“People talk about graduation as the end of an era, and it is. Life after university is a culture shock, a realisation that during the past 3 or 4 years while you’ve been living it up inside the University bubble, everyone else has been living a very different life. It takes time to adjust.
How has graduation helped me as a Christian? It’s taken me out of the hotbed Christian environment at university and given me space to think for myself, to be a Christian as I am, not as I’m supposed to be. That has its downsides – it’s far easier not to read the Bible, because no one is challenging you to (and after a day’s work it doesn’t have the same attraction as the TV!).
It’s also tougher. Christians – certainly the Navs and (generally) CU attending ones – carve out their own eco-systems at university. They have a number of Christian friends and Christian things they do – which provide an identity. On your course you may be the only Christian, but across campus there’s a force. After graduation it’s not like that. In your work you may be lucky enough to meet Christians, you might have one as a colleague. Even if you do, that won’t help answer the basic question of “What would Jesus do?”. Is this ethical? How much of a stand do I make and how much do I keep my head down and (like Daniel did) work within the system? What is prudent business and what is exploitation? Why are the small lies everyone tells wrong? What’s lying and what’s being flexible with the truth?
Making sure you stay grounded lifestyle-wise is important. It’s very easy if you are ambitious like me and surrounded by other ambitious people to align your goals with theirs. Big salary, importance, and that car you’ve wanted for years. Some days I forget everything else; other days I remember the real purpose in life, that there is something bigger out there. It’s hard.
I read Thank God it’s Monday after graduating and would recommend it to anyone. It’s a great thought-provoking material. UCCF’s booklet is also good. And talk to others who are working, particularly older (and wiser) folk. How do they handle the pressures?
Finally, while Uni may be as pressured as a real-world job it’s nowhere near as busy. Enjoy the free time while you have it, and get stuck into as many activities as you can. Keep yourself grounded in the Christian camp, but if it’s a choice between the third cosy Christian meeting of the week and another society – do the other. It’s the personal relationships you make with others that will show them Jesus’ love. See? Evangelism as every day life doesn’t have to be a scary 30-second elevator pitch!”
“The Navs group has being a real blessing in my life over these last two years that I have being part of the group. Being involved in the Navs group has being a great opportunity to develop friendships and having fellowship with each other by enjoying lovely cooked meals together! The Navs group has taught me the importance of knowing scripture and applying in my everyday life.
Navs this year has deepened my personal faith, and drawn me closer to God through the bible-studies and prayer groups. In particular, the prayer groups have enabled me to open up and be accountable to others in the group. Through the girls in my group asking how my quiet times were going each week, has helped me to be more accountable and honest in my prayer life. It has being amazing to look back at the beginning of the year and to see how God has answered so many of my prayers. I praise God for the for the support that the Navs group has given me this year in adjusting from student life into full time work as a nurse, which at times has being tough.
It has being a real joy to serve this year on the leadership team, and to see how the students in Navs have grown and matured in their faith this year. It has also being a privilege to get along side the students and develop relationships with them, and to encourage them in their faith.”
“Navigators offers good bible study, which is brilliant, but it is not just a bible study group. As I found myself getting more involved with the Navigators I began to discover the most effective way of reaching people. Sermons are great -Jesus did that; yet how did Jesus ‘teachings spread? The answer lies with twelve men whom we call his disciples. The reason for the existence of Navigators as a group is because a man named Dawson Trotman not only discovered how to be close to God, but discovered how to most effectively share this with others. At a Navs meeting I once found myself moved to tears by the Spirit. An elderly man was sharing how he brought a man to Christ some 40-50 years before. As he told this story he revealed the name of this man – I recognised it instantly as the man who had helped my own Father grow spiritually at university – And my dad has been the one who has really shown me what our Father in heaven is really like. That is not under the banner of “The Navigators” which matters not, but the principles by which this man was brought to Christ were the same which taught my own Father and in turn effected me. The Southampton Navigators has for me been about sharing our lives with each other in the way Jesus did – By the sharing of our lives we learn from those who are more mature and teach those who are younger.”
“It is true that knowledge equals power, but it is supremely true in the case of knowledge of God” – Hudson Taylor
“Being given just 200 words to describe how my involvement with NAVS over the past year doesn’t seem enough! For a while now, I had been really seeking discipleship, to have an older and wiser Christian to be there for support and advice, to help me walk closer with Jesus. Through NAVS this happened, and I have been so thankful to God for providing it. Having someone who knows me well, and is not afraid to lovingly rebuke and correct me, and to encourage and build me up has really helped me grow as a person as well as in my relationship with God.
Being involved on the leadership team, leading studies and also helping disciple people myself has really stretched and challenged me, far more so than I thought it would at the start of the year. It has really been a privilege to see people in the group grow and develop with God, seeing how we have all drawn together as a family. My relationship with God has been challenged this year, I have seen more of who God is, and been forced to question just how seriously I take God, the place He has in my life and my motivations. God is so much more real to me now than when I started out, not only do I know a lot more about Him, but I also know Him personally in a way I didn’t before I began this year, and on that basis alone come to NAVS!!”
“I do not yet know God – the only way I see him work is through others. The Southampton Navigators have been my rock during university – an eccentric extended family, where every member has a role. Some have their strength in leadership, others in serving, and yet others who will listen patiently as the topic of predestination is brought up for the umpteenth time – such fellowship I consider the group’s greatest strength. This investment in people is highlighted by weekends away, camping trips in the new forest and opportunities to visit our Latvian friends in their native country. A large contingent of the Navs’ girls also enjoy a spot of football on a Saturday morning with our Christian Union colleagues – a great way to further the friendships formed during our bible studies in the week (but by no means obligatory, despite the claims of some).
My association with the Navigators happened seemingly quite by chance – a friend already in the group had heard of a Christianity explored course being organised, and asked me if I would like to attend. Two and a half years later, as a staunch atheist-turned-hopeful agnostic, the group has been a comfortable place to bring up questions and have helpful bible discussions. People really go out of their way – in some instances sending long e-mail answers/thoughts several days later, when the question itself is long forgotten. The Southampton Navigators leadership team have been friends to whom I am so grateful, and will sorely miss their guidance as a graduate – but still look forward to seeing often. If God talks to us through others, then He has been shouting at me!”
“Navs has done may things for me and helped me so much, I can’t describe how thankful I am to the members of the group for all the support they has given me. Many of these encouragements have been described by other people. But Navs has also benefited me in teaching me how to serve. It is so much like a family, and a family works because everyone serves each other. Whether it’s by cooking or washing up, planning trips, or leading prayer triplets, there are a lot of ways we can serve each other in Navs. Navs has encouraged me to be more servant-hearted and to be less selfish, and this has been well taught by people in the group who give up so much to serve others. They have provided me with a great example to follow and aspire to. It has also helped me appreciate how much some people do for others, and has taught me to encourage them and to show more openly how thankful I am. God has changed me so much through the opportunities I had at Navs.
Even now I have graduated, the group continues to support me…another amazing aspect of Navs!”
“Navs has provided a very safe, secure environment for me to interact with similar age Christians where we exchange ideas and strengthen our mutualbeliefs. I have matured as a person as well as a Christian, Navs hasplayed a vital part in that spiritual and emotional growth.The food is simply brilliant and very important contributiontowards our poor minimum student diet.”
“As being Latvian it’s quite hard to express all thoughts in English…but I’ll try!! My mum is not a Christian and she believed that all people I know from camps who have accepted Christ in their hearts and who I keep in touch with are not normal. In February a part of the group visited Latvia. That was a really great encouragement to me and my sister and besides living with us had shown my mother that Christians are so much more than she thought.
While being in Norway we were praying about my mum as well. That was so important to me to know that they cared about my life and life of my family. The NAVS group reminded me that I need to be an example of Christ firstly in my own family. I’m writing about it because it’s really essential to me for my mum to get to know Christ as her Saviour.”
“NAVS for me was my lifeline. My whole time at University I felt like I never settled at a church or at the CU. NAVS was the only place where I felt safe, where I felt un-judged, where I felt accepted and wanted. It was just what I had been looking for and just what I needed. I am so grateful that Kim and Steve P bugged me every week at football to come along, I’m only sorry I didn’t sooner. I love NAVS, the way I could be loud or quiet, the fact that I got fed, the fact that I never felt pressured to be anyone or to do anything, the fact that everyone was so friendly. NAVS and the fun I had there can always bring a smile to my face. So thank you for making my life more fun and for keeping me on track with God.”
“Just over a year ago a friend invited me along to a study group that provided you with a cooked meal as well as the word of God! Unsurprisingly, I thought that was a great idea and joined the soton Navs group. Little did I know then how that little decision would have such a dramatic affect on my walk with God. Integrating God into my everyday student life was always challenging, but having other Christian students to talk and pray with made a huge difference. It was also very uplifting to see others within the group being touched by God and progressing in their spiritual life. However, the time when I experienced the most spiritual growth was during the Navs Weekend Away. This was an incredible opportunity to get away from student life and to spend time with God. Navs is an opportunity to be filled with good food as well as the word of God; I would recommend it to any student.”
“I sought out the NAVS in my second year after hearing that they were hot on in-depth Bible study. The groups didn’t disappoint! In fact, the leaders’ attitude toward these studies blew me away. They humbly set out to explore the passage/s with us, desiring to make us ask questions and discover what God was saying together. If answers couldn’t be easily pinned-down, their wasn’t any pressure to end with a tidy resolution; the implication was that we kept on weighing it up and asking God to speak to us individually. In the Transition group we looked to the Bible to reconsider assumptions and apply truth on a number of relevant and tricky issues.
John 13:35 says ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’. It was evident from the first time I went to NAVS that they genuinely wanted to get to know me and love me. Kicking-off Thursday evenings with a meal and ample time to chat has allowed this to happen. Ending each Thursday with Prayer Triplets has provided invaluable support throughout the year. And, fiancées aside, I feel like I’ve seen and experienced God’s love through friendships within this group.”
“The NAVS have helped me in a number of different ways. Before I came to university I had never really seen God’s love work so mightily through people my age, but simple things like spending time with one another before the Bible studies and being asked how my week had been reflected how much they cared about my life. This helped me to grow as I was able to open up to people, which had been difficult for me as I had always kept personal issues to myself and never felt that others really cared about the way I thought or felt until I came to NAVS.
The Bible study groups have been a huge blessing on my life, for example during the spring 2007 our theme was ‘An encounter with the God who is’. This allowed me to understand more clearly the character of God and also changed the way I perceived God while having my quiet times. Talking about the word is so powerful because I always felt the joy of the Lord whenever the Bible studies ended.
The prayer groups after the bible studies have been fantastic. I realised the importance of prayer and sharing the problems of one another were great ways to grow in love. I didn’t feel the need to hide any difficulties I was going through during the week. I think it was very good that the groups were so small and only consisted of 3/4 people because the bond was tighter and it was easier to pray for specific issues concerning my friends.
The many trips that I have had with the NAVS such as to Lativia, New Forest, Isle of Wight…etc has allowed me to really get to know the others in NAVS which has allowed me to establish life long friends.”
“Navs has helped me in several ways this year. My relationship with God has become stronger and more intimate. I am able to communicate better and share the gospel with non-Christian friends more effectively. In November, a few Navigators from Southampton and I went to Body Builders in Dovedale. We learnt how to lead small group Bible study. It benefited me because I had no prior experience of leading small groups. I met with Steve Price regularly and was accountable to him for areas in my life that I was struggling. I co-lead Bible study in Navs meetings twice. Although, I felt very nervous, it was an enriching experience. The studies on Deuteronomy and 1 John have given me greater understanding of the Word. Specifically, I learnt the consequences of living in disobedience to God. I attended the Navs Weekend Away where Ted Pilling spoke. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt many things. In May, I camped overnight in New Forest for the first time. This enabled me to know other Navigators more personally. Navs has helped me develop into the person God wants me to be.”
“Settling in at Uni wasn’t particularly easy for me; living in a particularly wild corridor I sometimes wondered why I was there and struggled to see God’s purpose in my life. Coming to Navs has been a real blessing for me and the studies have provided me each week with a reminder of God’s faithfulness and love for His children.
Studying John 10 – 17 in the first term was a real encouragement. John 15 was especially encouraging, knowing that God used the hard times to prune us and make us stronger, so we grow more in Him. I think that in the first term I did grow in Christ – I realised that I couldn’t live by my own strengths and that I had to fully depend on God. Studying the role of the Spirit was also very relevant to my start at Uni. I suddenly had masses more opportunities for evangelism but found myself worrying that I’d say the wrong thing. Talking about the role of the Spirit helped to encourage me that although we must tell people about God, it is only the Spirit that can convict them and God is able to use whatever effort I make no matter how feeble I feel.
Meeting in prayer triplets each week has been a big source of encouragement. It has been wonderful seeing God answer prayers in our lives and the lives of people we know. It’s also been good having the support of slightly older Christians and finding out that it’s not only me struggling with things such as evangelism opportunities.
I’ve found it really helpful having questions in the studies challenging me on how to apply the study to my life. Looking at Deuteronomy and the holiness of God made me realise all the more how amazing God’s grace is and how much I fall short of what He wants me to be. Studying 1 John this term is reinforcing God’s commandment of loving and serving others. Putting others before yourself isn’t particularly easy, but each week I’m inspired by the love and service shown to each other by people in Navs; especially from the leaders. The fellowship of the group really shows me that we are united in Christ and this is why it’s such a blessing and encouragement to come to the Navs group.”
“I’ve being so blessed to be involved with Navs this year. I have gained so much more than I have given out to this group.
In the spring term, I wasn’t able to be involved in Navs so much due to writing my dissertation and work commitments. Even though, I couldn’t be involved as much, I was really encouraged that friends at Navs would text or email me to see how things were going. It really felt like navs was a family supporting and caring for one another.
After coming back to Navs in March, I realised the importance of fellowship and also that my relationship with God had suffered during time I was away from navs. God had being gently speaking to be about the importance of discipleship and meeting up on a one to one basis with someone. I kept putting it off as felt it was a threat, and I would have to be more open, honest and accountable about relationship with God. But God kept didn’t give up! He kept on reminding me of the importance discipleship and through others.
I was at point where I needed to meet up with someone one to one and to be more vulnerable and open about my relationship with God. It wasn’t an easy step to take, but one that I needed to take.
Since meeting up with a friend one to one, I have really valued the time to be open and honest about how things have been going in my life. It has being great to share deeply with one another, and has being a great two way friendship. It has being encouraging to study the bible and pray together. I would really encourage meeting up with someone or a friend one-to one, as I have really grown and matured in my faith by doing this.”
“To me, Soton Navs equals Great Fellowship in God. I feel blessed to have belonged to this group. The openness and warmth of the Navs members are amongst my cherished memories of my time in England. I initially knew just three people from the group – I will be leaving the country with many new friends. Navs had provided a conducive and supportive environment for me to explore Christianity and my relationship with God. I enjoyed my time spent in the bible study groups, learning God’s Word together while cultivating fellowship with another. It was something I look forward to every Thursday.
I truly hope other students would discover the joy of being involved with Navs. I feel lucky that I discovered them during the second half of my final year in Uni – better late than never! It has been a lovely experience, indeed.
So long, and thanks for the fish! And chicken, beef, pasta, rice, ice-cream, cake… (Did I mention Navs provide awesome food for FREE? :D)”
YK (Medical Graduate)
“Being part of the Southampton Navigators group has been central to my growth as a Christian this year, and I have been able to develop a much deeper, personal relationship with God as a result. I first started going last September, and the weekly meetings have been a blessing in getting to know some other Christian students. I have really enjoyed the fellowship that has come hand in hand with the group and activities. The group provided me with a perfect opportunity to dive into the bible with other students, to really see what God has to say, and how to apply it to our daily lives. Hearing the testimonies of the other students has also been a real encouragement.
I also had the pleasure of being part of the mission team that headed out to Norway and Latvia this summer. I got the chance to meet people who are part of the Navigators in Holland, Norway and the United States, and spend a week with them and God in Norway. The British and American teams then combined for the mission to Latvia. Seeing God’s work first hand in Latvia has been inspiring and encouraging for me, and I have learnt a lot about myself and God in the process. It was a pleasure getting to know some of the group a lot better as well.”
Chris (Chemistry Graduate)
“I first went to Navs in my third year of university. It has been such a blessing to be involved in a group whose enthusiasm and encouragement has left me wanting more. The discussion groups are always challenging and have raised my awareness of just how relevant the bible is to my life and how I can live it out. The Navs are a great example of a group committed to investing in individuals; committed to seeing people like me grow in faith and helping me to live it out.
Luke (Physics Graduate)
“I’ve been involved with Navs since my first year at university, and I can honestly say I’m not sure where I’d be without them. From the beginning I was challenged to think through questions I had about the Bible and my own walk with God by looking at the scriptures for myself, and not being spoon fed answers as I had been before. This really helped to ground me in Gods truth and encourage me to seek to know Him deeper. Having the support of a network of older Christians has been invaluable, meeting up with someone for coffee or to study the Bible was a real help, especially in the first few years at uni. Navs has become like an extended family to me now, one where each person is valued and encouraged to be the person Christ made them and encouraged to do everything for His glory. I’m so thankful to God for my time with them!”
Kate (Geology Graduate)
“There are two things that our souls crave more than anything else: a deep and meaningful relationship with God, and also with other people. It’s been my experience that I’ve found my soul satisfied in a more meaningful way in and through Navs than almost anywhere else. It’s not simply a “mountaintop experience,” a kind of spiritual and relational high that fills you up and keeps you going for a while until you bottom out and need another hit. And it’s also not a dull, plodding, monotonous existence without any real passion or excitement behind it. Somewhere in between the two lies its true reality, a call to something bigger and deeper which is far more terrifying and exciting than anything you could possibly dream of… and the chance to pursue that call surrounded by people who have a similar call and vision.
I’ve found the space and support to begin to open up to others within the context of Navs. It’s not easy for me to turn my soul inside-out and let others see the interior of the real me. But I’ve found that being able to share life, complete with all its beauties and blemishes, with both God and others, is the path towards true community and real relationships.”
“My connect year was quite an eventful one. I was quite excited about my first attempt at full time ministry and fully trusting God financially. Indeed he provided. I learnt more about God, the book of Romans and British culture. I learnt that God is always good whether it feels that way or not. He was an ever present help in trouble and this year just taught me how to cast my cares upon him. I really enjoyed my Connect days and reading books not to measure up to the expectations of man but just out of friendship with God. I learnt that I am a daughter. I learnt that God looks at the posture of our hearts and sincerity was important. The mission trip to Tanzania helped me learn more about Gods’ love for his world. It was a joy to celebrate his love with the team and the kids out there. Connect helped me as a person focus more on the things that really matter in life. It’s always a privilege to serve Jesus.”
Kashimana (Graduate & Connect Worker 09-10)
“SotonNavs has been instrumental in growing my faith in God. If it were not for them who knows how deep, real and genuine my faith would be. I have benefitted from love, time and kindness of others. Through SotonNavs I have learned to study the bible in depth, learned to pray with brothers and sisters, learned to serve, learned to relate to others but most importantly I have learned to seek God with all my heart. I have been given opportunities to lead and step out in faith where otherwise I might not have. Doing connect this year has just been a continuation of this and now I’m in a position where the roots of my faith are deeper and stronger than ever. What a blessing it has been to be a part of the SotonNavs ministry, from all that I have received, learned and applied. Thank you Lord for using SotonNavs to help me know you more!”
Adam (Graduate & Connect Worker 11-12)
“Being away from home for the first time, it is easy to stumble upon a lot of stormy seas requiring someone to navigate your ship properly. SotonNAVS have done precisely this since the very beginning of my student life in Southampton. There I have found a second family which welcomed me and helped me to integrate better in a new lifestyle. Above all it has been a spiritual family which has helped me to grow in my relationship with God and know him better through his Word. The Thursday studies were one of the few commitments I managed to keep during my whole stay, mainly because it satisfied my thirst to get to know someone who really cares for you no matter how much you mess up. It was really nice to get to know other Christians while having some good food before an informal yet enriching weekly bible study. I will surely treasure the moments of prayer in small groups following each study, since I experienced how accessible our God is and how he works in very personal ways.”
Simon (Masters Graduate)
“Prior to starting my final year of University I asked God to help ground me in a good Christian community. This was because I really felt that I needed a good set of Christian friends to anchor myself in God and grow as a person. A year later I can honestly say he blew away what I asked for and provided much more. At Navs I found a community of people who were inviting and friendly. Weeks of interesting and thoughtful bible studies grew me in Jesus and the leadership of Navs equipped me to be able to lead bible studies for myself. It’s now after starting a gap year to work for a Church that I realise how vital being part of Navs was for me. I hope other students make the most of the opportunity to be part of what God is doing in Navs.”
Roshan (Physics Graduate)