Youth arms in air

‘Those kids saw hope and a future – and they responded.’

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Janine Parkinson joined SU as a Mission Enabler in 2021. Although not from a Christian family, she found faith. She shares her story and how, with your support, she is now helping today’s young people without church backgrounds to discover Jesus for themselves.

Janine Parkinson

Janine was the classic teenage rebel. ‘I hung out with an IndyCar racing crowd, drank too much, truanted from school, got into debt. I reached the point where I felt I had nothing left to live for. One night I went to my bedroom intending to take my own life. But we had a Christian lodger who knocked on my door and said, “The Lord has told me you’re going to do something stupid. Can I pray for you?” He prayed and I felt the burden lift.

‘I asked God to show me that he was real; over the following week he did just that! Money miraculously appeared in my bank account to pay off my bills. At night in my dreams I heard words of comfort from the Lord which later I discovered were in the Bible. My lodger and his Christian friends showed me grace and love like I’d never known. So, I gave my life to Jesus.

I was one of the 95...

‘I learned about God, experienced the Holy Spirit, started reading the Bible and realised that this was what my life was all about. I quit my job as a clerk and went to work for a Christian youth organisation. I later became a youth pastor and now I’m a Mission Enabler with SU! Many youth workers feel daunted about reaching the 95% of children and young people who aren’t in church. But I was one of the 95 so I know how important it is, and I’ve a real connection and passion to help them.

Among Wolves

Recently, SU partnered with The Message Trust as their bands OTC and Amongst Wolves (pictured) ran a weeklong mission at five Derbyshire secondary schools. They led lessons on self-worth, held lunchtime concerts and invited the students to an end-of-mission concert. Janine, there representing SU, says, ‘It was phenomenal, hearing around 1,000 young people sing along to songs about hope and love. When OTC asked who wanted to follow Jesus, over half responded! I prayed with some girls, gave them a Bible and invited them to the follow-up youth meeting.

‘My role was to bring together local youth leaders and train them ahead of the mission to do that follow-up. During the mission, they’d gone into the schools alongside the bands to start building relationships with the teachers and students. Now, the schools are actively inviting those youth leaders in, asking them for help with lunch and afterschool clubs. Two schools have opened up to having a Christian Union!

"I realised that this was what my life was all about."

‘Young people have a deep and unmet need that only God can fulfil. Their lives are busier than ever but ultimately unsatisfying and they’ve got a real identity crisis. So it’s quite easy to speak their language – “I’ve got something you can be passionate about which will change your life.” The gospel is the answer; it’s the reason for them to live. And at that concert, those kids saw hope and a future that they wanted, and so they responded. It blew me away! I drove home in silent wonder that this is happening, that God is really moving in the lives of a generation that doesn’t know him – but wants to. And he’s calling us to be his hands and feet in doing that.

You can enable more mission!

What a privilege!

SU Mission Enablers like Janine enable mission right across England and Wales, by supporting churches with training, resources, ideas and much more. But they can only provide that help and guidance, and open the door to faith for even more children and young people, with your support.

If you would like to make a donation to further SU’s work, please visit su.org.uk/donate.

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