Hello, I am Sam Saunderson and I have just started as the new OCC apprentice, following on from Jo last year. I have been a part of the OCC community for the last 3 years as a student studying History at St John’s College.
Having grown up in Cambridge I’m often considered a traitor for moving here, but I feel I am in a good position to say Oxford is indeed the better city. I grew up going to church with parents who love Jesus and my experience of church was primarily built around the friends I had and the leaders who oversaw the groups I was in. These groups and the role models I had among the leaders were crucial in my own faith, and even though attending the youth group was a non-negotiable in my family I really did enjoy it. It was probably around when I turned 15/16 that I began to actively seek and follow Jesus. Though from the outside this probably didn’t look too dramatic, I decided to read my bible and pray in the first free period I had at school during the sixth form and I look back at that time as very important for who I am today and my own personal journey in following Jesus.
Just as significant was my time at a discipleship school in South Africa at LIV Village. I discovered a level of Christian community that was beyond anything I had seen before. Living intensely among Christians in the village, and the other discipleship school students, who were all united in wholeheartedly pursuing Jesus with everything they had, was transformational for me. It was a particularly powerful time for learning just how intimate a relationship with Jesus could be, and what it was really like to regularly listen to the Holy Spirit speaking both to me and through me.
My History degree only held a marginal place in my University life. Most of my time was split between playing sport, trips to the pub and time at Church or CU. I visited OCC in my first week in Oxford and have stayed ever since. I saw a beautiful picture of Christian community practiced in an everyday context, and I have really enjoyed being part of the family, so much so that I decided to stay on as an apprentice. The decision was motivated both by a desire to continue learning and growing within the OCC family and to allow time to work out what God is calling me to pursue in the future.
For much of my time, I’ll be helping with the student work at OCC, meeting with students, discipling them and generally serving as part of the student team. The second area where I will be working is as part of the School of the Spirit team. Over the last few years, I have developed a real desire to listen and be led by the Holy Spirit in loving and powerful ways and so I cannot wait to see how God moves through the School of the Spirit. I’m thrilled to be involved! Finally, I will be joining up with the missional focus team and all that they will be doing!
It has been such a joy to be part of the OCC family for the last three years and I am so grateful to so many of you for the ways you have welcomed and supported me through university. The opportunity to stay on for an apprentice year was too good an opportunity not to take and I am so excited for all that God has planned!