Hello, I am Jo Male and in September I will be starting as the new OCC apprentice, following in the footsteps of the wonderful Dan and Jonny.
OCC has been a huge part of my life in the four years I have been in Oxford, so I am excited to have the chance to serve the community that has been so important to me throughout my time as a student.
I grew up in a large Anglican church just inside the M25. Having always gone to church I can’t pinpoint an exact moment I became a Christian, but there has definitely been a journey to the point I am in my faith today. My faith was a Sunday thing for much of my childhood and teenage years. Weeks away at Christian camps during the summer gave me a glimpse of something more. When I was 15 my mum started a discipleship course that changed her relationship with Jesus and her. Watching such a dramatic transformation in my mum and our conversations about faith confirmed to me God was alive and active today. However, I was young and had no example of people my age living out their faith. Until I moved to a Christian school for my A-levels and met people my age who didn’t use their age as an excuse not to be living out their faith, so I started trying to follow their example.
Having just started to see how wonderful a relationship with Jesus can be if you jump all in, finding a church that encouraged this seemed the obvious thing to do when I started at Oxford University. I arrived at OCC halfway through my first term all the way back in November 2016. It only took one service to know that OCC was the church I would call home. OCC not only encouraged me in my relationship with Jesus but challenged me on my understanding of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
Rugby, rocks, and religion have often been said by my friends to be the three “R”s that defined my four years at university. Rocks because studying Earth Sciences (a mixture of geology, oceanography, volcanology, palaeontology, and a few other ‘ologies’ for those who were wondering) meant I spent most of my days surrounded by them. The large amount of time I spent on the rugby pitch accounts for my second “R”. As I am about to start a church apprenticeship the final “R” I imagine is not surprising. Religion of course comes from my faith and the many hours I spent at church, student nights, Christian Union, and Christians in Sports meetings. In my time at University I led my college (Teddy Hall) CU, the university Christians in Sport group, and helped run two CU events week.
God has done a lot with me over my time at university and OCC; helping to trust Him, learning to listen to Him, learning the importance of His Word, and seeing a loving community in action, to name just a few. But He’s not done with me yet, so spending year serving the church whilst allowing God to work in me further is something I am so excited to get to do.
So, what will my apprenticeship involve? I’ll be helping out with the student work that was such an important part of my student years. I’ll also be taking on some new challenges such as helping lead youth work and spending a day a week at The King's School. Having gone to my parent’s church’s youth group every week, I know how important this is and I can’t wait to get involved with youth work here as well. Working with children and young people is something I started to explore at university, doing geology workshops in schools and working for a summer at the Museum of Natural History, and became passionate about so it’s something I am excited to grow in further. I will also be spending time with Lois Fulton working on teaching and preaching. Alongside all this religion, I will be spending the rest of my time with one of my other loves, rocks, working part time at as a lab technician for a geology company.
Thank you all for making OCC my home and know I am so excited to have this opportunity to give back to this community.