Life Begins at Norwich Youth for Christ 40th celebration
On Saturday, March 3 Norwich Youth for Christ celebrated its 40th year by hosting an afternoon tea, featuring an intense physical challenge by Director Nick Blanch and the launch of ‘Life Begins’ a book about their work with young people over the decades.
On the afternoon of Saturday, March 3 around 120 people from across Norwich and Norfolk ventured out into the snow in order to attend Norwich Youth for Christ’s 40th birthday celebration at Norwich Central Baptist Church.
From 2pm-5pm guests were welcomed with an afternoon tea consisting of beautifully presented cakes, sandwiches and hot drinks served in china cups. Sitting around tables of eight, the guests chatted about Norwich YFC’s impact on young people in the city over its four decades, and listened to some of the young musicians who attend the charity’s weekly music sessions The Jam.
For the first hour Norwich Youth for Christ (NYFC) Director Nick Blanch attempted an intense physical burpee challenge. His aim was to complete 500 of the full body aerobic exercises in an hour in front of the gathering. With regular shouts of encouragement from friends and family and a loud countdown to the final total he managed to complete the exhausting task with 3 minutes and 53 seconds to spare and almost £600 raised.
After a short time of recovery Nick then spoke about the charity's new book ‘Life Begins’, a collection of 70 testimonies from people who have worked with, volunteered or been impacted by Norwich Youth for Christ since its launch in 1978.
Many of the book's contributors had made it to the celebration including former NYFC Director Rev Ian Savory of Sheringham’s Lighthouse Community Church, former NYFC staff member and now Pioneer Missioner Rev Tim Yau, St Stephen’s Church Children’s Work Coordinator Naomi Tuma, Integrate YFC’s Steph Richardson from Diss and the charity’s Chair of Trustee’s Margaret Smith.
Nick said: “It has been a real privilege for me to ask for people’s stories and to read those stories. It has absolutely encouraged me and made me think about why we do what we do. And actually this just kind of scratches the surface. 70 stories is a lot and that sounds like a bold thing to say. But honestly the work that Norwich Youth for Christ has done over the years - and that’s not something I can take credit for but it’s the people who have gone before me and the God who works through each of us - it’s just absolutely incredible what He has done through this organisation.”
One of the contributors to Life Begins, Lauren Ellero, now of Hope Community Church Wymondham, shared her experience as a young person involved in Norwich YFC’s Gospel Choir. Lauren said: “I felt like people just accepted me for me and for who I was. I chatted to them and talked about my life. And suddenly I felt like there was somewhere I belonged”.
She continued: “These guys are incredible. They do so much amazing work with young people. My story is just one of them. Like Nick says there are hundreds of stories of people who truly their lives have been changed by this amazing charity.”
Nick Blanch then gave a short summary about the charity’s current work which includes going into schools, producing YouTube videos, using the Tracks mobile recording studio and their plans in the coming year to provide alternative education for young people who have been excluded from school.
He said: “We want to work with some young people who are on the edge of life really. We want to make a difference there and we want to see Jesus there.” In order to launch this new initiative there is a need to generate an extra £10,000, so Nick challenged the gathering to think about how they could support that work financially, with time and/or with prayer.
The celebration showcase which had been planned for the evening with the Bishop of Norwich Rt Rev Graham James and YFC’s National Director Neil O’Boyle had to be postponed because of the adverse weather and is due to be rescheduled in the late summer or early Autumn.
Life Begins: 40 years of transformational youthwork in Norwich will be going on sale this week. For more details visit the Norwich YFC website.
You can still give to Nick’s Big Burpee Challenge at www.give.net/nickblanch.