The bible talks about suffering for the gospel. Over the last few years one of the ways I’ve suffered for the gospel is loneliness. Now this isn’t a sob story at all! And to be honest the thought of that being ‘suffering for the gospel’ didn’t occur to me until I heard it at a talk at Shift weekend. But living on a wonderful small paradise island* (some say the Caribbean of the UK) has its challenges. And loneliness is one of them.

California was the trip of a lifetime. It will go down in history has one of the greatest weeks of my entire life. It allowed me (forced me) to come out of my loneliness and the traits that it had taught me over the last few years and encouraged me to be open, honest and vulnerable with people again. It also allowed me to regain my social mojo. Trust me, I really had lost it in recent months.

Being thrown into a community that constantly and consistently encouraged one another was superb. It allowed me to thrive and throughout the week I could feel the weight of isolation I’d been carrying fall off as though throughout the week Christ was healing some pain I never realised I was carrying.

The people were immense. I honestly believe that that group could have gone to Great Yarmouth for the week and spent it doing similar stuff (in terms of content - the views would have been awful) but obviously being in such a significant place allowed us all to step out of our comfort zones and into a fresh environment. (and the views and places. Wow.)

But not only the people that went on the trip but those we met throughout were s total blessing to us all. Veracity, Stephanie & Dream Center all challenged my thinking and gave me greater perspective on the various subjects or people they worked with. Gotta have some of that if it’s gonna be a trip of a lifetime.

So thank you. Thank for you taking me. Thank for for the opportunity to go and be a part of this. I loved it so much.

*Jersey, if you’re wondering.

Tom Olyott