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/ 20 April 2016

Willesden Apprentices: Meet Sam Benjamin

Samuel Benjamin Polaroid

During Lent 2015, the Bishop of London’s Mission Fund asked us to raise money to support Youth Workers who will build the church in London from its growing youth population.

As part of Capital Vision 2020, the Willesden Area, have four apprentices who run projects in local churches aimed at growing children’s and youth work. While running these events, the apprentices undertake study, by completing a Level 3 diploma in Christian work with Young people and Communities, at YMCA George Williams College in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Over the coming weeks, as we celebrate the Easter season and look towards Pentecost – the church’s birthday – we are introducing the Willesden Apprentices, and look at ways in which they are building the church of the future and supporting the next generation of those who follow Christ.

In the first interview, we meet Samuel Benjamin, 21, who is Apprentice Youth and Children’s worker at St Hugh’s church in Northolt. He grew up in Willesden Green and has been in his role since September 2015.

You’ve been an apprentice for a few months now, how have you settled into your new role?

I have really enjoyed the apprenticeship so far. I’ve settled in well and have adjusted myself to the role. It has been encouraging and I’ve learnt a lot improving in my organisation skills.

What have been the high points so far?

Seeing God do wonderful things since the time I have started, particularly in our outer community. Seeing messy church and our Saturday youth club growing every week with youth from the community, many who have no faith in Christ in their lives or families.

What has been the biggest challenge?

A great challenge for me, as I am not the most academic person, has been getting used to writing assignments. I thank God that I am learning how. I also find it challenging to get the youth to see who God is; it’s definitely not a simple thing but I love the challenge.

Why do you like working with young people?

I can relate to them so much and they can relate to me as a leader. Also, they seem to all have stories and experiences that truly humble me, which is teaching me so much. It’s fascinating to meet them where they are and see them get together in a safe place while seeing them grow, little by little, in many aspects of their lives. It’s a lot like watching a small seed slowly grow into a plant and I’m reminded that God is growing many of the youth today into faith with Christ.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am reading ‘Don’t Make History, Change the Future’ by Matt Summerfield. Also ‘Becoming a Prayer Warrior: a Guide to Effective and Powerful Prayer’ by Elizabeth Alves.

Has anything about being an apprentice surprised you?

One thing I have noticed is that it can be ever so slightly isolating sometimes. It challenges you in every way and it surprising to see just how big this apprenticeship is, and the fact that we are the first apprentices on the scheme makes it all the more exciting.

How do you balance your work commitments with the Level 3 course?

I found a good way that suits me to balance my work and diploma. I have a study day on Monday but what has worked, is by doing the assignments and studying little-by-little, each day, rather than loading it all in one day.

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to the plans we have for our youth group, and getting the equipment and facilities that we want to get for our local youth. More than anything I am looking forward to seeing them grow in Christ and stand firm in the church, to see lives change and be transformed.

Have you learnt something new about yourself?

If there is one thing I do a lot of on this course, it is would be reflecting. I’ve learnt that there are places where I thought I was confident, but I get nervous, like speaking to large groups of people. I also realise that I can plan and organise events much better than I thought I could.

How do you think we can help more children and young people to connect and engage with the church?

I look back and think of what exactly attracted me to the church and it is clear that knowing who Jesus is, brought me into the building.  Music and activities are wonderful and important, but all those things didn’t bring me to know God. Giving young people something to do with the church is so important, so they actually feel part of his body and the church.

In future weeks, running up to Pentecost and beyond, we will meet Nikkita Robert from St John’s, Southall Group, Steven Payne of St Catherine Neasden and Richard Samuel of St James Alperton.

To find out about becoming an apprentice, please contact Rachel Walker, Apprenticeship Project Coordinator.

About Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall was the diocesan Communications Assistant, before going on to become a Franciscan Friar with the Society of St Francis. Matthew seeks to protect the environment. He adores hiking and being outdoor in the country or by the sea in nearly all weather. He dreams of hiking to Rome and Jerusalem.

Read more from Matthew Hall

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