faith - I'm the only Christian I know living nearby and the only one of the group I went to pilgrimage with for at least thirty miles. However, it seemed that God did that on purpose. About two weeks after my mother had told me that I wasn't going to be able to go to Lourdes this year, one of the senior members of the Christian Union at the school I moved to at the start of Year 12 (Lower Sixth) came around with forms for Christian Union camp. I took one and asked my mother to pay for the trip. It was considerably cheaper than Lourdes, but I still wasn't sure if my mother was going to be able to afford it.
About a month ago, my grandmother signed a cheque for £115 - the amount needed to pay for the trip, and gave it to me to take to school. Again, I found that I was scared. I was going to be spending a week on a campsite with a group of people I hardly knew and some of whom I had never met.
The first morning of camp, when we left our area and drove down to the south, where our camp would be based for the week, was one of the scariest mornings. I was going down in bus three, where the three people I knew on the trip were going down on buses 1 and 2. I was alone with a group of younger students at my school. I knew two, through musical activites at school, but none of the others. But they were friendly, and by the time we arrived in Devon, I was pretty good friends with them.
The week passed quicker than I would have liked, but I was amazed at its effect on me. Before, I had never really talked about my faith, I had just accepted it as a part of me. I had never really discussed God's power in my life and Christian ideals - I had just accepted them. However, in the week I was there, I talked about these things, I discussed them with other leaders and talked about them with the younger students that I was in charge of. God's power was working through me and helping me to work with the younger kids around me. And I was amazed. I'd never known anything like that to happen, especially to me - a person who had doubted her faith for so long.
I came back last Saturday, and since then the people who I met on camp have left me messages, even simply to say hi, and I'm unbelieveably glad I went. I know I'll always have friends somewhat nearby who I can run to for help. And even if they're far away, I can still call them in times of need.