Olivia and Katy’s online lockdown journey
By Sean Wood
Olivia used to find talking about her faith with others challenging. She explained, ‘When I’ve been to talks and seminars focussed on evangelism in the past, I often felt pretty daunted and overwhelmed at the Great Commission [Jesus’ final words to His followers in Matthew 28:18-20] to go and talk to everyone about Jesus.’ In her mind, evangelism – talking to others about her faith – meant starting discussions about Jesus with random strangers: ‘I found that kind of terrifying!’
Olivia first met Katy in early 2020 through mutual friends; it was just a few weeks before the UK went into lockdown. Although Katy wasn’t a Christian herself, their mutual friends were, so Katy was aware that Olivia was a Christian and Katy was also already used to being around Christians.
Going into lockdown created challenges for Olivia and Katy just as their friendship was starting to grow: ‘I guess online communication kind of takes away the ease and spontaneity of natural conversations.’ Olivia describes her faith as being a big part of her life and as they would talk about their lives together, Olivia would also try to naturally share about the areas of her life that were connected with her faith: ‘I wanted Katy to know Jesus, because I believe it’s the best thing ever, but to be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t very confident about it at all.’
The Living & Telling course is one of Agapé UK’s flagship resources which has been designed to inspire, encourage and enable Christians to help others discover Jesus and to do that naturally as a way of life. When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, Agapé UK, in partnership with Agape Europe, decided to trial an online version of the course, at the same time taking advantage of the accessibility that doing things online can offer by inviting students, not just from the UK, but from across Europe to join in with the course. When the course ran in July 2020, there were over 100 participants all going through the course together.
One of those first students to trial Living & Telling Online shortly after that was Olivia. ‘My experience of Living & Telling was SO positive!’ (Olivia added the emphasis herself!) ‘The course content was really helpful and thought-provoking but in a really manageable way. It stripped the whole process of talking about my faith down to focussing on relationships: between me and God first and then on the relationships I have with people who don’t yet know Jesus.’
The ARC (Agapé UK Resource Centre)
Agapé UK produces resources to help you grow in confidence in your faith as well as sharing your story and God’s story with others.
Over time, Olivia and Katy’s online video calls continued, and Olivia grew in confidence in sharing about her everyday thoughts and feelings connected to her faith in a natural way – just as you would when you share anything that’s personal with a friend. When Olivia’s church started running an Alpha course, that also made it quite easy for her to naturally invite Katy to join her to explore and find out more for herself.
‘We did Alpha together and through that got to know Becky [who works for Agapé UK in Birmingham] a lot better, and then started doing a weekly Bible study with Becky, and the rest of our Alpha breakout room, and conversations just kind of kept happening.
‘Becky, Katy and I also went through the Knowing God Personally booklet, and it was so good – kind of as a succinct explanation of the gospel but also in just clearly explaining the Christian faith and giving us a starting point to then chat about our thoughts.’
Just over a year after Olivia and Katy had first started meeting, in yet another video call, Katy decided that she was ready to put her trust in Jesus herself. ‘Woohoo!’ exclaimed Olivia, who is rather excited telling the story!
‘Living & Telling showed me how fruit can come through faithfully doing life alongside a friend and showing them Jesus that way. I simply tried to do life with a friend, with someone who I can go for picnics with and with who I can cry, laugh, celebrate things together, and those things have become even sweeter now that we both share the same faith.’
As Olivia also considered the difference it made having to have all of their chats online via video calls at arranged times, she reflected, ‘It was hard not being able to be together with Katy, to be able to hug or go to a coffee shop and just hang out there, but I think it also meant that there was more of a purpose to our “faith-chats” and more intentionality on my part than if it had just been woven into a busy life. We were able to be more to the point, rather than getting distracted by things around us, which was perhaps a good thing! I also think it kind of makes for a pretty cool story!’
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